Where to Stay in Tokyo — Best Neighborhoods and Accommodation

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Where to stay in Tokyo? There are so many options! Whether you want to be surrounded by skyscrapers and sleeping in a pod hotel or, close to designer shopping and in a cool hostel, there is a place in Tokyo that is perfect for your trip. The best place to stay in Tokyo for one traveler isn’t necessarily the same for every traveler.

Tokyo is a city that quickly takes ahold of you. Its eclectic mix of traditional and modern attractions, huge electronics stores and tiny counter bars, the brightest neon signs and the most dimly lit izakaya, make it surprising, chaotic, delightful and mind-boggling in the most incredible of ways!

This post was updated in November 2019.

Deciding on where to stay in the largest metropolis in the world can be overwhelming. However, the sheer size of the city has meant that many neighborhoods offer different looks, feels and points of interest to visitors. Deciding on your priorities for your trip will therefore make it considerably easier to decide on a Tokyo neighborhood that suits your travel style.

After almost a decade of being based in Tokyo, here are our recommendations for places to stay in this incredible mega-city!

This post is written by Jessica and Hai from Notes of Nomads, who lived for several years in Tokyo. They are the ultimate Tokyo experts, and when I decided to put up a Tokyo accommodation guide on the site, there was no question that I wanted them to write it!

And for the record — my personal favorite neighborhood to stay in Tokyo is Shinjuku! And if you can afford the Park Hyatt Tokyo, DO IT. It was one of the best hotel experiences of my life.

–Kate

Hundreds of people cross the enormous Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo as tall buildings covered with screens and advertisements surround them.
Shibuya Crossing — via Pixabay.

Best Area to Stay in Tokyo

What’s the best place to stay in Tokyo? It’s different for every traveler. Some travelers like to be in the most convenient

Know that Tokyo is an immense city, but it has an excellent public transportation, so you’re always able to get to where you need to go. Also, neighborhoods are often pushed up right against each other. Ginza, for example, is right next to the Marunouchi neighborhood that contains Tokyo Station.

Where’s the best place to stay in Tokyo?

We think Shinjuku is the best neighborhood to stay in Tokyo. It’s the center of the city with nightlife, restaurants, and millions of skyscrapers. Plus you have easy access to Shinjuku Station.

What’s the best place to stay in Tokyo on a budget?

If you are looking for a cheap place to stay in Tokyo, stay in Asakusa. There are lots of high value hotels here, plus traditional Japanese temples and some of the best food in the city.

What’s the most romantic place to stay in Tokyo?

Definitely stay at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, with its incomparable views over the city.

What’s the most convenient neighborhood to stay in Tokyo?

The Marunouchi neighborhood, home to Tokyo Station, is very convenient for day trips outside the city, as many of them leave from there. On top of that you’ll find some of the city’s best luxury hotels and a beloved ramen street.

What is the best Tokyo neighborhood for shopping?

If you want to shop in Tokyo, you’ll love staying in Ginza, with its glamorous department stores and interesting boutiques.

Shinjuku

No accommodation guide for Tokyo would be complete without mentioning Shinjuku! If you want to enjoy city views, nightlife, and being in the center of things, this is your place. (Note from Kate: Shinjuku is my pick for the best place to stay in Tokyo.)

Shinjuku Station is the busiest train station in the world, serving more than 3.5 million passengers a day. While shinkansen trains do not depart from this station, a number of JR lines, private rail lines and subways do. Staying in the area means that you are always connected, even if that also means sometimes getting lost in the overwhelm of this station.

Shinjuku really has it all with a great variety of shops, electronics stores and depaato (department stores), as well as your pick of fantastic restaurants. If the idea of exploring Tokyo by night and being close to food, shopping and entertainment sounds like your idea of fun, Shinjuku is the best area to stay in Tokyo.

Popular places to visit at night include old-school Omoide Yokocho (Memory Lane) where small hole-in-the-wall eateries serve up everything from conventional noodle bowls to frog sashimi, Kabukicho district for its cheap izakaya and karaoke joints, and Golden Gai, where stacked wooden rabbit-warren bars take you back to former times. (Note from Kate: Golden Gai is so cool! I wrote about it here.)

In Shinjuku, you can enjoy the city lights at street level or head up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for free views over the city — a great place to catch the sunset, especially on a clear evening.

Best Shinjuku Hotels:

Asakusa

With 160,000 restaurants in central Tokyo alone, it’s no easy task to isolate one neighborhood in particular as the foodie destination. Honestly, you can find excellent food choices all over the city and restaurants to satisfy any taste or budget. Hell, many people even rate convenience store food among some of their best eats! (Note from Kate: Truth. I love my 100 yen convenience store onigiri!)

