Where to stay in Tokyo for the first time? - Wapiti Travel

Tokyo, the capital of Japan, counts 39 million inhabitants.  That makes it the world’s most populous metropolis.  The city’s size may be overwhelming at first.  Spread out across all the city’s districts are countless ultra-modern shopping malls, historical temples, and hotels in all price ranges.  To make it easier for tourists and first-timers,  we created this overview of where to stay in Tokyo for the first time.

The best place to stay in Tokyo 

We created this list based on our own experience. When we decided where we wanted to stay in Tokyo during our 3 weeks in Japan, we looked at nightlife and restaurant options, the main tourist attractions and the proximity to main public transportation hubs.  Most notably the JR Yamanote line, the circular line that takes you to most tourist attractions.

Read also: the first-timers guide to Tokyo’s public transport

This led us to the Shinjuku district, in our personal opinion the best district to stay in Tokyo for first-timers.  But other districts have their advantages as well.

Let’s have a detailed look at each of the districts.

Where to stay in Tokyo: Central

Shinjuku (Central West)

Shinjuku is a large entertainment, business, and shopping district.  At the center is Shinjuku station, the world’s busiest railway station.  This major transportation hub, it includes a bus station as well, is very convenient to reach all tourist attractions in Tokyo and far beyond and a great place to stay in Tokyo for tourists and first-timers.

Shinjuku district is in our personal opinion the best district to stay in Tokyo for first time visitors and tourists

Shinjuku will probably be in line with the image you’ve gotten from Tokyo on TV.  Skyscrapers, neon lights and a constant flow of people in the streets at any time of the day.  It’s probably the most vibrant district which makes it the best place to stay in Tokyo to feel the heartbeat of the city.

Great tourist attractions in Shinjuku are Shinjuku Gyoen, a large park and a perfect spot to see the cherry blossoms.  The Metropolitan Government Building, with 2 free observation platforms.  You get a great view on Tokyo and on clear days you can even see Mt. Fuji.  Right next to the station is Piss Alley. A small and completely safe network of alleyways with dozens of eateries side-by-side.  Walking through the alleys you get the feeling you’re playing in a Japanese mob movie.  Lastly, a few more blocks on the opposite side of the tracks is Kabukicho. Japan’s largest and craziest nightlife and red light district.

Staying in Shinjuku is a great choice for side-trips as well as you’ve many direct connections from Shinjuku station

Pros and cons

  • Lots of shops, restaurants, and nightlife making it the most vibrant district in Tokyo.
  • Excellent transportation options: Close to Shinjuku station and the JR Yamanote loop line.
  • Convenient for day trips.
  • Convenient to get to the airport.

 

  • Very busy day and night.
  • Because it’s so popular hotels tend to be more expensive than in other areas.

 

Conclusion

This is the best place to stay in Tokyo for tourist as there are many shops and restaurants.  You will also have convenient access to Shinjuku station and the JR Yamanote line. It is also a good area to stay if you plan on doing day trips from Tokyo.

Hotels in Shinjuku, Tokyo
Hotel Park Hyatt TokyoHotel Hilton TokyoHotel Gracery Shinjuku
Park Hyatt TokyoHilton TokyoHotel Gracery Shinjuku
LuxuryPremium ComfortableComfortable
BOOKING AGODABOOKING AGODA HILTONBOOKING AGODA
Luxury Hotel

 

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Park Hyatt Tokyo

Hotel Park Hyatt TokyoThe Park Hyatt was featured in the famous movie ‘Lost in Translation’.  If you fancy yourself sipping cocktails in the elegant rooftop bar you might as well treat yourself to a luxury stay in their posh rooms.  The hotel is located almost right next to the Tokyo Government building.  You might skip a visit to their observation platforms after you’ve enjoyed that cocktail at the bar.  The rooftop bar of the hotel is located higher than the observation platforms in the government building…

Incredible hotel with top Japanese hospitality.

Click here for reviews and the latest prices: BOOKING AGODA
Premium Comfortable Hotel
Hotel iconHilton Tokyo

Hotel Hilton TokyoThe Tokyo Hilton is situated about a 15-minutes walk to Shinjuku train station but you can also make use of the free shuttle service offered by the hotel.  The shuttle runs every 20 minutes. The airport limousine bus has a stop at this hotel.  There’re multiple restaurants and supermarkets in this area. Last but not least, after a busy day exploring this vibrant city you can relax in the indoor pool or sauna. 

 Highly recommended if you are looking for a good hotel in the vicinity of public transport.

Click here for reviews and the latest prices:BOOKING AGODA HILTON
Comfortable Hotel

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Hotel Gracery Shinjuku

Hotel Gracery ShinjukuHotel Gracery Shinjuku is right in the heart of the bustling Kabukicho district with plenty of restaurants and bars.  The rooms are rather small, as most hotel rooms in Tokyo are, but they’re very well-equipped.  The hotel offers an excellent breakfast.  The Shinjuku station is only about a 5-minutes walk but still, the hotel offers a paying shuttle as an alternative.

This is the perfect hotel for you if you want to stay in the heart of the Kabuchiko district.

 

Click here for reviews and the latest prices :BOOKING AGODA
Maybe this is not what you were looking for?  Check out other hotels in Shinjuku with Booking.com and Agoda: BOOKING AGODA

Tokyo Station (Central Tokyo)

Shinjuku might be overwhelming with its busy streets and neon lights.  Tokyo Station is a very good alternative when staying in Tokyo for the first time.  North of the station you will find a  Manhattan-like area called Marunouchi that is composed of wide boulevards lined with modern skyscrapers and fancy shopping malls.  To the south of the station is an area packed with restaurants, bars, and smaller shops.

