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Updated: April 1, 2023
By Santorini Dave
My Favorite Hotels in Tokyo
• 5-star: Four Seasons
• 4-star: Celestine Ginza
• 3-star: Sunroute Shinjuku
• Pool: Grand Hyatt
• Train: Tokyo Station Hotel
• Shopping: Shibuya Granbell
• Disneyland: Hilton Tokyo Bay
• For couples: TRUNK
• For families: Four Seasons Otemachi
The Best Areas to Stay in Tokyo
Because Tokyo’s best hotels, best family hotels, and best attractions are so spread out and public transportation is so efficient, no one neighborhood stands out when it comes to a place to stay. Tokyo neighborhoods do, however, have their own personalities and advantages, so make your choice based on preference, lifestyle, or general interests. Shibuya, known for its iconic scramble crossing, is a popular destination for shopping, nightlife, and entertainment. Shinjuku, the city’s busiest transport hub, is known for its skyscrapers, department stores, and entertainment venues. Harajuku, a trendy neighborhood famous for its street fashion and shopping, while Roppongi is known for its nightlife.
Greater Tokyo, with more than 37 million people, is the most populous metropolitan area in the world. Most tourists, however, spend the majority of their time within the city’s 23 wards, which with 13 million residents might seem intimidating enough. It’s useful, therefore, to think of the city as nothing more than a network of neighborhoods (each former villages), most with origins dating to the Edo Period (1603-1868) and each with its own charm.
Tokyo owes its layout to the days of the shogun when Edo Castle dominated the center of the city surrounded by a whirl of moats. Even today, a swath of greenery and moats mark where the castle once stood, now home to the imperial family and East Garden. Feudal lords, merchants, and townspeople were all assigned their own neighborhoods. Chuo-ku (Central Ward), for example, was established as the commercial heart of the city and remains so with its swanky Ginza shopping mecca and Nihombashi business district. Taito-ku, where commoners settled, still exhibits a lively shitamachi (old downtown) atmosphere in the neighborhoods of Asakusa and Ueno.
Despite its size, getting around Tokyo is easy, efficient, and inexpensive. The city’s transportation system is one of the most efficient and extensive in the world. The Japan Railways Yamanote Line is a circular loop that passes through many of the city’s most popular wards and neighborhoods, including Tokyo Station, Akihabara, Ueno, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinagawa and many others. Most of Tokyo’s major attractions are near or within this Yamanote Line loop. There are also 13 subway lines, each assigned its own color and letter (for example, the Ginza Line is orange and is identified by G). Furthermore, each station along each line is numbered in chronological order, so if you board the Ginza Line in Omotesando (G 02), it’s easy to keep track of how many stations you’ll pass before reaching Asakusa (G 19).
Best Areas for First-Timers
Shibuya and Shinjuku are two of the best areas for first-time visitors to Tokyo due to their central locations, vibrant atmosphere, and excellent transportation links. Both neighborhoods showcase the city’s unique blend of tradition and modernity, making them ideal for experiencing Tokyo’s dynamic urban landscape.
Shibuya is a bustling district famous for its iconic pedestrian crossing, the Shibuya Scramble, which symbolizes the energetic and fast-paced nature of Tokyo. The area is a shopping and entertainment hub, with numerous department stores, boutiques, and restaurants catering to various tastes and budgets. Shibuya is also known for its nightlife, offering a wide range of bars, clubs, and entertainment venues. The area is well-connected to the rest of the city via Shibuya Station, which serves multiple train and subway lines, making it easy to explore other parts of Tokyo.
Shinjuku, on the other hand, is a lively district that offers a mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. It is home to the world’s busiest railway station, Shinjuku Station, which provides convenient access to other areas of Tokyo and the greater Kanto region via multiple train and subway lines. Major attractions in Shinjuku include the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building with its free observation decks, the expansive Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, and the vibrant nightlife district of Kabukicho.
Both Shibuya and Shinjuku provide a diverse range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses and hostels, making them suitable for travelers with different budgets. A few of our favorite hotels for first-timers are TRUNK, Shibuya Granbell Hotel, Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu, Odakyu Hotel Century Southern Tower, Hotel Gracery, Tokyu Stay Shibuya, Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku, and Rose Garden Shinjuku.
