Where to stay in Tokyo Japan for First Time Travelers

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Planning on visiting Japan for the first time and thinking of where to stay in Tokyo?

Then you might want to read on.

Trying to find the best place to stay in Tokyo can be overwhelming given the sheer size of the city. With over 20 district wards and home to around 11% of the country’s entire population, the metropolis of Tokyo has been ranked number one for the most populated metropolitan area in the world.

No wonder first timers have a hard time deciding on which Tokyo area to go for!

With arguably the largest variety of cool, quirky and unusual hotels in the world in neighborhoods ranging from the richest the country has seen to some of the poorest, you’ll want to know all about where you’ll be staying. And making sure you don’t have to travel for hours to check out the sights you came here to see.

One thing is certain – when it comes to getting around Tokyo, make sure your hotel is near a train or metro station, preferably on the Yamanote line. This is the loop line that takes you around the city providing easy (and timely) access to the best sights.

Taxis are ridiculously expensive, and you won’t want to be wasting your precious time sitting in traffic getting from A to B. Your feet and bank account will thank you for it.

You might be wondering which is the best area to stay in Tokyo when it comes to sightseeing, which are the most tourist-friendly districts, where to mix and mingle with the locals – and which areas to avoid at all costs.

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To make the decision process a bit easier, have a read through our district and hotel guide below to for all the info on the best neighborhoods and recommended hotels in Tokyo, for an unforgettable first experience of Japan that you won’t stop talking about


Best Places to Stay in Tokyo


Shinjuku – For classic capital vibes and sightseeing central Tokyo

Best Places to Stay in Shinjuku - Where to Stay in Tokyo

 

When it comes to the best Tokyo districts for first time visitors, Shinjuku is THE area to go for. It’s the classic image of what you’d expect the buzzing metropolis to look like.

From ridiculously tall skyscrapers, neon lights, gigantic shopping malls and cherry blossom parks, to streets packed with locals and massive billboards reminiscent of those in Times Square.

This is where it’s all at in Tokyo. And even if you end up staying in another district, make sure to pay the bright lights of Shinjuku a visit.

Reasons why staying in Shinjuku could be your best decision yet:

• One of the best locations for day trips and activities
• (Arguably) the best base for sightseeing central Tokyo
• Vibrant local atmosphere
• Affordable, tourist-friendly shopping and dining
• Easy airport access


Sights near Shinjuku:


– Shinjuku Gyoen Park
If you’re in Tokyo during the spring or autumn months, head over to Shinjuku Gyoen to see the famous cherry blossoms and changing autumn colours.

– Metropolitan Government Building Observatory
See Mount Fuji on a clear day from this free viewing observatory.

Kabukicho
Visit the entertainment and red-light sector of Shinjuku, home to love hotels, neon lights, lively nightlife, and the all-famous Robot Restaurant for a look into Tokyo’s wackiest hangouts.


Top hotels in Shinjuku:


• Hotel Gracery Shinjuku
This modern 30-story hotel is nestled in the heart of the district, among the plasma screens and buzzing streets, with attractions such as Golden Gai just a short stroll away. The high-rise nature of the hotel also lends itself for some spectacular city views – that is, if you manage to tear your eyes away from the 12-metre Godzilla statue out front, Gracery’s main attraction.

• Keio Plaza Hotel
This gigantic hotel overlooking Shinjuku Gyoen Park is a quirky sanctuary from the buzzing streets below. Choose from a range of themed rooms (including the much-loved Hello Kitty rooms) for a unique experience or go for a more traditional Japanese style suite. This is a perfect choice for tourists visiting Tokyo Disney during their stay, as the hotel also has a free Disney shuttle bus service.

• Hotel the Hotel
No list of Tokyo hotels would be complete without mentioning at least one adult only “love hotel”. With the most imaginative name on the list, Hotel the Hotel has an electric atmosphere for couples wanting some naughty private time. Worth a one-night visit (just to say you have)!


Ginza – For glitzy high-end shopping malls and a local atmosphere

Best Places to Stay in Ginza - Where to Stay in Tokyo

Don’t let the title put you off – Ginza is so much more than just shopping. Just like Shinjuku it is centrally located and perfect for sightseeing, but with the added bonus of it not being as crowded.

If you’re looking for entertainment, Ginza has it all – from boutique malls to lavish restaurants, rooftop pools and sushi bars.

The main street also turns into a sort of pedestrian takeover on weekends when it is shut down for vehicles, so you can wander and window shop – or people watch – all day long.


