Home » Guides » Tokyo Hotel Hunting Guide: Tips Before You Book that Hotel

Tokyo Hotel Hunting Guide: Tips Before You Book that Hotel

Tokyo is unlike any other city so there's a lot to consider before you finally book that hotel.
Inside Capsule Room at Hostel

Getting that perfect accommodation is one of the most important things you need to work on when visiting Tokyo because it literally can make your stay a very memorable one or it could quickly turn into a nightmare if you don’t plan for it, so you better get on it and plan ahead to ensure you get the perfect place to stay at in Tokyo.

But before you decide, hear me out and consider these practical tips of mine before you book your own special place in Tokyo because knowing these will save you time, and money, and also give you that peace of mind knowing you’ve got yourself a cozy place to call your own while in Tokyo. You’re welcome. 🙂

Table of Contents

Accommodation Options in Tokyo: There are a bunch of options to choose from

From luxurious capsules to quirky love hotels and everything in between, Tokyo is one of the few places in the world where the variety of available options are just endless.

First know that you have these options available to you when looking for accommodation in this big city:

Hotels

APA Hotel in Shinjuku Tokyo
While there are plenty of hotels in Tokyo, one thing I noticed is that APA branded hotels are everywhere in Tokyo and in major cities in Japan.

Hotels are obviously number 1 in this list – there are thousands of hotels to choose from in Tokyo that caters to a variety of tastes (Japanese-style, Western-style, quirky ones, etc.) that you will be spoilt for choice.

The choices are just endless and it’s only up to you to pick the best one for your needs. I usually search for the best hotels and compare prices at Booking.com, Expedia, and Agoda because they have a lot of hotel rooms in their inventory.

You obviously already know about hotels so I’m not even gonna talk about them – moving on..

Hostels / Capsule Hotels

After hotels, there also thousands of hostels (including capsule hotels) in Tokyo that suit every budget. They’re perfect for solo travelers because not only are they cheap, they’re also usually centrally located and you get to meet with and mingle with fellow travelers if there’s a chance. If you’re traveling solo to Tokyo and you’re on a tight budget, hostels and capsule hotels will be your best friend.

The capsule beds at the dormroom in Hotel Tomariya Ueno in Tokyo
The capsule beds at Hotel Tomariya Ueno.

Hostels are usually way cheaper than hotels, but book last minute and the price can easily be equal to a hotel night’s stay and also don’t be complacent and just book last minute because hostel rooms can run out really fast.

When searching for hostels and capsule rooms, after comparing different hotel booking sites I also usually find the best-value rooms either on Booking.com, Expedia or Agoda.

Airbnb Rentals

Airbnbs are a great value-for-money option if you’re traveling with family or a large group because you can book an entire apartment or house and split the costs, which makes it a lot cheaper per person than booking hotel rooms that limit the number of people that can stay.

Airbnb Accommodation Apartment Rental

Staying at Airbnb home or apartment rentals is also one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the culture because not only do you get to talk to your host who’s likely to be a local (if they meet with you in person, that is), bnb rentals are also most of the time within quaint neighborhoods that you otherwise wouldn’t get to explore if you stayed at proper hotels in central locations.

The only things I don’t really like with Airbnbs is that there’s usually no reception or front desk to speak with and that you have to coordinate the check-in or check-out with the rental owner online, which can be a bit of a hassle.

Traditional Japanese Inns (Ryokan)

A room at a Ryokan_Traditional Japanese Inn_Amami Onsen Nanten-en

Similar with hotels, traditional Japanese inns, a.k.a. Ryokan, are much like the standard hotel rooms that you can book during your stay, it’s just that everything is Japanese-style so staying at a ryokan is one of the best accommodation you can get when visiting Tokyo. Not only do you get an amazing accommodation to stay at for the night, it’s also a cultural experience on its own.

Some ryokans do not have online booking because they rely on their local clientele and it’s not really easy to book if you’re a foreigner since everything is in Japanese and most require a referral from one of their patrons. Although this is the case for some ryokans especially the higher end ones, there are definitely a lot of other ryokans that are open to foreigners – in fact you can book your own ryokan at Expedia and Booking.com.

Internet Cafes

Internet Cafe with Private Room in Shibuya

Now I’m only adding this and the next two options below as your last option – you know, in cases when rooms for the night are just too expensive or if you miss the last train and you need a place to stay at and rest for a few hours.

Although internet cafes are not synonymous to rooms or accommodation, in Japan there are a lot of 24-hour internet cafes that have really small private rooms with a computer desk where you can do your internet surfing/gaming stuff, and at the same time the rooms have a large comfy armchair or flat mattresses that you can sleep on.

