Lost in Translation: Hyatt Regency Kyoto

Filed Under: Hotel Reviews, Hotels

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Hyatt Regency Kyoto
Hoshinoya Kyoto
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Let me start by saying that I have no clue why this place isn’t a Park Hyatt. Wow.

We arrived at Kyoto Station at around 9PM and took a cab from there to the Hyatt Regency, which took about 10 minutes and cost ~$10USD.

At the entrance we were helped by the porters with our bags and directed to check-in.

While the exterior of the hotel was lit up beautifully at night it didn’t look especially modern, unlike the rest of the hotel.

Hyatt Regency Kyoto exterior

Hyatt Regency Kyoto exterior

Hyatt Regency Kyoto exterior

Check-in is located on the right side once you enter the lobby, where we were promptly helped. The agent confirmed we had made our booking through Virtuoso (we paid roughly $250USD per night), which entitled us to a room upgrade, free breakfast, $100 food and beverage credit, and tickets to Sanjusangendo Temple, which is located right across the street from the hotel. With the exception of the food and beverage credit and temple tickets the benefits were pretty redundant, given that we get a room upgrade and free breakfast as Diamonds anyway. However, having booked through Virtuoso and being a Diamond member may have resulted in a better upgrade.

Hyatt Regency Kyoto lobby

Hyatt Regency Kyoto lobby

In addition to the breakfast vouchers we also got a coupon for 3,000 Yen off a dinner menu order at any of their restaurants.


I asked the associate about the possibility of late check-out (I try to be polite and phrase it as a question, though as a Hyatt Diamond member I’m entitled to guaranteed 4PM check-out). After checking with her supervisor the agent offered 2PM check-out. Rather than argue I figured I’d take care of it in the morning when I was fresh, since we really did want 4PM check-out.

A porter walked us to our room, which was located on the 5th floor.



Our room was 1506, a stunning Deluxe Balcony King room. It’s worth noting that this hotel doesn’t have suites and therefore doesn’t allow Diamond members to use suite upgrades. Their Deluxe Balcony rooms are spectacular, though they only have a handful of them (and only on the 5th floor), so we were really lucky to get the upgrade.

Our room, 1506

Floor layout

The room was triangular with an “L” shaped couch, king size bed, and large desk. The room really does feel like it belongs in a Park Hyatt based on the furnishings, so blew me away because I wasn’t expecting it to be so nice.

Deluxe King Balcony room

Deluxe King Balcony room

Deluxe King Balcony room

Deluxe King Balcony room

Deluxe King Balcony room

There was a welcome letter on the desk, along with a bottle of still water.

Welcome amenity

Behind the bedroom was the bathroom, which was just as impressive as the rest of the room. To the side was a small room with the toilet, which had as many buttons as a 747 cockpit.


The bathroom featured dual sinks, though the highlight was the tub and shower area, which reminded me a bit of the Park Hyatt Seoul. The bathtub and shower were in the same enclosure, which I found to be a pretty cool setup.



Bath amenities

Now, I didn’t actually use the tub, though I suspect it was style over substance. It looked stylish, though in looking at it I can’t imagine it was especially comfortable to use.




The room also featured a huge balcony overlooking the hotel’s garden. I wish they would have had some furniture on the balcony, as the views were great and it was very relaxing.


View from balcony

The gardens were accessible from the ground floor and beautiful to stroll around.




The hotel also has a nice gym with modern equipment. Nothing beats watching lip synching and karaoke on Japanese MTV while on the treadmill.




Breakfast was served daily from 6:30AM till 10:30AM in The Grill, which is located in the lobby.

The Grill

The buffet spread was very nice, consisting of fresh fruit, juices, pastries, meat, cheese, as well as several hot dishes. Service was attentive, as you’d expect in Japan.

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread

We had lunch one afternoon at Trattoria Sette, the hotel’s Italian restaurant. We got there at around 2:30PM, were presented with lunch menus, and talked for about 30 minutes before ordering. The waiter comes over to take our order, and as we say what we want he says “oh, wrong menu, it’s not lunch time anymore.”

He proceeds to bring us the dinner menu, which has higher prices and a more limited selection. We asked if we could just order off the lunch menu since that’s what we were presented with, but he said no, because it wasn’t 2:30PM anymore. It’s the first time I’ve had the menus switched on me after sitting down.

Now, it’s not all bad news. I was given a 3,000 Yen (~$35USD) voucher at check-in for any restaurant purchase off the dinner menu. While it wasn’t dinner time, the voucher specifically said that it was for orders off the dinner menu. I figured that would compensate somewhat for the higher prices of the dinner menu.

He comes over and I present the voucher. He smiles and says “oh no, it’s lunch time, not dinner time.” Yeah, except you took the lunch menu right out of our hands as we were ready to order. He then claimed it was “snack time.” Fine, then present me with a “snack” menu and not the dinner menu please.

Look, I don’t want to be the “ugly” tourist. I understand Japan is about rules/procedures so I figured he could appreciate the fact that the voucher specifically said “dinner menu” and we were ordering off the dinner menu. While it took a bit of back and forth, we did eventually get the discount.