The Best Places to Stay in Tokyo
- Best Luxury Hotels in Tokyo
Four Seasons Marunouchi • Park Hyatt • The Peninsula • Mandarin Oriental
- Best Boutique Hotels in Tokyo
TRUNK • Andaz
- Best Ryokan in Tokyo
Ryokan Asakusa Shigetsu
- Best Cheap/Midrange Hotels in Tokyo
Tokyu Stay Shibuya • Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku
- Best Hotels for Families in Tokyo
Four Seasons Otemachi • Asakusa View • Rose Garden Shinjuku
Where to Stay in Tokyo
Best Neighborhood in Tokyo for Shopping and Fashion: Shibuya
The area of Shibuya, Omotesando, and Harajuku (all within walking distance of each other) is one of Tokyo’s most popular weekend hangouts. Omotesando is the name of a subway station and tree-shaded street lined with zelkova trees and designer boutiques that connects two distinct micro-neighborhoods: Harajuku with its youth-centered shops and cheap eateries and more upscale Aoyama filled with designer stores and innovative restaurants. Places to stay are few in Omotesando, but nearby Shibuya has 4-star and 5-star hotels, luxury shopping malls, and is connected to Harajuku via pedestrian Cat Street or a short subway ride.
• Best Hotels in Shibuya: TRUNK • Shibuya Granbell Hotel • Tokyu Stay Shibuya • Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu
Best Neighborhood in Tokyo for Nightlife: Roppongi & Shinjuku
If you’re a night owl who likes staying close to the action, Roppongi offers Tokyo’s most cosmopolitan yet condensed nightlife, packed with bars, izakaya, and restaurants with everything from yakitori and sushi to pizza and ethnic fare. The Shinjuku district is larger and crazier, with strip shows, hostess bars, izakaya, karaoke bars, dance clubs, and live music venues, concentrated mostly in a nightlife district called Kabukicho. Nearby is Golden Gai, a maze of narrow streets lined with tiny bars, while farther afield is Shinjuku 2-chome, Asia’s largest gay nightlife district.
• Best Hotels in Shinjuku: Odakyu Hotel Century Southern Tower • Hotel Gracery • Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku • Rose Garden Shinjuku
• Best Hotels in Roppongi: APA Hotel • Grand Hyatt • Ritz Carlton Tokyo
Most Historic Neighborhood in Tokyo: Asakusa
Asakusa imparts the atmosphere of old Edo better than any other area of Tokyo. If you want Old World Tokyo this is the neighborhood. Asakusa’s Sensoji Temple, in fact, predates Tokyo by more than 1,300 years, and there are many souvenir shops and traditional restaurants in the quaint surrounding side streets that have been passed down from generation to generation. For an even more authentic immersion into old Tokyo, stay in one of many traditional Japanese inns in Asakusa or nearby Ueno.
• Best Hotels in Asakusa: Ryokan Asakusa Shigetsu • Asakusa View
Best Neighborhood in Tokyo for Food & Restaurants: Ginza
Ginza is famous for not only high-end shopping but also for its restaurants. That’s saying a lot for a country renowned for cuisine, but foodies will find restaurants ranging from deluxe venues offering haute French fare to those specializing in fusion dishes. There are also cubby-hole-size izakaya (Japanese-style pubs), sophisticated cocktail lounges and everything in between. Ginza is also the place to go for famous shops offering Japanese desserts, sake and other items, not to mention department stores with must-see basement food emporiums.
• Best Hotels in Ginza: Celestine Ginza • Hotel Sunroute Ginza
Most Romantic Neighborhood in Tokyo: Ebisu
You don’t want to be fighting crowds on a honeymoon or couples vacation, making overlooked Ebisu a convenient (it’s on the Yamanote and Hibiya lines, among others), quiet, and charming choice. Although there are plenty of wining and dining choices along Ebisu’s side streets, Tokyoites often choose Yebisu Garden Place as one of the city’s top date spots. A city-within-a-city, its offerings include restaurants with dreamy views on the 38th and 39th floors of a skyscraper, a beer hall, Mitsukoshi department store, a weekly outdoor farmer’s market, and a luxurious Westin hotel.
