Thanks to the movie “Lost in Translation”, the Park Hyatt Hotel has been the “go to” place for a fancy night out. A cocktail at the New York Bar and Grill on the 52nd floor, the scene where Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanssen cross paths, is now an obligatory drinking spot for tourists visiting Tokyo. I’ve been there and done that a couple of times now, albeit a few years ago. I was back at the Park Hyatt Hotel over the weekend, this time, to enjoy high tea. The occasion – Skye’s birthday. I had said I would organise her 30th birthday soiree. She invited a small group of friends, and I arranged the venue. The Afternoon Tea at the Park Hyatt takes place in the Peak Lounge located on level 41 of the Park Tower in Shinjuku. The Peak Lounge is a lounge restaurant/cafe by day and bar/dining by night. It’s a bamboo themed lounge with a glass atrium. It commands a 270 degree over Shinjuku, Tokyo and beyond. Even a glimpse of Mount Fuji on a clear day.
I had booked well in advance for the occasion as we wanted to guarantee ourselves window seats to enjoy the views from its huge glass windows. The Park Hyatt is one of the few high tea venues in Tokyo with a view. Groups of 4 are ideal for window seating. A table for 6 required a bit more dialogue back and forth with the hotel. Of the 6 people in attendance, three had dietary requirements, so best to let the hotel know in advance. They were most accommodating. We had 2 vegetarian afternoon tea sets, and 1 semi-vegetarian set (meat ok, no seafood), and three regular afternoon tea sets. (The sandwiches usually contain meat and seafood such as salmon or prawns.)
It was a lovely afternoon for a birthday afternoon tea on an autumn Saturday. We were blessed with great weather so that we could actually enjoy the view from our window seats. We glammed up for the occasion. I wore a dress and heels – a very rare occasion where I wear either. I scrub up quite well when I put in a little effort. I’ll take jeans and sneakers anyday though. I much prefer to dress for comfort.
I do love high tea, and as far as high teas go, the Park Hyatt was pretty good. It won points on reservation service (they were most accommodating to all our requests), food was very good (sandwiches were probably my least favourite though), atmosphere and views were outstanding. It lost points on extremely slow service. Order your pot of tea half an hour before you actually want it because it will take that long for it to be brought out. But then it got bonus points for all the extra sweets and hor’d’eouvres that you get. So the way that afternoon tea works at the Park Hyatt is that you order the afternoon tea set which is your three platters of sandwiches, scones and sweets. You can then choose as many different pots of teas as you like from the menu. In addition, throughout the day/afternoon, waiters walk around to your table delivering trays of extra sweets and appetizers from which you can choose whatever you like and have as many as you like, and it’s free. The afternoon tea session is however limited to 3 hours, and you will be gently reminded of that. I thought the tea selection was very limited and not at all creative. There was a limited handful, and nothing really exotic. Just regular assam, darjeeling, earl grey, and some Asian/herbal teas. I didn’t think the teas were very special. In fact, quite ordinary. The afternoon tea costs 3200yen but with service tax etc added, it totals to 3520yen which is standard for high tea. The extra food platters that come around during afternoon tea is a nice touch though.
It was a girl’s day out, although Skye’s bf did join us later for a late dinner and drinks. After afternoon tea which ended at 6pm, we then switched from cakes to cocktails and headed to level 52 to the New York Bar, a la Lost in Translation style. If you are not a guest of the hotel, entry after 8pm costs 2200yen. Prior to 8pm there’s no seating charge, however if you stay past 8pm, you will be charged. So you need to be in and out before 8pm to avoid the charge. We lounged around in the Bar enjoying the night lights of Tokyo with cocktail in hand. We then headed into Shinjuku proper for a late dinner and drinks at an izakaya. I’m such a high tea nerd. But it’s such a relaxing hobby. Throughout the year I have been keeping a spreadsheet of every venue that offers high tea in Tokyo and keeping notes on them, and ranking them. I realised that I’ve only done about 7 of them. Feels like I’ve done so much more than that! Still got so many to go.
Skye had a great birthday, so mission accomplished. I already have my birthday high tea planned for next year. Very excited. It’s the only thing I am looking forward to about turning 30 – it’s going to be the creme de la creme of high tea extravagances. Enjoy the fancy pics!