Where to Stay in Tokyo: Best Areas & Hotels, 2018
Tokyo may be a sprawling, futuristic metropolis, but the core of the city, from its historic riverside origin to all its popular shopping areas, can be explored in an afternoon. With careful planning and by choosing a hotel that puts you close to the sightseeing you want to do, this high-energy city becomes more manageable.
Marunouchi is the area in the heart of the city surrounding the massive Tokyo Station. It and its neighbor Ginza are home to most of the city's luxury shopping and luxury hotels. Marunouchi's proximity to the central train station also makes it easy to return to, and hard to get lost from. No matter where you are in the city, you're usually only one or two trains away from Tokyo Station. Moving outwards, Shinbashi is where much of the city's business is done, like lower Manhattan. There are hotels, restaurants, and shops here, but most businesses cater to the huge crowds of office workers who descend on the area each workday.
The Akihabara area is also called "Nerd Village" as it's filled with electronics stores, as well as businesses catering to the world of anime, manga, and cosplay. Kanda and Ueno are the next parts of the city, walking away from its core, and they are filled with many smaller shops and businesses, culminating in the wonderful Ameyoko open-air street market. Roppongi is another popular area of the city for tourists; it's also filled with shopping malls, luxury apartments, restaurants, and theaters. Harajuku is known for its unique street style and boutiques. It's an area of Shibuya, the city's main shopping and entertainment district
Where to Stay for Luxury
The Marunouchi area is where you'll find most of Tokyo's luxury hotels. Adjacent to Tokyo Station and right next to Ginza, the Beverly Hills of Tokyo, Marunouchi makes a great base that allows you to easily explore the city, whether by foot and train or via a Rolls-Royce limo. For the ultimate luxury experience in Japan, the Aman Tokyo provides a personal, bespoke itinerary based on your desires. The luxury hotel is in Nihonbashi, the area right next to Marunouchi and considered the historic center of Tokyo. The hotel's The Restaurant by Aman presents Italian food from the Veneto, served high above the city. The Aman specializes in creating truly memorable guest experiences with options including a visit to the Tsukiji fish market with the hotel's chef or an iaido lesson to learn the ancient art and etiquette of samurai combat.
Another great option is the stylish Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo. This luxury hotel is right next to Tokyo Station and offers guests a trackside greeting service. The hotel's restaurant, Piacere, has what many people consider the best Italian food in the city, and the Piedmontese chef travels throughout Japan sourcing special local products. The rooms and suites are larger here than most of the city's luxury hotels, and the service, as you find at every Shangri-La property, is warm and deeply personal.
The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo is in Roppongi, the heart of the city's newest entertainment district. The hotel takes up the top nine floors of a 53-story office building and has a sky lobby on the 45th floor. Because it's on a hill, the rooms and public spaces offer commanding 360-degree views of the city. Try to book a room on a Club floor, as they offer some extra amenities and access to the hotel's expansive Club Lounge, which has five daily food services. The Ritz-Carlton is part of a large development called Tokyo Midtown, and the building and surrounding complex has some great shopping and a gourmet market.
Another great luxury option is The Peninsula Tokyo. The hotel is also in Marunouchi, but it's directly across from the Imperial Palace and Hibiya Park, a few blocks from Ginza and the train station. The hotel's Peninsula Academy offers guests the opportunity to train with the hotel's executive chef to learn to make the two most famous types of traditional Japanese food: sushi and tempura. The ultra-modern spa and indoor pool add to the luxurious environment. These luxury hotels also have special romantic offerings for couples.
Where to Stay for the Best Value
By foregoing the more well-known Western hotel chains and going with an Asian or Japanese brand, it's possible to find comfortable accommodations without breaking the bank. Rooms in Shinbashi or Shiodome, areas of offices and office workers, are a great value because they're not popular for tourists. As they're well-served by Tokyo's public transit system, staying there still puts you close to the city's most popular attractions, like shopping and museums. For good value in the very popular Ginza area, the Mitsui Garden Hotel Ginza Premier has great rates; a central location; and clean, stylish rooms. It's also on the route of both the Haneda and Narita airport bus lines and close to trains and subways.
For a more upscale experience, the Royal Park Hotel The Shiodome delivers what you might expect from a five-star luxury brand at about half the price. The Ginza-adjacent hotel has stylish but small rooms and offers a full range of luxury hotel services (concierge, business center, gym, pool, restaurant) for an excellent price. It's also a short walk from the huge Shimbashi station and close to the Tsukiji commercial seafood market, a must-visit for foodies. The Shiodome location is more corporate than touristy but offers some great dining and shopping, all within a block or two of the hotel.
If your travels take you near Haneda Airport, the Hotel Mystays Haneda offers clean, contemporary accommodations and easy access to the airport via subway or a free shuttle. There's a restaurant that serves both Western and Japanese cuisine, with extended hours to accommodate late arrivals and early departures. Reasonable room rates and its proximity to the airport make it worth checking out even for long layovers.
Where to Stay on a Budget
It's possible to find budget accommodations in central Tokyo, but in most cases you'll have to sacrifice space and amenities. While not as compact as the city's famous capsule hotels, budget accommodations will usually come with a small, self-contained tubless bathroom and room space barely larger than the beds. Most hotels will have Wi-Fi, but don't expect a restaurant on the property or room service. For some excitement, the Akihabara area is known for anime, manga, and cosplay cafes. Locals refer to it as "Nerd Village," and it's also home to some of the city's best budget hotel bargains. The Hotel Dormy Inn Akihabara is a few blocks from Akihabara station. Most room rates include breakfast, and the hotel offers both a Western and a Japanese breakfast option.
The Akihabara Washington Hotel is in the heart of the electronics district, also close to Akihabara station. If you're looking for a taste of Western culture, the hotel even has its own Denny's. For a nice, modern, budget hotel experience in Kanda, the area next to Akihabara, the Hotel Mystays Kanda delivers clean but compact guest rooms. The staff speaks English well, and travelers may appreciate that the hotel is a ten-minute walk from the Kanda station in a very residential area. It's an opportunity to interact with more locals than tourists.
Where to Stay for Families
Tokyo is very kid friendly, and the Tokyo Bay area is especially great for families. Only ten minutes by taxi from central Tokyo (or even less by train), the area includes several enormous shopping malls and amusement parks. This part of Tokyo is all reclaimed land from the bay, and you'll find more green and outdoor space than the central part of the city. It's a great area for jogging and walking, too. The Odaiba and Tokyo Bay area also has the city's only public beach, which can provide a wonderful break from the urban chaos. The InterContinental Hotel Tokyo Bay offers the brand's legendary luxury and value, along with an ideal waterfront location right next to the Rainbow Bridge. All the hotel's rooms and suites have views of the water, and the level of service is seriously five-star, with surprisingly reasonable room rates.
Another great family option in the Tokyo Bay area is the Dai-Ichi Hotel Tokyo Seafort. This mid-range hotel offers excellent value for money with very nice sea-view rooms. There's also a large buffet restaurant serving both Japanese and Western cuisine. The Hilton Tokyo Odaiba is also in the Tokyo Bay area on the huge, man-made island of Odaiba. Steps away from the U-line train, which links with Central Tokyo, this seafront hotel is one of the area's larger properties. The size brings a range of dining options and activities. They're also what's called a Tokyo Disney Resort Good Neighbor Hotel and have a free, daily shuttle service to and from the park. The hotel has some fantastic suites, some with grand pianos and others with outdoor Jacuzzi tubs on their balconies.