Staying at the only Category 1 Park Hyatt: My review of the Park Hyatt Chennai
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Ever since I wrote a story on the best international Category 1 Hyatt hotels, I’ve had my eye on several low-category World of Hyatt properties. I’ve watched as some jumped to higher echelons during Hyatt’s annual category changes. But each year, I’ve been relieved to see one particular property remain as a Category 1: the Park Hyatt Chennai in India.
I loved my stay at the Park Hyatt Beijing in 2019. So, I was excited to see how the world’s only Category 1 Park Hyatt would compare — especially since I earned World of Hyatt elite status for the first time in 2021 — and most hotels with a Park Hyatt designation are very luxurious and very expensive in terms of both cash and points.
Armed with top-tier Hyatt Globalist status, I was curious: Would the Park Hyatt Chennai live up to my expectations? Here’s my take after a four-night stay at the property in May.
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I’d always assumed I’d redeem World of Hyatt points at the Category 1 Park Hyatt Chennai. After all, its status as the world’s only Category 1 Park Hyatt is why I wanted to visit the property in the first place and should mean I could find inexpensive redemption options.
When I redeem for stays, I typically aim to get 2 cents per World of Hyatt point, as I value Hyatt points slightly higher than TPG’s valuations. During my stay dates, award nights at the Park Hyatt Chennai cost 5,000 points each. So, for my four-night stay, I could have redeemed 20,000 points, which I value at about $400 (£327).
Hyatt offered a private sale earlier this year and through this sale, I snagged a four-night stay at the Park Hyatt Chennai for 26,880 Indian rupees (about £282.03), which is about £70.30 per night. My rate included breakfast (which I’d already get as a Globalist) and a 20% food and beverage discount.
I spent 9,176 Indian rupees (about £96.46) on food, drinks and spa services during my stay. My final bill showed that Hyatt would consider 30,378 Indian rupees (about £318.82) of the 36,056 rupees (about £378.49) total I spent as eligible spending for earning points. I earned 2,567 bonus points as a World of Hyatt Globalist.
The Park Hyatt Chennai is, as its name would suggest, located in the eastern India city of Chennai near the Bay of Bengal. The hotel is about 20 minutes from Chennai International Airport (MAA), about halfway between the airport and the centre of the city.
My husband was able to snag us a prepaid airport taxi from a kiosk in the baggage area for 550 rupees (about £5.72). It’s easy to get taxis or Ubers at the hotel, but there’s also a metro station eight minutes from the hotel by foot that can take you farther into the city or to the airport.
There are some sidewalks around the hotel, so you may feel comfortable walking in the area. There are grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies and street food vendors nearby — we ate a large dinner with drinks one night at an outdoor cafe for less than £4.
However, beware of crossing streets, as some drivers seem to treat traffic lights as a mere suggestion. Guindy National Park is nearby, which may be popular with families as it has some zoo-like exhibits.
We arrived just after the stated 2 p.m. check-in time. Bellhops greeted our taxi and after our bags went through X-ray security, various staff members welcomed us into the lobby.
A large wall covered part of the lobby due to ongoing renovations. Staff members led us toward a reception desk, where three more staff members waited to greet us. I handed over my passport, but the agents at reception handed it back once they saw my name. One staff member noted that the Alila Fort Bishangarh had forwarded our information, so they’d already handled all of the check-in formalities.
The check-in agent said the hotel had upgraded us to its best room, so I didn’t inquire about the exact upgrade type. But, upon reaching my room, I was disappointed that the “best room” the hotel assigned me was a park-view king (one category higher than the king room I’d booked). I checked to see what room types the hotel was still selling for my stay dates and found that standard suites were still on offer.
The hotel is currently undergoing renovations in the lobby and on select guest floors (the fourth floor during my stay). And we could hear many of the construction noises — drilling, hammering and sawing — from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. The room assignments manager claimed the hotel hadn’t upgraded us to a suite as a Globalist because “all of the suites are on lower floors” and hence would be louder.
