Where to stay in Tokyo? 12 best neighborhoods where to choose your hotel
Where to stay in Tokyo? 12 best neighborhoods where to choose your hotelhttps://nipponrama.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/where-to-stay-in-tokyo.jpg19001267Michaël da Silva PaternosterMichaël da Silva Paternosterhttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/0ece82c9698e1598033a79bbb151c5e1?s=96&d=blank&r=g
Guide to find the perfect place to sleep in Tokyo
Where to stay in Tokyo? 12 best districts where to choose your hotel
Don’t waste more time looking for the best places to stay in Tokyo. This article lists the twelve districts of the Japanese capital city in which I advise tourists to find accommodation.
You don’t know where to start searching for hotels in Tokyo? No problem!
As a future tourist, it’s normal to feel lost when you begin your hotels’ research in the most populous city in the world. How to know if the location of a guest house or B&B is the kind of place you are looking for?
After talking to several tourists, I realized that many visitors regretted their choice of accommodation. Even though some of them had spent several hours choosing the perfect place to stay in Tokyo. Fortunately, I’ve already done all this research work, and the result is on the menu above.
I know the Japanese capital city very well since I’m living here for several years now. I learned to navigate in the public transport maze and to find the best places to visit. It’s from this experience that I created this list of the twelve best neighborhoods in which you can serenely choose your accommodation.
My favorite neighborhoods to stay a few days in Tokyo
In my opinion, Ebisu and Shimokitazawa are two wonderful areas if you want to enjoy a lively but less touristy Tokyo than Shibuya or Shinjuku. I advise these two places in West Tokyo to people who travel alone, with friends or with their family. You’ll find a wide variety of activities that will show you how the Japanese capital is a fantastic city.
Hotels in Ebisu, a station ideally located in Tokyo
I often advise my friends to look for a guest house or a B&B first and foremost at Ebisu, as the nearest train station is on the Yamanote Line, Tokyo’s most convenient railway. This area is relatively unknown among tourists. But, it’s only one stop from Shibuya. Besides, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Ueno, and Akihabara are also not far away by train. This will save you a lot of time and money during your stay in Tokyo.
In addition to its strategic position to visit the main points of interest in the city, Ebisu offers a wide choice of restaurants and bars. You’ll be able to taste all the diversity provided by the largest metropolis in the world without being in the middle of a crowd of tourists.
Hotels in Shimokitazawa, the thrift stores district in Tokyo
An evening in Shimokitazawa. Photo by Michael da Silva Paternoster for Nipponrama.
This district located at only one stop from Shibuya station is known to be one of the most relaxing places in Tokyo. Some will say that it’s mostly visited by hipsters. But for me, people who go to Shimokitazawa are enjoying the best lifestyle in Japan. Although it’s more and more touristy, Shimokitazawa remains an authentic place in which you’ll find many bars and restaurants offering Japanese or international specialties.
Thrift stores and small concert halls form the streets of “Shimokita”. Without being as famous as Harajuku, this western district is really popular with fashionistas looking for casual but stylish clothes. As for the concert halls, they are mostly welcoming indie rock and experimental bands.
A neighborhood that has remained authentic.
Lots of bars and restaurants.
Shibuya is only five minutes away by train.
Only a few hotels are available.
It's a fringe location compared to other areas in this list.
The best neighborhoods to stay for visiting all parts of Tokyo
Tokyo is a pervasive city. This makes it difficult for tourists to visit a maximum of must-see places in a very short time. Fortunately, most tourist areas are very well served by public transport. This is the case of Shinjuku and Asakusa, which are the two choices I recommend to visitors in a hurry.
Hotels in Shinjuku, live in the Tokyo crowd
The Don Quijote shop in Shinjuku. Photo by Michael da Silva Paternoster for Nipponrama.
Shinjuku Station is the busiest station in the world, as the most important railways pass through here. Choosing to stay in this area of Tokyo means that you can reach most of the tourist places of this city very quickly. But, beware if you are agoraphobic, the crowd in Shinjuku Station can become your worst nightmare.
Shinjuku is the new business center of Tokyo. Here you’ll find exciting spots such as the panoramic view of Tokyo City Hall, Shinjuku Gyoen Imperial Park, Shin-Okubo’s Korean District, or Kabukicho, Japan’s largest red light district.
Before returning home in the evening, people working in Shinjuku usually have a good time in one of the thousands of restaurants and bars in the area. You’ll never be bored in this insomniac district.
