Accommodation in Tokyo: apartments, hostels, hotels, ryokans, capsules. Where to stay, pros and cons
Honestly, when I have to talk about Japanese hotels, I recall an episode from the famous movie with Audrey Hepburn in the title role. The first thing that comes to mind when you enter a Japanese hotel room are the words of Princess Anne, the heroine of Roman Holiday. Walking into the room Joe Bradley was renting, she asked: “What is that, an elevator?”
The hallmark of the vast majority of rooms in Japanese hotels is their, to say the least, small size. I think anyone who has stayed there at least once will agree. Of course, it happens to find quite spacious rooms, especially outside of major cities. But that is the general rule. However, if you look at the issue from another angle, this feature makes the trip only more interesting and memorable.
As compensation for the modest size can be considered the fact that Japan provides an opportunity to take advantage of absolutely unique types of accommodation, which you will not meet anywhere else in the world. But first things first.
Accommodation options in Tokyo
Accommodation in Tokyo, as elsewhere in Japan, its organizational model is divided into two large categories – hotels, hostels, hostels, arranged according to the familiar to us, the Western standard, and the traditional Japanese hotels. As for the price classification, everything is usual here: in the Japanese capital you can find proposals in a very wide range, from outright expensive to relatively budget.
The main types of housing in Tokyo are:
- Hotels and hotels, arranged along Western lines.
- Ryokans – hotels of the Japanese type.
- Hotels capsule type – a unique Japanese invention.
Luxury accommodation – hotels 4 and 5 *
There are many hotels of this class in Tokyo, mostly located in areas adjacent to the geographical center. Among the most famous are:
Prices for rooms in hotels of this level start at $400/40000 yen per night, but those who can afford it expect excellent service, a highly courteous attitude, excellent cuisine and in most cases spectacular views from the rooms.
The pluses of this category are the highest level of service and excellent location of hotels. There are no disadvantages, except for high prices.
Lodging middle class – 3* hotels.
These are mostly relatively small hotels. They can be found in central districts of Tokyo, but for the most part they are located at some distance from popular tourist routes. This allows them to offer relatively low prices in a tourist spoilt metropolis. In these hotels accommodation per day will cost in the range 100-150 dollars/10000-15000 yen.
Rooms in hotels of this category are small but cozy and clean. Only standard room service is included in the price, breakfast and parking are usually not included.
The main advantage of this category is a combination of budget prices and very good service. Minuses – in most cases, peripheral location.
Ryokans – traditional Japanese hotels
What is a ryokan? In simple terms, it is a Japanese version of a hotel with all the standard, but standard Japanese attributes: the building, the interior decoration, the rules of conduct. The peculiarity of the ryokan is that everything here remains as it was 200 and 400 years ago, which actually makes this kind of accommodation unique.
Ryokans still have a clear practical purpose: they are hotels. However, no one views them as just a place to sleep. Rather, it is a unique opportunity to get in touch with the traditional Japanese way of life and experience Japanese hospitality. The ryokans differ from each other in size. Some are quite small, designed to accommodate a dozen guests. Others are huge, with hundreds of rooms and several restaurants.
In Tokyo, you can find a variety of prices and arrangements ryokans, mostly hotels in the medium price range (from $100/10000 yen) and the category above average (from $250/25000 yen).
What can you expect when booking a ryokan? A small room separated from the rest of the house by a thin partition. An almost complete lack of furniture. Beds arranged directly on the floor covered with thin tatami. Traditional Japanese dinner and usually breakfast included in the price. The need to observe unfamiliar etiquette, such as taking off shoes and putting on not very comfortable Japanese sandals – geeta, crossing the threshold. In short, a lot of the unexpected.
The pluses of recan – a completely new experience, the opportunity to get acquainted with the traditions of Japan. Minuses – possible inconveniences associated with unfamiliar etiquette and rules of residence.
This is a unique type of accommodation. In these hotels there are no rooms, but there are capsules – niches – very similar to those shown in “The Fifth Element” by Luc Besson. The niches hold exactly the number of places needed for one-person sleeping quarters. You get there crawling, or rather, even on all fours. Clothes and other attributes the guest leaves outside the niche, you can take a book or a gadget, there is enough space for that.
