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I’ve wanted to stay at the Park Hyatt Tokyo ever since I watched Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation as an impressionable teen 20 years ago. Through Coppola’s sumptuous and dreamlike lens, Scarlet Johannson and Bill Murray’s wistful adventures in the hotel and the city worked their magic on me in a lifelong — and, until recently, unrealized — dream to visit Japan. When my perfect vacation suddenly materialized, I knew where I had to stay.
The first thing that signaled the Park Hyatt’s level of luxury is how its lobby isn’t ground-level; instead, an ear-popping elevator ride zips you to the 41st floor, opening into an airy room decorated with rich forest greens, bamboo shoots, and a cinematic view of the city with a majestic glimpse at Mount Fuji in the distance. It felt surreal to walk through the hotel seemingly preserved in amber; everything looked exactly like how Coppola presented it all those years ago. “This is just like when Bob and Charlotte introduced themselves in the movie,” I noted at the in-house New York Bar over a Cosmopolitan. There was even a jazz singer, lit up by the Tokyo skyline behind her.
While Coppola’s movie highlighted themes of melancholy and isolation, nothing during my stay at the Park Hyatt Tokyo felt less than harmonious. Its reputation as a sophisticated destination for worldly travelers revealed itself in the smallest details. I developed a ritual of eating a side of salty and sour umeboshi for breakfast alongside miso soup. When the pastry chef handed me a fresh-baked madeleine, I marveled at how objectively perfect the sponge cake turned out — even the most discerning Bake Off judges would have no notes. I knew I had to spend time in the rooftop pool on the 47th-floor atrium, but I was unprepared for how striking it felt to swim so far above the city with views that never failed to take my breath away. In the Club On The Park’s onsen, I felt separated from time and space, where the only thing that mattered was which sauna or tub I chose. (I officially spiritually reset after 15 minutes in the dry sauna.) In my sun-drenched room, I tried to mimic Johannson and listened to “Sometimes” by My Bloody Valentine, not caring that I was acting like the corniest woman alive.
To me, the Park Hyatt Tokyo redefined elegance: from its harmonious decor to service that anticipated my needs without being any peskiness. One evening, I returned to my room to find my wet bathing suit on its own miniature drying rack. When I left for Kyoto, the staff meticulously packed up my belongings and sent them to my next Tokyo hotel so I could travel with less baggage. Service like this is next level — and comes with a hefty price tag. Rooms average between $700 and $1,400 per night, which makes the concept of spending your entire Tokyo vacation at the hotel feel rather lofty. But ultimately, it’s an experience worth saving up for — even if only for one night. The property is intimate despite taking up the top 14 floors of the 52-story Shinjuku Park Tower. There are only 177 rooms in total, so when you stay there, you’re officially part of a select group of travelers with a taste for beauty.
This year, the Park Hyatt Tokyo celebrates its 30th anniversary with a makeover; the hotel will renew its guest rooms and facilities this summer to bring a modern feel to the property. While the jury’s out on how the renovation will look — guests will be welcomed back in 2025 — I have a feeling the hotel’s sophisticated ambiance will go unchanged. Mount Fuji will always beckon in the distance, Tokyo will continue to glitter below, and Coppola’s Lost in Translation imprint will endure.