Why you’ll want to consider staying in Ginza on your first visit:


• Significantly less crowded than Shinjuku
• Glamorous high-end Tokyo atmosphere
• Convenient for sightseeing
• Great location for regional travel (through Tokyo Station)
• Huge range of hotels and restaurants to suit all budgets


Sights near Ginza:


– Kabuki-Za Theatre
The best place in Tokyo for watching traditional kabuki (Japanese dance-drama) performances for a look into the country’s history and culture.

– Tsukiji Fish Market
If you’re a sushi lover, head over to this giant fish market to see a wide array of seafood and sample the delicious fish dishes from local street-food vendors.

– Chuo-Dori Street
Shop ‘til you drop on Chuo-Dori, where high-end department stores Matsuya and Mitsukoshi are mixed in with designer fashion boutiques along Ginza’s main shopping street.


Top hotels in Ginza:


• The Peninsula Tokyo
For some of the most incredible views of the Imperial Palace just across the way, you can enjoy getting treated like royalty at The Peninsula Tokyo hotel. But be warned: with the hotel’s exquisite Japanese décor and personalized service, you won’t even want to leave the comforts of your new home!

• Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel Tokyo
This 4-star hotel in the heart of Ginza is a blend of the traditional and modern. Focusing on the use of space and Asian minimalism allows guests to feel relaxed and a world away from the commotion of the busy streets below as soon as they enter this hotel. Take a step back from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo life in this little oasis of calm after a long day’s activities.

• Tokyo Ginza Bay Hotel
Ginza Bay capsule hotel is here to prove that affordable, quality hotels do in fact exist in one of the richest Tokyo districts. With private capsule blocks, this budget-friendly micro-hotel has everything you need for your stay in central Tokyo – without breaking the bank.


Tokyo Station Area – For getting around the city – or the country

Best Places to Stay in Tokyo Station - Where to Stay in Tokyo Station

If you’re looking to travel to other Japanese cities such as Kyoto and Osaka during your stay, we’d recommend choosing a hotel near Tokyo Station.

As Japan’s main transportation hub, this district is super well connected to central and downtown Tokyo as well as airports, suburbs and the major sights and attractions across the city.

Unlike many of the other neighborhoods in the center, Tokyo Station Area has a real mix of historic and modern architecture, from towering skyscrapers to majestic old buildings.


Top reasons to stay in Tokyo Station area:


• Perfectly located for travel around the region and capital
• Just a 20-minute ride to Tokyo Disney
• Excellent base for sightseeing central Tokyo
• Wide choice of budget-friendly stores and restaurants
• Easy airport access (great for stopovers and short-stays)


Sights near Tokyo Station Area:


– East Gardens of the Imperial Palace
Tour the grounds of the Imperial Palace for free to see the beautifully landscaped gardens with large lakes and castle ruins.

– Ramen Street
Located in the underground area of Tokyo Station, the so-called Ramen Street has eight eateries specializing in the traditional soup dish.

– Mitsubishi Ichigokan Muesum
Fine arts museum with work from international and Japanese artists, featuring various changing art exhibitions and collections.


Top hotels in Tokyo Station Area:


• Hoshinoya Tokyo
If you’re looking for a traditional ryokan experience and don’t have time to venture to neighboring Kyoto (home to the ryokan), staying at Hoshinoya Tokyo inn might be the perfect solution. With classic Tatami rooms, Zen garden and Ikebana flowers, you’ll have the full Japanese experience here.

• The Tokyo Station Hotel
One of the city’s most extravagant hotels, The Tokyo Station Hotel is the final word in luxury. Not only is it the only hotel accessible directly from the station, it also holds multiple golden globe awards for its outstanding personalized service and hospitality. The hotel’s spa and wellness centers, with their own carbonated hot springs and saunas offer a sanctuary for mind and body after a busy day.

• First Cabin Kyobashi
If you think the classic Tokyo capsule hotel has been exhausted and the novelty has worn off, think again! First Cabin is a luxury capsule hotel designed to resemble a first-class cabin – minus the big price tag! Just a 7-minute walk from Tokyo station, this centrally located hotel restores the excitement of compact living.


Shibuya – For young adults and backpackers

Best Places to Stay in Shibuya - Where to Stay in Tokyo

Being one of the major urban hubs of the city, the area of Shibuya is the best place to stay in Tokyo for the young and the young-at-heart.

Like in Shinjuku, you get the authentic Japanese atmosphere, convenient transport links and plethora of awesome shops and restaurants – everything a tourist needs.

But you also get the buzzing youth-centric nightlife and affordable hotels. What’s not to love?