In addition to the opportunity to spend the night, such a hotel usually provides the opportunity to use the sauna and Jacuzzi, about which, incidentally, very good reviews. The interiors are rather modest, but everything that is necessary for life – breakfasts and Internet – is available. The prices for this type of hotels are not high – ranging from $80 to $150/8,000 to 15,000 yen, however, if considering them as an accommodation option, be aware that capsule hotels are quite popular and rooms are often booked well in advance.
The advantages of this category are their low prices. The disadvantages are the small size of the “rooms”.
Practical advice . When booking a room in a capsule hotel, be sure to specify what additional services are included in the price. Hotels of capsule type often have very good water complexes with saunas and Japanese baths, so you can use them without extra charge as a great bonus.
My universal advice for options in all categories is to first carefully study the transport schemes and read the reviews. And remember: if something looks good and costs inexpensive, it may take you an hour with transfers to get to the nearest subway. Or the subway is so close that it literally passes over the roof of your house.
The pluses of apartments – complete freedom, the ability to find a good option for a low price. Disadvantages – the inability to get accurate information in advance about the quality of accommodation.
Inexpensive housing – hostels.
This youth accommodation option, or an option for those who travel light. You will not find anything extra there, but, as a rule, there will be everything you need. In addition to a bed, you will be able to use the lounge or hall, free internet, a well-equipped kitchen, showers, and breakfast, which is often included in the price.
Accommodate in hostels in rooms from 2 people, there may be rooms for 6-8 people. This creates some inconveniences, but they are more than offset by the price. The most budget hostels in Tokyo can be found for 25-30 dollars/2500-3000 yen. Which for one of the capitals of the world is almost free.
The main advantage of hostels – low prices, the main minus – the lack of amenities.
Neighborhoods of Tokyo. Where to stay
As you know, Tokyo is a big city. One of the largest on this planet. The tourist during a relatively short stay in it is desirable to choose a place to stay so that not to spend a lot of time on the movement. Therefore, when talking about hotels, we will divide the central part of the city into districts and try to see what facilities are available in each of them.
Tokyo Station and Marunouchi.
This is the very center of Tokyo, a place very convenient both from a transport point of view and in terms of availability of attractions. It has the Imperial Palace, lots of museums, and it’s a great place for walking and shopping. What it doesn’t have is inexpensive housing. The location obliges – in Marunouchi you will find mostly 4-5* hotels with prices corresponding to these categories.
Prices for five-star hotels in this part of town range between $500-1500/50000-150000 yen per night, with four-star hotels ranging from $250 to $450/25000-45000 yen. Not a budget option at all, rather the opposite. The consolation may be that if you do risk spending the first night of your wedding trip in one of them, you will get everything and even a little more for your money.
This is arguably one of the most popular tourist areas in the Japanese capital. The breathtaking photos of Shinjuku’s skyscrapers against the night sky are familiar even to those who have never been to Japan. Skyscrapers are perhaps the area’s main attraction. But they are by no means the only attraction. The red-light district of Kabukicho, Koreatown, and the atmospheric bars of Golden Gai are among them.
Unlike the center, Shinjuku is more democratic, offering tourists different options. Such as capsule hotels with room rates of $100-150/10000-15000 yen.
Or the usual 3-4** hotels located in the skyscrapers area, where a good room here can be found for $100-120/10000-12000 yen.
This is one of the districts of Tokyo where the spirit of the old city is preserved. The main points of attraction here are the Buddhist temple Sensoji, whose construction dates back to the 7th century, and the majestic Kaminarimon Gate. The streets leading to the temple, with their many stores and eateries are truly reminiscent of the old Japanese city.
Asakusa is the right neighborhood for those planning a budget trip. Here you will find a wide range of inexpensive hotels and comfortable hostels. This is also where you can get a taste of what a ryokan is like.
The ryokans in Asakusa are in the above-average price category a single room costs $150-170/15000-17000 yen. However, the location, quality of service, and additional amenities such as a tea lounge and traditional Japanese bathhouse more than pay off the price.
As I said, Asakusa has quite a few options for a budget night out. Comfortable hostels tend to have clean, albeit small, rooms. Standard prices here range between $90 and $120/9000-12000 yen, but if you’re lucky you can find a room for $60/6000 yen.
A must-see tourist attraction. Despite the fact that Disneyland is relatively close to the center of Tokyo, many tourists, especially those traveling with children, prefer to stay in the local hotels.
