Park Hyatt Kyoto Review, Photos & Video

Park Hyatt Kyoto is the newest luxury hotel in the Higashiyama District near Kiyomizudera Temple and Yasaka Pagoda in Japan. In this hotel review, we’ll share photos & videos of our room, common areas, and dining. We’ll also offer thoughts on our stay here, value for money/points, location, and how the Park Hyatt Kyoto compares to other accommodations in Japan.

Park Hyatt Kyoto is a boutique hotel, with only 70 guest rooms, which includes nine suites. Standard rooms at Park Hyatt Kyoto are 485 square feet and standard suites are 732 square feet. With so few rooms in one of Japan’s second most popular tourist destination (and one that has far fewer luxury hotels than Tokyo), we anticipate Park Hyatt Kyoto being in perpetually high demand.

If you’re new to this blog, it’s worth noting that Kyoto is our favorite city in the world. We’ve spent several months here over the course of the last few years, and have stayed in range of accommodations throughout the city. We won’t bury the lede here: Park Hyatt Kyoto is now our favorite hotel with the best service and the top location in Kyoto…

Of course, all of this doesn’t come cheaply. Room rates for Park Hyatt Kyoto start at over $800 per night, with prices during cherry blossom and fall colors seasons, plus other holidays like Golden Week, fetching over $1,000 per night. It’s safe to assume those rates will only go up. Given that Park Hyatt Kyoto is a Category 7 World of Hyatt property, a free night costs 30,000 points.

Accordingly, the Park Hyatt Kyoto is an excellent use of points. The Hyatt Regency Kyoto now costs 25,000 points (it’s a nice property, but not that nice) and other hotels around the city cost significantly more in terms of points, making the Park Hyatt Kyoto a comparative steal. That was pretty much a given before we even stayed here.

We booked our stay with points as soon as availability was released for our dates. In spot-checking future dates now, it appears that options are very limited unless you book far out. Taking into account the limited number of rooms, high demand during peak seasons, and good redemption value, we’d highly recommend booking Park Hyatt Kyoto early.

Before we delve into the substance of this review, I want to emphasize that photos of the Park Hyatt Kyoto do not do it justice. First of all, you might notice that everything looks a bit dark and with a warm hue. I debated color-correcting, but I want the photos to best reflect how the property actually looks, as it’s delightfully moody and relaxing.

Second, the attention to detail is superb. I’m hardly an expert on Japanese design, but to my eye, the Park Hyatt Kyoto certainly follows the seven aesthetic principles of Zen design. Namely, it’s profound (and deceptive) in its simplicity, imbued with a sense of tranquility, features eye-catching asymmetry, and is without pretension.

I feared that the anticipated clientele might cause Hyatt to opt for a more ostentatious style, but thankfully that isn’t even remotely the case. The Park Hyatt Kyoto’s design and decor are perfectly suited for the surroundings, and provide a welcoming calm after a day in the Higashiyama District.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always translate perfectly in the images here. Suffice to say, this is a hotel that photos don’t do justice. The variety of woods in the design and how they contrast with nature (both inside and outside) is particularly striking. In photos, these woods can look a bit flat and dull.

With that out of the way, let’s begin this Park Hyatt Kyoto Review with the trifecta of quality, service, and location with the latter, as that should be of paramount concern given the layout and transportation shortcomings of Kyoto. Park Hyatt Kyoto has a great location in the historic Higashiyama District.

It’s within a 10 minute walk of Kodaiji, Shorenin, Choinin, Kenninji, and Kiyomizudera Temples, and the hotel itself overlooks the iconic Yasaka Pagoda. It’s also a short walk from the Gion District and Yasaka Shrine (which is different than Yasaka Pagoda, also known as Hokanji Temple).

We spend more time in this area of Kyoto than anywhere else, and walk past Park Hyatt Kyoto all the time. In terms of location, the Park Hyatt Kyoto has far and away the best real estate of any luxury hotel in Kyoto for tourists who will sightsee.

There are a couple other hotels that are downtown, but Higashiyama or Gion (or even Arashiyama) are superior locations to downtown Kyoto. At least, if you’re here for the typical experience; your mileage may vary if you’re in Kyoto on business.

From our perspective, Park Hyatt’s location is better than that of the Ritz Carlton Kyoto, Starwood’s Suiran Luxury Collection Hotel, Four Seasons Kyoto, Aman Kyoto, Westin Miyako Kyoto Hotel, and Hyatt Regency Kyoto. The case could be made that Ritz Carlton’s more central location is more practical, but we disagree with that.