Shibuya is the neighborhood for you if you love:


• A younger crowd than any of the other Tokyo areas
• Bustling nightlife and authentic Japanese atmosphere
• Budget-friendly bars, restaurants and hotels
• Easy access to Tokyo airports
• Convenient sightseeing around the city


Sights near Shibuya:


– Harajuku
Colorful, buzzing neighborhood with a vibrant fashion scene, filled with Instagram-worthy cafés, stores stocked with cosplay costumes and favorite hangout of Tokyo’s pop culture enthusiasts.

– Yoyogi Park
One of the city’s biggest parks complete with a large lake, beautiful trees and serene atmosphere.

– Meji Jingu Shrine
A serene and austere Shinto shrine dedicated to the Emperor and Empress Meji.

– Shibuya Scramble Crossing
Said to be the busiest intersection in Japan (and possibly the world?) this crowded crossing sends people in all directions simultaneously.


Top hotels in Shibuya:


• Shibuya Grandbell
With its elegantly decorated rooms and youthful atmosphere, this hotel is a mix of classical and modern. The great vibes offer peaceful and sophisticated retreat from city life, so that you can get a good night’s sleep and be out in the hubbub of Shibuya first thing in the morning.

• The Millennials Shibuya
An alternative twist to the classic capsule hotels, The Millennials is as affordable as it is modern. The large capsule-style rooms come with their own projector screen for watching movies and the hotels itself has a spacious co-working space, perfect for digital nomads.

• Hotel Koé
Located on the edge of Shibuya and the colorful, quirky neighborhood of Harajuku, Hotel Koé is a sleek and spacious hotel focusing on elegant minimalism. As well as being a hotel, there is also a live music space, retail store and arts hub located here, for the artsy traveler.


Roppongi – For art and glamorous living enthusiasts

Like Shibuya, the neighborhood of Roppongi is also famed for its nightlife and cosmopolitan vibes, featuring some of the city’s most high-end hotspots.

With a huge number of luxury hotels, elegant retail, and fine dining, Roppongi is fast becoming one of the most popular Tokyo areas for big money locals and foreigners.

Home to a large expat community, this is the best neighborhood to stay in Tokyo if you’re planning on staying a while or if you aren’t too fussed about moving around the city (Roppongi isn’t on the all-famous Yamanote line.)


Pros of staying in Roppongi:


• Cosmopolitan, sophisticated vibes
• Mix and mingle with Tokyo’s elite
• A range of glamorous hotels, restaurants and dazzling nightlife
• Less touristy than the other areas of Tokyo
• For your fix of art – Roppongi is home to Japan’s largest art museum, The National Art Centre


Sights near Roppongi:


– Roppongi Hills
Hypermodern building complex with cinemas, restaurants, viewing decks and museums.

– Tokyo Tower
Iconic retro sightseeing tower modeled on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, boasting some of the best views of Tokyo.
– Toyokawa Inari Tokyo Betsuin
A hidden gem of a temple with over 1,000 fox statues.


Top hotels in Roppongi:


• Act Hotel Roppongi
This colorful boutique hotel located in the fashionable Roppongi district is the sweetest (affordable!) hideaway for first-time visitors. With a beautiful rooftop tea garden boasting amazing city views and spacious rooms with their own kitchenettes, Act Hotel is excellent value for money!

• The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo
For a 5-star luxury hotel that embodies the high-end nature of the Roppongi district, the Ritz-Carlton is the place to stay. With rooms starting on the 45th floor of Tokyo’s tallest skyscraper, the hotel is equipped with a spa, gym, Michelin-star restaurant and views of Mount Fuji in the distance.

• Roppongi Hotel S
For something unusual and a bit different, Hotel S houses various themed rooms and long-stay apartments within this deluxe boutique hotel. From traditional-style Zen rooms to split-level suites, Hotel S has a unique design concept for each of its stylish rooms, in the heart of Roppongi.


Shiodome – For towering skyscrapers and flashy new buildings

Best Places to Stay in Shiodome - Where to Stay in Tokyo

The skyscraper neighborhood of Shiodome near the waterfront has been completely transformed over the past couple of decades.

From a derelict railway terminal to a sparkling Tokyo district, expect hypermodern streets and a variety of brand-new shops, restaurants and hotels.

If you’re all for the high-tech flashy vibes, you’ll definitely feel at home in Shiodome – the most modern neighborhood in all of Tokyo.


Best things about staying in the Shiodome area:


• Modern buildings, tall skyscrapers, everything is brand-new
• Range of luxury and affordable hotels and eateries
• Feels like you’ve stepped into the future
• Theaters, shopping malls, stunning gardens and entertainment facilities
• Easy access to airports


Sights near Shiodome:

 

– Hamarikyu Gardens
Peaceful gardens on the grounds of a former Shogun’s estate, for an afternoon stroll surrounded by nature.

