The choice of accommodations in Tokyo is as vast as the city. Which, may I remind you, is the largest in the world. A frightening amount of hotels, guest houses and “special accommodations” are scattered over an extremely huge area.
Forget about finding, quote, “a centrally located hotel from which to walk/easily get around the city” as you would probably seek in others capitals such as Copenhagen for example.
First of all, forget the central location because… Tokyo does not have a center! It is a cluster of neighborhoods that form a sort of center. A center that, to go from one side to the other takes, require about an hour. By train.
And imagine in such a large space, of a capital city that sees a substantial influx of not only tourists but also business travelers, how many hotels there are! And in fact, one of the most frequent questions about Japan that I get asked is exactly where to sleep in Tokyo, and so I decided to gather in this article a bit of recommended accommodations and to give you some useful advice in choosing accommodations to better decide where to stay in Tokyo
Things to consider when choosing where to stay in Tokyo
I would like to emphasize that all the accommodations listed have been personally tried or visited by me, or recommended by people I trust, that’s why is only a limited number.
For this very reason, I want to give you useful information to find other hotels perhaps more suitable for you than my suggestions, and not be disappointed with your choice.
Choosing the area
The best neighborhood to sleep in Tokyodepends on your needs and your travel style.
Shinjuku is often suggested as the best area to stay in Tokyo, and it is also the one where I have also often stayed in my previous travels. It is logistically very convenient, both for getting around within the city and for excursions from Tokyo. Most of the buses to Mount Fuji then leave from Shinjuku and almost all the night buses, but it is also the perfect area for those who want to enjoy the evenings without having to worry about missing the last train (which is around midnight).
Of course, Shinjuku is huge, it’s very easy to get lost in the station looking for the exit and it’s really always full of people at all hours, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy this experience of megalopolis chaos! There are several good accommodations here, especially towards Nishi-Shinjuku near the Government Palace, but also many love hotels that often offer great rates for normal-stay reservations (children not allowed).
However, if you prefer a more local atmosphere and lower prices, Asakusa is the place for you! Not only will you find plenty of super nice hostels, guesthouses, and cheap but very nice hotels, but you will have the opportunity to go out for a walk at night and enjoy the unique atmosphere of the illuminated Sensoji with far fewer crowds! The choice of local eateries and value-for-money izakaya is extensive, and Asakusa is well connected to both airports by Keisei trains. It is perhaps a bit more inconvenient for getting around from the city (except to go to Nikko), but for visiting Tokyo it is still a very good location.
The area of Tokyo Station, Ginza, and Shinbashi is what we might consider the center of Tokyo as far as getting around is concerned: from here you can get everywhere in relatively little time. It is the area where the higher-priced, higher-category hotels are located. If you are traveling on a budget, you will find little in this area, but perhaps it might be an ideal solution to indulge in a night’s passing, perhaps the last before your return….
Check train and subway lines
When evaluating a hotel, pay close attention to the location and the train and subway lines that stop nearby. Tokyo is a huge city, and a generic “near the station” does not mean much, since it may be a station served by only one line and maybe with trains that are not so convenient for reaching the main touristic spot in Tokyo.
The easiest line to use is the JR Yamanote, a circular train that “encapsulates” what we might consider the heart of Tokyo. By staying near a stop on this line, you are guaranteed ease of travel without having to make train changes.
Using the Tokyo Metro lines, you can reach all areas of central Tokyo with just a few train changes. The best lines, with even greater frequency, are the Ginza (Yellow), Marunouchi (Red), and Hibiya (Gray) lines. Consequently, accommodation near these lines is always a good choice.
Another important factor to consider not only when choosing accommodation in Tokyo, but in Japan in general, is the size of the room and especially the bed. Business hotels are very common in Japan, the name of which derives from the fact that the main users are those who travel for business and often stay in the hotel for only one night and with only a very small luggage with basically only the change. Business hotels are usually low-cost, have plenty of amenities available, and a Japanese breakfast is often included in the price. But they have tiny rooms in which you will hardly have room to open your suitcase!!! Also, rooms with one bed are often listed as two-person rooms, and unless you are two people “Japanese-sized” you will fit in there a bit tightly. So better check the size of the bed or opt for a twin room with two single beds.
Transportation to/from the airport
In case you need accommodation in Tokyo for just one night because you are heading/coming through to/from the airports, the best areas are those near stations that offer a direct connection between downtown Tokyo and the airports, so you can avoid sover scurrying your luggage up and down the trains having to change many times. Stations such as Shinjuku or Ueno are convenient for Narita Airport, while Shinagawa or the Tokyo Tower area are convenient for Haneda. For those looking to save money, Asakusa is also a good option: thanks to the Keisei line, both airports can be reached by local trains (cheaper, but slower).
In any case, also check if your hotel (or in the immediate vicinity) also stops the Limousine Bus, which is a very convenient way to get to the airport without having to worry about the place for your luggage, which is conveniently loaded in the lower part of the bus.