My husband and I had several discussions with the reception staff and the room assignments manager about the construction noises we heard in our room during the day. I knew from Hyatt’s website that refurbishment would be ongoing during my stay. But I assumed the renovations wouldn’t be noticeable from occupied guest rooms, much less as loud and intrusive as they ended up being.
On our first call to reception about the noises, the agent initially said the renovations were only occurring in the lobby. After we insisted that the noises sounded much closer, she said the fourth floor was also under renovation.
We inquired about 30 minutes later about moving to a quieter room and the staff member said they would talk to the duty manager. But we didn’t hear anything until the room assignments manager called about three hours later to ask whether we had any issues with our room. We noted our concerns about the construction noise, but the room assignments manager claimed no quieter rooms were available.
The manager offered to find us a suitable place to work during the day, suggesting the pool, restaurant or spa. But each option he suggested would have been louder, hotter or more distracting. So, we opted to simply put on noise-cancelling headphones and work from our room.
The hotel upgraded us from a base-level king room to a park-view room for our four-night stay. These 43-square-metre (463-square-foot) room types are essentially the same — park-view rooms are just on higher floors.
You’ll see a work desk straight ahead when you walk into the room. Although the desk chair isn’t adjustable, I found it extremely comfortable for working. After taking photos of my room, I moved the chair to the other side of the desk so I could look out at the city while working.
Against the wall next to the desk is a shelf with drawers. One drawer contains a large safe, one offers a bank of outlets (a USB-A outlet, a USB-C outlet and three universal outlets) and the final drawer is empty.
Next to the desk on the wall is a 50-inch TV. And behind the desk is the minibar area, which includes a Bonhomia espresso brewer, an empty minifridge that you can get stocked with minibar items if you wish and a selection of cups and glasses.
Across from the desk is a king-size bed with four flat pillows. The bed dipped on the right side, presumably due to other guests sitting on the bed while on the phone. But otherwise, I found it to be comfortable. Note that the bedding consists of just a comforter and a fitted sheet (which I prefer over more linens).
On both sides of the bed are hanging lamps and nightstands, each with one large drawer. Above each nightstand are a few light switches, a universal power outlet, a USB-A outlet and a USB-C outlet.
Between the bed and the window is a chair with a table and footstool. The windows feature sheer curtains that connect with a magnet and blackout curtains that overlap in the middle to almost completely keep the light out.
Sliding doors from the bedroom and the entry hall lead into the bathroom area. This area includes an open closet with two soft robes, 14 hangers (not including the two hangers used for the robes), an iron and an ironing board. On the closet floor, there’s a tray with a shoe mitt and a single pair of slippers. And below the suitcase shelf in the closet are three drawers — two empty and one with laundry bags and a price list.
Next to the closet is a small room containing a toilet. The toilet room has a translucent swinging door that doesn’t lock.
Next to the toilet room is a room with a shower and bathtub with clear glass walls and a swinging glass door. There’s an overhead shower head and a handheld shower head with a wall mount. And next to the shower is a large bathtub. However, the hotel didn’t provide bath bubbles, salts or a loofah.
Across from the bathing area is the sink area. There’s a lighted magnifying makeup mirror, two glasses, two water bottles, tissues, body balm and soap on the counter. One drawer under the counter contains a Northmace & Hendon hairdryer. Meanwhile, another drawer contains a box of assorted items, including dental kits, cotton swabs, makeup pads, a shaving kit, a comb, a shower cap and a sanitary bag.
The check-in agent noted the hotel had recently renovated our room, but some items in the room didn’t appear renovated. Most of the cabinets and drawers seemed old, the bed dipped on one side and the hairdryer wasn’t new.
Although my room wasn’t designated as an accessible room, I believe it could accommodate most guests. There was ample floor space for manoeuvring and the doorways were relatively wide. There was a 3 12-inch space between the floor and the bed base; the mattress was 25 inches high.
Overall, the property appeared mostly accessible. I didn’t see a lift at the pool, though, and the stairs from the pool deck to the pool might be challenging for some guests.
Food and beverage
During my stay, one of the hotel’s restaurants, the Flying Elephant, was closed for refurbishment. However, all its other dining venues remained open, so I didn’t feel there was a shortage of options. Here’s a quick look at the restaurants I tried.
