Bed down in capsule hotels and co-working retreats in the buzziest neighbourhoods of the largest city in the world.
As the world’s largest city by population, Japan‘s capital city can prove a little daunting when you’re searching for the best neighbourhoods and hotels. Knowing the ins and outs of Tokyo’s best boutique hotels and lesser-known areas can help you to avoid the frustration and blend in like a local. So where to stay in Tokyo? We’ve rounded up the very best spots, from hostels to hotels, bookable on Culture Trip.
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This is the perfect hostel if you love books and want to mingle with fellow art lovers in the heart of the entertainment district of Shinjuku. Sleep among (and on) the comfortable bookshelves in your own nook-style bunk or take a book or comic to the lounge, where you can relax or join others in the homely reading corners. Unlike many capsule-style hotels, Book and Bed offers double beds, too; as well as superior rooms with a view of the Tokyo skyline for those who’d like a private room with a little more space.
Being based in one of the tallest areas of the city, the boutique Andaz Tokyo immerses you in the skyscrapers of Toranomon District (and nearby Ginza and Shinbashi) with its floor-to-ceiling bay windows in every room. Whether you’re enjoying the speciality menu at The Tavern Grill & Lounge, its rooftop bar, or the 20m (66ft) pool, you’ll be treated to different aspects of the city from a 52-storey skyscraper – including the Imperial Palace and Tokyo Skytree. Once you hit the streets, history starts to jump out at you in the form of the Tokyo National Museum, Seishō-ji Temple and the many shrines of the area, such as Atago, established in 1603.
One of the places to be seen in Shibuya, Trunk has quickly become something of a social hub for Tokyo’s entrepreneurs and creatives. Every aspect of the hotel has been built with mingling in mind, from the concept store featuring functional and earth-friendly local products and food, to the dimly lit bar and restaurant, which is focused on soul food and community building. For guests, exclusive activities are arranged, allowing you to get to know the real Shibuya and its unique culture – this includes access to places you can’t normally go and tickets to places that are typically sold out.
This tranquil oasis is where to stay in Tokyo if you want to be close to the main sights, while also being able to explore smaller districts with ease. Hotel Niwa is just a stone’s throw from Jimbocho, the antiquarian book town brimming with old charm. Head here for bookshops, welcoming cafes and independent boutiques selling everything from vintage artwork to memorabilia. The hotel itself pairs an old-world atmosphere with fresh minimalism using wood and foliage to create a welcoming vibe. Traditional multi-course kaiseki meals are served in the restaurant, making it easy to enjoy relaxing meals with company.
A hotel as futuristic as the skyline outside, the Millennials has worked hard to create a comfortable, minimalist space that’s designed to help you get creative with others, keep up with work and leave feeling refreshed. A modern take on the capsule hotel, roomy Smart Pods are available with reclining beds, plenty of storage space (within the bed frame) and 80-inch TVs that you can control with your phone. Free 24-hour coffee, daily breakfast and beer from 5.30pm to 6.30pm are provided, and there is a beautifully designed co-working space in which to mingle and create. Step outside and you’re in the heart of Tokyo’s most glamorous district, with rooftop bars and endless shopping at your fingertips.
Japanese capsule hotels have always been the perfect solution for anyone who loves the social aspect and price of a hostel, while also wanting some privacy when it comes to sleeping. Nine Hours Shinjuku-North offers stylish capsules with a large communal area featuring both long tables and solo work stations. The location is ideal for getting to know some of Shinjuku’s lesser-explored areas, while still being central. For example, Shin Okubo, Tokyo’s Korea Town, is just a few minute’s walk away, offering specialty shops, supermarkets and fantastic Korean and fusion restaurants.
Hotel Gracery offers absolute luxury and convenience in the heart of Shinjuku’s retro Kabukicho District. Rooms look out onto the famous Godzilla head, which is as close as you can get to the famous symbol of Shinjuku – you can even choose Godzilla-themed rooms to completely immerse yourself in the world of Japan’s famous kaiju (giant monster). Exclusive merchandise is also available to those staying in the Godzilla rooms. Intimate izakaya bars (serving casual Japanese small plates) and the infamous Golden Gai (a small network of narrow alleyways with a collection of bars) lie just outside, making it easy to enjoy the spirit of this infamous enclave.
This is a space that works hard to capture Edo-age Tokyo in every aspect of its design, from the tatami floors to shoji screens, and colour schemes reminiscent of traditional tea ceremonies. Found in the retro area of Ochanomizu (meaning tea water), there’s an extensive tea menu on offer at Hotel Ryumeikan, and the head chef specialises in the field of tea-cooking. Ochanomizu is well known locally as the best place to find rare second-hand items, especially musical instruments, books and sports equipment.
Tucked into Kuramae, adjacent to Japan’s beautiful, historic Asakusa neighbourhood, Our Our provides a comfortable modern space in which to meet and get to know people at the on-site cafe and bakery. Soft lighting and wood panelling throughout the hotel provide a welcoming atmosphere and the capsules are large enough to relax and work in if you’d like some privacy. The riverside district of Kurame is a popular area for designers and creatives, so this is unsurprisingly where to stay in Tokyo for an abundance of new independent shops, cafes and restaurants.
Located in Nihonbashi – a central business area that preserves aspects of Japan’s Edo period – the luxury Royal Park Hotel expertly captures the atmosphere of both ancient and new. Near the Amazake Yokocho shopping street and Arashio-beya (where you can watch morning sumo-wrestling matches) there are plenty of cultural experiences to enjoy, with a concierge on hand to help out with bookings. The hotel also offers special rates for the Skyliner to Narita, making it easier than ever to book the high-speed train to and from the airport.
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