You don’t really book them online because they’re not available in hotel booking sites (the only net cafe like this in Tokyo I know that can be booked online is Booth Netcafe & Capsule) so you wouldn’t really be able to book them in advance – you just go in to their front desk and ask for a room, which are usually charged cheaply by the hour.

Karaoke Rooms

Big Echo Karaoke in Shibuya

There are a lot of karaoke rooms in Tokyo such as the popular karaoke chain Big Echo (check all Big Echo locations here) where you can either sing with friends or just stay and sleep at for the night especially if you miss the last train to your hotel.

Just like the internet cafes you don’t usually book this at online booking platforms and such, but you can simply walk in and ask for a karaoke room for however many hours you want.

Love Hotels

If you’re feeling a little adventurous and want to stay at themed rooms, there are plenty of love hotels in Tokyo, especially in Shibuya and Shinjuku where you can do just that.

Hotel Zero Love Hotel Shibuya
Hotel Zero Love Hotel in Shibuya – see the price list front and center?

Although love hotels are usually for couples, sometimes when you failed to plan ahead and forget to book a room for the night and realize that the hotel prices are already sky-high, you might find that love hotels can offer you a more decent price. Not only are love hotels on the cheaper side, they are in close proximity to the happenings as well.

Just like internet cafes and karaoke rooms, you don’t really just book love hotels online so just walk in if you want to book a room.  As a side tip, just be sure to be ready with the necessary Japanese words (e.g. how much, for two please, what time is check out, etc.), use your smartphone calculator to confirm the price with the attendant, and use clever body languages as the attendants at the motels will just (most likely) turn down tourists just to avoid further frustrations with the use of English, so be prepared on how you communicate when making a reservation.

What is the best area to stay at in Tokyo?

Tokyo is HUGE and comprises 23 wards, so don’t just search for “hotels in Tokyo” and book the cheapest hotel room that you find because you may find yourself a hotel that’s so out of way from the destinations that you actually want to go to.

To book at the right location, first know what you really want out of Tokyo. Do you want to spend most of your time in trendy Harajuku and Shibuya area, or do you really just want to be in more traditional Asakusa area for most of your stay?

Know that these places I just mentioned are around 37 minutes by train from each other and can require a lot of minutes of walking time to and from, so booking a room at a strategic “homebase” area will save you a lot of precious time.

Here are the best places to stay at in Tokyo:

Shibuya

Shibuya is probably my most favorite place in Tokyo mainly because of the very iconic Shibuya crossing (a.k.a. the scramble) and the endless things to do in the area that includes shopping and plenty of dining options. You can probably find anything you want from Tokyo in Shibuya – from popular chain shops and restaurants to all the souvenir items that you want, you can probably find them in Shibuya. Heck, the largest Don Quijote in Tokyo is found in Shibuya (called “Mega Don Quijote” for a reason). Trendy Harajuku is well within the city of Shibuya, and Shinjuku station is just a few minutes away by train. The big city energy of this place matches that of New York City’s Times Square so if you’re into this kind of vibe then Shibuya is for you.

The thing is, staying in Shibuya is a splurge because it’s super expensive to get a room in this area. It’s almost impossible to find a decently priced accommodation in Shibuya, and even if you’re just looking at a tiny, cramped hostel it will still cost you a good chunk of your spend money. To go around this, you can book an accommodation that’s a few stops from Shibuya Station, or just avoid booking at this place at all (train transport in Tokyo is super quick and efficient anyway, it’s just that they don’t run 24/7).

Asakusa

If you’re into Japanese culture and tradition, my suggestion for you would be to stay in Asakusa area. Not only are then plenty of cheap, amazing street food in Asakusa area, you can also immerse yourself in Japanese tradition and visit the iconic Sensoji temple – Tokyo’s oldest and most significant temple. The area around the temple has a quaint old neighborhood vibe that’s perfect for those visiting with family. You can tour the area in a rickshaw while clad in rented kimono around the Asakusa area and have some cheap food and beer along Hoppy Street early into the night, and just a few minutes away right across Sumida River is the very modern Tokyo Tower and the very iconic Asahi Beer Headquarters and Flame building which are all worth a visit when you’re staying in Asakusa.

Although Asakusa is a heavily touristy area, hotels and other accommodation in this place are surprisingly cheaper and more affordable than those in Shibuya and Shinjuku area. I’m so in love with this place and would stay here any visit – my only minor complaint would be that Asakusa is not 24/7 so a lot of the shops close early into the night and the energy kinda dies down a bit.