Prices for hotels here range from $200 to $800 to $80,000 yen per night.
This is an amazing area. Along with Shinjuku, Shibuya is a kind of calling card of Tokyo. Swerving from one photo to another the famous intersection, where a huge number of people cross the road at the same time, is located here.
Shibuya is said to set trends in youth culture. Here you will find art galleries, a lot of interesting antique stores, a huge number of bars and cafes even by the standards of Tokyo. Staying in hotels in this area is extremely convenient also because Shibuya is located on the main artery of Tokyo – Yamanote line, which allows you to get to the main attractions of the capital rather quickly. The downside of the district is that you can hardly find inexpensive housing here.
The hotels located here offer a very high level of service, of which perhaps could be allocated those that are located directly next to the subway station and thus have some additional advantage. Room rates start at $300/30,000 yen.
Ginza is both close to the Imperial Palace, the famous gastronomic quarter of Yurakucho, and the Kabuki Theater. But first and foremost, there’s shopping. The central part of the district is defined by the chic department stores and expensive boutiques.
For the most part, the hotels in Ginjo are in the expensive or upper-middle segment, starting at $400/$40,000 or more. Budget accommodation here is not worth looking for.
Another Tokyo neighborhood I can’t avoid mentioning. A futuristic city built on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay. Staying here gives you a chance to live away from the pace of the capital while being able to quietly explore unique modern museums, restaurants, and entertainment areas.
All hotels in the area are 4-5 star hotels, the budget segment is absent here. Room prices range from $300-1000/30000-100000 yen per night.
Common features of Tokyo hotels
In talking about the specifics of Tokyo’s neighborhoods and their hotel options, I have mentioned all of the major lodging options in one way or another.
To summarize what has been said about the hotels in Tokyo, it is possible to highlight some distinctive characteristics inherent in all of them to varying degrees.
Firstly, there are many hotels in Tokyo, and if you want you can find an accommodation option for all tastes. But not for every budget.
Tokyo is an expensive city, especially in central areas, there is virtually no budget hotel segment, which Russian tourists are used to in Europe. The analogue of the European two stars in Tokyo will be hostels, which is a slightly different level of service and entourage.
On the other hand, Tokyo hotels of any price segment are characterized by cleanliness and well-adjusted, friendly service. Over many years of traveling through Japan I have never encountered any rudeness from the hotel staff. To say nothing of theft. You can leave any items in the rooms without worrying about their safety. European hotels speak English and you should have no trouble explaining yourself. In traditional Japanese hotels and ordinary (not international) hostels you probably will not find English speakers. But even there you rarely encounter unsolvable situations.
Finally, perhaps the most important criterion in choosing a hotel in this vast metropolis should be transport accessibility. In many cases it is worth going for a more expensive but more conveniently located accommodation option – it will ultimately lead to both savings and a more interesting and relaxing stay in Tokyo.
In closing this short story, I would like to wish readers good luck in choosing a hotel. I am sure that your choice will be the best!
Where to stay in Tokyo: the best areas for every traveler
Tokyo is a huge city with many sights to see and explore on foot or by train. This means that travelers also have a great choice of where to call their home base in Japan’s capital city. For example, you can choose to stay here in the neighborhood, depending on whether you’re making your first visit to Tokyo, traveling with kids, and what your budget is. Here are our top recommendations on where to stay in Tokyo.
Shibuya Crossing View
Shibuya (Nearby Hotels)
Why stay here: Lively atmosphere with lots of shopping, entertainment, and a famous crosswalk. Best Hotels: Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku | Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu
If you want to be in the vibrant and lively area of Tokyo, Shibuya is a great choice to stay in. The area is home to the famous crosswalk, which is one of the best photo ops in the city. Shibuya is also a great place if you like shopping and endless possibilities for entertainment. You will surely never get bored staying among the bright lights and large crowds of Shibuya in Tokyo. New visitors love the vibrant energy of this neighborhood while staying here.
Shinjuku (Nearby Hotels)
Why stay here: Convenient location with plenty to do if you don’t have time to spend in Tokyo. Best hotels: nine o’clock Shinjuku North | Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo
The largest neighborhood in Tokyo is Shinjuku, which is known for its famous skyscrapers and lots of entertainment. It’s also a great place for first-time visitors to Tokyo because it’s in the center of everything. You’ll stay close to the business district, shopping, nightclubs, parks, and restaurants. Travelers who don’t have much time to spend in Tokyo like staying here because you can see and do so much without going far away.
