Where to Stay in Osaka for a Local Experience

Shoppers browse food stands in buzzing Osaka
Shoppers browse food stands in buzzing Osaka | © mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Daniel Stables
6 January 2021

Good times reign in Osaka, home to the buzziest nightlife and best food in Japan – ‘eat until you drop’ is the city’s mantra. There’s also much to divert history and culture fans here, from the pavilions of Osaka Castle to the 1,800-year-old Sumiyoshi-taisha Shrine. Experience traditional Japanese hospitality in a ryokan inn, or rent an apartment for a home away from home.

Hotel Yu-shu

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Hotel Yu-shu-c676efea
Courtesy of Hotel Yu-shu / Expedia

With the classic futon bedding and tatami mat floors of a traditional ryokan inn, Hotel Yu-shu combines a retro look with modern conveniences such as kitchenettes and balconies. Restaurants, bars and shops surround the hotel, with historic attractions nearby including Namba Shrine, a Shinto shrine instantly recognizable by its lion-head gate. Car rental can be organised by the hotel to help you explore further afield.

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Guest House Laule'a Tennoji

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Guest house Laule'a Tennoji
Courtesy of Guest House Laule’a Tennoji / Expedia

This modern guesthouse sits in the commercial Abeno district of Osaka, within easy reach of Abenobashi train station. Rooms are colourful and contemporary, with bright striped walls and wooden floors, while the common areas have a Hawaiian theme, with surfboards and palm trees lending a beachy vibe. Some rooms have kitchenettes, so you can self-cater if you wish, but there are plenty of restaurants nearby to sample traditional Osakan cuisine.

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Capsule & Spa Grand Sauna Shinsaibashi

Capsule Hotel, Spa Hotel, Hotel
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Capsule & Spa Grand Sauna Shinsaibashi-6a49cbaa
Courtesy of Capsule & Spa Grand Sauna Shinsaibashi / Expedia | Courtesy of Capsule & Spa Grand Sauna Shinsaibashi / Expedia

Staying in a ‘capsule hotel’ is a must for any visitor to Japan, and these compact but space-age pods, with TVs built into the ceiling above your bed, offer the classic experience. Larger capsules, with two beds and a desk, are also available. In contrast to the modern design of the pods, the spa has a traditional aesthetic, with a classic hot bath, sauna and massage room.

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Onyado Nono Namba Natural Hot Spring

Spa Hotel, Hotel
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Onyado Nono Namba Natural Hot Spring-1d8c8b0f
Courtesy of Onyado Nono Namba Natural Hot Spring / Expedia

The chance to bathe in natural hot springs is one of the great draws in Japan, and hotels like this prove it’s possible even in the modern heart of a city. The decor is a contemporary take on a classic hot springs inn, with raised beds and solid walls but decorative nods to traditional sliding windows and doors. The spa, with stone cut baths fed by natural thermal waters, is very much in the classic mould.

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Art Hotel Osaka Bay Tower

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Art Hotel Osaka Bay Tower-cf97e342
Courtesy of Art Hotel Osaka Bay Tower / Expedia

Distilling the arty, extraverted essence of Osaka, this towering glass and steel monolith has an enviable location on Osaka Bay and contains colourful, contemporary guest rooms. Among the several top-class restaurants is Kappo Minato, which specialises in exquisite multi-course kaiseki cuisine – try the okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes) – while you can enjoy natural thermal baths at Solaniwa Onsen.

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Juso AFP Luxury Apartment

Serviced Apartment
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Juso AFP Luxury Apartment-078ae2d1
Courtesy of Juso AFP Luxury Apartment / Expedia

There’s a modern, almost Scandi feel about this apartment, with light pine furniture and a refreshing colour palette of whites, greys and icy blues. Comfy sofas and a covered terrace offer plentiful places to relax, while the kitchenette means you can cook for yourself – although, given the number of brilliant traditional restaurants nearby, it’s hard to resist eating out.

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  • InterContinental Osaka

    Hotel, Luxury
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    InterContinental Osaka-dbf16db1
    Courtesy of InterContinental Osaka / Expedia

    The InterContinental name has long been a byword for quality and a kind of robust elegance, both of which are very much in evidence at this classic hotel. Rooms have a mid-century modern aesthetic and afford some great city views, while the superb Pierre Restaurant offers gourmet cuisine in an atmospheric setting – be sure to give the signature olive beef a try.

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    Tomaro Osaka Bay

    Hotel, Apartment
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    TOMARO Osaka Bay
    Courtesy of Tomaro Osaka Bay / Expedia

    Diverse accommodation is on offer at this professionally run aparthotel, from cabin-style dorms with opposing bunk beds to traditional Japanese-style rooms, where cushions are set on tatami mat floors during the waking hours and futon bedding can be brought out when it’s time to go to sleep. The family rooms feature leather sofas and kitchens, so everything you need for a home away from home is at your fingertips.

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    The Flag

    Boutique Hotel, Budget Hotel
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    The Flag-6d604080
    Courtesy of The Flag / Expedia

    Holding the flag for all things contemporary and cool, this boutique design hotel will appeal to those of an artistic bent, with atmospheric common areas, smouldering indoor fire pits and a profusion of dark wood. Despite the modern look, this is a great place to experience ancient Japanese traditions, such as the tea ceremony. The lavish breakfasts offer a great chance to try classic dishes such as chikuzenni (chicken stew).

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    Guest House Matsu

    Hostel, Guesthouse
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    Guest House Matsu-121a6ea6
    Courtesy of Guest House Matsu / Expedia

    The stars of this friendly hostel are no doubt the smiley Shiba Inu dogs that call the place home and enthusiastically greet guests, but there’s much else to recommend it, from the relaxed pine-decked dormitories (twin and family rooms are also available) to the comfy sofas and beanbags of the laid-back common room. Every weekend there’s a takoyaki (octopus dumplings) party, where you can feast on the delicious dish – an Osaka classic.

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    These recommendations were updated on January 6, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.