The Dining Room
Breakfast for Hyatt Globalists is offered as a buffet at The Dining Room from 7 to 10:30 a.m. and you can order a selection of Western and Indian options from a menu to complement the buffet.
The made-to-order menu items were high-quality. My husband said his eggs Benedict was among the best he’s tried. I enjoyed the made-to-order dosas as well as the banana bread from the buffet.
You can also eat at The Dining Room for lunch or dinner, as the restaurant is open daily until 11 p.m. (you can see the drink menu here). I tried the dinner buffet on my last night for 1,487 Indian rupees (about £15.59) after my 20% discount but including taxes and service charges (all food prices below are noted with these same terms).
There were many Indian specialities available as self-serve and one staffed station where you could order masala paratha with paneer bhurji. You could also ask your server for your choice of bread (I opted for butter naan).
Some dishes I tried were too spicy, but almost everything on the buffet still seemed fresh even though I arrived near the end of dinner service.
Mr. Ong — The Flavours of Singapore
The Park Hyatt website claims Mr. Ong is “Chennai’s only authentic Singaporean restaurant.” The restaurant is open daily from 7 to 11 p.m. to offer “fast-paced Singaporean hawker-style food” by the hotel’s lily pond. You can see the menu here.
We didn’t make a reservation but were still seated immediately around 7:30 p.m. on a Thursday. The restaurant is completely outdoors, which can be hot during some seasons, but fans are relatively effective at keeping the patio cool.
We tried two cocktails at dinner — a raspberry margarita and a cherry blossom martini — that cost 750 rupees (about £7.86) each. Although tasty, these cocktails were surprisingly weak.
We split the non-vegetarian satay combo as an appetizer for 650 rupees (about £6.81). I was impressed by its presentation on a small grill that was still smoking as a staff member brought it to our table. The meats were marinated in tasty sauces and weren’t over- (or under-) cooked.
I ordered the Hainanese chicken rice as my entree for 850 rupees (about £8.91). Frankly, I loved this dish and found it impressively similar to some of the best chicken rice I’ve had in Singapore. This entree was on point, from the chicken broth to the poached chicken and seasoned chicken rice.
Meanwhile, my husband tried the mee goreng as his entree for 750 rupees (about £7.86). This dish was marked with a one-pepper sign on the menu. The marking was correct, as I took one bite of his dish and my mouth slowly caught fire. So, I can’t say much about this entree besides that it was spicy.
Our drinks — two cocktails and two beers — cost 2,230 Indian rupees (£23.38), while our meal cost 2,451 Indian rupees (about £25.70). If I wanted to eat at the hotel each night, this would be the restaurant I’d frequent due to its atmosphere and food quality. However, I’d stick to the house water, bubble tea or beer, as the cocktails seemed overpriced for their quality.
You can order food poolside from a menu at The Edge. However, when I ordered a club sandwich and ice cream one evening, it took 70 minutes for my food to arrive. The fries and sandwich were lukewarm, the sandwich tasteless and the ice cream already a bit melted. In hindsight, ice cream wasn’t a good choice for poolside dining during a very hot month in India. But I enjoyed the seasoning on the fries.
My meal for one totalled 1,338 Indian rupees (about £14.03).
Finally, the hotel offers an extensive room service menu 24 hours a day, which you can find here. I ordered it for dinner one night and was told my food would arrive within 25 to 30 minutes.
My food arrived in just under 30 minutes, brought in on a rolling cart with a compartment underneath to keep the food warm.
I tried the glass noodles spring rolls (525 rupees, or about £5.50), which were crisp and baked. The sweet chilli sauce wasn’t too sweet or too spicy. The paneer tikka butter masala (850 rupees, or about £8.92) was almost too spicy, but it paired nicely with the cheese naan (195 rupees, or about £2.04) I ordered. And although I didn’t order the veggies and puff crackers, they were also good to eat with the masala.
My meal cost 1,670 Indian rupees (about £17.51).
