Back in October, I made my second trip to the incredible country of Japan. The first time around, I never made it beyond the capital city of Tokyo so from the second we booked our flights, we had plans to get out and see more of the country.
We landed on the old Japanese capital city of Kyoto, in part because we wanted to check out the Park Hyatt Kyoto, an incredible new property that first opened its doors back in 2019 and then abruptly closed to foreigners for nearly three years during the height of the pandemic.
If you're not familiar with the Park Hyatt brand, it's the cream of the crop of properties in Hyatt’s portfolio, practically renowned for a consistent, high-quality experience no matter where you are in the world. The Park Hyatt Kyoto is no exception and it's now one of my favorite Park Hyatt's in the world.
At just 70 rooms, the hotel is on the smaller side and has more of a boutique feel which was a big part of the appeal for me. Add in the incredible location, ability to book a stay with World of Hyatt points, top-notch food and beverage options, and beautiful rooms, and Hyatt has hit a home run with the “new” property.
Read on for our full review of the Park Hyatt Kyoto and why you should consider it for a trip to Kyoto, Japan.
Booking the Park Hyatt Kyoto
The Park Hyatt Kyoto is a Category 8 Hyatt property, which means if you're using World of Hyatt points, a standard stay will run you 40,000 points per night.
That may seem steep, but that's as good as it gets for a high-end property like this. And since cash rates are routinely over $1,500 a night, it's an excellent way to use points. Plus, Hyatt's peak- and off-peak award pricing system means you may see rooms bookable for as few as 35,000 points a night – or as much as 45,000 points during busy times.
Here's a full look at the Hyatt standard room award chart.
We booked a two-night stay and both nights were priced out at the standard rate for a total of 80,000 Hyatt points. And since I shared a room with a friend, we took advantage of the ability to transfer and combine World of Hyatt points to get the points we needed.
One thing to note: Booking a night at the Park Hyatt Kyoto with Hyatt points can be difficult as they typically don't release a lot of award availability. Add in the fact that the property only has 70 rooms, and the room inventory that is available to book with points can go quickly.
That said, we booked our stay back in June when Hyatt released a ton of award availability. A few days after booking, the dates we booked were no longer available to book with points, and they never became available again before our stay. If you're eyeing a stay and your dates are available, don't hesitate to book it!
Thrifty Tip: Use the free Bilt Rewards hotel award availability search tool to help you zero in on nights that are bookable with Hyatt points.
At Thrifty Traveler, we don't accept freebies. We use our own points, miles, or cash to pay for every single flight or hotel you see reviewed here – including this one!
How to Earn World of Hyatt Points
Looking to earn points for a stay at the Park Hyatt Kyoto? You don’t need to be a road warrior to rack up the required amount of points.
There are a few different credit cards that make earning Hyatt points relatively simple.
First, you can earn World of Hyatt points by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to your Hyatt account. Because Hyatt is one of the airline and hotel transfer partners of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points into your World of Hyatt account at a 1:1 ratio – 1,000 Chase points get you 1,000 Hyatt points.
And if you don’t have Chase Ultimate Rewards points, they can be earned from several personal and business credit cards. Our favorite option is the *chase sapphire preferred*. With the current welcome offer bonus, you can earn more than enough points for a one-night stay.
Read more: Why Hyatt is the Best Hotel Rewards Program
Park Hyatt Kyoto Location
We arrived in Kyoto after about a three-and-a-half-hour ride on the Shinkansen – the Japanese high-speed rail system. After deboarding at Kyoto station and heading down to the taxi line, we flagged a taxi to bring us to the property, which was about a 15-minute ride away.
If you're looking for a hotel in a great location, you won't find a better option than the Park Hyatt Kyoto. It's centrally located in the Higashiyama-ku area of the city which is one of the many historic and most famous areas of Kyoto.
Just outside the property's doors, you'll find many restaurants, tea houses, and authentic Japanese shops. It's also only a five-minute walk from one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Kyoto – the Kiyomizu-dera – which is a UNESCO world heritage site.
The hotel is built pretty seamlessly into the area and unless you knew it was there, it's unlikely you would realize it's a hotel – much less one of the nicest in the city.
