Windbag Miles is a blog about points, miles, credit cards, travel, and general windbaggery.

Am I too hard on the Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme, or just the right amount of hard?

I stayed at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme (PHPV, or "HPV" for short) for six nights back in 2016, and it was okay. I gave it a decent review at the time, but over time my feelings have somewhat soured on it. Part of it is the location -- the last time I was in Paris, I stopped by the Vendôme area to grab some macarons, and I was reminded how much I don't like it. In retrospect, I think it was a bad decision to stick us in that part of the city for a week, and I'm taking out some of my regret on the Park Hyatt. Most of the reviews online talk about how great the location is, so maybe I'm in the minority here. I've talked about all this before, so I'll move on. In my review of the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam (the sweet, sweet Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam), I compared it very favorably to the Park Hyatt Paris, since these two are still my only benchmarks for this sort of top-tier luxury hotel, and I don't think they're anywhere near in the same league. A commenter opined that I was being too hard on the Park Hyatt, and I was reminded of this comment a few days ago reading this effusively positive review over at One Mile at a Time.

Now, first let me say that using a top-tier elite upgrade to get a suite and then getting further upgraded into a bigger suite sounds pretty great, but it's so not representative of how most people will experience this hotel. I've said in the past how annoyed I get reading reviews of a hotel I want to stay at, only to see that the review is of the presidential suite because of a domino-like cascade of elite upgrades. I was even conflicted when I wrote my Waldorf Astoria review, since at least some of the nice treatment I received at the hotel was due to having Diamond status with Hilton... although anyone can get Diamond status for $450 per year now, so it's not quite the same thing as a status that's actually hard to achieve, like Hyatt Globalist.

If I had had Hyatt Diamond status at the time of my Park Hyatt stay, I would have been treated to their very excellent breakfast buffet on a daily basis, and I likely would have been upgraded into a better room than what I received as a Hyatt Platinum. (For reference, my Hyatt Platinum status was ignored completely, except to save me 50% on the breakfast buffet.) Those two things would definitely have made an appreciable difference in my overall stay.

It's not just the room and the breakfast buffet, though. Or the hideous decor, which is at least very memorable. The whole experience at the Park Hyatt felt barely nicer than your standard category 5/6 Hyatt property. For instance, I still found myself constantly waiting for the elevator both going up and going down. Or the fact that our room was cleaned at a different time every day, so we kept having to wait in the lobby when we came back to the hotel, despite trying to time our return based on the previous day's housekeeping schedule.

Here’s another example... Given that they have a fancy nail salon in the hotel, I thought it would be a fun treat for Justine to get a manicure, so I tried to set one up for her. First I went to the concierge and asked how to go about booking an appointment, and they sent me downstairs to the spa. The receptionist at the spa didn't know what I was talking about, called someone else, and then told me that I had to go to the nail salon itself, which is in a room on the third floor of the hotel. So I went up there, and no one was there. I finally was able to get the damn manicure scheduled, but it took forever and was super annoying. I'm not saying I'm above stuff like this, but the Park Hyatt damn well should be. Is it really five star service to send someone on a wild goose chase just to purchase one of the services the hotel has to offer?

Aside from check-in, the staff at the hotel was completely hands-off. No one greeted us when we came in, asked us how our stay was going, or anything like that. The service in the restaurant at breakfast was indifferent, and check-in and check-out were like any other hotel. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I kind of felt like they knew were there using points and treated us accordingly.

Now, contrast this with the Waldorf, where every interaction with the staff seemed totally personalized. (Maybe they were pulling the wool over our eyes, but as long as the end result was the same, I don't care.) Rahter than at a counter, check-in was in a separate room where we sat in armchairs and got hot towels. The servers in the breakfast room remembered our preferences day-to-day. The doormen never missed an opportunity to say hello or good-bye. Even though we were there on points and free night certificates, everything personal interaction exuded a genuine effort to make us feel like the most important guests in the hotel.

This may have been just good versus bad luck. You see it all the time on planes, where one reviewer raves about the service or food on a particular airline while someone else has a horrible time. And maybe it was about status after all, and the Waldorf treated me better because I was a Hilton Diamond (which I doubt). The bottom line, though, is that I don't feel like my Diamond status was the reason we had such a good stay there -- sure, the breakfast was great and our room was a little nicer than a base room at the hotel, but the whole experience around staying at the hotel was what made the stay so great.

At the Park Hyatt Paris, I don't doubt that getting quadruple upgraded into a palatial Parisian luxury apartment would make the hotel sound pretty damn appealing. If you're a Hyatt Globalist and have suite upgrade awards to burn, by all means go nuts. But for rank and file travelers, my this assessment of the PHPV from my original review still stands: "STAY AT THE PARK HYATT VENDOME. OR DON’T. IT’S NICE BUT IT WON’T CHANGE YOUR LIFE."

Finally, there's a little matter of the price of the hotel, which is usually around $600 per night. Unless you're a Hyatt elite, you have to go into it with the understanding that all you're getting for that extra few hundred bucks per night is some more marble in your room and some beef jerky monster sculptures. You could get an incredible AirBNB in Paris for that much. Or a beautiful suite at a not-as-nice hotel like one of the Intercontinentals. On points, it's a different story depending on how many Chase/Hyatt points you have and how you value them. Either way, though, my strong caution is to not let the blogosphere's collective reverence for this hotel inflate your expectations to the point that you'd stretch your budget (whether cash or points) to stay at this hotel instead of a less expensive one.

However, I do relish the idea of this blog being a true marketplace of ideas, so I welcome your disagreement. If you've had amazing experiences at the Park Hyatt (or terrible experiences at the Waldorf Amsterdam), leave 'em in the comments. I'm sure prospective Vendômers will appreciate it.

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