The five-storey pagoda of Sensoji Temple and its Hozomon Gate. Photo by Michael da Silva Paternoster for Nipponrama.
In Asakusa, you’ll be only a few meters from the most tourist attraction of the Japanese capital city. Of course, I’m talking about Sensoji Temple, a place of worship older than Tokyo itself.
I recommend Asakusa if you stay in Tokyo for only two or three days, because it’ll allow you to easily see the East side of the city without spending hours on the train. For example, Akihabara and Ueno can be reached on foot. The most exciting places in the Western part of the city will also be quick to reach, as several subway lines pass through Asakusa Station.
Senso-ji, Ueno and Akihabara can be reached on foot.
A wide choice of restaurants offering Japanese specialties.
Boring at night.
Far from the best neighborhoods at night: Shinjuku, Shibuya ...
The best areas of Tokyo where to stay to party until the end of the night
Tokyo is a city that never sleeps. You either, if you decide to stay in one of the two neighborhoods below. You’ll necessarily spend crazy nights there.
Some people will tell you that you can take a hotel in the area you want, even if you’re going to have fun after the last train. “You’ll still be able to take a taxi.”, They say. But, the distances can be vast. If you choose where to stay in Tokyo poorly, you’ll end up with 10,000-yen taxi fares.
At this rate, it’s always more interesting to take a slightly more expensive hotel room next to Shibuya or Roppongi.
Hotels in Shibuya, next to the world’s most popular crossing
The Shibuya crossing during cherry blossom. Photo by Michael da Silva Paternoster for Nipponrama.
Who doesn’t know Shibuya? This district of Tokyo is at the heart of all trends. Its crossing, protected by the faithful Hachiko, is in many fictions.
Shibuya is one of the favorite places of young Tokyoites. That’s why there are many bars and restaurants, as well as some of the most famous nightclubs in the metropolis.
Moreover, it’s a strategic place to visit most of Tokyo. In addition to being served by a large number of subway lines, the Yamanote Line stops at Shibuya Station. You can also walk to Yoyogi Park and Harajuku. Shinjuku, Roppongi, and Nakameguro can be reached in about 10 minutes by train.
Public transport to visit Tokyo.
You can go to the Ageha (Tokyo's biggest nightclub) with a free shuttle.
Hotels in Roppongi, the nightlife district in Tokyo
Roppongi is one of the most famous places in Tokyo for clubbers. Many nightclubs with different atmospheres are located in this central district of the Japanese capital city. So this neighbourhood is the best option for party people staying in Tokyo.
From Roppongi, you can reach most of the tourist spots in Tokyo in a few minutes. For example, Shibuya, Shinjuku or Nakameguro are only a few stops away by train.
However, be careful during your festive evenings, as some Roppongi bars have the reputation of putting GHB in the glasses of their customers. My advice is to never go into bars you never heard about.
The best areas of Tokyo to stay if you are an otaku
Akihabara and Ikebukuro are two places that will make the otaku eyes shine. Both of these Tokyo neighborhoods are home to many brands selling Japanese manga and video game products.
They are both very well served by public transport. This will allow you to reach the main points of interest in Tokyo without having to change trains several times.
Hotels in Akihabara, otakus’ favorite place
Akihabara by night. Photo by Michael da Silva Paternoster for Nipponrama.
If you like Japanese mangas and video games, you heard about Akihabara. It’s in this Tokyo neighborhood nicknamed the “electric city” that major electronics chains in Japan have decided to install their largest stores. Besides, you’ll also find entire shopping centers selling goodies for otakus.
Moreover, Akihabara Station is on the Yamanote Line, which also passes through most of Tokyo’s tourist attractions. Staying in this area of East Tokyo you can walk to Ueno and Asakusa.
The only real problem of Akihabara is that this area isn’t very lively after dark. One could even say that it completely changes since the waitresses inviting you in their maid cafes give way to hostesses involved in other kinds of business.
Shops and activities targeting anime and video game fans.
Hotels in Ikebukuro, The big station in North Tokyo
Ikebukuro is the central station of North Tokyo. People living in the dormitory towns of Saitama Prefecture use it every day. This makes it a perfect spot to visit cities like Kawagoe or Chichibu. Its position on the Shonan-Shinjuku line also makes the southern cities of Yokohama and Kamakura easily accessible. Not to mention that this is also a stop on the Yamanote line, which I have already mentioned several times.