We ended up walking to many of the attractions we wanted to see in Kyoto, but getting a cab from the front doors of the property wasn't an issue at all when we needed one.
Park Hyatt Kyoto Lobby and Checking In
We arrived at the Park Hyatt Kyoto at about 1:00 p.m. local time and upon entering the property's driveway, we were immediately greeted by the friendly and welcoming staff who took our luggage and escorted us to the lobby to start the check-in process.
The Park Hyatt Kyoto had one of the coolest and most tranquil hotel entrances I've ever seen. Once you walk through the open-air entrance to the property, you follow a path through a beautiful outdoor space that separates the main driveway and the actual front doors of the property.
The Park Hyatt Kyoto doesn't actually have much usable outdoor space for guests. That said, much of the hotel is built with hallways that go from inside to outside, so even though you can't use the outdoor space, the grounds are pristine and beautiful.
Once inside the building, you'll find two check-in desks to your left, with one of them doubling as the concierge desk. We were immediately greeted by the staff and ushered to a waiting area as our room wasn't quite ready.
After collecting our passports and getting all of the necessary paperwork prepared, the staff brought us a menu of complimentary beverages we could order while we waited to check-in. Still feeling the effects of jetlag, I ordered a cappuccino which was accompanied by a small piece of chocolate. both were delicious.
Others in my party went with an espresso and the sparkling wine option. It was a nice touch and certainly made the thirty-minute wait go much faster.
Once our rooms were ready, a member of the staff came over to give us the lay of the land and walked us through everything we needed to know about the hotel.
Don't count on upgrades if you hold any tier of Hyatt status. At the time of our stay, I held Hyatt's Explorist status, while another member of our party was a Hyatt Globalist – Hyatt's top tier of elite hotel status and neither of us was upgraded from our standard rooms. Given that the hotel only has 70 rooms including nine suites, this wasn't surprising.
Overall it was an A+ check-in experience and a great introduction to the property.
Park Hyatt Kyoto Rooms
Our standard double queen room was located on the sixth floor. To access the vast majority of the rooms at the property, you first take the elevator up to the 5th floor. After exiting the elevator, there is a short walk that brings you outside briefly and brings you back into another building with automatic doors. The automatic doors were really neat and weirdly one of my favorite things about the property.
You'll walk briefly through a tea lounge with beautiful views of the property and Kyoto. Throughout our stay, we didn't see anybody using the tea lounge but it made a great space to set up shop when we needed to get a bit of work done.
Finally, there is another set of elevators that brings you up to floors six and seven. Both of the rooms our group had booked were on the sixth floor and being they were the same room type, they looked almost identical.
These rooms are anything but standard. Hyatt lists these rooms as being 45 square meters (about 485 square feet) which was a good amount of space. I loved the design of these rooms as they felt quintessentially Japanese with a touch of what makes Park Hyatt rooms so fantastic. I loved the wood tones throughout the room and especially loved the ceilings.
When you first walk in, there is a bank of closets to your left, and the bathroom to your right. There was also a nice seating area just in front of the beds that we used throughout our stay. We found the beds to be very comfortable and the sheets and bedding to be of high quality. After spending three nights at a hotel in Tokyo, there was no comparison to how much better the beds were at the Park Hyatt Kyoto.
Between the closets and the main sitting area, you'll find the mini bar loaded with a coffee machine, an electric kettle for making tea, complimentary bottles of water, and much more. I loved the Park Hyatt Kyoto branded glass water bottles available in the rooms and all over the property.
There were also alcoholic beverages available, but these were not complimentary.
The bathroom area consisted of a double vanity, a shower area with a rainfall shower head a full bathtub, and a separate room with a Japanese toilet. While I didn't use the bathtub, I loved the shower as it had really good water pressure.
On one of the shelves just opposite the sinks, there were towels and a box full of additional toiletries like razors, toothbrushes, shaving cream, and more. While I didn't need to use any of these, it was a nice touch having them readily available.
As you'll find at most, if not all Park Hyatt's throughout the world, the toiletries were from Le Labo.
The overall vibe and aesthetic of the room were incredibly relaxing and one of the things I loved most about our short stay at the Park Hyatt Kyoto. While we didn't end up spending a ton of time in our rooms as we were out exploring Kyoto, it was a tranquil space and an amazing spot to end our days.
