Where to stay in Tokyo for first timers – So, you’ve finally booked your ticket to Tokyo, the amazing City of Lights! What usually happens next is you book your accommodation, and start planning an epic itinerary. However, the problem is, if you’re a first-timer coming to Tokyo, where on earth should you book your accommodation?
The city itself is absolutely buzzing with a population upwards of nine million people, offering more than 100,000 hotel rooms to book during your stay. It’s not like other countries where there is one, two, or even ten specific areas in the city that differ in ways that may dictate where you stay.
Almost every single neighbourhood in this city is as good as the next, offers plenty of accommodation choices, and is within walking distance to at least one form of public transport. There are more than 160,000 restaurants in Tokyo alone, and whooping 882 train stations and 1,600 bus stops running all around the city. These statistics go right through the roof compared to most cities around the world.
We completely understand the complexities of looking into a city like Tokyo, which is why we’ve written this article. Travelers reading this can get a genuine understanding of some of the best places to book if they’re visiting for the first time, and from there, you will learn so much about the city, and will know enough to make your own decision the next time you come back – and you will come back, mark our words!
Where to stay in Tokyo – Shibuya
Shibuya, Shi-Shi-Shibuya. It’s a name that resonates with most people around the world as being a crazy, eccentric, colourful city that hosts crazy party, loud crowds, and a wild nightlife. This is, to an extent, all true! If you’re looking at staying in the middle of Tokyo, Shibuya is as central as you can get.
Hang out with a young crowd, be surrounded by lots of eateries and fashion stores and trendy shop. It’s a city that you can spend days exploring and you still wouldn’t have covered a fraction of it.
It hosts multiple shopping malls, a Don Quijote Megastore, hundreds of chain cafes and restaurants, and is where the majority of the younger crowd go to, to party. No quiet nights in or R&R here!
Guesthouse – Almond Hostel & Cafe Shibuya
This guesthouse is one of the new kids on the block, but it brings an entirely new flavour to the Shibuya scene. Some might say small, but it’s (more correctly) just compact. It uses its space wisely to provide you everything you need without the additional flair, meaning you’re getting just the bare necessities, and paying for as much.
Having just opened up in 2017, its exterior and interior is fairly modern and superbly maintained – i.e. super clean. It’s actually joined at the hip with its sister cafe downstairs, which is said to make a mean cup of coffee. The best thing about this guesthouse though? It’s literally minutes away from multiple transport options.
Why Guests Love It: For an affordable guesthouse, this place was super clean and comfortable (quite unexpected!). Its location was so convenient for everyone, with access to so many transportation hubs. Its location was also commended for being relatively off-the-beaten path of Shibuya, far from the madness, yet within walking distance. There’s also a great choice of restaurants around if you don’t want to travel far.
Book It Now: Almond Hostel & Cafe Shibuya
Capsule Hotel – The Millennials Shibuya
Are you a millennial? If you are (and even if you aren’t lol), check out this epic capsule hotel that’s so lustrous and modern, it’ll be like staying in a hotel of the future. Situated only 400m away from Hachiko Statue (i.e. the heart of Shibuya), this capsule hotel is everything you could want in a flashy accommodation in a city like Tokyo.
From its space-age and spacious common area completely with neon lights, a bar, and sleek furniture, to its minimalistic hipster bathrooms with rich grey tones, this place just oozes style.
Free Wi-Fi access is offered to all guests, and there is a well-equipped shared kitchen if you want to cook. You can fuel up on bread and pastries at the accommodation in the morning before heading out. Don’t miss the FREE hour beer from 5.30pm to 6.30pm!
Why Guests Love It: The 24/7 free coffee and tea were a big plus for many guests. If you need a place to leave luggage, you can store it here for an additional day! It’s sparkling clean, the location is perfect, and staff are very friendly.