My recommendations on where to sleep in Tokyo
As written above, the accommodations listed were either tried or visited personally or recommended by people I trust. The list is made in November 2023, and will be constantly updated with any other recommended hotels. Some links are in affiliation, but this does not affect my judgment, which is always at the highest level of transparency to the reader who relies on my advice.
The price of accommodation in Tokyo ranges from very inexpensive (but always very clean and safe!) hostels and guesthouses to extra-luxury hotels that you will not find mentioned in this blog, however LOL.
In between, a whole range of accommodations for all budgets is generally always very good value for money.
If you want to have a ryokan experience, don’t look for any in Tokyo, but opt for other destinations more surrounded by nature.
Hostels & Capsules
Unfortunately, this category of accommodations took the biggest hit from the pandemic, and actually, all the hostels in Tokyo that I have stayed in have permanently closed down seems (first of all the Khaosan Groups which was wonderful). The Oak Hostels (where my sister stayed), are temporarily closed, for now, I hope to update the article soon and include them.
Book&Bed Shinjuku – hostel famous because you sleep surrounded by books! Beds are encased inside wooden bookcases, and books and reading nooks are found throughout the hostel. It is located in Shinjuku, so very conveniently located for commuting, and perfect especially for those who don’t want to worry about the last train. A close friend tried the Book&Bed in Ikebukuro and had a very good time there. Amenities are available for a fee (free towels). The price is perhaps a bit above average for hostels (from 5,000 yen per night without breakfast), but definitely worth the experience!
Business & Budget Hotels
There are many business hotel chains that offer excellent value for money, but as mentioned the rooms are generally very very small.
The most famous ones are probably the APA Hotels, but personally, for Tokyo, I would advise against them, both because the rooms are really tiny and because the founder is a somewhat controversial character and I personally recommend boycotting him as much as possible (that said, I myself have stayed in some Apa hotels, like in Takamatsu, due to lack of decent alternatives…but that is not the case in Tokyo where there is no shortage of choice).
On the other hand, a chain that I really like and have used often in Japan is Dormy Inn. I have never stayed in one in Tokyo, but generally, the level of the chains is the same. For location, I would point out Dormy Inn Global Asakusa and Dormy Inn Akihabara (a great area for anime and manga lovers by the way).
International Hotel Kabukicho – in the Love Hotel area of Kabukicho, it is actually a simple hotel that is very cheap, but very spacious! Basically almost a mini apartment, with its own bathroom, refrigerator, and microwave. Two steps and you will reach the very cute bar street, Golden Gai. Also with a 10-minute walk, you will reach both Shinjuku and Nishi-Shinjuku stations, thus evaluating the most convenient station for commuting each time.
Tavinos Asakusa – a newly built group of hotels, my friend Guenda has been at Tavinos Osaka and I am trying to combine a stay at Tavinos Asakusa for myself or for some relative/friend visiting because it inspires me so much (and it is very close to my home). The rooms are comic book themed and the interiors are designer. It seems like a really good solution to me.
Mid-range and upper-range hotels
This category is definitely the one that offers a greater choice of accommodations in Tokyo, but unfortunately, I do not have many direct experiences because, as I always go for savings, especially when visiting a city, it is not the type of accommodation I choose. However, principally for work, I have had the opportunity to visit some mid- to high-end hotels in Tokyo and can therefore tell you about them honestly and knowledgeably.
I start right away with two fairly well-known Tokyo hotels that I honestly think are a bit overrated, however:
Gracery Shinjuku – the hotel with Godzilla’s head is definitely a symbol of Shinjuku, in the heart of Kabukicho and quite conveniently located for sightseeing in Tokyo. However, the rooms are very small, similar to a business hotel, but with higher prices. If you really want to see Godzilla’s head up close, opt for a drink or coffee at the café on the eighth floor open to all.
Park Hotel – Seen, reviewed, and super promoted on Instagram for its Artist Rooms, this is definitely an interesting hotel. The Art Rooms are distinctive, but you’re not sure if you’ll be able to pernit the Artist Room you want and, in my personal opinion, some are pretty creepy. The rooms start on the 26th floor and some offer magnificent views of Tokyo Tower. Of course they are the most expensive rooms….In the end, the area is not really the best touristically speaking, more business area I would say.
But let’s now come to other mid/high-end hotels to sleep in Tokyo that I know and recommend:
Shiba Park Hotel – recently renovated, it has developed according to the “book hotel” concept and there are several cozy rooms with armchairs and books. All books can be borrowed for free to read in the various rooms and in the room. The rooms are very elegant and quite spacious, all renovated and with a focus on sustainability such as water in paper bottles and amenities with as little plastic as possible.
Keio Plaza – a significantly higher category hotel, I saw its rooms when visiting friends on their honeymoon and a friend on a business trip (along with corporate executives). It’s a very nice hotel, with rooms on high floors offering nice views of the city and 10 minutes from Shinjuku, but in a much quieter area. Definitely, the best option if you have more budget available.
In general, however, I would recommend saving money on accommodations in Tokyo, as the city has so much to offer that you will always be out and really spend the bare minimum in hotels.