Where should you stay in Tokyo? In this section, I'll give you my picks for the best, most convenient and most interesting neighborhoods in Tokyo.
Tokyo Palace Hotel View © herry
- Tokyo is huge, so it's important to stay somewhere convenient.
- The best places to stay are Shinjuku, the Tokyo Station Area, Ginza/Hibiya, Shibuya or Roppongi.
- Other decent places to stay include Nihombashi, Shinagawa, Hamamatsucho and Shiodome.
- Try to stay near a Yamanote Line (Tokyo loop line) station. If you can't do that, be sure you're near a subway station.
- The west side of the city is the sexy modern side.
- The Shitamachi area (Asakusa, Ueno etc) is the old and less appealing side of the city. But, it's cheap.
Tokyo is a huge city. In fact, it's better to think of Tokyo as a group of cities connected by a great transport system. Thus, it's really important to choose a good area in which to stay. Sure, because the transport system is so good, even if you're not in the best area, you can hop on a subway and be somewhere quickly, but wouldn't it be better to have great restaurants, sights and shopping right outside your hotel door?
I've stayed in apartments and hotels all over Tokyo. For me, there are three criteria I look at when choosing a hotel:
1) It must be near the Yamanote Line, which is the most important form of transport in the city.
2) It must have lots of good restaurants and shops within easy walking distance.
3) The area must be attractive.
Without a doubt, the best parts of the city are those near Tokyo Station and in the two big urban hubs on the west side: Shinjuku and Shibuya. Between Tokyo Station and these two hubs you'll find Roppongi, which despite not being on the Yamanote Line is a great place to stay because of all the restaurants and attractions nearby.
The Best Places to Stay in Tokyo
Here is my list of the best places to stay in Tokyo, listed in order of preference. Note that this page introduces the different districts of Tokyo. For lists of Tokyo's best hotels, all personally inspected, divided by price category, visit our Tokyo Hotels page:
Shinjuku is the best place to stay in Tokyo, especially the places located on the west side of the station. This is one of the city's biggest transport hubs and it's on the all-important Yamanote Line. There are several huge department stores, huge electronics shops, literally thousands of restaurants, and Tokyo's best bookshop: Kinokuniya. Plus, there are plenty of sights nearby. For my list of Shinjuku's best hotels in all price ranges, see my Shinjuku Places to Stay section.
The Tokyo Station/Marunouchi area is not only the city's main transport hub, it's a great place to stay. In fact, I am tempted to rate this as the best place to stay in the city. It's a very close second. Here, you've got the most important train station, including the terminal station of the Tokaido shinkansen line (for easy access to Kyoto etc). And, within easy walking distance you've got all the city's main department stores in Ginza, Nihombashi etc. And, the area is literally awash with restaurants. Nearby, you've got the Imperial Palace and adjoining parks. And, best of all, the streets around here (especially in Marunouchi) are broad and pleasant. For a list of my favorite hotels in this area, see my Tokyo Station/Marunouchi Places to Stay section.
Shibuya is another huge shopping and transport hub on the west side of the Yamanote Line. It's pretty similar to Shinjuku and the reasons I rate this highly are the same as for Shinjuku: convenient transport connections (including the Yamanote Line), plenty of shops and restaurants, and lots of attractions. It's just slightly less busy than Shinjuku and a bit more youth oriented, in case that matters. For a list of my favorite hotels in Shibuya, see my Shibuya Places to Stay section.
Roppongi is another great place to stay. In fact, I am sure there are plenty of Tokyoites and regular visitors who would rank this at #1. The only thing that stops me from doing so is the fact that Roppongi is not on the Yamanote Line. I do a lot of moving around when I'm in Tokyo, so being on the loop line is important. If you don't plan to do so much bouncing around, then Roppongi might well be your first choice. If you rate great dining, great nightlife and plenty of attractions highly, then you should strongly consider staying in Roppongi. This is the sexiest and most cosmopolitan part of the city. It's where the big money (both Japanese and foreign) eats and drinks. For a list of my favorite hotels in Roppongi, see my Roppongi Places to Stay section.