Book It Now: The Millennials Shibuya
For more amazing capsule hotels in Tokyo, feel free to check out this blog post: Luxury Capsule Hotels in Tokyo.
Hotel – Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel
For a premium stay in Shibuya, opt for the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel. It’s located literally smack bang in the middle of the city, close to major attractions such as the Hachiko Statue and the Shibuya Crossing.
For those who are all about the “views”, this hotel only accommodates from the 19th floor or above, so you will be guaranteed stunning panoramic views of Tokyo, whichever room you’re in.
If you’re lucky, you might even be able to witness Mount Fuji from your window! There are private bathrooms to all guestrooms, free toiletries, a fitness centre, and plenty of dining options in house. There’s also a sauna and hot tub, and beauty salon to make use of.
Why Guests Love It: The view is what 99.99% of guests talk about – it’s that jaw-dropping. If you’re basing your trip around Shibuya station, this is the hotel to opt for. There’s also a 7-Eleven and Family Mart just outside for your (and many other guests’!) convenience.
Shower was non-slip (it’s the little things that count!). The full body massage there was incredible (but you have to pay extra). The bar is a bit pricey, but it has live music and the best view some people have ever seen.
Book It Now: Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel
Where to stay in Tokyo – Asakusa
Asakusa is a suburb rich in history and tradition, where you can glance one way and be enamoured by the beautiful structures of grand temples and shrines, and then look the other way and be taken by the skyscrapers dominating the skies.
For history buffs, Asakusa offers plenty of opportunities to explore Old Japan, all within walking distance in the city. The list includes obviously the gorgeous Sensoji temple but also Yoshiwara, the old red light district during Edo period.
For couples, there are many options here which offer peace and quiet from the city, despite being only minutes away by train. For families, there are plenty of affordable accommodations here that are located within walking distance to many attractions, making it one of the best options for staying in Tokyo.
Guest House – Guest House Denchi
This simple guest house that’s located just minutes away from multiple stations makes a great base for anyone traveling to. It’s relatively affordable, but does not compromise on aesthetics or cleanliness.
It boasts handmade wooden beds, logos, and artwork, all in original designs created proudly by the design studio running the entire complex. There are shared lounges that are spacious and much thought has gone into making them comfortable for all travellers. Complimentary coffee and tea are available for all guests, as is strong Wi-Fi.
Why Guests Love It: A lovely compliment one guest paid was, “The attention to the design and materials is excellent.” That’s when you KNOW the aesthetics is going to be off the chart.
For those looking to explore temples, the city, and do lots of walking, this is a great location for that. There’s plenty of restaurants nearby, but it’s also very peaceful and quiet at night. It was super spacious, yet cozy.
Book It Now: Guest House Denchi
Capsule hotel – nine hours Asakusa
You know how some movies based in Japan completely alter their surroundings to make it seem as though it’s the year 3000? You can almost make that your reality if you stay at nine hours Asakusa. This multi-story building is literally built from the future, with design aesthetics that are so minimal, you’ll be left scratching your head as to why you’re so impressed.
There are multiple common rooms, a work-out area, a quiet area where you can do some business, and the windows are big and bright here, with lots of natural sunlight filtering in. There is a 24-hour front desk, and free Wi-Fi throughout the property.
Why Guests Love It: It’s clean, comfortable, and the location is almost too perfect. Everyone here is efficient. The quietness is amazing and it’s so easy to get sleep, even for people who find it difficult to sleep in new beds. There’s also a cafe downstairs.
Book It Now: nine hours Asakusa
Hotel – Richmond Hotel Premier Asakusa International
Everything you need for an elite stay in Asakusa, you will find at this hotel, which is located a minute away from the station. This hotel is within walking distance to so many attractions, you may not even need to hop on the train for an entire day – you can simply explore the wonderful Asakusa City on foot from where you are!
The hotel offers a 24/7 front desk to accommodate guests during all hours of the day, there’s free Wi-Fi in all areas of the hotel, and you even get a complimentary smartphone with all guest rooms (very quintessentially Japanese).