Stepping out of Park Hyatt Kyoto and right up the steps of Ninenzaka is an incredible experience, and one we took advantage of both late at night and early in the morning before sunrise.

You haven’t truly experienced the Higashiyama District until you’ve walked its historic paths devoid of tourists (who normally swarm here), and that’s easy to accomplish by staying at the Park Hyatt Kyoto.

I took the above and below photos before dawn as the full moon was setting, and I found myself racing back and forth between Yasaka Pagoda and the Park Hyatt Kyoto’s outdoor overlook by the Yasaka signature teppanyaki restaurant. It’s about a 5-10 minute walk between the two locations.

However, this comes with two major downsides. First is that this is among the busiest and most touristy areas of Kyoto. If you’re looking for tranquility or something off the beaten path, look elsewhere.

During the middle of the day, the Higashiyama District is swarmed with selfie stick-wielding visitors, and congestion gets so bad that navigating the narrow pathways can be headache-inducing. The advantage of staying here is, as noted above, easily visiting before and after the crowds.

Second, Park Hyatt Kyoto is about a 15 minute walk to the nearest subway/rail stations, Gion-Shijo or Higashiyama Stations. The buses that service this area are notoriously crowded, to the point that we actively avoid them.

Judging by other clientele during our stay, we were about the only ones walking or taking the train anywhere, as cabs and private drivers were always picking up or dropping off other guests.

Next, service. You can find impeccable service throughout Kyoto, a city that emphasizes omotenashi–Japan’s renowned hospitality philosophy–more than anywhere else. It’s difficult to say Park Hyatt Kyoto is the gold standard of service in Kyoto (as so many places are so good), but I can’t think of a single way it disappointed.

Staff greeted us by name each time we entered or exited the hotel, we were promptly brought refreshments while working in the lobby, the concierge went out of their way to make us restaurant reservations–the list goes on and on. It felt like our every need or potential desire was anticipated and satisfied. Our service at the Park Hyatt Kyoto was flawless.

Technically, Park Hyatt Kyoto is within the grounds of Higashiyama’s Kyo-Yamato Restaurant, which used to be part of a sub-temple. Kyo-Yamato (京大和) is a family-run location that’s hundreds of years old and serves kyo-ryori kaiseki cuisine. This is one way Park Hyatt Kyoto manages to have instant credibility and gravitas in a historic area of the city, despite being a brand new chain hotel.

In addition to dinner, guests at Park Hyatt Kyoto can arrange for traditional breakfast from Kyo-Yamato Restaurant served in the Living Room. This is something we did not do, which I regret.

Instead, we opted for breakfast at Kyoto Bistro (pictured above), the hotel’s casual street-side cafe with surprisingly reasonable prices and solid (but not spectacular) food. I was under the mistaken impression that breakfast was included with our points booking–it was not worth the out of pocket cost.

We also did an incredibly late dinner at Kyoto Bistro one night. It was good in a pinch, but doesn’t hold a candle to the many Michelin-starred (or even Bib Gourmand) restaurants within a modest walk (check out Le Sel Ramen, which is a 5-minute walk away).

Our strong recommendation would be to take advantage of the hotel concierge and have them make reservations for you (something you can do via email) prior to your arrival. This is one of the main benefits of booking a luxury hotel in Kyoto, especially with restaurants that are difficult to book if you don’t speak Japanese or reside in Japan.

In addition to the dining options mentioned above, there’s also a “mystery lounge” (pictured above) near the elevator on the second tier of guests.

I didn’t think to write down any information about this lounge, as I assumed it’d be on the official Park Hyatt Kyoto website. It’s not. It didn’t seem to be a club lounge (we were able to access it), but I truly have no idea.

Also in this area is a reading room that contains a variety of books about Japan, Kyoto, arts, culture, and more. There’s a good mix of books in both English and Japanese.

I used my laptop up here a good amount, and never saw another guest (aside from Sarah). That’s potentially valuable information if you need a quiet place to get work done outside your room, as the lobby can be somewhat busy during the midday hours.

On the topic of amenities, let’s discuss the Spa at Park Hyatt Kyoto, something that’s touted as having treatment suite for two with a private bath house including Japanese-style bathtubs, dry & mist saunas, and a fitness center.

The fitness center is wonderful. It perfectly melds the aesthetic of the hotel with the practical realities and utilitarian necessities of a gym. We both really liked this fitness center–it fits the accommodations nicely.

The bathhouse, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired. For starters, this is not an onsen and is nothing like one (you wouldn’t find a real onsen in this area of Kyoto, anyway). It’s attached to the gym, is gender separated, with cold and hot plunge pools for one, plus Japanese shower stalls for two.