Harajuku (Nearby Hotels)
Why stay here: Quirky fashion and cheap food. Best Hotels: Cerulean Tower Tokyu | Hotel Fukudaya
Harajuku is a great place to stay if you want to experience the quirky and outrageous side of Tokyo. The area is known for its fashion and pop culture, so plan to stay in the area if you like to store and browse the latest and wildest fashions. Travelers on a tight budget enjoy this area because of the cheap food and youth-oriented shopping.
Asakusa (Nearby Hotels)
Why Stay Here: Old world charm with one of the most famous temples in Tokyo. Best Hotels: Asakusa View Hotel | THE GATE HOTEL Asakusa Kaminarimon by HULIC
There are many areas of Tokyo to stay in if you’re looking for a spiritual experience, including Asakusa, home to one of the city’s most popular temples, Senso-ji Temple. Check out the old part of town to indulge in the spiritual side and then soak up the old-world charm, taking in scenic views and perhaps watching sumo wrestling in action.
Ginza (Nearby Hotels)
Why Stay Here: High-end fashion with upscale eateries. Best Hotels: Imperial Hotel Tokyo | Ascott Marunouchi Tokyo
Travelers who want to go broke will fall in love with Ginza, a luxury spot in Tokyo that is home to many upscale stores with famous brands like Gucci and Chanel. To go with these expensive stores, you will also find many upscale restaurants in Ginza and beautiful architecture. Ginza is very pedestrian-friendly and is a great place to visit the Imperial Palace nearby.
Near Tokyo Station
Tokyo Night View Station in Tokyo City, Japan
Near Tokyo Station (hotels near)
Why Stay Here: Easy transportation to anywhere in Japan and budget-friendly accommodations. Best Hotels: Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyobashi | Ryumeikan Tokyo
If traveling by train in Japan is one of your top priorities, consider staying near Tokyo Station in the Marunouchi area. This is the main transportation hub in the city and will give you convenient and easy access to everything you want to see and do here. It’s also easy to see the Imperial Palace, city parks, and lots of great restaurants from this area. This is a good place to vacation with kids because of the convenience and attractions in the area. There are inexpensive hostels around the station for travelers.
Ueno Park and the sakura season
Ueno (Nearby Hotels)
Why Stay Here: Family atmosphere with a beautiful park and museums. Best Hotels: Mystays Hotel Ueno Inaricho | Sardonic Ueno Hotel
Families traveling with children should definitely stop in Ueno when they visit Tokyo because it has a beautiful park and cultural attractions. It is a part of the city known for its history, cherry blossoms, museums, and temples. It’s a great place to walk with the kids in tow. It’s also a convenient place to stop near the main train station for day trips from Tokyo and a place where you can find inexpensive accommodations.
Yebisu Garden Place and Ebisu Station
Ebisu (Nearby Hotels)
Why stay here: A residential atmosphere that allows you to live like a local. Best Hotels: Westin Tokyo | Princess Garden Hotel
If you’re looking for a more local atmosphere and aren’t strapped for cash, Ebisu is a great choice for a stay in Tokyo. The area is a bit pricey but very residential, so you will feel more like a local than a tourist. There are some great restaurants here, and it’s a convenient place for a quieter Tokyo vacation. Families like to vacation here because of this relaxed atmosphere, and because Ebisu is safe and tourist-friendly. Other neighboring areas are Meguro and Daikanyama, which are also trendy and upscale vacation spots.
Romantic night scenery with illuminated cherry-colored Sakura Namiki trees in Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi
Roppongi (Nearby Hotels)
Why Stay Here: A fun nightlife scene for parties. Best Hotels: Candeo Tokyo Roppongi | Remm Roppongi
Individual travelers, groups of friends, and fun couples will enjoy their stay in Roppongi, an entertainment district of Tokyo known for its nightlife. You’ll find plenty of all-night party bars in the area, as well as unique nightclubs that clearly belong in Tokyo. Just remember that this is not the most economical place to stay in the city, so you will need to open your wallet a bit. Roppongi is on the west side of Tokyo and is surrounded by beautiful trees in the parks to check out during the daytime.