Last spring, I enjoyed a memorable trip with one of my best friends in scenic Japan. The hotels we stayed at were spectacular, and the flights to/from Japan were not bad either. You can read my trip reports here:
- Trip report: Japan Airlines B77W Business Class London to Tokyo
- Review: Amanemu
- Review: Aman Tokyo
- Review: Hyatt Regency Hakone (today)
- Review: Park Hyatt Tokyo
- Review: St Regis Osaka
- Review: Andaz Tokyo
- Review: The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
- Trip report: British Airways B77W Business Class Tokyo to London
Today (August 10, 2016): Review of Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort & Spa (Japan).
- Location: Google Maps
- Address: 1320 Gora, Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture 250-0408, Japan
- Hotel website: Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort & Spa
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso
Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort and Spa is a hotel located in Gora in Kanagawa Prefecture in the central region of Honshu, Japan, an area famous for its onsen (hot springs), museums and sightseeing spots, as well as the renowned views of Mount Fuji. The resort offers accommodations with a total of 80 spacious Japanese and Western-style guestrooms and suites, all of which have a private sun terrace or balcony. It’s the most luxurious hotel around Mt. Fuji, offering its guests a spa and zen experience.
Hyatt Regency Hakone features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Japan.
In this review (more info below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort and Spa is the best hotel in Hakone National Park, also known as the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. The latter is one of the most beautiful destinations in Japan and mainly caters to tourists looking for a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. The area is a nature lover’s paradise, with relaxing hot-springs (onsen), dense forests, and scenic lakes centered around legendary Mt. Fuji, with 3,776 meters (12,388 feet) Japan’s highest mountain.
- The resort is easily accessible by rail from Japan’s major cities. The train from Tokyo to the Hakone area takes between 45 minutes and 2 hours, while it’s a two-and-a-half-hour bullet train journey from Osaka.
- The hotel provides complimentary shuttle service from Odewara station, the point of arrival in the area for most guests. The ride takes around 30 minutes, and it’s very convenient since you don’t have to worry about your luggage or the weather. The shuttle bus leaves Odawara station at 12:15 pm, 1:15 pm and 2:15 pm, and departs from the hotel at 11:30 am, 12:15 pm and 1:15 pm. Prior reservations for the shuttle bus are required at least one hour prior to departure.
- The hotel is centrally situated in the Hakone area and is a convenient base to explore the attractions that the region has to offer. It’s a five-minute stroll from to hotel to the Hakone cable car that travels between Gora and the start of the Hakone Ropeway, from where aerial cars take tourists to Lake Ashi while offering spectacular views of Mt Fuji on route.
- The hotel feels like a modern mountain lodge with a Japanese ambience. The property is composed of two buildings. One wing contains the check-in area, the restaurants, the lounge area, and some rooms. The other wing houses most of the rooms, the spa, and the indoor onsen (more on that below).
- The hotel has 80 spacious and beautifully appointed guestrooms and suites. During my visit, I stayed in a ‘deluxe mountain view twin room’. The room featured a work area and a large bathroom with heater and separate wet area. Contemporary design and dark wood furnishings added to luxurious amenities, including a furnished balcony, terry bathrobes, and the latest technology such as a flat-screen TV with DVD player.
- Guests at the Hyatt Regency Hakone can enjoy Japanese cultural experiences. For example, the hotel provide, his, hers and kid sized Yukata and Tanzen (a traditional garment) and wood slipper to wear around the hotel.
- Two large, indoor onsen are available on site, one for men and one for women. As you may know, an onsen is a mineral hot-spring,rich in calcium and magnesium, that is said to have healing and health-promoting properties. The source of the Owakudani Valley Hot Springs is located at the hotel, and as such, hotels guests can enjoy the many good benefits of these hot springs, relax in the sulphate pools, and melt away their fatigue. The onsen is lined with granite and a glass wall looks out into a small garden.
- The hotel’s central area is the intimate Living Room, a cosy lounge located on the 1st floor of the hotel (one floor below the reception) which overlooks a small, intimate courtyard. Here, guests can enjoy complimentary happy hours drinks (including champagne and cocktails) every night between 5 and 7 pm, while relaxing around the open log fireplace.