The bathhouse is laughably small and literally feels like an afterthought to check that amenity off a box somewhere. Bathhouses aren’t my scene so I don’t really care one way or the other, but I know this matters to a lot of people visiting Kyoto.

Turning our attention to the guest room, above is a video tour of our standard twin room.

King rooms are also available, but didn’t have availability via points for our stay.

Generally speaking, the guest rooms are thoughtfully-designed with a superficial simplicity giving away to depth, texture, and beauty upon closer inspection.

A variety of materials are used, and the rooms have a luxurious sensibility to them. The wood, in particular, is beautiful and fragrant. In short, appropriate for the Park Hyatt label.

View is likely going to matter to a lot of people, and ours wasn’t great. You can see the sorin of Yasaka Pagoda in the photo above, and we could also see the garden around the main entrance, but that was about it.

We could’ve paid extra for an upgraded view, but opted against it. No regrets on that front, especially with other areas of the property offering that view.

The room features a nice assortment of illuminated artwork and books, plus espresso maker, complimentary water, and the typically overpriced minibar.

We found the beds to be incredibly comfortable and plush, definitely more Western in terms of firmness. The bathrobes and slippers were also nice touches.

There are some minor things with which we took issue, and I’m not sure whether this is nitpicky or not.

Several of these complaints revolve around the sofa, which is a seemingly innocuous thing. However, the fact that it faces away from the window bothered me, as did its mismatched style and uncomfortable nature. A lot felt wrong about this one piece of furniture.

Next, there’s no usable workspace. Using a laptop with the table and chair is uncomfortable, and I ended up heading downstairs to the lobby to work on a table down there (there was also a nice library on the fifth floor).

Finally, the center of the room feels a bit cramped with the table and this chair in their ‘default’ positions. The problem is that there’s no suitable alternative, because then the chair either blocks the television. It’s almost as if this furniture was chosen without any regard for the rest of the room, which seems like a pretty glaring oversight given the attention to detail throughout the Park Hyatt Kyoto.

The bathroom is nice, with similar details and quality throughout.

This area is subdivided into separate rooms for the toilet, shower/bathtub, and sinks. Pretty common approach for Japanese hotels.

This review is already pretty long, but I think it’s worth addressing one final topic. If you’re planning a trip to Kyoto, there’s a good chance you’re also visiting Tokyo. Accordingly, there’s a chance you’re also considering this hotel’s counterpart in Tokyo.

As you can read in our Park Hyatt Tokyo Review, our experience there was superlative–one of our best hotel stays ever.

If there’s a question of whether to stay at the Park Hyatt Kyoto or Park Hyatt Tokyo, our answer is Tokyo–all the way.

While we think the Park Hyatt Kyoto is an interesting and unique property with a great location, the Park Hyatt Tokyo is no slouch, either.Park Hyatt Tokyo is simply more befitting of its surroundings. Staying there simply makes more sense.

Tokyo is the largest megapolis in the world, a city of towering skyscrapers where western hotel chains are ubiquitous. Chances are, you’re going to be choosing one of them, because those are your best accommodations options.

By contrast, Kyoto is Japan’s traditional soul, home to the country’s rich culture and heritage. With that, comes a wealth of historic accommodations. No matter how well designed and respectful of its surroundings, Park Hyatt Kyoto simply cannot compete in these regards.

If it’s your first visit to Kyoto, staying in a traditional ryokan or restored machiya is arguably a must-do experience. We cover these options in our Where to Stay in Kyoto, Japan guide, and highly recommend them to any first-timer to Japan.

With luxury ryokan and machiya accommodations on par with the Park Hyatt Kyoto, it’s tough to recommend this chain over the traditional alternatives.

With that said, if you’re a Hyatt loyalist, have the points to burn, or are otherwise set on experiencing Park Hyatt Kyoto, it should not disappointment. This is one of the best hotels we’ve ever experienced, and we’re frankly surprised that it’s firing on all cylinders so shortly after opening.

Overall, there’s a lot to love about the Park Hyatt Kyoto. It’s not perfect. The rooms leave a bit to be desired in terms of layout and furniture functionality, and the bathhouse might as well not even exist. However, it’s a top-tier property with subtle beauty, exquisite uses of woods, tranquil spaces, and a great location for anyone looking to spend time in Higashiyama. It wouldn’t be our top recommendation to our first-timer, nor would we stay here for an entire trip, but Park Hyatt Kyoto nonetheless holds its own against the city’s hotel heavyweights.

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! 

Your Thoughts

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!

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