A short distance south of Tokyo Station, Shiodome is a tight collection of high-rise office and hotel towers. It's a short walk from here to Shimbashi Station, which is only two stops from Tokyo Station on the Yamanote Line. So, it's not too inconvenient. And there are some good places to eat around here. For a list of my favorite hotels in this area, see my Shiodome Places to Stay section.
Ebisu and Meguro are two small urban hubs on the southwest side of the Yamanote Line. Daikanyama is a small hub just west of Ebisu. These three areas are considered the most desirable places to live by Tokyo's fashionable and wealthy elite. There are a few hotels in these areas that allow you to enjoy the things that locals love: great cafes, hip restaurants and bars, boutique shopping, and pleasant strolling on attractive streets. For a list of my favorite hotels in this area, see my Tokyo Ebisu, Meguro and Daikanyama Places to Stay section.
Shinagawa is a major transport hub at the southern end of the Yamanote Line. It's not the most exciting district, but it's right on the loop line and the Tokaido Shinkansen line, so it's quite convenient to stay here (especially if you plan to hop on and off the shinkansen). There are several excellent hotels here that take advantage of the area's excellent transport connections. For a list of my favorite hotels in this area, see my Shimbashi, Shiodome, Hamamatsucho and Shinagawa Places to Stay section.
Tokyo Places to Stay Map
Click the menu icon on the top left of the map to see the name and ranking of each Tokyo district. On this map, the colors indicate the following:
Yellow: most desirable
Light gray: less desirable
Dark gray: only in a pinch
Types Of Accommodation In Tokyo
Tokyo has an incredible range of places to stay. The city has some of the best hotels in the world (with prices to match) and yet there are tons of perfectly acceptable business hotels that cost far less than their equivalents in other developed countries. And, yes, there are ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) in Tokyo, but not that many of them (Kyoto is the place for ryokan).
Tokyo has a fantastic selection of hotels in all price ranges. The city’s luxury hotels are on par with the best hotels anywhere. For more information, check out the Best Tokyo Luxury Hotels page. The best value can often be found in mid-range and so-called “business hotels,” which are small but efficient hotels that often offer great rates. For more information, check out the Best Tokyo Mid-Range and Business Hotels page. There is also a range of boutique hotels in Tokyo. Finally, you might be surprised at just how cheap some of the city’s budget hotel rooms are. And, the quality is surprisingly high. For more information, check out the Best Tokyo Budget Hotels page.
Because Tokyo was bombed flat during WWII, there aren’t many traditional accommodations left in the city. However, you can still find some ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) in the city. For more information, check out the Tokyo Ryokan page. If you’re not going to visit Kyoto and you really want to try a night in a ryokan, then by all means, stay a night or two in a ryokan in Tokyo. But, if you are going to visit Kyoto, you might want to have your ryokan experience in Kyoto. For details, visit our Kyoto Ryokan page.
In addition to hotels and ryokan, there are quite a few guesthouses in Tokyo that cater to budget travelers and backpackers. You’ll find most of them in the old parts of town like Asakusa.
You’ve probably heard of capsule hotels, those ultra-cheap and efficient accommodations designed for salarymen who’ve gotten drunk and missed the last train home. They usually consist of narrow coffin-like capsules and a common bathing area. Most are only for men, but there are a few that also accept women (and have women’s only floors). We list some of them in our Ueno, Tsukiji, Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Shimbashi sections.
Peak Season: March ~ April and November
A FRIENDLY WARNING! Tokyo accommodation gets booked out months in advance for busy seasons like the late March to mid-April Tokyo cherry blossom season and the November fall foliage season. Book well in advance for these times.
Tokyo Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
- Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings on Skyscanner
- If you're visiting more than one city, get your Japan Rail Pass
- Find out why it's essential you have travel insurance for Tokyo