Trattoria Sette

Trattoria Sette

Delicious pizza

And while I didn’t actually eat at it, the hotel also has a high-end Japanese restaurant, Touzan, which I snapped a couple of pictures of.



The bar connected to Touzan had to be one of the most unique I’ve ever seen, given that the walls were literally made of books. Awesome!

Touzan Bar

Touzan Bar

As far as the hotel’s location goes, I’d say it was pretty good. Kyoto is pretty spread out in terms of visiting the sights, though the Hyatt Regency has a good location for seeing many gardens and temples. It’s proximity to Kyoto Station is also practical.

On the whole the service was spectacular. Every time I walked through the hallways of the hotel, the housekeeping staff would stop and bow. It was almost embarrassing, since they’d stop 100 feet down the hallway and start bowing. Hell, on one occasion I just opened my door and there happened to be a housekeeping employee servicing the room across from mine, and even she started bowing immediately.

It was clear the employees were there to delight, and they did for the most part. The restaurant experience was frustrating, and I was also rather frustrated by the late check-out situation, since even the next day they wouldn’t budge on 4PM, even though it’s a guaranteed benefit. I didn’t push it since we didn’t mind leaving a bit earlier, but I still find it ridiculous that the hotel won’t honor a guaranteed benefit. At least the negotiations were entertaining:

“I just wanted to confirm I could have 4PM check-out as a Diamond member, please.”
“How about 2PM?”
“How about 4PM, please?”
“We can do 2PM.”
“But am I not guaranteed 4PM check-out as a Diamond member?”
“We’re very full tomorrow. How about 2:30PM?”
“Okay, fine”
“Please hold on, let me ask my manger if we can do 2:30PM check-out.”
“Okay, how about we move you to another room from 2PM to 2:30PM?”

Either way, this hotel is spectacular, and I’d say probably the best option in Kyoto. It’s the closest thing I’ve seen to a Park Hyatt without actually being one…

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  1. Lucky – LMAO! I loved the interactions you had with the staff in the restaurant and for check out! This is pure gold… comic fodder for an episode on Seinfeld!

  2. We liked this Hyatt better than the Park Hyatt Tokyo, Grand Hyatt Tokyo, and Hyatt Regency Hakone. Every single person was amazing, we were given a fabulous room with a tea ceremony area and a great view of the water features, the staff was great, and we liked all of the restaurants. We are thinking about going to go back for Thanksgiving!

  3. Lucky – you missed out on the tub? That’s a Japanese cedar tub: When you fill it with water, the aroma makes soaking in it quite relaxing.

    Do give it a try next time.

  4. Moody – You’re right, it was very relaxing but with that much water it’s more amazing that it did not leak.

    Rikki – I certainly enjoy it more since they now upgrade me to the deluxe balcony king without asking. Great hotel and excellent service from the Concierge.

  5. Nice review Lucky. It brings back lots of fond memories of my time there last year. The GM of the HR Kyoto came from the PH Tokyo. He’s the most hand-on customer centric GM I’ve ever met. Sometimes, you’ll see him busing table at breakfast. We stayed in a “family room” with the main room similar to yours, but there was an attached room that has 2 double beds, same entrance for both rooms. I called it a suite Japanese style. We loved the service and accommodation of this place, will definitely be back.

  6. 1. Refused to honor clearly defined loyalty benefits resulting in pointless circular logic merry-go-round.

    2. Played ridiculous shell game with restaurant selections, prices, and benefits.

    3. Lots of random bowing.

    1 + 2 + 3 = “Service was spectacular.”


  7. Just for the record, that cedar tub is every bit as comfortable as it looks. There is no technical reason they couldn’t have made it into an oval or circle or some other shape that begins to resemble a space an actual human might fit comfortably in. A prime example of form over function, just as you originally called it.

  8. @ PH — There were two service quirks which I perhaps highlighted a bit too much. The rest of the service was beyond spectacular, though.

  9. @Lucky: I think part of the disconnect is that you have not been entirely clear about what “the rest of the service” involved. What other services did you request that were so “beyond spectacular” that they completely overshadowed the refusal to honor a guaranteed checkout and the steadfast adherence to mind numbingly obtuse meal policies? Once you’ve explained that I think everything will start falling into place.

  10. Actually, 4pm check-out isn’t guaranteed for Diamonds. Read the fine print on Hyatt.com, it actually mentions “Subject to availability at Hyatt resorts and casinos. Not available at Hyatt Residence Club resorts.”

  11. @ Samuel — It’s not guaranteed at resorts, though this isn’t a resort. It’s a hotel, where it is guaranteed.

  12. @ Dax — There were two hiccups with the service, and the rest of the experience was spectacular. There’s a certain aspect of service you can’t do justice to with a description, and I feel this is one of those hotels. For example, my friend dropped a bottle of champagne and it exploded. One of the employees went in to “save” it, and then got champagne glasses so we could enjoy it before it was flat.