The breakfast buffet is one you should definitely make time for – a massive selection of Japanese and Western fare awaits you, and you should definitely fuel up here before hitting the road for the day.
Why Guests Love It: Staff were amazing here, as can be attested by almost all guests, and if Sensoji Temple is on your list, this place is literally right next door! There are fantastic views of the peaceful terrace from the guest rooms. There are many restaurants located nearby.
Book It Now: Richmond Hotel Premier Asakusa International
Ryokan – Sadachiyo
If you don’t want to travel too far to experience a traditional Japanese inn, why not experience one right in Asakusa, the most prominent city in Tokyo for “Old Japan”? Sadachiyo, located a mere 3-minutes from exit 1 of Asakusa station, is an excellent choice if you really want to immerse yourself into the Japanese culture in the city.
Here, you can enjoy sleeping in traditional Japanese guest rooms, fitted with woven tatami straw flooring and fluffy futon bedding configurations.
The rooms are completely with flow tables and floor cushions, just like traditional Japanese homes. If you are lacking internet and device, there is a PC in the lobby which can be accessed by all guests. The public onsen is available 24/7, so sneak in during the wee hours of the morning if you want to bathe in luxury all by yourself.
Why Guests Love It: A certain guest has returned twice, whilst her husband has returned 4 times. Why? The staff are THAT good, the interior is THAT impressive, and it’s a wonderful place to retire back to after a long day of exploring.
It’s extraordinarily authentic for something that’s so close to the city, and you can spend all day admiring all the original antiques on display.
Book It Now: Sadachiyo Ryokan
Another advantage of staying in Asakusa is the fact that it’s closed to Ryogoku, the Sumo neighbourhood! For more info, you can check out this guide on how to see Sumo in Tokyo!
Where to stay in Tokyo – Shinjuku
If you’re just a well-rounded traveller and you’re looking to stay in the heart of Tokyo, seek accommodation in Shinjuku. Shinjuku is the central transport hub in Tokyo, and its possible one of the busiest and most dense suburbs in all of Japan.
Almost everything within this suburb is within walking distance, so you can eat and walk, and eat and walk, and eat and walk, and repeat the cycle until you fall into a food coma.
There are shopping centres and restaurants sprawled across the entire city, and you literally spend an entire day within a 100-metre radius of the middle of Shinjuku and still be looking to explore it some more the next day.
Being a major transport hub in Tokyo, many trains and buses heading outside of Tokyo depart from Shinjuku, so if you’re looking for a convenient base for your trip around Honshu, Shinjuku is your best bet.
It’s also got a raging nightlife, as it’s within walking distance to Kabukicho (the resident red light district), and plenty of restaurants and cafes here are open 24/7, so if you want to immerse yourself into the crazy and upbeat side of Japanese culture, we recommend booking a place in Shinjuku.
Hostel – Book and Bed Tokyo Shinjuku
If you didn’t already know, Tokyo is full of wonderfully unique and true-to-its-culture experiences that you’ll find are charming, distinct, and simply one-of-a-kind. One of these said experiences includes…sleeping in a bookshelf.
Book and Bed Tokyo Shinjuku is pretty self-explanatory. There are books (loads of books), there are beds (bigger and more comfortable than you would imagine, actually!), and it’s situated right in the heart of Tokyo.
The concept may seem foreign to many of you, but the experience of staying here would be very memorable. It’s essentially an accommodation that has built sleeping areas within their grand bookcases so that you can rest in amongst thousands of books to keep you company.
This hostel is also only minutes away from many attractions and transportation options, and there are singular options as well as double bed options for couples. The interior is just so hipster that you can’t help but feel so intrigued, and you may even find it hard to leave such a beautiful place!