- The hotel’s provincial restaurant – The Dining Room – features an open kitchen and relaxing mountain views. It serves authentic French and Japanese cuisine crafted with ingredients from the Hakone region and Sagami Bay. It operates for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a daily set menu and a la carte selections.
- Breakfast is a choice of a fixed Japanese breakfast or a superb western buffet. The latter is nicely presented in the restaurant’s open kitchen. It features both Japanese and Western items.
- The Hyatt Regency brand isn’t the Hyatt Hotel Group’s most exclusive brand (that honor goes to Park Hyatt and Andaz). This lower-end branding does not do this hotel justice, as the Hakone property feels quite luxurious and could easily be branded as an Andaz hotel in terms of service and the quality of the facilities.
- The hotel’s excellent spa – designated IZUMI & Onsen – is the largest in the Hakone area. The spa’s 8 treatment rooms boast walk-in mist saunas and showers, with four of them having bathtubs.
- The hotel staff are very attentive and helpful. And most of them speak pretty fluent English too, so there won’t be too much of a language barrier.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
The Hyatt Regency brand is well represented in Japan with several hotels all over the country. Its Hakone property is a stand out because of its location near Mt. Fuji and overall luxurious ambience. Nevertheless, there are some things you need to know before making a booking here:
- Most visitors come to the area for the spectacular views of Japan’s most famous volcano. Unfortunately, Mt. Fuji is hardly visible from the hotel itself. Although the property affords a glimpse of the top of Mt. Fuji on a clear day, you will need to venture outside the hotel and make use of the tourist infrastructure in the area (cable car, boat) to enjoy the iconic views.
- The hotel offers a cozy Western lodge feel with modern design and bright decorations, but somewhat lacks traditional architecture that found in other hot spring resorts across Japan. This may be a good or bad thing according to your own preferences.
- There aren’t many shops and restaurants within walking distance, so you always need to walk for around 20 minutes or take the cable car or taxi to get to Gora, the town where most tourist facilities are located. The hotel also provides free shuttle service to town but only between 11.30 am and 5 pm.
- The hotel does have a small courtyard garden and a terrace with a few loungers, but it lacks a large outdoor space or green area where one could relax after a day of sightseeing or simple detox in the healthy mountain air.
- The onsen experience is slightly disappointing as the onsen is located indoors and feels more like a large, heated pool than an authentic hot spring. I would have preferred that they brought the onsen closer to the outdoors. In addition, there is no sauna nor cold plunge pool.
- The speed of the internet can be frustratingly slow.
- The hotel has no gym.
- Spa treatments are exorbitantly priced although that’s not different from Japan’s other luxury hotel spas.
- The hotel definitely is a five-star property, but it lacks a wow factor and has s somewhat corporate ambience. You should stay here to get away from it all in the beautiful surrounding, but this is not a destination spa resort.
- Location: 7/10
- Design: 8/10
- Pool: 7/10 (indoor onsen)
- Resort grounds: 5/10
- Rooms: 8/10
- Food: 8/10
- Breakfast: 9/10
- Spa: 8/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: good: 7,7/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Hyatt Regency Hakone (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and 100 USD).
- Save money: make use of Hyatt’s best rate guarantee to discount the cheapest room rate by an additional 20%.
- Platinum and Diamond members of Hyatt’s loyalty program, Hyatt Gold Passport, are well treated, with – amongst other benefits – complementary room upgrade (when available), early check-in or late check-out (when available), and free breakfast (Hyatt Diamond). Click here to read my review of the Hyatt Gold Passport program (with pros & cons).
- Make sure you book a room with a mountain view to avoid you end up in a room with a courtyard view.
- Get up early as clouds often gather around Mt Fuji from mid-morning, obscuring its view.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Hakone has the same climate as Tokyo. The hot summer months begin with the rainy season in June to July. The warmest month is August, while the coolest is February. Snowfall is common in the area in January and February, while spring is delightful, with mild weather and sunny days. The best times to catch a glimpse of Mt Fuji is during autumn and winter, especially from December to February when the weather gets drier. Also, visibility tends to be better in the morning.
HOW TO GET THERE
Most travelers will arrive in the Hakone area by train from Tokyo (which takes between 45 minutes and 2 hours). The hotel provides free pick-up and drop-off service from Odawara Station and Gora Station.