The whole city (and country for that matter) has extremely high food standards, but we settled on Asakusa for a few reasons. One is that it is filled with traditional snacks and restaurants where you can sample lots of different Japanese treats and dishes. Soba and tempura are two traditional Japanese dishes that Asakusa is particularly well known for.

Another is its food accessibility. Japan is typically a challenging country for those with dietary restrictions, especially with so much of the cuisine based on fish products. However, Asakusa has a great range of vegetarian, vegan and halal restaurants, making it easier to find food for all kinds of diets.

If Asakusa feels overwhelming at first, venture away from the highly visitor-frequented Sensoji Temple and the Nakamise shopping street leading up to it. You’ll quickly find a more residential side to Asakusa, one where life goes on at a slower pace and you can find many local shops.

Foodies will also no doubt be interested in the nearby Kappabashi Street. It has been coined “Kitchen Town” and is best known for its high-quality kitchen knives and plastic food models (like the ones you see in restaurant windows in Japan). You can actually book a lesson to learn how to make these fake food samples for yourself!

For those simply wanting to pick up some practical souvenirs, Kitchen Town also has beautiful bento boxes, useful kitchen gadgets and classic chopsticks.

Best Asakusa Hotels:

Tokyo Station/Marunouchi

Tokyo Station in Marunouchi is the best place to stay in Tokyo if you plan on doing day trips by train. The surrounding neighborhood gives you easy access to both Narita and Haneda Airports and to a number of subway and train lines, including the city’s central loop, the Yamanote line.

It’s a great base for day trips, especially those to the Tokyo Bay area, such as Yokohama, Kamakura, the Tokyo Disney resorts, and for traveling between cities. From here you can take the shinkansen (bullet train) to other popular destinations like Kyoto and Osaka.   

Marunouchi is at the heart of Tokyo’s financial district, and while it has long been a busy area for the city’s salary men and OL’s (office ladies), the refurbished Tokyo Station has transformed the area from a transport and business hub that trails of commuters would simply pass through, into a destination in and of itself. It’s long been known as the best area to stay in Tokyo for business travelers, but plenty of tourists enjoy it for the same reasons.

Tokyo Station stands as a rather interesting contrast to the modern, non-descript office buildings that dominate the area. The iconic European-style redbrick building was originally constructed in 1914. After surviving the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, it was later burned and gutted during fire bombings in WWII. A reconstruction project to restore Tokyo Station to its former 1914 charm was completed in late 2012.

Tokyo Character Street features 20 stores dedicated to well-known Japanese characters and TV show merchandise, while if you’re in the mood for noodles, Tokyo Ramen Street is operated by eight renowned names on the city’s ramen scene. You can find more food variety on Kitchen Street on the first floor main concourse between the North Yaesu and North Marunouchi exits.

For those wanting to visit the Imperial Palace and its East Gardens, it’s an easy 10-15 minute walk from Tokyo Station.

Best Tokyo Station/Marunouchi Hotels:

Ginza

Ginza is one of the most coveted addresses in the city and home to high-end fashion and dining spots. Think of any of the world’s top luxury brands and they’ll probably have a storefront here, along with Japanese luxury brands you’ve never heard of.

If high fashion and luxury goods are what you’re after, then Ginza is the perfect place where to stay in Tokyo. While weekdays are preferable for fewer crowds and more personalized service, a great time to enjoy this shopping district is actually weekend afternoons, when Chuo Dori is closed to vehicles and becomes a lively pedestrian street.

Ginza is also home to some of the best restaurants in the city. These are the kinds of places that will leave a dent in your wallet but also allow you to walk away with that satisfying feeling that it was totally worth it. Tokyo is home to some of the best Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, and Ginza is one of the best areas to stay in Tokyo if you’re looking to experience them. Top guidebook restaurants are always popular here, so it’s best to ask your hotel to make a reservation for you in advance to avoid disappointment.

Ginza is also located near Tsukiji with its incredible selection of sushi restaurants, and is well connected to other popular areas for food, shopping and sightseeing on the Ginza, Marunouchi and Hibiya lines, such as Asakusa, Ueno, Shibuya, Omotesando, Akihabara and Shinjuku.

Best Ginza Hotels:


READ MORE:

The Best Things to Splurge On in Ginza


Okutama

Contrary to popular belief, Tokyo actually has a lot of green spaces — and one of the best spots to enjoy nature in the city is Okutama. They exist in pockets all over the city, so it actually isn’t difficult to find a park or garden for a walk or to simply chill out in. There’s even a tranquil ravine known as Todoroki Valley within the confines of the 23 inner-city wards.

For those who want to get into the “wild,” so to speak, you simply have to go west. The west side of Tokyo is where it’s at for the hikers and nature lovers. Many tourists visit Mt Takao on a day-trip, but to get further off the tourist trail and into national park territory, we recommend Okutama in Chichibu Tama-Kai National Park. 