Ikebukuro is also known for hosting Japan’s largest Pokemon Center. That’s why I decided to put this neighborhood in the category made for fans of Japanese pop culture.
Lively neighborhood in the evening.
A good option for public transport.
Accommodation cheaper than in Shinjuku or Shibuya.
The surroundings of the station are empty around midnight.
The historic center of Tokyo is a paradise to taste the best things that Japan can offer. Refined meals, sleek design, perfectly finished products, and high-quality services can be part of your trip if you decide to stay in Tokyo central districts.
I tell you more about the two most chic places in the Japanese capital city: Ginza and Marunouchi.
Hotels in Ginza, near luxury shops
Bvlgari and Louis Vuitton shops in Ginza, Tokyo. Photo by Michael da Silva Paternoster for Nipponrama.
Ginza is often nicknamed “the Japanese Champs-Elysees”, and rightly so! Luxury brands are fighting to have their shops in this glamorous part of Tokyo. Here you can do your shopping in the most grandiose houses.
To meet the needs of a demanding clientele, some excellent restaurants and bars have also taken up residence in this prestigious area of the Japanese capital. This will allow you to taste the gastronomy of Japanese chefs renowned for their meticulousness.
Besides, several railways pass through Ginza station, including the eponymous line, which is the first railway line of its kind to have existed in Tokyo. So you can get to Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Roppongi, Nakameguro and Ueno without changing trains.
Perfectly located for shopping.
Some exceptional (but expensive) restaurants.
Quiet area after midnight.
Very expensive place compared to the rest of the city.
Hotels in Marunouchi, stay in front of Tokyo Station
Skyscrapers near Tokyo Station. Photo by Michael da Silva Paternoster for Nipponrama.
Marunouchi is the former Tokyo’s business center. This is explained by its proximity to the Imperial Palace. Even though its title of the city’s economic hub was taken by Shinjuku, many companies in the financial sector have decided to stay in the skyscrapers of this district. It’s for this reason that you’ll find a large number of luxury hotels in this part of Tokyo.
Moreover, the Marunouchi towers also house some high-class bars and restaurants, as well as luxury brand boutiques.
Tokyo Station is in this area. From here, you can take most of the Shinkansen lines in the country. Indeed, all the railways converge towards Marunouchi.
The best areas to stay for one-day trips outside of Tokyo
Some parts of Tokyo are better suited if you want to make day trips to places outside the Japanese capital city. Indeed, the Kanto region has many things to show to tourists outside of Tokyo. Kamakura, Yokohama, Mt. Takao are just some of the places you should definitely visit if you’re passing through Tokyo.
The more adventurous of you, especially those who get up early in the morning, may consider going to more remote but equally interesting areas. In short, these two districts of Tokyo are perfect if you want to have a base camp while making the most of your JR Pass.
Hotels in Ueno, next to Shinkansen Station of North Tokyo
Ameyoko Street, near Ueno Station. Photo by Michael da Silva Paternoster for Nipponrama.
Ueno is best known for its park, zoo and Ameyoko shopping street. If you decide to stay in this area of Tokyo, you will have many things to see without having to take public transport. But it’s not over, as Asakusa and Akihabara can be reached on foot. The inevitable Yamanote line, which passes by, will take you to other popular places of the Japanese capital city.
But, I decided to put Ueno in the most suitable areas for one-day trips, as many lines of Shinkansen stop at Ueno station. This includes railways to Kanazawa, Sendai, Niigata, or Akita. You have enough destinations to warm up your JR Pass if you are interested in North Japan!
Many points of interest nearby.
Ameyoko shopping street.
Ueno Station is well connected to Tokyo and North Japan.
Hotels in Shinagawa, next to the Shinkansen Station of South Tokyo
Staying in a hotel near Shinagawa Station can be a great option if you plan to often roam outside of Tokyo. In addition to being located on the Yamanote Line, which runs through the most touristy places of the Japanese capital city, this station is one of the stops of the Tokaido Shinkansen line and several regional train lines.
Shinagawa Station has everything to make your JR Pass profitable! You can easily reach Hakone, Yokohama, Kamakura and Odawara to name just a few destinations.
The only negative point of Shinagawa is that this area isn’t lively at night. So pick another place if you want to enjoy the crazy nights of Tokyo.
Subway, regional lines and Shinkansen.
Close to Haneda airport.