Park Hyatt Kyoto Bathhouse, Gym & Spa
On the third floor of the property, you'll find the fitness area which consists of the gym, the Japanese bathhouse, and the spa. When you step off the elevators and take a left, you'll first encounter the fitness area.
It's by no means large, and there isn't a lot of equipment, but for a property that only has 70 guest rooms I found the size to be perfectly fine. I used the gym on both mornings of my stay and both times no other guests were using it.
As the property just opened in 2019 and was closed to foreign visitors during the pandemic, the top-of-the-line equipment still looks and feels brand new.
Just down the hallway past the fitness floor area, you'll find a long hallway that leads to both the men's and women's Japanese bathhouse.
Once inside, you'll find a small changing area with lockers. Past the lockers and into the actual bathhouse you'll find a small sauna that will fit about two to three people, a steam room, a hot tub, a cold tub, and a few showers.
While small, it's a beautiful space, and both times I visited during my stay only one other guest was using the facility. It's open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day and guests don't need to make a reservation to use it.
One thing you won't find at the Park Hyatt Kyoto? A swimming pool. Due to the small nature of the property and the lack of real estate that it sits on, it would have been hard to pull off. But I loved the bathhouse and found it to be a relaxing escape and a great way to finish my workout on both mornings of my stay.
Park Hyatt Kyoto Spa
Also on the third floor, is the Park Hyatt Kyoto's spa. When you first get off the elevator and head left towards the fitness floor, you'll see a small reception desk. This is where you can enquire about the spa and make any appointments for a treatment.
You can find the spa menu here, which consists of quite a few different treatment options. I booked an appointment for my second day at the hotel and went with an 80-minute spiritual bamboo treatment which is listed at 30,000 JPY (about $208). It wasn't cheap but it was honestly one of the best spa experiences and massages I have ever had. My masseuse was wonderful and took great pride in her job and the city of Kyoto.
One knock on the spa is that there is only one treatment room. A friend I was traveling with also wanted to get the same treatment, and due to the lack of rooms, it wouldn't have been possible to do them at the same time unless we did a couples massage. He ended up booking the same treatment for the day after. Not a huge deal and probably not a scenario that presents itself too often, but even having just one additional room would have been nice.
Again, this just speaks to the small, boutique nature of the property.
Park Hyatt Kyoto Restaurants & Bars
In total, there are two restaurants and two bars at the Park Hyatt Kyoto. The lobby bar – called the Living Room – and the Kyoto Bistro, which is the only restaurant on the property that serves breakfast, are both on the first floor. On the fourth floor, is where you'll find the Kohaku bar and the Yasaka teppanyaki restaurant.
Keep in mind: Both the Kohaku bar and Yasaka restaurant require reservations. If there was one complaint I had about the Park Hyatt Kyoto, it's that I wish the hotel had proactively reached out to us about making reservations before check-in. While our group of four was lucky to get reservations at both places during our short, two-night visit, a quick email the week prior could have easily solved the problem – especially for guests with Hyatt's top-tier Globalist status.
Here's a breakdown of the restaurants and bars at the Park Hyatt Kyoto.
The Kohaku Bar, located on the fourth floor of the Park Hyatt Kyoto, requires a reservation to visit. It's open daily from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. While checking us in, a staff member encouraged us to make a reservation if we wanted to go as they fill up quickly. While we couldn't get a reservation for our first night, we were able to snag one for our final night.
The bar is technically open to the public, but if you're not staying at the Park Hyatt Kyoto you'll have to pay a cover charge of 1,898 JPY (about $13).
The Kohaku Bar only has space for about 15 guests total, and we were able to get all four of us in for a pre-dinner drink. The photos below were taken just before sunset and honestly don't do the space justice. It offers some incredible views of Kyoto and it was a fantastic spot to grab a drink.
When we first arrived at about 5:30 p.m., we were the only four in the bar, but by about 6 p.m. almost every spot was filled.