The hotel’s ninth floor has a beautiful rooftop infinity pool overlooking Guindy National Park. There are several loungers as well as some couches and hanging basket seats. I enjoyed visiting around sunset when the temperatures were cooler and the bats started to fly from the national park over the city.
There’s also a cool outdoor shower with shampoo, conditioner and soap.
To get to the pool, you’ll need to go to the eighth floor and then take the stairs or a separate elevator up to the ninth floor. Some guest rooms, the spa (menu here) and a small hair and nail salon are on the eighth floor.
The gym is also on the eighth floor, with nice views overlooking the city. There’s a variety of equipment and a small cardio studio. There were often one or two guests in the gym, and a staff member with a “trainer” shirt would periodically come into the space to clean up or assist guests.
The Apartment Gallery is an area of up to 10,268 square feet of function space for meetings and events on the first floor. The largest space is 8,072 square feet, so you could plan a relatively large gathering in this area if you wanted.
The Park Hyatt Chennai claims to have the “fastest hotel Wi-Fi connectivity in the city,” and a speed test I conducted on the first day of my stay measured download speeds of 19.33 Mbps and upload speeds of 18.61 Mbps. Although slower than you find at many hotels in the U.S., I found the Wi-Fi mostly adequate for working and uploading photos and it was stable during my stay.
The Park Hyatt Chennai is pet-friendly but only for guests travelling with dogs that are 40 kilograms (88 pounds) or less. If you want a pet-friendly room, contact the property before your stay. You’ll need to pay 3,000 rupees (about £31.45) plus taxes for stays of up to three nights and 5,000 rupees (about £52.42) plus taxes for up to seven nights if you bring a dog with you.
Best of all, unlike several comparable hotels I stayed at in other cities during my trip to India, power outages weren’t an issue at the Park Hyatt Chennai.
The staff at this property was mostly friendly and eager to help. However, proactive communication was lacking. For example, I wish the hotel staff had explained various inclusions that came with the rate I’d used to book at check-in or via a welcome letter. And it would have been nice to have information in the room stating the pool hours, restaurant hours and whether any restaurants required reservations.
The staff also could have communicated better about the renovations, construction noises and why I wasn’t upgraded to a standard suite as a Globalist at check-in. Ideally, the hotel would have even given me the choice of whether I wanted to be upgraded to a standard suite on a lower floor or have a room on a higher floor. I still heard a lot of construction noise in my sixth-floor room — so the extra space of a suite would have been welcome if I was going to hear significant noise either way.
Housekeeping came twice a day — once for full service during the day and then again around 6 p.m. for an abbreviated refresh service. After asking for refillable glass water bottles with filtered water instead of plastic water bottles, the housekeeping staff brought us glass water bottles during each service.
Service at meals was hot and cold. Sometimes, the wait staff was quick and thorough. But we were seated multiple mornings at an unset breakfast table and didn’t get any water. One morning, we didn’t even get the coffees we’d ordered until we asked for them again, and flagging down a server sometimes took a long time.
I’ve had my sights set on staying at the Park Hyatt Chennai for several years since it feels amazing to be able to stay at a Park Hyatt for under £81.76 per night. So, if you need to stay in the Little Mount neighbourhood of Chennai or need to stay in a Park Hyatt for your Brand Explorer perk, the Park Hyatt Chennai may be worth a visit.
However, with so many inexpensive luxury hotels in India, I otherwise wouldn’t recommend seeking out the Park Hyatt Chennai specifically. Sure, the on-site Singaporean restaurant and rooftop infinity pool overlooking the park are compelling. But overall, I found my experience at the Park Hyatt Chennai disappointing compared to my stays at comparable hotels in India.
Especially if you have high-tier hotel elite status, I recommend seeking out other hotels in India that will provide more perks for your status. After all, the Park Hyatt Chennai doesn’t have a lounge and doesn’t provide any food and beverage perks or discounts to Globalist elite members. Meanwhile, at other high-end hotels in India, I’ve gotten perks like a 20% discount on food and beverage, a 30-minute massage for one, laundry inclusions and evening happy hours as a high-tier elite member.
Featured photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.
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