Shinjuku

Shinjuku is a very central place in Tokyo so so it’s well connected to the entirety of Tokyo by way of the JR Yamanote Line and the rest of Japan by way of the shinkansen or the bullet train, making it a very convenient place to serve as your homebase if you’re always out and about and want to go to many different places in Tokyo (Shinjuku Station also has direct connection to the Narita Express which takes you directly to Narita Airport). There are many day trips that originate from Shunjuku Station as well, including trips to Disneland and Mount Fuji.

Aside from it being a major transport hub, Shinjuku is a tourist magnet on its own and it is known for its very energetic nighlife spots including the iconic Kabukicho area (where a lot of the nightlife happens and this is also where the “Godzilla” tower is), the Golden Gai known for its hole-in-the-wall bars, Omoide Yokocho (aka Piss Alley known for its hole-in-the-wall izakayas), and many more nightlife as well as shopping spots.

Shinjuku hotels are pricey but not as expensive as Shibuya-area accommodations, so if you prefer to stay at central place with great nightlife and shopping (both Shibuya and Shinjuku are known for this), then Shinjuku is probably the better area to pick a much more decently priced accommodation. The only not-so-good thing about Shinjuku is that it has that seedy “unsafe” vibe during nighttime due to scale of nightlife in this area and the presence of touts (the Shinjuku area is safe – just don’t talk to the touts who will approach as you walk past), so this is probably not a great place to stay at if you’re traveling with family and kids (but a great one if you’re into nightlife).

Ueno

Ueno would make a great homebase in the northeastern side of Tokyo due to its connectedness to the entirety of Tokyo via the JR Yamanote Line and its proximity to Ginza, Akihabara, Asakusa and Tsukiji areas, as well as having its own iconic spots within the Ueno area such as the Ameya Yokocho (Ameyoko, known for shops and restaurants that convert into bars at night) shopping street and Ueno Park (huge park with Ueno Zoo and many museums such as the Tokyo National Museum).

Aside from being connected to the rest of Tokyo via the JR Yamanote Line, you can also get direct access to Narita Airport via the Keisei Skyliner train which departs from the Keisei-Ueno Station.

When is the best time to book a Hotel in Tokyo?

Once you’re done reading through this blog post, the next step is to finally book that hotel room. Now the question is, when would be the best time to book an accommodation to get it at its cheapest rate?

While there’s no definite answer as to the best timing, one thing’s for sure: book too close to your dates of stay in Tokyo and you’ll be slapped with inflated room rates and lesser hotel options to choose from. Can’t stress this enough.

This is what we want to avoid, so you should already be familiarizing yourself on how prices are in your desired hotel or area and dates of stay 3 months before your trip to give you a lot of time to compare rates.

Compare rates for a maximum two weeks (prices for a specific hotel room change almost daily) because you already know by then if the hotel you’ve been eyeing is cheaper than yesterday or not, then decide while you still have your hotel options open because Tokyo hotels really do max out on their vacancies real fast especially those hotels that are in central locations and popular places, which is something you will want to look for.

If you’re not really sure and you’re super torn which to pick (it’s really tough choosing because there are a lot of pretty hotels in Tokyo), you can always go to Booking.com, Expedia or Agoda to search for accommodation and take advantage of their free cancellation option. You will see if the room you’re selecting has free cancellation – sometimes rooms with ‘free cancellation’ are more expensive by a few dollars but they are worth it if you’re not really sure yet and you just want to secure a room just in case.

Free cancellation means that if the hotel room you’re eyeing has free cancellation option, you can book it now already just to serve as a safety net for when you don’t find a better option. Note that free cancellation at Booking.com, Expedia or Agoda is only valid up to a certain date (usually 1 to 3 days prior to your booking), so make sure you’re already fully decided by then (well, by that date you better 😉 ). If you do find a better option, simply cancel your initial booking then book that accommodation that you really want.

Practical Tips to consider before you book that Tokyo hotel

Tip # 1: Prices differ a lot depending on which area you pick

We all know that Tokyo hotel rooms are expensive especially in Shibuya and Shinjuku areas, but did you know that you can book a hotel room in Asakusa that’s a lot newer and roomier for cheaper?

You don’t really have to stomach the steep price tag because there are equally popular areas just a train ride away where you can score better hotel rooms for a lot less money, so make sure to check the accommodation options in each area that you’d like to visit.

Tip # 2: Make sure that your hotel is near a train station

This is not really an option based on your preference – you really have to book a hotel that’s near a train station as much a possible.

