Hyatt Regency Hakone
Hakone is a destination we have long wanted to visit. Its natural beauty is renowned in Japan and, although touristy, the tour is well worth doing. The fact that a Hyatt property is also in town made it easy to choose where to stay, although we chose to also stay in a ryokan for a traditional Japanese experience.
The Hyatt Regency Hakone is an interesting trip from Tokyo, and we would recommend buying a Hakone Freepass, which provides roundtrip transport from Shinjuku, Tokyo and complimentary transport on a number of providers in the Hakone area (e.g. cablecar, ropeway, boat and bus). We started in Shinjuku, before catching the Romance car (after paying the small additional charge) to Hakone and then the local train to Gora where we finally made our way even further up the mountain on the cable car. The hotel itself has an interesting style, similar to the Hyatt Regency Kyoto, and felt a step up from the standard Regency property. As we had arrived during cherry blossom season, the hotel was busy and our room wasn't ready at 11 am, when we arrived. However, we were able to leave luggage and go out sightseeing before returning to the hotel, where we were delighted to learn we were assigned a deluxe room. We were offered the choice of 1000 points or an amenity of fresh fruit as a welcome gift for having Hyatt Gold Passport diamond status (we chose the points) and were then escorted to our room.
During our stay, we viewed two suites - the Regency Suite Twin and Regency Executive Suite. The pictures on the right show both of these with pictures annotated to advise which. Whilst the suites were nice, we didn't feel that they were worth any extra spend over a deluxe room for a couple. At 82 square metres, the Regency Suite provided a little extra space by way of a separate living area rather than lounge at end of the bed; however, the bathroom was smaller with only a single sink. We did not feel that the Regency Suite was worth the extra $400/night over a deluxe room, especially as there are plenty of common areas to entertain friends.
The 93 square metres executive suite felt a step up from the other rooms in the hotel and is worth the extra $60/night over the Regency Suite. However, our advice remains to book a deluxe room. If you are travelling as a family, two deluxe rooms are cheaper and provide more space.
We came to Hakone to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and to see the hotel. A highlight for many visitors is the leisure area, offering gender-segregated onsen, open from 6 am until midnight. Unfortunately, due to our tattoos and the Japanese sensitivity towards these, we were not able to use the facilities.
IZUMI Spa is the largest in Hakone with 8 treatment rooms and a pleasant relaxation room. The treatment rooms themselves are very nice with a deep soaking tub (although filled with normal water, not onsen water) and steam room showers. The best value treatments seem to be either the morning massages offered before 11 am Monday-Saturday (approx 20% discount and your complimentary breakfast can be exchanged for lunch) or the before check-in/after check-out massages available only on day of arrival or departure (approx 30% discount for a 90 minute massage - around $130).
As a perk of our diamond status, we received a complimentary upgrade to a deluxe room, despite the hotel being fully sold. At 73 square metres, this is basically a junior suite room and a definite step up from the standard rooms at a still generous 56 square metres. The room was very spacious with a comfortable seating area at the end of the bed and a loggia (enclosed balcony) providing a dining space. A very welcome plate of fresh strawberries were in the room upon arrival and plentiful water and tea were provided. The bathroom was large, providing a wet-room style shower, twin sinks and separate toto washlet room.
Whilst not unusual in Japan, it is worth noting that all rooms in Hakone are fitted with twin beds, rather than the more usual international choice of king or twin. The hotel also offers dog-friendly rooms, including a dog shower, dryer, toilet and cage on the balcony.
Each afternoon, the cosy Living Room offers complimentary drinks. If anything, these are too generous - from 16:00-19:00 and including a wide range including real Champagne. In contrast, the food offerings are mediocre and meanly portioned. Mr D2T ordered chicken served with vegetables - the verbally promised 'potatoes' consisted of one thin slice of potato. Mrs D2T chose a pasta dish, which turned out to be the size of a children's portion - perhaps 25g of pasta. Despite complaining that the portions were unreasonably small (the two dishes came to $50 and were served without accompanying bread) no apology was offered.
Breakfast the following morning was a choice of Japanese or Western. This is the first 5* hotel we have visited that couldn't provide gluten-free bread. There was little fresh fruit available and, in general, we were disappointed with the choice.
The hotel offers a French restaurant, sushi bar and the newly launched Chef's Table. Serving only chef's choice, the latter is an intimate space but at $170 for a single-course meal, we'll pass despite the aims for Michelin recognition.
The Hyatt in Hakone is a definite step up from many other Regency properties, but did not leave us yearning to return. Whilst it is in a naturally interesting area and we liked many aspects of the hotel, dining was an expensive disappointment and not being able to use the onsen due to our tattoos means we would probably return to Yamanochaya or another ryokan in future. Having said that, the hotel is a very good use of Hyatt gold passport points (we paid 12500 points plus $150) and the happy hour in the evening is very generous with free-flow champagne. Service was generally good and the rooms are spacious. For any Hyatt fans travelling to Japan, this is definitely one for the list and would make a good stop between Tokyo and the South.