• Best Hotels in Ebisu: The Westin • Ebisuholic Hotel
Best Neighborhood in Tokyo for Short Visits: Near Tokyo Station
If you have only a day or two to spare, you don’t want to waste time dragging your luggage across town. Convenient to Narita airport and the Shinkansen bullet train, Tokyo Station contains shops, restaurants, and even a hotel, but it’s also within walking distance of the Imperial Palace, East Garden, the Ginza, hotels, and more. Access to the rest of the city is via Tokyo Station’s Yamanote and Marunouchi lines and four additional subway lines from nearby Otemachi Station.
• Best Hotels near Tokyo Station: Tokyo Station Hotel • Four Seasons • Shangri La Hotel • Courtyard by Marriott Tokyo Station
Best Neighborhood in Tokyo for Sightseeing: Akasaka-Mitsuke
Akasaka, home to many corporate headquarters, has few attractions of its own other than Hie Shrine, the National Diet (with free weekday tours), the Akasaka Sacas shopping and dining complex, and a small but lively nightlife scene. However, its central location and combined stations of Akasaka-Mitsuke and Nagatacho with five subway lines provide direct access to Asakusa, Ueno, Shibuya, Omotesando, Ginza, Shinjuku and other iconic spots without having to change trains. Hotels are pricey, but many offer great views of the city.
• Best Hotels in Akasaka-Mitsuke: Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho • Capitol Hotel Tokyu • The Centurion Classic Akasaka • Hotel Mystays Premier Akasaka • New Otani Garden Tower
Best Neighborhood in Tokyo for a Local Vibe: Meguro
If Tokyo’s density gives you pause, consider staying in Meguro. Lying just outside the Yamanote Line’s demarcation of inner Tokyo but with quick access to Shibuya and Ebisu, Meguro is a mostly residential area with breathing space and a hipster vibe. Stylish cafes, organic restaurants, vintage clothing stores, and well-known bars lure Tokyoites seeking respite from the urban jungle, especially around Nakameguro Station with its one-of-a-kind boutiques, trendy restaurants, laid-back atmosphere, and tree-lined Meguro River, famous for its cherry blossoms in spring.
• Best Hotels in Meguro: Hotel Gajoen Tokyo • Meguroholic
Best Neighborhood in Tokyo for Families: Odaiba
No district has more to offer families than Odaiba, a reclaimed island in Tokyo Bay with plenty of space to roam. Its diversions include the free Toyota Mega Web with racing simulators and other diversions for kids of all ages; Miraikan—National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation with hands-on displays relating to the future of technology; huge entertainment complexes like Leisureland and Joypolis; and both a Legoland and Madame Tussauds wax museum. There are also many shopping malls packed with restaurants. On the downside, hotels and access to the rest of Tokyo are limited. Shibuya is a good area for families if they want to be right in the thick of the Tokyo’s shopping and neon signs.
• Best Hotels in Odaiba: Hilton Tokyo • Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba • Sotetsu Grand Fresa Tokyo-Bay Ariake
Narita Airport – Where To Stay
The best way to get from Narita Airport to central Tokyo is with the Narita Express. It stops at 5 stations in central Tokyo: Tokyo Station, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, and Shinagawa. Travel time ranges from 60 to 90 minutes depending on station and time of day. If traveling to Ueno Station the Keisei Skyliner offers a direct route and takes 41 minutes.
- Good hotels near Tokyo Station: Tokyo Station Hotel • Four Seasons • Shangri La Hotel • Courtyard by Marriott Tokyo Station
- Good hotel near Shibuya Station: Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu
- Good hotel near Shinjuku Station: Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku
- Good hotel near Ikebukuro Station: Hotel Metropolitan
- Good hotel near Shinagawa Station: Shinagawa Prince
Haneda Airport – Where To Stay
The best way to get from Haneda Airport to central Tokyo is with the Airport Limited Express to Shinagawa Station or with the Haneda Express to the Hamamatsucho Monorail Station. Both routes take 13 minutes.