This will save you a lot of time walking to and from the train station – you’ll also be doing a lot of walking when in Tokyo so saving a few steps to and from the train station to your hotel makes a huge difference and your aching feet and legs will thank you for it.

Want to only use the Tokyo Metro unlimited subway pass during your entire stay in Tokyo? Make sure to book a hotel that’s near stations serviced by Tokyo Metro only.

Also do note that the trains in Tokyo don’t run 24/7 so you need to pick a homebase that you can easily get to before the trains stop.

E-Hotel Higashi-Shinjuku just beside Tokyo Metro Subway Station
E-Hotel Higashi-Shinjuku is literally just beside the entrance to Tokyo Metro’s Higashi-Shinjuku Station – this kind of hotel is what would make for a perfect homebase when in Tokyo.

Tip # 3: Booking for longer stays might be cheaper than booking 1 night at a time

I did an experiment on this, using your favorite hotel booking app try to book a hotel room for one night and try again for four consecutive nights or a week and you’ll see that the price per night gets cheaper the more consecutive nights you stay.

So if you’re staying in Tokyo for let’s say a week and are planning to try out one hotel after every other day, consider if you will want to just stay at a single hotel for your entire stay if u want to save more.

Tip # 4: Check if your accommodation can store your luggage for you before or after your stay

Note that some budget hotels and a of hostels do not store your luggage for you the day you check-in or check-out.

While it’s no issue for travelers who pack light and just have a backpack with them, it is a major requirement for most of us that have luggage to have our friendly hotel front desk store our bags for us before our check-in or after we check-out so that we can enjoy some time to explore sans our heavy luggage.

If you’re picking a BnB that does not have a front desk at all, consider it a no since it not gonna be possible for them to store your bags for you.

Tip # 5: Before you book a budget hostel, make sure you read the fine print because some budget hostels will require you to check in and check out every day for the duration of your stay

Some capsule hostels (especially budget bath house hostels that cater to locals who miss the train) require guests to check out and check back in at certain hours every day even if you’re booked for two or more consecutive days.

This is where reading the fine print becomes very important because a lot of tourists will book budget capsule hostels without reading the fine print and find out later that they have to check out and back in every single day for the duration of their stay – this is very unpleasant especially if you’ve already paid for your entire stay and you just find this out.

By checking out and back in it means that you will have to bring your luggage with you as you check out and check back in which is a huge hassle because that would mean you have to bring your bags with you as you head out for the day, with no option to leave them at the front desk for safekeeping.

Tip # 6: Before booking a budget hostel, make sure they have space or locker for you to store your luggage

Because there are some budget hostels that don’t have any locker at all and don’t have a safe space for you to park your luggage.

You dont know how many times I’ve had to sacrifice booking a great value hostel with a perfect location just because they did not have a luggage space or I had to check out and back in every day with my luggage (no option to leave it at the front desk for a day) so make sure to read the fine print before booking or consider just not bringing a luggage with you and just buy a luggage from Don Quijote when you’re almost done with your stay in Tokyo.

Tip # 7: Check the hotel’s services, amenities and house rules

It goes without saying, but I just like to reiterate that you need to check the accommodation’s services, amenities, and house rules before booking as it can make your stay even better or worse.

Things such as free breakfast are a no brainer, but things such as towels and toiletries need to be checked as well – I mean do they give free towels and toiletries so that you can travel light? What about the check in or check out time – are they generous enough with the timings or not?

Also check if the room size is spacious enough for your needs because even 3-star hotel rooms can get cramped especially for international standards so consider check this if you’re traveling in a group or with big suitcases.

Oh and one other thing – if you’re jumping between cities and in need of a luggage delivery service, before booking an accommodation check if they will help you receive or send your bags for you with the courier service, because you will not be able to use these couriers otherwise.

Checking out these little, minute details will come a long way to guarantee yourself a hassle-free stay in Tokyo and the rest of Japan.

Check this out: My review of my stay at Hotel Tomariya Ueno

Tip # 8: Be decisive already

As you go out searching for the best accommodation in Tokyo, you will be spoilt for choices, making it very hard to decide. And before you know it, you’ve ran out of time and room rates have increased.

After carefully considering above tips, then after would be the best time to be decisive and just book that room already because you will not want to be in Tokyo without accommodation for the night because you couldn’t decide ahead of time and prices have already skyrocketed, or worse, they’re all already fully booked.