While certainly not cheap, the Kohaku Bar had a pretty impressive cocktail list with very good drinks. I started with the Pagoda Martini which was made with The Kyoto Distillery's KI NO BI Blue Dragon gin, Mansanilla, Shiso, and agarwood aroma water. It was a unique and tasty take on one of my favorite cocktails. Most of the cocktails on the list start at 2,500 JPY (about $17.60).
Our bartender, who was originally from the United States but has been living in Japan for ten years, told us that the Kyoto Distillery KI NO BI Blue Dragon gin that is used in a handful of the cocktails is distilled exclusively for the Park Hyatt Kyoto, and you won't find it anywhere else. It's also available for sale down on the first floor at the Kyoto Bistro, but I didn't check the pricing.
Kohaku also has an impressive selection of Japanese whisky. While again not cheap, I couldn't help myself. I went with the Hibiki Blender's Choice which was delicious.
We also ordered a few light appetizers to accompany our drinks and overall we had a great experience. If you're staying at the property and want to check it out, I would suggest reaching out a few weeks before your stay to make a reservation. It seemed like we got lucky there was space for four of us on the second night of our stay.
Just next door to the Kohaku bar on the fourth floor, you'll find Park Hyatt Kyoto's signature restaurant, Yasaka, which is a traditional Japanese teppanyaki restaurant that also infuses French culinary techniques. It's reservation only with slots available from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Children under the age of 12 are not allowed.
Like the Kohaku bar, the staff member encouraged us to make a reservation if we were interested right away. And again, it was only available on the last night of our stay for the 8:30 time slot.
There are only nine seats available around the teppanyaki grill and when the hotel is at full occupancy, I imagine it's difficult to get a reservation.
The views of the Kyoto skyline from the restaurant at night are second to none and it was a great way to spend our last night in Japan.
As far as the menu goes, you'll have three options each of which will have at least six courses with two of the options having a seventh course. You can see the full menu here.
All four of us went with the SEIRYU option which was 25,000 JPY ($173 before tax) and had a scallop, red shrimp, grouper, and Japanese wagyu sirloin course. All four of us also added a glass of wine which pushed the bill to about $250 per person after all was said and done. Not cheap at all, but overall it ended up being quite a bit of food – all delicious – and it was a great experience.
The Kyoto Bistro is located on the first floor of the property and it is the only restaurant serving breakfast. It's open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and is also open to the public.
As far as breakfast goes, you have two options: Western or Japanese. If you do choose the Japanese option, you have to pre-order it and it costs extra.
If you hold Hyatt Globalist status, you'll get free breakfast at the Park Hyatt Kyoto which includes the Western breakfast buffet and the option to order one dish off the menu. If you opt for the Japanese breakfast, it's still an extra 3,300 JPY ($22) per person.
My Hyatt Explorist status doesn't come with free breakfast, so I paid about 6,050 JPY ($42) for the Western breakfast buffet and the ability to order off of the menu.
The buffet wasn't huge but it had a lot of great options from fresh fruit, croissants, meats and cheeses, yogurts, and more.
I also ordered the fried noodles with shrimp on both mornings which I thought were delicious.
No one in our group tried the Japanese breakfast. The hotel said that the reason for the additional charge and pre-ordering is that the Japanese breakfast is catered by the nearby Michelin-star restaurant Kyoyamato.
The Living Room (Lobby Bar)
No matter what Park Hyatt you are staying at anywhere in the world, the Living Room is the name of the lobby bar. The Living Room at the Park Hyatt Kyoto is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
It's located just behind the main check-in desks and generally part of the larger seating area on the first floor.
Throughout the day, you'll have the ability to order snacks, drinks, and even afternoon tea. You can find the menus for each of these online.
Also, every night, the property hosts a complimentary champagne hour from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. for World of Hyatt Globalist members and guests who are staying in one of the nine suites.
You won't find a hotel in a better location, and if a small, boutique vibe is what you're after the Park Hyatt Kyoto delivers in every way. From the check-in experience to the spa, restaurants and everything in between, the staff was incredibly welcoming and the service was top-notch. The rooms were the perfect place to relax after a day spent exploring Kyoto.
While it's notoriously hard to book with points, if you've got World of Hyatt (or Chase or Bilt) points and can find the award availability, I can't recommend the Park Hyatt Kyoto enough for your trip to Japan.