If I had 100 yen for every time someone asks me where they should stay in Tokyo for their upcoming holiday, I would have enough money to stop working and blog full-time. Seeing as this is not the case, I’m writing this blog for free anyway, so that I have somewhere to direct people to when they ask me this question.
The short answer is I have no idea where you should stay in Tokyo. The long answer is I have no idea where you should stay in Tokyo because everyone has:
- Different interests
- Different budget for accommodation
- Different expectations and needs
- Whether you’re a seasoned Japan traveller or this is your first time
- While I’ve been to Tokyo many times for holidays, I’ve never tried different hotels and have also mostly stayed in the same area. Now that I live in Tokyo, I also live in the same area that I used to stay in when I was a traveller.
As an aside, it is much easier to advise someone as to where they should stay in Kuala Lumpur or Sydney for example, because both of those cities are mostly concentrated in one location. In Tokyo, you could stay in Ginza, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Roppongi (just off the top of my head) and they would all have a bustling city feel, just different kinds. You might also want to stay in neighbourhoods that are adjacent so that you are not constantly surrounded by cacophony, or somewhere that is equidistant to several interesting places so you have the best of multiple worlds. Or you might want to stay in Shimokitazawa because you think all Asian cities are the same and you want a different experience. Public transport in Tokyo is convenient and frequent so there is a huge amount of flexibility in terms of where you can stay, as it will be easy to go across from one place to other. However I understand that having so many options can making it paralyzing to decide.
Below are some suggestions of where you could stay in Tokyo, based on popular tourist locations. Big disclaimer, I have not tried many of these hotels. I’ve either come across these places in my research or spoken to friends who liked the hotels they stayed at. Please book at your own risk and please don’t complain to me if it doesn’t meet your expectations!
Shibuya and Harajuku
Staying in this area is great for Tokyo first-timers because you can knock-out a lot of tourist essentials in the vicinity such as the Hachiko statue, Meiji Shrine, Shibuya crossing, Takeshita-dori and Yoyogi Park. It’s also great for shopping because there are so many shopping malls here like Shibuya 109, Shibuya Hikarie and OIOI to name a few. The price range for shopping here tends to be more low to mid-range. I think Shibuya is quintessentially “Tokyo” because it is very lively. However, I personally would never stay here because I find it way too crowded and too noisy. It’s also very popular with young people, (and the fact that I am listing it as a downside is making me very aware of my age and my tendencies) say around the 18 year old mark.
Roppongi and Akasaka
Roppongi and Akasaka are close to each other but in my opinion, a world apart in terms of the vibe. Roppongi has a lot of really great restaurants and a very vibrant nightlife. Akasaka is much more low-key and has a more residential feel, at least the side of Akasaka that I am more familiar with. If you are an extroverted introvert like me, staying in Akasaka is ideal because you can walk to Roppongi for the fun, then walk back to Akasaka to go to sleep. If you are worried about not speaking any Japanese, both of these areas are quite expat heavy so businesses in these areas will be more likely to have English-speakers as well as English menus at restaurants. The downside is it’s a more expensive area and there aren’t many tourist spots to visit besides Tokyo Tower (which is nicer to look at from a distance than to be at) and the Hie Shrine. There are shopping malls like Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills but they feel very international and you could be in Hong Kong or Singapore and not really know the difference. You might find the train access a bit limited but that also depends on which parts of Akasaka and Roppongi you are staying in.
Shinjuku is like Shibuya all grown up. It’s still just as exciting but the crowd seems to be more mature. There’s a lot of great restaurants and bars in this area although what draws the overseas crowd here the most is probably Kabuki-chio and Golden Gai. Again, lots of shopping in this area like all of the Lumine departmental stores (which have both low/mid to high end prices) as well as Takashimaya. The Shinjuku National Park is beautiful and very popular, especially during sakura season. On the minus side, some parts of Shinjuku can be a bit seedy. I was leaving a party at 10 pm one weekend and had three men approach me in succession, trying to pick me up. A lot of train lines go through Shinjuku which is great but it also makes Shinjuku Station a maze to navigate. You should never arrange to meet anyone at Shinjuku Station unless you secretly don’t wish to meet them at all, because you will probably never find them.
Ginza is a really luxurious part of Tokyo. Most of the flagship luxury brands will be here (or in Omotesando) and the departmental stores are all very shiny. Some popular ones are Ginza Six, Mitsukoshi and Marronnier Gate. I don’t have much else to say about Ginza as I only ever come to this part of town when I have family visiting. The expected downside is everything will be expensive, except for Uniqlo (the flagship is also here).
The list below consist of other hotels I’ve come across which might make for an interesting stay. However they are located in other parts of Tokyo.
- Aman Tokyo – Otemachi
- Hoshinoya Tokyo – Otemachi
- Mandarin Oriental – Nihonbashi
- Hanare Hagiso – Yanaka
- Wired Hotel – Asakusa
- °C – Ebisu
- Train Hostel Hokutosei – Bakurocho
- Hotel Monterey – Hanzomon
- Hotel Niwa – Chiyoda
What about Airbnb?
I have never stayed in an Airbnb in Tokyo.
What about long term stay?
In 2018, I came to Tokyo for three weeks and chose one of the serviced apartments I found on Metro Residences. It would probably have worked out to be a bit cheaper or the same price as staying in a three-star/four-star level hotel. However I chose the apartment because it would have been bigger than a standard hotel room, I could comfortably do my laundry and also cook, if I wanted to.
Is it worth staying at the robot hotel?
I have no idea. But you can visit Hen Na Hotel aka the hotel run entirely by robots in multiple locations across Tokyo and Japan without having to actually stay there. For example, the elevator to the lobby in the Akasaka branch is accessible by the public and from there you can meet and greet the robot staff. It’s an undeniably creepy experience.
Do you recommend staying at a hotel near the Disney resort?
I have never stayed near the Disney resort and unless the resort is significant element to your trip, I think it would be inconvenient. That aside, I do really recommend going to Tokyo DisneySea.
This is all I have to say for now regarding accommodation in Tokyo. If I come across any further useful information or form newer/different opinions as I continue living here, I will update this post. Happy hunting!