– Shiba-Koen Park
Tranquil, wide expanse of green gardens, perfect for picnicking and spending the afternoon lounging in the grass.

– Advertising Museum Tokyo
A museum documenting various advertising technique, a great option for people who have been in Tokyo for a while and want something different.


Top hotels in Shiodome:


• Royal Park Hotel Tokyo Shiodome
With its prime location within walking distance of neighboring districts Ginza and Tsukiji, this upper mid-range hotel is great for travelers wanting first class experience without paying high price. The hotel boasts spectacular views of Tokyo Tower and Hama Rikyu Gardens, and has access to Shiodome station without even having to step outside.

• Hotel Villa Fontaine Shiodome
This chic hotel located in the Shiodome business district features sophisticated rooms and all the amenities you would want and expect for a stay in Tokyo. With its eye-catching lobby displays and soothing lounge area, you can choose from a mouth-watering range of snacks and drinks or just relax listening to the soothing background mood-music.

• Conrad Tokyo
This high-rise luxury 5-star hotel overlooking Tokyo Bay and the ancient Hamarikyu Gardens. With an in-house deluxe spa and fitness center, a choice of 6 fine dining restaurants and elite lounges as well as panoramic city views from every room, Conrad Tokyo is a sophisticated high-end hotel in Tokyo’s most modern district.


Asakusa – For Japanese culture enthusiasts and tradition-lovers

Best Places to Stay in Asakusa - Where to Stay in Asakusa

 

If you’re a traveler who’s longing to get a real flavor for Japanese culture and daily life around the capital, you’ll probably want to stay in the older part of the city – namely in Asakusa.

This area of Tokyo is dotted with traditional Japanese inns (ryokan), ancient temples, and local street vendors. Asakusa is the best area to stay in Tokyo if you want to get a feel for the city before all the plasma screens and technology took over.

As for location, it’s only a short metro ride away from the main hub of Ginza – so you’re not too out of the loop of the Yamanote line!


Why Asakusa could be the place for you:


• Authentic Japanese atmosphere with fewer tourists, opportunity to mix with the locals
• Many traditional ryokan, street food vendors and an old-style Tokyo vibe
• Affordable hotels, restaurants and shops
• Close to beautiful temples and sights
• Convenient airport transfers


Sights near Asakusa:


View from the Tokyo Skytree

– Sensoji Temple
Tokyo’s oldest and most significant Buddhist temples, Sensoji temple is a must-see for all Tokyo visitors.

– Tokyo Skytree
At a staggering height of 634 meters, Tokyo Skytree broadcasting and viewing tower is the tallest building in Tokyo. Catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji form here on a clear day.

– Nakamise Dori shopping street
A bustling shopping street filled with traditional souvenirs and Japanese delicacies, on the way to Sensoji Temple.


Top hotels in Asakusa:


• Book and Bed Hotel
Fancy sleeping a few nights in a bookshelf? Book and Bed Hotel is a favorite among bloggers and writers, with its low prices and cosy atmosphere, this luxurious capsule hotel is a melting pot of tourists and wanderers – great for meeting fellow travelers.

• Ryokan Kamogawa Asakusa
Ryokan Kawogawa is a centrally-located ryokan with all the features you’d expect of a traditional inn; tatami floor mats, tea sets in each room, and a Japanese style-bath. With the Sensoji Temple just around the corner, you’ll be fully immersed in the culture before you know it.

• Andon Ryokan
Another very traditional Japanese ryokan experience, however this time in a boutique hotel setting. The mix of Japanese charm, tea corners and floor-cushions and modern conveniences such as a jacuzzi and rooftop terrace set this ryokan apart from the rest in the city and is well worth the visit.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on where to stay in Tokyo first time you visit!

Whether it’s a traditional Japanese experience you’re after or the modern high-tech glitz and glamour of the big city, finding the best place to stay in Tokyo is all down to doing your research and zoning in on what you really want.

If you’ve visited Tokyo before, which are your favorite districts to stay in and why? Maybe you have a quirky favorite hotel or hangout you want to share with everyone? Drop your experiences and recommendations in the comments below!

And if you’re still planning your vacation, sayonara and see you soon in Tokyo!

*These are the districts favoured by tourists visiting Tokyo in 2016, the most popular ones being Shinjuku, Asakusa, Ginza and Shibuya. Let’s take a look at why these neighborhoods prove most popular and a handful of other Tokyo areas that are worth the visit.

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