Have any questions, or tips to share? Feel free to comment down below! 🙂

Related Posts

Leave the first comment

Inside Capsule Room at Hostel
Home » Guides » Tokyo Hotel Hunting Guide: Tips Before You Book that Hotel

Tokyo Hotel Hunting Guide: Tips Before You Book that Hotel

Tokyo is unlike any other city so there's a lot to consider before you finally book that hotel.

Getting that perfect accommodation is one of the most important things you need to work on when visiting Tokyo because it literally can make your stay a very memorable one or it could quickly turn into a nightmare if you don’t plan for it, so you better get on it and plan ahead to ensure you get the perfect place to stay at in Tokyo.

But before you decide, hear me out and consider these practical tips of mine before you book your own special place in Tokyo because knowing these will save you time, and money, and also give you that peace of mind knowing you’ve got yourself a cozy place to call your own while in Tokyo. You’re welcome. 🙂

Table of Contents

Accommodation Options in Tokyo: There are a bunch of options to choose from

From luxurious capsules to quirky love hotels and everything in between, Tokyo is one of the few places in the world where the variety of available options are just endless.

First know that you have these options available to you when looking for accommodation in this big city:

Hotels

APA Hotel in Shinjuku Tokyo
While there are plenty of hotels in Tokyo, one thing I noticed is that APA branded hotels are everywhere in Tokyo and in major cities in Japan.

Hotels are obviously number 1 in this list – there are thousands of hotels to choose from in Tokyo that caters to a variety of tastes (Japanese-style, Western-style, quirky ones, etc.) that you will be spoilt for choice.

The choices are just endless and it’s only up to you to pick the best one for your needs. I usually search for the best hotels and compare prices at Booking.com, Expedia, and Agoda because they have a lot of hotel rooms in their inventory.

You obviously already know about hotels so I’m not even gonna talk about them – moving on..

Hostels / Capsule Hotels

After hotels, there also thousands of hostels (including capsule hotels) in Tokyo that suit every budget. They’re perfect for solo travelers because not only are they cheap, they’re also usually centrally located and you get to meet with and mingle with fellow travelers if there’s a chance. If you’re traveling solo to Tokyo and you’re on a tight budget, hostels and capsule hotels will be your best friend.

The capsule beds at the dormroom in Hotel Tomariya Ueno in Tokyo
The capsule beds at Hotel Tomariya Ueno.

Hostels are usually way cheaper than hotels, but book last minute and the price can easily be equal to a hotel night’s stay and also don’t be complacent and just book last minute because hostel rooms can run out really fast.

When searching for hostels and capsule rooms, after comparing different hotel booking sites I also usually find the best-value rooms either on Booking.com, Expedia or Agoda.

Airbnb Rentals

Airbnbs are a great value-for-money option if you’re traveling with family or a large group because you can book an entire apartment or house and split the costs, which makes it a lot cheaper per person than booking hotel rooms that limit the number of people that can stay.

Airbnb Accommodation Apartment Rental

Staying at Airbnb home or apartment rentals is also one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the culture because not only do you get to talk to your host who’s likely to be a local (if they meet with you in person, that is), bnb rentals are also most of the time within quaint neighborhoods that you otherwise wouldn’t get to explore if you stayed at proper hotels in central locations.

The only things I don’t really like with Airbnbs is that there’s usually no reception or front desk to speak with and that you have to coordinate the check-in or check-out with the rental owner online, which can be a bit of a hassle.

Traditional Japanese Inns (Ryokan)

A room at a Ryokan_Traditional Japanese Inn_Amami Onsen Nanten-en

Similar with hotels, traditional Japanese inns, a.k.a. Ryokan, are much like the standard hotel rooms that you can book during your stay, it’s just that everything is Japanese-style so staying at a ryokan is one of the best accommodation you can get when visiting Tokyo. Not only do you get an amazing accommodation to stay at for the night, it’s also a cultural experience on its own.

Some ryokans do not have online booking because they rely on their local clientele and it’s not really easy to book if you’re a foreigner since everything is in Japanese and most require a referral from one of their patrons. Although this is the case for some ryokans especially the higher end ones, there are definitely a lot of other ryokans that are open to foreigners – in fact you can book your own ryokan at Expedia and Booking.com.

Internet Cafes

Internet Cafe with Private Room in Shibuya

Now I’m only adding this and the next two options below as your last option – you know, in cases when rooms for the night are just too expensive or if you miss the last train and you need a place to stay at and rest for a few hours.

Although internet cafes are not synonymous to rooms or accommodation, in Japan there are a lot of 24-hour internet cafes that have really small private rooms with a computer desk where you can do your internet surfing/gaming stuff, and at the same time the rooms have a large comfy armchair or flat mattresses that you can sleep on.

