Hyatt is months away from opening its third flagship hotel in Japan with Park Hyatt Kyoto, which is slated to debut on December 1, 2019. We have the latest construction photos of this nearly-completed resort and commentary about Park Hyatt Kyoto, which promises to be a great use of points.
As regular visitors to Japan and Hyatt enthusiasts, we’re incredibly excited about Park Hyatt Kyoto. As you can read in our Park Hyatt Tokyo Review, our experience there was superlative–one of our best hotel stays ever. This newer property promises a more interesting ‘traditional meets modern’ style and likely will have even better omotenashi, Japan’s renowned hospitality philosophy. Suffice to say, Park Hyatt Kyoto has the realistic potential to be one of the best hotels in the world.
However, Park Hyatt Kyoto is not for everyone. We want to get this out of the way right off the bat. If it’s your first visit to the historic city, staying in a traditional ryokan or restored machiya is arguably a must-do experience. (We cover this in our Where to Stay in Kyoto, Japan guide.) With that said, if you’re using Kyoto as a Kansai home base for 4 or more days, doing a split stay with a couple of nights at Park Hyatt Kyoto could be a very appealing option…
Next, let’s talk location.
Park Hyatt Kyoto has a great location near Kodaiji Temple (below), which is a short and lovely walk from Kiyomizudera Temple in the historic Higashiyama district. We spend more time in this area of Kyoto than anywhere else, and walked past Park Hyatt Kyoto a half-dozen times on our most recent trip to Japan.
This is far and away the most interesting location of any luxury hotel in Kyoto. How Hyatt managed to score this prime piece of real estate is beyond me, but the views of Yasaka Pagoda (below) and the rest of Higashiyama are incredible.
Stepping out of the resort and right up the steps of Ninenzaka will be an incredible experience, immersed in the heart of Kyoto’s historic side.
That’s the upside. The downside is that Park Hyatt Kyoto is not conveniently located to any subway or rail lines, and the buses that service this area are notoriously crowded (to the point that we actively avoid them).
You’re looking at about a 15 minute walk to Gion-Shijo or Higashiyama Stations. It’s a nice walk, but still far from ideal.
In fairness, the target audience for Park Hyatt Kyoto may be more inclined to take a taxi or private car everywhere (we think that’s a mistake if you want to experience the real Kyoto, but that’s another topic for another day).
In any event, it’s a pleasant walk through a nice area and offers access to both the Keihan Line (our favorite rail line in Kyoto) and the Tozai Subway, so at least there’s that.
The last few years have seen a boom in Kyoto hotel properties, with several noteworthy foreign luxury properties opening hotels. The Ritz Carlton Kyoto opened about 5 years ago (and is one of the nicest Ritz Carltons in the world), Starwood’s Suiran Luxury Collection Hotel opened a year later, and Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto followed that another year later.
One month before Park Hyatt Kyoto opens, Aman Kyoto will open on the exact other side of the city, just north of Golden Pavilion. These new high end properties join the likes of older (yet reliable) favorites such as Westin Miyako Kyoto Hotel and Hyatt Regency Kyoto.
Park Hyatt Kyoto will be a boutique hotel, with 70 guest rooms, including nine suites. Standard rooms at Park Hyatt Kyoto are 485 square feet and standard suites are 732 square feet.
Interiors are being designed by renowned hospitality designer Tony Chi. For such a small hotel, the property looks incredibly large–it’ll be interesting to see how the finished product makes use of its space.
Current rates for Park Hyatt Kyoto are over $700/night, with rates during cherry blossom and fall colors seasons, plus other holidays like Golden Week, expected to go for far more. While Kyoto tends to be cheaper than Tokyo on the low end, this is about par for the course with the city’s higher tier hotels.
Park Hyatt Kyoto is a Category 7 World of Hyatt property, which puts a free night at 30,000 points. Accordingly, this will be an excellent use of points. Between this, the limited number of rooms, and high demand during peak seasons, we’d recommend booking Park Hyatt Kyoto early.
Another interesting thing Hyatt is doing that we haven’t seen from other luxury Western brands is partnering with an established, traditional name in the city.
Park Hyatt Kyoto will be located within the grounds of Higashiyama’s famed Kyo-Yamato Restaurant, which used to be part of a sub-temple.
We’ve yet to dine at Kyo-Yamato (京大和), but the family-run location is hundreds of years old and is renowned in Japan for its kyo-ryori kaiseki cuisine.
This gives Park Hyatt Kyoto instant credibility and gravitas, and should help to make it feel less like a modern luxury chain jarringly plopped into this historic area. The seamless look of the hotel’s exterior design should also help with that.
As we’ve noted elsewhere, tourism to Kyoto has surged in the last 5-plus years, and this trend should only continue with the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics expected to provide another boost in numbers.
While it’s great to see more people enjoying Kyoto, which is our favorite city in the world, the downside of this is that it’s caused prices to surge and overcrowding to occur at popular temples.
Of course, with such a low room count, the Park Hyatt Kyoto is going to be an expensive property regardless of tourism trends. The greater tourism trends are a double-edged sword here.
Park Hyatt Kyoto is a stone’s throw from one of the most congested areas of the city, but it’s sufficiently isolated so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Moreover, the streets of the Higashiyama District totally clear out at night and the place becomes a veritable ghost town, even on busy days. One of our favorite things to do in Kyoto is walk this area at sunrise or late in the evenings, it’s absolutely beautiful and serene. This is difficult to do if you’re staying in other areas of the city, but will be perfect for guests staying at Park Hyatt Kyoto.
Additionally, walking north of Park Hyatt Kyoto leads to Philosopher’s Path and a number of hidden gem temples that are perpetually devoid of crowds, even during peak seasons. In case you can’t tell, we’re pretty excited to stay here, and plan to book something for later this year or early next. We’ll report back with a full review once we do!
If you’re planning a trip to Japan that includes Kyoto, we recommend that you start by consulting our Ultimate Guide to Kyoto, Japan to plan all aspects of our vacation. You should also check out our other posts about Japan for ideas on other places to visit!
Does staying at Park Hyatt Kyoto appeal to you, or would you prefer to book more traditional accommodations in the city? If you’re a Kyoto veteran, would you recommend Park Hyatt Kyoto to a first-timer visiting Japan? Any thoughts or tips of your own to add? Any questions about what we’ve covered here? Does visiting this spot in Kyoto interest you? Hearing about your experiences—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!