Hyatt Regency Kyoto – Review

On our recent trip to Japan, we visited Kyoto, which is one of the most beautiful cities in Japan with all its temples and amazing food and people. We spent two nights at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto, which is in a very central location near several temples and a short taxi ride to/from Kyoto Station.

Hyatt-Regency-KyotoHyatt-Regency-KyotoThis Hyatt Regency is a category 5 hotel at 20,000 points per night, and consistently runs at around $350 to $450 per night. Here are the current prices for later this year around the same dates we went last year.

Hyatt-Regency-KyotoSince I planned our trip well in advance, I was able to eventually find a cheaper rate and then further reduce it even more using Hyatt’s Best Rate Guarantee policy, and brought the final price down to an insanely good $192 per night. At 20,000 points per night we would have had a redemption of just over 1 cent per point if you factor in the taxes. I value Hyatt points at around 1.8 cents per point. On a 1 cent per point redemption it just wasn’t worth using points for the stay, so we just paid for the room outright.

Getting to the hotel:

Since you’re most likely to arrive in Kyoto by train, the best way to reach the hotel is by taking advantage of the hotel’s complimentary one-way taxi service. Once you exit Kyoto station, cross the street and find the MK VIP Station Counter, in front of the Hachijo Exit (1F) and just mention that you’re going to the Hyatt Regency. Since the complimentary ride is only on arrival from the station to the hotel, be sure to take advantage of this free service to save a few dollars (although taxi service is certainly cheap in Kyoto).

Arrival, lobby and check-in:

We arrived at approximately 1:00 p.m. and our room wasn’t ready, so we did all the check-in formalities, left our bags with the concierge, and went to the Sanjusangendo Temple, which is right next to the hotel, and then went to walk around for a bit to find a place for lunch. Here are some pictures from the hotel lobby:

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The Grill, the hotel’s main restaurant

Room:

After a couple of hours we walked back to the hotel, picked up our keys and went to our room, where they had already dropped off our luggage. Our room was on the 4th floor.

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The room was a small standard room compared to other Hyatts we have stayed at, but perfectly fine for two people.

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The bathroom had a shower/tub combination with a wooden stool, although counter space outside was relatively small with the sink taking up most of it, but perfectly functional and I just hanged my toiletries bag from the mirror. While the small space never bothers me much, I had two gripes with the bathroom. One was that the shower door didn’t have a proper seal and when we showered the water would splash to the outside sink area.

My biggest gripe with modern hotel designs is that I really dislike bathrooms with foggy glass where you can still see the person inside taking a shower, since they offer no privacy. I really don’t know what designers can possibly be thinking when they come up with these designs, which are a problem if you’re sharing a room with someone you have no interest in seeing while they shower. The shower even has a foggy glass wall that faces the bedroom as well.

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Japanese toilet

Japanese toilet

Japanese toilet controls

Japanese toilet controls

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The room had a small closet with some additional amenities like slippers, bathrobes, yakutas, thread and shoe accessories. There was also a flashlight, which I imagine are standard in Japanese hotels due to earthquakes.

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The minibar had plenty of variety, although we didn’t have anything from it. There was also a hot water electric pot in the room for tea preparation.

Minibar and room safe

Minibar and room safe

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The room had light controls on each side of the bed for easy access during the night.

Hyatt-Regency-KyotoMy favorite feature of this room (for the really nice weather we had) has to be that the windows open and they face the hotel’s garden. The view out into the garden was partially obstructed by the thick tree vegetation, but the fresh air was priceless.

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Food:

My Diamond status gave us complimentary breakfast at The Grill, the hotel’s main restaurant. On the first morning after arrival we tried the buffet, which was pretty decent and had a good selection of fruit, pastries and hot entrees. My favorite item from the buffet was the ham, which they carve for you on request, and it was one of the best hams I’ve ever had. Both mornings the restaurant was very busy and most tables were occupied.

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Hyatt-Regency-KyotoHyatt-Regency-KyotoHyatt-Regency-KyotoOn the second morning I had the Japanese breakfast, which you can order from your table and they bring out all at once. It was fantastic.

Japanese breakfast

Japanese breakfast

Rice and tea - Japanese breakfast

Rice and tea – Japanese breakfast

During our second night we also tried Touzan, the hotel’s Japanese restaurant.

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The food and service were both phenomenal. We had a squid appetizer and green tea and I had a Japanese blue fish with a miso soup and rice.

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Squid appetizer

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My wife had a small local river fish which I cannot remember the name of or find online. It was really tiny (and you could tell just by the $10 menu price), but had a nice flavor, although it was a bit messy to eat. Ultimately she ended up still being hungry and ordered a soup to compensate.

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“Tiny” local fish

We also shared a green tea ice cream for dessert, and it was excellent, although it was really a one person portion.

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There was a large event at the hotel that evening, and while the restaurant was relatively empty with only a handful of tables occupied, one of them had two ladies in full formal kimono attire, including their hair done in the traditional Japanese hairstyle. It was fascinating watching them dine and converse so gracefully and admiring their attire, which was gorgeous.

We also had vanilla ice cream for dessert on the first night at Trattoria Sette, the hotel’s Italian restaurant, and it was pretty good. Ironically the Italian restaurant was a lot busier on a Thursday night than the Japanese restaurant was on a Friday night, which makes sense being that most locals probably won’t go out on a Friday night to have dinner at a hotel’s Japanese restaurant.

Service:

Typical of Japanese service culture, the attention to detail, friendliness of the staff, courtesy and willingness to help cannot be overlooked. Everyone we encountered was friendly and welcoming, and made us feel right at home.

On the day of departure we took advantage of the 4:00 p.m. late checkout benefit to do more sightseeing. While spending a few minutes in the lobby, I noticed this box near the lobby restrooms. If anyone knows what they are, feel free to share. My best guess is some sort of prepaid cellphone rental service.

What is this?

What is this?

After checking out we took a short taxi ride to the Kyoto train station to catch the train to Osaka. While I can’t remember exactly how much we paid for the ride, it wasn’t too expensive. Somewhere around $10-$12 from the hotel to the train station.

Overall impression:

We were lucky to price out this hotel at $192 per night. While neither the 20,000 points per night or the usual rate of several hundred dollars is cheap, this hotel is a solid choice when visiting Kyoto. The location is excellent, and while the rooms are small, it is a great home base to explore the city. The food is excellent and the service is top notch, and when our travels take us back to Kyoto, this hotel will be at the top of the list. I definitely recommend a stay there if you visit Kyoto, which is a must when you visit Japan.

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