- Good hotel near Shinagawa Station: Shinagawa Prince
- Good hotel near Hamamatsucho Monorail Station: Meitetsu Inn Hamamatsucho
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Hi, my son (19) is going to be living in Tokyo for 9 months (Sept-May) as an exchange student at Aoyama Gakuin, Due to COVID the dorms are closed and we’re searching for an apartment/housing. Any suggestions on neighborhood or complex? Maybe where other AG students reside? We’re looking on airbnb but not sure if that’s best approach. Looking for nice safe area, young college vibe, easy access to the university. We were thinking maybe Shibuya but your description of Meguro sounds interesting. Is it too far out?
Appreciate any insights you have. I’m a bit overwhelmed!!
I would focus less on physical distance and more on what neighborhoods have a direct subway line from Omote-Sando or Shibuya Station – both an easy walk from Aoyama Gakuin. The number of stops matters a little (you don’t want a 20-stop route twice a day) but as long as it’s a direct line it’s pretty easy. It’s when you have to take multiple trains that it can start to wear on you a bit. There are so many great neighborhoods in Tokyo and very few that aren’t incredibly safe by western standards. Starting with an Airbnb for a few weeks seems like a great idea. Then find something a little more long term as you get your bearings.
We arrive at 8pm and want to stay at airport hotel to recover from the long flight. We have a 3yr old toddler traveling with us. Do you recommend we return to the airport the next morning to make the trip into Tokyo on the NEX? Or just head into the city the night we arrive? (At some point we will be staying in Akihabara.)
It’s difficult to guess how you’ll feel after you land. It’s possible everyone is wide awake and you get into your airport-hotel room and lie there awake for 4 hours – and you’ll be thinking the whole time we should have went straight into the city. It’s also possible that you’re truly exhausted and the ride into Tokyo is a long hour of sitting on a train. (And then, depending on where you’re staying, another subway ride.) My personal preference is to get into the city and get settled. Wake up the next morning and be ready to explore the city, not pack the bags and get on another train. But there’s no right answer. If budget allows both the Shangri La and the Four Seasons are a short walk (almost entirely indoors) from the NEX train in Tokyo Station. For a fee, the Four Seasons will have someone meet you at the train to guide you through Tokyo Station to the hotel.
I am coming to Japan in early November. Will be largely staying in Tokyo and then taking one day trips to near by places. Can you please suggest a good apartment to stay (not so expensive) for a family of 4.
Thank you and your website and details for Tokyo are amazing.
Keep up the good work.
I am not a huge fan for Airbnb in Japan (lots of reports from friends and readers of low quality accommodations) but if you’re searching for an inexpensive apartment then that’s where to look.
We have 4 nights in Tokyo and would like to stay in one hotel (no switching) and be able to enjoy nightlife and good food. This is our first time in Tokyo. We arrive from Narita and leave by Shinkansen to Kyoto where we do a guided tour. What neighborhoods are best for a first timer in Tokyo? Do most Tokyo bars serve food? When are bars busiest? We are there from Wednesday to Sunday. Thanks!!!
There’s no reason to switch hotels, which takes precious time from your vacation, especially in Tokyo where public transportation is so efficient. You didn’t mention a budget (whether you were looking for reasonable accommodations or are looking for a splurge), but Shibuya might be a good choice. It’s on the Yamanote Line, which directly connects with both Tokyo and Shinagawa stations for quick access from Narita and the Shinkansen bullet train onward to Kyoto (Tokyo and Shinagawa stations themselves do not have as wide a range of accommodations nor the nightlife of Shibuya). It also offers quick access to many other areas via subway. In addition, it has many hotels from various price ranges. Finally, it has a good nightlife scene just steps from the station, as well as numerous bars, restaurants and shopping throughout the area. And yes, most bars serve food. Japanese-styled pubs, called an izakaya, offer mostly Japanese food, while Irish pubs (like Dublin’s in Shibuya) generally offer Western pub grub.