You don’t really book them online because they’re not available in hotel booking sites (the only net cafe like this in Tokyo I know that can be booked online is Booth Netcafe & Capsule) so you wouldn’t really be able to book them in advance – you just go in to their front desk and ask for a room, which are usually charged cheaply by the hour.

Karaoke Rooms

Big Echo Karaoke in Shibuya

There are a lot of karaoke rooms in Tokyo such as the popular karaoke chain Big Echo (check all Big Echo locations here) where you can either sing with friends or just stay and sleep at for the night especially if you miss the last train to your hotel.

Just like the internet cafes you don’t usually book this at online booking platforms and such, but you can simply walk in and ask for a karaoke room for however many hours you want.

Love Hotels

If you’re feeling a little adventurous and want to stay at themed rooms, there are plenty of love hotels in Tokyo, especially in Shibuya and Shinjuku where you can do just that.

Hotel Zero Love Hotel Shibuya
Hotel Zero Love Hotel in Shibuya – see the price list front and center?

Although love hotels are usually for couples, sometimes when you failed to plan ahead and forget to book a room for the night and realize that the hotel prices are already sky-high, you might find that love hotels can offer you a more decent price. Not only are love hotels on the cheaper side, they are in close proximity to the happenings as well.

Just like internet cafes and karaoke rooms, you don’t really just book love hotels online so just walk in if you want to book a room.  As a side tip, just be sure to be ready with the necessary Japanese words (e.g. how much, for two please, what time is check out, etc.), use your smartphone calculator to confirm the price with the attendant, and use clever body languages as the attendants at the motels will just (most likely) turn down tourists just to avoid further frustrations with the use of English, so be prepared on how you communicate when making a reservation.

What is the best area to stay at in Tokyo?

Tokyo is HUGE and comprises 23 wards, so don’t just search for “hotels in Tokyo” and book the cheapest hotel room that you find because you may find yourself a hotel that’s so out of way from the destinations that you actually want to go to.

To book at the right location, first know what you really want out of Tokyo. Do you want to spend most of your time in trendy Harajuku and Shibuya area, or do you really just want to be in more traditional Asakusa area for most of your stay?

Know that these places I just mentioned are around 37 minutes by train from each other and can require a lot of minutes of walking time to and from, so booking a room at a strategic “homebase” area will save you a lot of precious time.

Here are the best places to stay at in Tokyo:

Shibuya

Shibuya is probably my most favorite place in Tokyo mainly because of the very iconic Shibuya crossing (a.k.a. the scramble) and the endless things to do in the area that includes shopping and plenty of dining options. You can probably find anything you want from Tokyo in Shibuya – from popular chain shops and restaurants to all the souvenir items that you want, you can probably find them in Shibuya. Heck, the largest Don Quijote in Tokyo is found in Shibuya (called “Mega Don Quijote” for a reason). Trendy Harajuku is well within the city of Shibuya, and Shinjuku station is just a few minutes away by train. The big city energy of this place matches that of New York City’s Times Square so if you’re into this kind of vibe then Shibuya is for you.

The thing is, staying in Shibuya is a splurge because it’s super expensive to get a room in this area. It’s almost impossible to find a decently priced accommodation in Shibuya, and even if you’re just looking at a tiny, cramped hostel it will still cost you a good chunk of your spend money. To go around this, you can book an accommodation that’s a few stops from Shibuya Station, or just avoid booking at this place at all (train transport in Tokyo is super quick and efficient anyway, it’s just that they don’t run 24/7).

Asakusa

If you’re into Japanese culture and tradition, my suggestion for you would be to stay in Asakusa area. Not only are then plenty of cheap, amazing street food in Asakusa area, you can also immerse yourself in Japanese tradition and visit the iconic Sensoji temple – Tokyo’s oldest and most significant temple. The area around the temple has a quaint old neighborhood vibe that’s perfect for those visiting with family. You can tour the area in a rickshaw while clad in rented kimono around the Asakusa area and have some cheap food and beer along Hoppy Street early into the night, and just a few minutes away right across Sumida River is the very modern Tokyo Tower and the very iconic Asahi Beer Headquarters and Flame building which are all worth a visit when you’re staying in Asakusa.

Although Asakusa is a heavily touristy area, hotels and other accommodation in this place are surprisingly cheaper and more affordable than those in Shibuya and Shinjuku area. I’m so in love with this place and would stay here any visit – my only minor complaint would be that Asakusa is not 24/7 so a lot of the shops close early into the night and the energy kinda dies down a bit.