Even the train ride there (approximately 2 hours from Shinjuku) has many visitors on their feet in the train carriage gasping at the views, especially around Sawai and Kawai Stations. In fact, many people get off around there for hikes and mountain climbing. A popular peak in the area is Mt Mitake and can be accessed from Mitake Station on the same line and a cable car can then take you part of the way up.

Okutama Station itself sees fewer visitors but it’s also a wonderfully picturesque place to go hiking, white-water rafting, forest bathing and visit hot springs. If you’re interested in camping or staying in more remote accommodation, you’ll find those options here. 

Keep in mind that the Asian black bear is found in the area (yes, there are bears in Tokyo!) so hikers are advised to make their presence known by talking and making noise along the trials. Some hikers like to wear bear bells. 

While we wouldn’t recommend basing yourself here for your entire time in Tokyo because of its distance from downtown, and limited bus services and dining options, it’s a nice place where to stay in Tokyo a night or two and allow you to see a completely different side of the city that you probably never knew existed.

Where to Stay in and around Otaru:

A Tokyo scene from above -- busy streets and neon skyscrapers.
Tokyo image by @Pixabay.

Best Places to Stay in Tokyo

There are so many places to stay in Tokyo, they could fill books. To make it easier, we’ve chosen three of our favorites.

The Park Hyatt Tokyo is our favorite luxury hotel in Tokyo — and if you have the money to spend, you will have an outstanding experience. If you love the movie Lost in Translation, this is THE place where to stay in Tokyo.

The Hotel Sunroute Higashi Shinjuku is an excellent, solid choice for a mid-range hotel in the epicenter of Tokyo. It’s hard to find any fault with this place.

K’s House Tokyo is an excellent hostel, home to some of the cheapest dorms in the city as well as budget-priced private rooms. If you’re trying to keep expenses down, this is a very good spot.

Read on for more in-depth descriptions of each property.

Best Luxury Hotel in Tokyo: Park Hyatt Tokyo

For those wanting a luxury stay in Tokyo, it’s hard to go past the Park Hyatt of Lost in Translation fame. This 5-star hotel in Nishi Shinjuku occupies the top 14 floors of a 52-story tower, giving guests unparalleled views of the city and the chance to live out all their Lost in Translation fantasies at the New York Bar.

Facilities include world-class drinks and dining, pool, spa, gym and fitness center.

(Note from Kate: I said it above but I’ll say it again — this hotel is fantastic, and the views are unreal. If you’re a Lost in Translation fan in the least, you must stay here.)

Click here for the best rates at the Park Hyatt Tokyo.


READ MORE:

What’s It REALLY Like to Stay at the Park Hyatt Tokyo?


Best Mid-range Hotel in Tokyo: Hotel Sunroute Higashi Shinjuku

This three-star hotel is a comfortable western-style accommodation with reasonable pricing. Its biggest asset is its location, just 1-minute walk from the nearest subway station and 10 minutes from the main JR Shinjuku Station, putting it in the best area to stay in Tokyo.

The hotel’s facilities include free Wi-Fi, two restaurants and a 24-hour front desk.

Click here for the best rates at the Hotel Sunroute Higashi Shinjuku.

Best Hostel in Tokyo: K’s House Tokyo

For those looking to stay in Tokyo on a budget, K’s House in Kuramae (Asakusa) is an excellent choice. If you’re wondering where to stay in Tokyo while also wanting to save money, this is a great spot.

There are mixed and female only dorms for those wanting the cheapest possible stay, as well as budget-friendly private rooms for solo travelers, double rooms for couples, twin and multi-capacity rooms for friends and larger traveling parties, and family rooms for those traveling with kids.

Facilities include free Wi-Fi, communal areas for socializing and a rooftop terrace. This hostel has no curfew. Note: there is another K’s House in Asakusa (K’s House Oasis) with similar facilities but less room variety.

Click here for the best rates at K’s House Tokyo.

Tokyo Travel Tips

Get an IC card. Electronic public transportation cards such as Pasmo or Suica will save you time and hassle trying to figure out individual fare prices for each train journey on your own (and it also gives you a small discount). Get them from ticket machines (500 yen refundable deposit) and add cash for spending. You can also use these cards at most vending machines and convenience stores.

If you do buy a paper ticket and are not sure which value to buy, just get the cheapest one and you can pay the difference at the other end. You’ll find fare adjustment machines near the ticket gates. Simply pop your ticket in and it will tell you how much you owe.

Consider a rail pass. If your plan is to visit several cities in Japan, the JR Rail Pass can be a huge cost saver. While they have been doing limited trialing of in-country JR Pass purchases, it is still easier (and cheaper) to organize the pass from your home country. A voucher will be sent to your address, which you can then exchange for the pass in-country.