Hotels are more affordable than in the center of Tokyo.
Unlike the image that many tourists have of Japan, it’s possible to enjoy this country without spending a fortune. There are for example several types of affordable housing that will allow you to enjoy Tokyo without having to squander your savings.
Sleeping in a hostel
Like everywhere else in the world, Tokyo has many hostels. These guest houses are one of the most economical way to stay in Tokyo. Most of them offer beds in dormitories.
Stay in a share house
The share houses are large shared apartments that can accommodate several dozen residents. This is the type of housing I recommend to people who want to settle in Japan. But tourists can also take rent a room in one of these residences if they decide to stay more than one month at the same place.
If you’re looking for a memorable experience rather than a place to sleep, the hotel sector has many surprises for you in Tokyo. I’ve already written some articles about types of hotels that you can only find in Japan. I invite you to read them if you aren’t satisfied with my list of the best neighborhoods to stay in Tokyo.
Sleep in a capsule hotel
Try to sleep in one of the cramped but still comfortable cabins of a capsule hotel. You’ll find many hotels of this type in the Japanese capital.
Even though Tokyo is an ultra-modern city, there are still some traditional inns in this metropolis. You’ll find a list of ryokan heeding the Japanese traditions by clicking on the link below.
Places to avoid for a stay in Tokyo
I just list all the neighborhoods that I recommend in Tokyo. This doesn’t mean that you must follow my advice and focus only on these few options. There are a lot of unknown neighborhoods that may be just fine for you.
However, I would like to warn you against some wrong ideas you may have. As I told you earlier, I spoke to many tourists who regretted their hotel location. That’s why I want to complete my list of the best areas to stay in Tokyo with some places to avoid.
Odaiba, a popular bad idea
The statue of Gundam RX-0 Unicorn in front of Diver City Tokyo, Odaiba. Photo by Michael da Silva Paternoster for Nipponrama.
I saw Odaiba on several lists of recommendations from other bloggers. Are they mad? Because this artificial island is so far from the rest of Tokyo. Only two train lines pass by these reclaimed lands.
Moreover, Odaiba is forsaken at night. You’ll have to travel between the island and more friendly neighborhoods like Shibuya, Nihonbashi or Shinjuku to enjoy Tokyo evenings. Unfortunately, it’ll take you a half an hour to reach these busy areas.
In short, I really recommend visiting Odaiba Island. There are plenty of places to see there, such as TeamLab Borderless Tokyo or the Diver City Gundam. But don’t make the mistake of choosing a hotel here.
Haneda and Narita airports
Hotels near Narita and Haneda airports can be handy if you’re landing late at night, or if your return flight is early in the morning. But they are by no means ideal places for tourists who would like to spend several nights in Tokyo.
The outlying areas of Tokyo
Avoid the eastern and northern wards of Tokyo. These are Nerima, Itabashi, Kita, Adachi, Katsushika and Edogawa.These residential areas aren’t very interesting for tourists. To some extent, I’ll even add the districts of Suginami, in the West, and Ota, in the South, as well as all the towns of the Tama area (Machida, Musashino …).
The price of hotel nights are certainly cheaper than in the hippest places in Tokyo. But by staying in these remote parts of Tokyo, you’ll lose the money you saved on long train journeys.
The suburban prefectures of Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba
The Chinatown of Yokohama. Photo by Michael da Silva Paternoster for Nipponrama.
The same goes for the prefectures bordering Tokyo. These areas are very urbanized and therefore offer many affordable hotels. But, I don’t advise tourists to stay in these areas, at least for a first trip in Japan.
Indeed, more experienced tourists may find an interest in staying one or more nights in peripheral cities of Tokyo. Several suburban areas can be visited in several days, such as the Shonan Coast, Hakone or the Boso Peninsula.
It seems obvious to me that if I want to dissuade you from staying in the prefectures bordering Tokyo, I totally discourage you from choosing a place even further away to visit the Japanese capital city.
This may seem like a crazy idea, but rare tourists choose to sleep in even more remote prefectures, such as Ibaraki, Tochigi or Gunma. While these places are perfect for exploring rural Japan and visiting some places of cultural significance, they are contraindicated for spending several days in Tokyo.
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Michaël da Silva Paternoster
I’m a French guy living in Tokyo, where I work as a digital marketing manager and consultant for several years now. I’ve decided to share my travel recommendations and various tips to help people settle in Japan.