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  • Writer's pictureDanae Bianco

Where to stay in Tokyo - the best areas for your first trip to Japan

Updated: May 6

Let's be honest: deciding the best place to stay in the world's largest metropolis is a task that can leave even the most experienced traveler feeling lost!


But lucky for you to have arrived here😉, I'm going to help you in this Herculean mission! After you've picked up some tips, please tell me how your stay in Tokyo was, either in the comments here or over on Instagram @danae_explore


Onde ficar em Tóquio, Japão. Foto mostra vista de Tóquio no Shibuya Sky
Shibuya Sky

We spent nearly a month in the Land of the Rising Sun - here's the post with our 4-week itinerary in Japan where you'll find accommodation tips for all the cities we visited.


We stayed in Tokyo for 9 nights! We had plenty of time to explore and get to know the city, and we even ventured into all the areas I recommend inn this post for staying.


The selection of places to stay was the result of a collaborative effort: in addition to scouring the blogosphere for reliable recommendations from people like us who have actually been to Tokyo, we had the help of a friend who has been living there for over ten years. We also visited the Japan House in São Paulo and talked to the folks at JNTO (the tourist information service offered by the Japan National Tourism Organization, the official Japanese government tourism agency that has a free consultancy service there every weekend). We also had the support of a travel agent we trust, Newland Viagens, who ultimately handled the reservations.


So grab a pen and paper or bookmark this in your browser, as there are plenty of great suggestions for where to stay in Tokyo!


 

Other posts about Japan:

 

Getting to know Tokyo


Before deciding where to stay, especially in mega-cities like this one, I like to have a general idea of how the city is organized and where the main attractions I want to visit are located. I suggest you do the same: take a look at Google Maps and check out the overall map of Tokyo, or take a look at our Japan travel map that has everything we did already marked and organized.


Furthermore, it's important to know how you'll get from one point to another. In Tokyo, it's by subway and train. Forget about the car, taxi or uber/grab; the quickest, most economical, and easiest way to get anywhere is by rail - not to mention your good old pair of walking shoes for shorter distances.


So, an important factor in choosing accommodation is being close to a subway station, preferably one where several lines intersect.


Map of Tokyo subway lines

Just take a look at the Tokyo Subway map; it might seem like a crazy tangle of lines, but with Google Maps, you'll see that you can conquer it and ride the subway like a local! Google Maps will plot your route and tell you exactly which station, train, and car to take, how to make transfers, where to exit, how much it costs, how long it takes, and whether it's crowded or empty. In short, Google Maps does the heavy lifting, and all you have to do is follow the instructions.


In addition to the subway lines, there are also train lines operated by JR (Japan Railways) as well as some private lines. But don't worry, all of them are mapped and integrated into Google Maps.


Map of Tokyo JR train lines
JRP_tokyo_metro
.pdf
Download PDF • 365KB

An usual tip is to stay near a Yamanote Line station, the circular line operated by JR (highlighted in light green on the map above). However, it's not an absolute requirement - for example, we stayed quite far from the Yamanote Line, and it wasn't a problem at all.

tickets de viagens ilimitadas pelo metrô de Tóquio

On the other hand, if you stay near a Tokyo Subway line, you can use unlimited travel tickets on the subway, which are sold at the main station counters and are valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours (¥800, ¥1,200, and ¥1,500 per adult, in 2023). But please note that these tickets do not cover the Yamanote Line or any other JR or private company lines.


However... if you've already activated your JR Pass, it is valid on JR lines that cross Tokyo, including the Yamanote Line - it just may not be cost-effective to activate the JR Pass for use on your days in Tokyo; it's more worthwhile to activate it when you're taking a longer trip.

Where to Stay in Tokyo

Attention: accommodations in Japan are usually quite small! Very small. Tiny, I would say. Especially in Tokyo. And considering the square footage they offer, they can be expensive.

Nevertheless, with some good research and a bit of flexibility, it's possible to find reasonably priced accommodations, and there are several hostels in the city.

Here are the options I selected when I researched where we could stay in the city; most of them are mid-range hotels, meaning comfortable hotels with good value for money.

If money were no concern, my choice would be the Park Hyatt, the hotel from the movie "Lost in Translation." But since we are ordinary people with bills to pay and an infinite list of travel desires to fulfill, we have to face reality and make our hard-earned dollars stretch for several nights of accommodation 😉.

TOKYO STATION



Tokyo Station area is dominated by office buildings and business complexes, but it's a great option because you'll be close to the largest train and subway station in the city (perhaps in the world!), and all your transportation needs will be sorted 😉. Inside the station, there are numerous shops and restaurants, which makes the traveler's life much easier.


- Hotel Metropolitan Tokyo Marunouchi - with direct access to Tokyo Station and a 5-minute walk from the Imperial Palace; the rooms seem to be slightly larger than the city's standard.