While the rail pass is best used for inter-city travel, if you still have validity, you can also take advantage of using it on JR lines during the Tokyo portion of your trip. 

Take advantage of lunch sets. Grab a lunch set for the cheapest, best-value meal deals. Many restaurants have daily lunch specials, known as higawari ranchi, which usually include a main, side, a drink and sometimes a small dessert. 

Japanese restaurants are notorious for having many different menus. You might need to sift through them to find the one with the daily lunch specials on offer. 

When you’re really hungry, get more rice. If you’re finding Japanese servings a little smaller than what you’re used to back home, many restaurants offer larger servings of rice at either no extra charge or for a very minimal extra cost. Simply ask for gohan oomori. 

In Japan, it is polite to eat every last grain of rice in your bowl, so only order larger servings if you plan on finishing it.

When you don’t know where to eat, check out department stores. Department stores can be found near train stations around the city, as well as Ginza, and they are an easy go-to for food. As a rule of thumb, there are restaurants on the top floor(s) and a food hall in the basement. These basement food halls are called depachika and are home to an array of delicious food options. 

It’s also where you can find food-related gifts and those legendary $100 square watermelons beautifully gift-wrapped to perfection.

Ask for a recommendation. If you don’t know what to order, you can ask for a recommendation by saying osusume wa? It’s an easy way to find out what’s popular or the restaurant’s specialty dish.

Expect to wait in line. Queuing is like a national pastime in Japan, and sometimes the wait at popular attractions, special events and restaurants – especially newly opened ones – can be several hours. 

It’s always useful to check about ticketing and reservations in advance. You may be able to get advance tickets that will allow you to skip some of the waiting time, or for specific restaurants you want to visit, ask your accommodation to help you with making a reservation ahead of time.

Mind your chopsticks. One of the most important areas of Japanese dining etiquette involves chopsticks. Think of them as for the action of eating only. 

If you like to talk with your hands, be sure to place them on the chopstick rest or over your bowl or plate. Never wave them around, point with them or leave them standing in your bowl. The latter is a funerary act, as is passing food to another chopstick to chopstick, and should be avoided. 

If you are using your own chopsticks to put food on the plate of another, it is polite to flip them around and serve from the fat end. 

Travel Insurance for Tokyo

A lot of people think travel insurance is an unnecessary expense — that’s far from the truth. Travel insurance is vital, even in a destination as safe as Japan. It’s saved Kate hundreds of dollars and for one of her friends, who slipped and broke her foot while traveling in Italy, her travel insurance bought her a business class ticket home and saved her thousands of dollars.

If your purse is stolen on the shinkansen, travel insurance will refund you what you lost.

If you slip on the steps of a temple and break your ankle, travel insurance will refund your medical costs and get you home for free.

If you get appendicitis while in Tokyo, travel insurance will cover your medical costs.

If an immediate family member dies while you’re in Japan, travel insurance will help you get home immediately.

These are unpleasant things to think about, but it’s so important to be prepared for the worst.

Adventurous Kate uses and recommends World Nomads Travel Insurance. They’re a great fit for almost every traveler. Take a look at their policies before you buy to make sure they’re right for you.

Tokyo Awaits You!

There you have it – those are our tips and recommendations for places to stay in Tokyo during your trip. Tokyo may be huge but it also has options to suit any kind of traveler. Once you figure out where to stay in Tokyo, the rest of your trip will flow out naturally from there. Simply pick an area that most suits your travel style and use the city’s incredibly vast public transportation system take you to see the rest. 

Meet the Tokyo Experts

Jessica Korteman and Hai Huynh are Australian travel personalities who recently relocated to Australia after several years of living in Tokyo. They write about their travels on their blogs Notes of Nomads and Travel Solo Anyway, produce videos on their YouTube channel, and regularly appear on Japanese TV and print media. 

They are the founders of Instameet Community Japan and are the countrywide Instameet Managers for Instagramers Japan – join one of their free monthly photo walks during your next trip to Tokyo!


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What’s it Really Like to Travel in Japan?


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3 thoughts on “Where to Stay in Tokyo — Best Neighborhoods and Accommodation”

  1. Tokyo is on my list! I really hope we’ll find a great accomodation as we’re planning to go there when it’s cherry blossom season – so rather expensive and fully booked. 😐
    Thanks for the tips!

  2. Thanks for the tips, Jessica & Hai! We’re headed to Tokyo in February but unfortunately only have a 24 hour layover. We’ll definitely have to come back. But I think Asakusa would be perfect for us. And I loved reading your chopsticks tip! I grew up with those customs ingrained in me, it’s a similar thing in China, and have to keep reminding my partner not to stick his chopsticks into the food!

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