Bars, Japan

‘Lost in Translation’ hotel bar

Being a huge fan of the movie ‘Lost in Translation’, I was quite excited when I discovered that the hotel bar from the movie was something we could actually go and visit.

The bar, the ‘New York Bar‘ on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, is featured in the memorable scene where the two main characters Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johanssen) meet each other, sitting in the dim-yet warmly lit bar in front of the Tokyo skyline, sipping on their drinks and getting to know each other.

Lost in Translation screencap

I saw the movie when it first came out in the cinema in 2003 (a scarily long time ago now!) and it is one of those movies that has just stuck with me. I have watched it again more recently and some of my views about it may have changed, but I still love the general ambience and feeling it creates; it captures Tokyo pretty well from a first-time tourist’s eyes, albeit from a privileged view of staying in fancy hotels!

Park Hyatt Tokyo frontage

We headed out to the Park Hyatt Hotel on a Saturday evening, and arrived just before 7pm. We wanted to arrive before 8pm to skirt around the ¥2500 per person cover charge, when a jazz band starts playing.

Once inside the hotel lobby (had a bit of a mishap at first of Google Maps leading us to the trade entrance at first…), we followed some other tourists to the correct combination of elevators to get to the bar on the 52nd floor.

Michelle and Alec in the elevator at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

Eventually we arrived and were promptly shown to a table by a waiter, who proceeded to take our drink orders.

New York Bar interior

The skyline of Tokyo looks absolutely stunning through the big windows of the bar. We could see Tokyo Tower from where we were sat, glowing red in the distance.

New York Bar interior

The table that Bob and Charlotte sat on in the movie was the long table in the centre with the lamps.

New York Bar interior

We ordered two cocktails for about ¥2000 per drink (~£14):

  • Ocean Drive: Wa Bi Gin, Water Melon, Sesame Syrup, Lime Juice, Soda
  • Brazilian Julep: Cachaҫa 51, Southern Comfort, Mint, Lime Juice

The cocktails were ok, nothing too special for the price we paid for them, although they did come with a complimentary bowl of nuts and rice crackers, and the dragon fruit added to one of them was great. We were absolutely paying for the view and the bar’s reputation, which was fair enough.

Cocktails at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

However, the place was a bit too pretentious for us to stay too long; we only stayed there for about 40 minutes while we finished our cocktails.

The bar employed more of a ‘Western’ style service which we didn’t love – we had grown to love the excellent friendly service we received everywhere we went in Japan, and were quite taken aback when we were charged the equivalent of about £14 for a bottle of water we didn’t order, and a surprise service charge added onto the bill at the end, as well as a hidden tax charge.

Tips and service charges are generally frowned upon in Japan, so this was a bit of a shock; I would expect this kind of thing from London, not Tokyo.

Cocktails at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

Faffing around with the bill, we stayed a little over 8pm and the jazz band had started playing, so we ended up hearing a bit of the jazz on our way out anyway without paying the cover charge – sneaky 🙂

New York Bar interior and jazz band playing

All in all, I’m glad we went; it was great to see a set location from one of my favourite movies and experience the amazing view of Tokyo at night from the windows.

As you’d expect, the place is a tourist trap and the service is… not amazing for what you pay. If you decide to go, don’t build up your expectations too high, stay and listen to the jazz if you don’t mind the cover charge, enjoy the view and expect to come out with a much lighter wallet!

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