- Mitsui Garden Hotel Otemachi - a short walk from Tokyo Station, it seems to offer great value for money.


GINZA



Ginza is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Tokyo, where you can find all the stores of top international brands and upscale restaurants. But it also has convenience stores on every block and small family-owned restaurants hidden in alleys and basements, in addition to being well-served by various subway lines. It's where we chose to stay!


- Tokyu Stay Ginza - was our choice for the 9 nights we stayed in Tokyo. Perfect location, practically in front of a subway station that, through underground passages, connected with three other stations, giving us access to a total of 4 subway lines. The rooms were of reasonable size by Japanese standards (meaning tiny compared to American standards), with great beds, everything clean and well-maintained. Additionally, the rooms have their own washing machines, which is a dream for anyone traveling light!


- The b Ginza - another great option in the Ginza area, close to Shimbashi Station (served by the Yamanote Line and two subway lines), with the option of quadruple rooms, something hard to find in Tokyo.


- Park Hotel Tokyo - with rooms that seem to have a fairly reasonable size and city views, it's another excellent option in the Ginza area, close to Shiodome and Shimbashi stations.


SHIBUYA



Shibuya is one of the busiest regions in the city and is home to the famous intersection known as the busiest in the world. There's everything you could ask for in this area: futuristic office buildings, narrow alleys with traditional izakayas, a variety of shops and convenience stores, restaurants, bars, and one of the largest train and subway stations in the city.


It would have been our choice to stay, but at the time, we found that the cost-benefit of the hotel we selected in Ginza was much better than the options in this area - but it could have been a momentary thing, so it's always a good idea to research.


- JR-East Hotel Mets Shibuya - located about 800 meters from the famous Shibuya crossing and very close to the station of the same name, it's an option with one of the best cost-benefit ratios in the region.


- All Day Place Shibuya, the compact room, which truly lives up to its name by being so small, is another reasonably priced option in the area.


SHINJUKU



Shinjuku is a super bustling area with a massive station and excellent access to subway and train lines. It's the only place where we got lost 😂 Shinjuku is a favorite for many, especially due to the good cost-benefit ratio of accommodation options in the area.


Nearby, you'll find Kabukicho - the Japanese equivalent of a "red light district," which, like any other area of its kind, has its ups and downs. We walked around there only during the day, and it was absolutely peaceful, just like any other part of the city, but we didn't return at night (a shame!). Nearby, you'll also find Golden Gai, a famous area known for housing dozens of tiny traditional izakayas.


- APA Hotel Shinjuku Gyoemmae - as you would expect in Japan, a hotel with compact rooms, but with great value and away from the Kabukicho area.


- Tokyu Stay Shinjuku - part of the same Tokyu Stay chain where we stayed, it seems to be equivalent in terms of structure and comfort (plus some rooms have the lifesaver washing machine!), and apparently at a more budget-friendly price compared to Ginza.


- Hotel Groove Shinjuku, a ParkRoyal Hotel - a great option if you want rooms with those Instagram-worthy city views and easy access to subway and train stations.


AKIHABARA



Akihabara is the area for manga, cosplay, games, and geek culture enthusiasts in general. It's well-served by train and subway lines and offers accommodations with great value for money. Plus, with neon signs all around, you'll truly feel like you're staying in Tokyo.


- The B Ochanomizu - in Akihabara but in a location with easy walking access to the Imperial Palace, it has reasonably sized rooms (by Japanese standards, of course) with excellent value for money.


- The Tourist Hotel & Cafe Akihabara - a hotel with a clean and modern style, it has rooms for 4 and 5 people, which can be hard to find in Tokyo, at a reasonable cost.


- Best Western Hotel Fino Tokyo Akihabara - another option with good value for money, in line with the international chain's standards.


ROPPONGI



The only area among all those I mentioned that we didn't get to explore in depth - we only passed through Roppongi briefly one afternoon, but it was highly recommended to us as a neighborhood with a more contemporary vibe.


- Roppongi Hotel S - some of the largest rooms I found in my research, but obviously the prices reflect the amount of square footage offered. If space is what you're looking for, this could be a great alternative.


- Sotetsu Fresa Inn Tokyo Roppongi - small rooms with excellent value for money, very close to Roppongi subway station.


- Remm Roppongi - another hotel with compact rooms and great value for money, some rooms with city views and massage chairs!


These are among the finest areas to stay in Tokyo. In any of these, you'll undoubtedly find yourself in a prime location, with convenient access to trains, subways, and the city's major attractions, as well as Tokyo's hidden gems.


Enjoy your stay and let me know where you ended up staying, if you found these tips useful, or if you discovered other cool places that I can include here to help other travelers!


And don't forget to check these amazing tips for planning a trip to Japan with kids.




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Other posts about Japan:


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