Tokyo unfairly gets a reputation for being a rather expensive city to visit. Sure, it’s easy to drop a lot of cash if you want, but like many other Asian cities, it’s definitely easy to live on the cheap if you know how to get around, what to eat and where to stay. From capsule hotels to classic ryokan inns, the Japanese capital has them all – and many of them won’t cost a fortune.
Almond Hostel & Café Shibuya
Almond Hostel & Café Shibuya is in the peaceful hub of Yoyogi Hachiman | Courtesy of Almond Hostel & Café Shibuya / Hotels.com
A relative newcomer on the local scene, Almond is a stylishly minimal hostel nestled in the central yet peaceful hub of Yoyogi Hachiman, about 15 minutes from Shibuya Crossing by foot. Balancing easy access with private, laid-back familiarity, the hostel and on-site café provide visitors with plenty of opportunities to meet fellow travellers and creatives or get some work done over a masterfully crafted brew. Almond is perfect for both young and more mature travellers.
Although it may be a little pricier than some of the others on this list, it’s worth mentioning that BnA Koenji actually funnels a percentage of their profits back into the local arts community. This hotel was built in collaboration with some of Tokyo’s most exciting contemporary artists who designed the unique bedroom spaces and part of the public bar/check-in desk downstairs. From each booking, the artist responsible for helping design the room pockets part of the money, so basically you’re paying for a hotel room and private gallery space in one, which is definitely worth the price tag.
Andon Ryokan is a stylish modern take on a traditional Japanese accommodation. Situated in one of Tokyo’s more unique pockets, just a 20-minute walk from the historical Asakusa and not far from bustling Ueno station, you’ll be privy to the best of all sides of Tokyo – old and new, traditional and modern, and endlessly fascinating.
For a high-quality stay on a budget, make your way to Yamanaka Ryokan. This classic ryokan-style inn is positioned in the peaceful and historic heart of Ueno, a neighbourhood overflowing with hidden and fascinating delights like the quaint Showa-era shopping strip of Yanaka Ginza. Yamanaka is renowned for its authentic cuisine, which is served in the guest rooms..
As you can probably guess from the name, this stylish hostel is all about embracing the futuristic side of the city. With private, spacious capsule-style rooms and large, open communal spaces, this budget-friendly option is all about embracing technology and innovation for the betterment of travel. On-site you’ll find a workspace, a kitchen, a lounge and a terrace excellent for making new friends, while each room is fully decked out so you can enjoy a little private time, too.
A little off the well-trodden streets of inner-city Tokyo, youth-focussed hotel MOXY is perhaps a little more difficult to find but definitely worth the trek if budget and style are your two main priorities. Situated in the eastern neighbourhood of Kinshicho, about 10 minutes from Akihabara by train, the sleek, modern, fashion-forward hotel and bar is a laid-back retreat and the ideal place to unwind after a long day exploring the city. The hotel also comes equipped with everything you’ll ever need, including an on-site convenience store.
Another modern hotel option that will make you feel like you’re living a life of luxury but won’t break the bank is OMO5 Tokyo, a youthful offshoot of the Hoshino Resorts brand. Breezy and spacious, these rooms are the perfect antidote to the occasionally claustrophobic energy of the densely populated heart of Tokyo. Sitting just a short stroll from Otsuka station, between Ikebukuro and Sugamo, it’s an easily accessible hangout spot that offers a central location and peaceful relaxation at the same time.
For a simple, easy approach to comfortable budget accommodation, be sure to add Hotel Niwa to your itinerary. These rooms combine the best of Western comforts with traditional Japanese design ideologies like shoji sliding paper doors and soft bamboo-green furnishings. The hotel is positioned just an easy five-minute stroll from Jimbocho subway station, while even closer – on-site actually – is a tranquil mini rooftop garden.
Situated five minutes on foot from Asakusa station and near Sensoji Temple, and just down the road from Tokyo Skytree, Bunka Hostel’s location is just one of its many attractions. This super-slick and modern yet welcoming hostel combines the best parts of communal living with a very individual-friendly ethos. The kitchen and common areas are shared, while the sleeping arrangements are built on a capsule hotel concept. Perfect for work, party and play, a night here is definitely worth much more than what you’d expect to fork out.