Why Guests Love It: Both the location and the atmosphere of this place is fantastic; close and super relaxing. For a small space, the beds were surprisingly comfortable. The common area was epic, a great place to take in the aesthetic of the place as well as chill out.
There are books in all languages available for you to read for free here. It’s literally in the heart of Shinjuku. Some guests were even repeat customers!
Book It Now: Book And Bed Tokyo Shinjuku
Capsule Hotel – The Global Hotel Tokyo
This capsule hotel is an absolute gem. It suits all sorts of travellers, from those looking for a (relative) budget accommodation, to those looking for a unique accommodation experience, to those simply looking for a convenient place to stay in Shinjuku.
This particular capsule hotel has been around for a while, and has served thousands of happy guests, but the moment you walk in, it’ll feel like it was just opened yesterday. It’s super clean, modern, and well-equipped, leaving no room for your imagination. This capsule hotel also boasts staff speaking English, Korean, and Japanese.
Why Guests Love It: The staff made their stay – they were super friendly and accommodating. For something so affordable and modern, it was surprisingly also very comfortable for most guests.
It is a five-minute walk from Kabukicho, so for those wanting to explore that district, this is a plus! Someone commented that although most areas were shared, they still felt incredibly safe at all times here.
Book It Now: The Global Hotel Tokyo
Hotel – Park Hyatt Tokyo
This five-star hotel is pretty much the premier destination for those looking for a thoroughly luxurious stay, complete with views of Mount Fuji and the entire city, a stunning indoor pool with gorgeous views, a 52nd-floor restaurant, and even a library on-site.
This hotel offers so many amazing amenities and features, it’s difficult to know what to begin showcasing, but just know that everything you need you will have in the palm of your hand without even having to leave the hotel.
Its rooms boast Hokkaido wood panelling and Egyptian cotton sheets. There’s a wet bar where you can pour a drink and subsequently relax in the generous-sized bathtub. There’s a Club on the Park where you can settle in for a massage or relax in the sauna.
The list goes on and on and on…but to wrap it up, Park Hyatt Tokyo is so well-equipped, you will find it extremely difficult to wake up and leave every morning to explore Tokyo, when there’s already so much to explore inside the hotel itself.
Why Guests Love It: A “phenomenal” experience, as attested by one customer. First rate service, comfort, and view. Everything is gorgeous, from the hotel itself, to its rooms and facilities, to the wonderful staff. An “iconic” hotel, as described by another customer. The uninterrupted views are mesmerising.
Book It Now: Park Hyatt Tokyo
Ryokan – Tadaima Japan Shinjuku Ryokan
This wonderfully rustic ryokan that sits in the heart of Tokyo wears its heart on its sleeve – what you see is what you get, and that is, a completely authentic Japanese inn experience.
It’s located just minutes away from so many cultural Japanese experiences that you can consider it a home away from the city, even though you can access the city simply by riding the train for only a few minutes.
It’s small and unassuming on the outside, tucked away in a little street. The guest rooms themselves are a little on the small side, but are cosy and comfortable. You will be able to change into their awesome yukatas when you arrive.
Why Guests Love It: It’s surrounded by transport options, restaurants, bars, and karaoke, but you’ll still get a good night’s sleep every night. There’s also an onsen-style bath onsite that comes in handy after a long day of exploring. The breakfast is scrumptious, so make sure you include it in your booking! The staff running this ryokan are just wonderful.
Book It Now: Tadaima Japan Shinjuku Ryokan
We hope we’ve managed to help you come to a decision on where to stay for your first trip to Tokyo. However, with all the great options listed above, we may have confused you instead!
What we suggest is using the above as indications, but just know that the transportation system in Japan is extremely well-organised, punctual, and regular, so even if you decide to stay somewhere not listed, or a neighbouring suburb, you’ll definitely be able to access anywhere you need to access quite easily. Happy planning!
PS: If you are looking for more tips about Tokyo, make sure to read these blog posts: Tokyo Travel Blog.