Shinjuku

Shinjuku is a very central place in Tokyo so so it’s well connected to the entirety of Tokyo by way of the JR Yamanote Line and the rest of Japan by way of the shinkansen or the bullet train, making it a very convenient place to serve as your homebase if you’re always out and about and want to go to many different places in Tokyo (Shinjuku Station also has direct connection to the Narita Express which takes you directly to Narita Airport). There are many day trips that originate from Shunjuku Station as well, including trips to Disneland and Mount Fuji.

Aside from it being a major transport hub, Shinjuku is a tourist magnet on its own and it is known for its very energetic nighlife spots including the iconic Kabukicho area (where a lot of the nightlife happens and this is also where the “Godzilla” tower is), the Golden Gai known for its hole-in-the-wall bars, Omoide Yokocho (aka Piss Alley known for its hole-in-the-wall izakayas), and many more nightlife as well as shopping spots.

Shinjuku hotels are pricey but not as expensive as Shibuya-area accommodations, so if you prefer to stay at central place with great nightlife and shopping (both Shibuya and Shinjuku are known for this), then Shinjuku is probably the better area to pick a much more decently priced accommodation. The only not-so-good thing about Shinjuku is that it has that seedy “unsafe” vibe during nighttime due to scale of nightlife in this area and the presence of touts (the Shinjuku area is safe – just don’t talk to the touts who will approach as you walk past), so this is probably not a great place to stay at if you’re traveling with family and kids (but a great one if you’re into nightlife).

Ueno

Ueno would make a great homebase in the northeastern side of Tokyo due to its connectedness to the entirety of Tokyo via the JR Yamanote Line and its proximity to Ginza, Akihabara, Asakusa and Tsukiji areas, as well as having its own iconic spots within the Ueno area such as the Ameya Yokocho (Ameyoko, known for shops and restaurants that convert into bars at night) shopping street and Ueno Park (huge park with Ueno Zoo and many museums such as the Tokyo National Museum).

Aside from being connected to the rest of Tokyo via the JR Yamanote Line, you can also get direct access to Narita Airport via the Keisei Skyliner train which departs from the Keisei-Ueno Station.

When is the best time to book a Hotel in Tokyo?

Once you’re done reading through this blog post, the next step is to finally book that hotel room. Now the question is, when would be the best time to book an accommodation to get it at its cheapest rate?

While there’s no definite answer as to the best timing, one thing’s for sure: book too close to your dates of stay in Tokyo and you’ll be slapped with inflated room rates and lesser hotel options to choose from. Can’t stress this enough.

This is what we want to avoid, so you should already be familiarizing yourself on how prices are in your desired hotel or area and dates of stay 3 months before your trip to give you a lot of time to compare rates.

Compare rates for a maximum two weeks (prices for a specific hotel room change almost daily) because you already know by then if the hotel you’ve been eyeing is cheaper than yesterday or not, then decide while you still have your hotel options open because Tokyo hotels really do max out on their vacancies real fast especially those hotels that are in central locations and popular places, which is something you will want to look for.

If you’re not really sure and you’re super torn which to pick (it’s really tough choosing because there are a lot of pretty hotels in Tokyo), you can always go to Booking.com, Expedia or Agoda to search for accommodation and take advantage of their free cancellation option. You will see if the room you’re selecting has free cancellation – sometimes rooms with ‘free cancellation’ are more expensive by a few dollars but they are worth it if you’re not really sure yet and you just want to secure a room just in case.

Free cancellation means that if the hotel room you’re eyeing has free cancellation option, you can book it now already just to serve as a safety net for when you don’t find a better option. Note that free cancellation at Booking.com, Expedia or Agoda is only valid up to a certain date (usually 1 to 3 days prior to your booking), so make sure you’re already fully decided by then (well, by that date you better 😉 ). If you do find a better option, simply cancel your initial booking then book that accommodation that you really want.

Practical Tips to consider before you book that Tokyo hotel

Tip # 1: Prices differ a lot depending on which area you pick

We all know that Tokyo hotel rooms are expensive especially in Shibuya and Shinjuku areas, but did you know that you can book a hotel room in Asakusa that’s a lot newer and roomier for cheaper?

You don’t really have to stomach the steep price tag because there are equally popular areas just a train ride away where you can score better hotel rooms for a lot less money, so make sure to check the accommodation options in each area that you’d like to visit.

Tip # 2: Make sure that your hotel is near a train station

This is not really an option based on your preference – you really have to book a hotel that’s near a train station as much a possible.