    @ Carl — Hyatt’s branding, is, at the end of the day, completely screwed up. The Hyatt near Tampa Airport is a Grand, while this is a Regency. And now they’re building non-branded Hyatts, like the Hyatt 48 Lex. It’s clear that with the exception of Park Hyatt, the rest of Hyatt’s branding doesn’t mean anytime.

  13. Lucky, you spent $10 going from the Kyoto train to the hotel? There’s a free taxi cab complimentary for guest across the street at the MK Taxi stand/Vista Hotel. I am at the hotel right now…I will see if my experience matches your own.

  14. I believe Hyatt categorizes this property as a “resort”, thus making late check out subject to availability.

  15. @ Nate Esq — We didn’t realize the complimentary taxi benefit till the return, so we used it then.

    @ DW — Is that written anywhere? Every “resort” I’ve seen has it in their name.

  16. @ Lucky- The below is from the current T&C on goldpassport.com. Clicking through to the other site will provide the list of what Hyatt considers “resort” properties.

    6. Diamond members receive a 4:00 PM late checkout (local hotel time) on day of departure at Hyatt properties. 4:00 PM late checkout is subject to availability at hotels with a casino (including Grand Hyatt Macau and Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila) and Hyatt resorts. A detailed list of Hyatt resorts can be found at hyattresorts.com

  17. @ DW — Wow, I learn something new every day, thanks for the heads up! I was under the impression that resorts were properties with the name “resort” in them. Very interesting! I do wish the hotel would have explained that to me, because I wasn’t aware.

  18. @ Aeroman — No need for an invite, you just need to work with an agent that has a Virtuoso affiliation. If you go to the “Luxury Hotels” forum on FlyerTalk you’ll find plenty of agents there.

  19. I’m at the HRK right now. Very nice hotel, although I think they need to do something about the “free internet only in the lobby” thing. Having a crowd of people sitting in the lobby wearing their pajamas on their iPhones and laptops seems contrary to the intended ambiance of the hotel. Otherwise, an excellent Kyoto hotel.

    I’m here on a Virtuoso rate and I’m also Platinum, but didn’t get an upgrade. I’m here 4 nights though, and they said the last two nights they should be able to upgrade me. Even the standard room is very nice compared to the other Japan hotels I’ve stayed in so far though.

  20. Are there minimum night stay for the $100 USD Food n Beverage credit book through Virtuoso? Will I get the $100 F&B credit even if I book one night stay?

  21. Can you give me the Virtuoso agent contact? I went to their website and it’s not so useful (no email contact and way to check the room rates/availability). Many thanks!

  22. Bring running shoes if you want any kind of spa treatment there. I had to take the elevator to the basement, down a long hallway, around the corner to a second elevator and up a floor to get to the spa.

  23. @Lucky
    I know this an old post, but I was wondering who you used to help book this hotel. I know it was through Virtuoso, but who specifically.

  24. i have stayed at this property some 20 times… and concur that it is better than the park Tokyo. behind the scenes you mention interacting with is a rather Excellent general manager by the name of Yokoyama. I have been in some 50 Hyatts, and traveled in some 30 + countries, and Yokoyama-san ranks with the top 5 hotel GMs worldwide… like Kurt V; for those in the know.
    One great thing to utilize in this hotel is the local knowledge… whether its a rail trip to Amanoshidate, one world’s hidden treasures of a resturant in Arashimaya ; getting the proper kind of green tea,…that little incense store you visited three years ago but forgot the name of…
    the staff is all very knowledgeable—this is not at just the concierge desk but throughout the hotel. btw i have just booked my next stay.

  25. Hi Lucky,

    What is the benefit of booking via Virtuoso, do I have to call an advisor to use Virtuoso’s services?


  26. I really wish I had seen this review before booking a cheap room at the awful Westin Miyako in Kyoto. Your room and the Diamond treatment would have been well worth the additional cost. Never good to be penny wise and pound foolish. I will be sure to look for your reviews next time before I travel to a new place.

  27. We stay at this Hotel every other year and find this hotel to be as good and if not better than the PH in Tokyo which we also enjoy regularly. The service is terrific and there is an intimacy to this wonderful hotel that you can’t get elsewhere. BTW it is literally next door to a major tourist site and across the street from the Main Art Museum for Kyoto. You just can’t beat the service, the beauty of the hotel and the beauty of the rooms. Those cedar tubs are so wonderful and a real treat, they really are quite the luxury, and combined with the Yuzu bath salts, it is a luxury few people get to enjoy in their lifetime. I think this is the best hotel in Kyoto and wouldn’t stay anywhere else. A brief story, this is how good the service is. We had met a wonderful friend of a relative more than a decade ago who was so kind to us when we first visited Kyoto. I wanted to see him again and thank him for his kindness but I only had his business name, not even a business card or his name. Well his company had shut down and yet the concierge staff found the man and his family and set up a meeting for us. It was amazing! I will never forget the hotel staff for that wonderful moment they made possible!

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