This will save you a lot of time walking to and from the train station – you’ll also be doing a lot of walking when in Tokyo so saving a few steps to and from the train station to your hotel makes a huge difference and your aching feet and legs will thank you for it.

Want to only use the Tokyo Metro unlimited subway pass during your entire stay in Tokyo? Make sure to book a hotel that’s near stations serviced by Tokyo Metro only.

Also do note that the trains in Tokyo don’t run 24/7 so you need to pick a homebase that you can easily get to before the trains stop.

E-Hotel Higashi-Shinjuku just beside Tokyo Metro Subway Station
E-Hotel Higashi-Shinjuku is literally just beside the entrance to Tokyo Metro’s Higashi-Shinjuku Station – this kind of hotel is what would make for a perfect homebase when in Tokyo.

Tip # 3: Booking for longer stays might be cheaper than booking 1 night at a time

I did an experiment on this, using your favorite hotel booking app try to book a hotel room for one night and try again for four consecutive nights or a week and you’ll see that the price per night gets cheaper the more consecutive nights you stay.

So if you’re staying in Tokyo for let’s say a week and are planning to try out one hotel after every other day, consider if you will want to just stay at a single hotel for your entire stay if u want to save more.

Tip # 4: Check if your accommodation can store your luggage for you before or after your stay

Note that some budget hotels and a of hostels do not store your luggage for you the day you check-in or check-out.

While it’s no issue for travelers who pack light and just have a backpack with them, it is a major requirement for most of us that have luggage to have our friendly hotel front desk store our bags for us before our check-in or after we check-out so that we can enjoy some time to explore sans our heavy luggage.

If you’re picking a BnB that does not have a front desk at all, consider it a no since it not gonna be possible for them to store your bags for you.

Tip # 5: Before you book a budget hostel, make sure you read the fine print because some budget hostels will require you to check in and check out every day for the duration of your stay

Some capsule hostels (especially budget bath house hostels that cater to locals who miss the train) require guests to check out and check back in at certain hours every day even if you’re booked for two or more consecutive days.

This is where reading the fine print becomes very important because a lot of tourists will book budget capsule hostels without reading the fine print and find out later that they have to check out and back in every single day for the duration of their stay – this is very unpleasant especially if you’ve already paid for your entire stay and you just find this out.

By checking out and back in it means that you will have to bring your luggage with you as you check out and check back in which is a huge hassle because that would mean you have to bring your bags with you as you head out for the day, with no option to leave them at the front desk for safekeeping.

Tip # 6: Before booking a budget hostel, make sure they have space or locker for you to store your luggage

Because there are some budget hostels that don’t have any locker at all and don’t have a safe space for you to park your luggage.

You dont know how many times I’ve had to sacrifice booking a great value hostel with a perfect location just because they did not have a luggage space or I had to check out and back in every day with my luggage (no option to leave it at the front desk for a day) so make sure to read the fine print before booking or consider just not bringing a luggage with you and just buy a luggage from Don Quijote when you’re almost done with your stay in Tokyo.

Tip # 7: Check the hotel’s services, amenities and house rules

It goes without saying, but I just like to reiterate that you need to check the accommodation’s services, amenities, and house rules before booking as it can make your stay even better or worse.

Things such as free breakfast are a no brainer, but things such as towels and toiletries need to be checked as well – I mean do they give free towels and toiletries so that you can travel light? What about the check in or check out time – are they generous enough with the timings or not?

Also check if the room size is spacious enough for your needs because even 3-star hotel rooms can get cramped especially for international standards so consider check this if you’re traveling in a group or with big suitcases.

Oh and one other thing – if you’re jumping between cities and in need of a luggage delivery service, before booking an accommodation check if they will help you receive or send your bags for you with the courier service, because you will not be able to use these couriers otherwise.

Checking out these little, minute details will come a long way to guarantee yourself a hassle-free stay in Tokyo and the rest of Japan.

Check this out: My review of my stay at Hotel Tomariya Ueno

Tip # 8: Be decisive already

As you go out searching for the best accommodation in Tokyo, you will be spoilt for choices, making it very hard to decide. And before you know it, you’ve ran out of time and room rates have increased.

After carefully considering above tips, then after would be the best time to be decisive and just book that room already because you will not want to be in Tokyo without accommodation for the night because you couldn’t decide ahead of time and prices have already skyrocketed, or worse, they’re all already fully booked.

Have any questions, or tips to share? Feel free to comment down below! 🙂

Related Posts

Leave the first comment

Upcoming Events