Tokyo Station is a very good alternative to Shinjuku when staying in Tokyo for the first time.

The Imperial Palace, with its surrounding parks, is located north of the Tokyo Station.  Ginza, the premium shopping district of Japan, is just one stop with the subway.  All other tourist attractions in Tokyo can be conveniently reached from the Tokyo station which is also where the Shinkansen stops.

Pros and cons

  • Quieter neighborhood.
  • Great base for day trips especially for the Tokyo Bay area and for traveling between cities.

 

  • Less nightlife.

Conclusion

This is the best place to stay in Tokyo if you prefer to be in a quieter neighborhood with lots of restaurants and bars.

Hotels in Tokyo Station Area, Tokyo
Shangri-La Hotel Tokyo, JapanRyumeikan hotel Tokyo, JapanCourtyard by Marriott Hotel Tokyo Station, Japan
Shangri-La TokyoHotel Ryumeikan TokyoCourtyard By Marriott, Tokyo Station
LuxuryPremium ComfortableComfortable
BOOKING AGODABOOKING AGODABOOKING AGODA MARRIOTT
Luxury Hotel

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Shangri-La Hotel Tokyo

Shangri-La Hotel Tokyo, JapanThe Shangri-La hotel offers spacious rooms, certainly according to local standards, with breathtaking views on the city.  The staff is very kind and is often praised to go the extra mile to accommodate their visitor’s needs.  Other guests praise the beautiful artistic decor of the public areas. The hotel offers a meet-and-greet service from Tokyo station and the airport limousine bus stops right in front of the hotel.

A wonderful hotel with a perfect service.

 

Click here for reviews and the latest prices :BOOKING AGODA
Premium Comfortable Hotel

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Ryumeikan Tokyo hotel

Ryumeikan hotel Tokyo, JapanThe Ryumeikan Tokyo hotel is located 10 minutes from the  Tokyo train station.  This hotel seems to be very reasonably priced all-year round. Rooms are small but very functional.  Laundry services and all extra services are equally offered at very reasonable prices. One slight drawback might be that there are just 2 international TV channels.  If you landed at Narita airport you can take the Keisei bus that will take you to the hotel in 1 hour.

Very convenient hotel in an excellent location.

 

Click here for reviews and the latest prices :BOOKING AGODA
Comfortable Hotel

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Courtyard by Marriott Tokyo Station

Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Tokyo Station, JapanRooms are smallish, as you can come to expect from hotels in Central Tokyo.  A great choice for a good night sleep with a comfortable bed, quiet rooms, and blackout blinds.  The breakfast in the ground floor restaurant is fantastic.

 

 

Excellent price value.

 

Click here for reviews and the latest prices :BOOKING AGODA MARRIOTT
Maybe this is not what you were looking for?  Check out other hotels around Tokyo Station with Booking.com and Agoda: BOOKING AGODA

Ginza (Central Tokyo)

Ginza is located South of Tokyo station.  It is the upscale shopping and entertainment district of Tokyo.  Shops are open 7 days a week and for the best experience you should plan your visit on a Sunday afternoon when the main boulevard, Chuo Dori, is closed to traffic from noon till 5 PM. ( 6 PM April through September)

The Tsukiji Fish market is at the East-Southern border of Ginza and the Imperial Palace is within walking distance as well.

Other tourist attractions can be reached with the JR Yamanote line from Shimbashi station or Yurakucho station.

Ginza is the upscale shopping and entertainment district of Tokyo.

Coming from Narita airport your best and cheapest option would be to take the Access Narita bus that directly connects the airport with the Ginza Metro station.

Pros and cons

  • Perfect for shopping addicts that like high fashion and luxury goods.
  • Less crowded than Shinjuku or Shibuya.
  • Convenient location with several subway stations around.
  • Ginza houses some of the best restaurants in Tokyo.
  • During the weekend Central Chuo Dori street is closed to automobile traffic and becomes a large pedestrian zone. 

 

  • Can lack a bit of charm and history.

Conclusion

Ginza is the best place to stay in Tokyo if you want to shop till you drop. It has plenty of restaurants but it gets quieter by late evening.

Hotels in Ginza, Tokyo
Imperial hotel Tokyo, JapanMillennium Mitsui Garden hotel Tokyo, JapanMercure Tokyo Ginza, Japan
Imperial HotelMillennium Mitsui Garden Hotel TokyoMercure Tokyo, Ginza
LuxuryPremium ComfortableComfortable
BOOKING AGODABOOKING AGODABOOKING AGODA ACCOR
Luxury Hotel

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Imperial Hotel

Imperial hotel Tokyo, JapanThe Imperial Hotel is a truly grand international hotel.  You’re welcomed by an impressive flower arrangement in the lobby.  The rooms are luxurious and some of them have views on the Imperial Palace. You can relax in the pool and the sauna of the hotel. 

 

Excellent slightly outdated hotel.

 

Click here for reviews and the latest prices :BOOKING AGODA
Premium Comfortable Hotel

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Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel Ginza

Millennium Mitsui Garden hotel Tokyo, JapanThe Millennium Mitsui Garden hotel lies in the heart of the Ginza district, close to shops, restaurants, and the Ginza metro station.

 

 

 

It is a rather new hotel with nice and stylish decor and a very good mid-range option.

Click here for reviews and the latest prices :BOOKING AGODA
Comfortable Hotel

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Mercure Tokyo Ginza

Mercure Tokyo Ginza, JapanMercure Tokyo Ginza is a typical city hotel with smallish rooms (like most hotels in Tokyo) but adequate nonetheless.  It sits right in the middle of the Ginza district.

All rooms come with a Handy smartphone.  (read more on this phone in our 15 tips article) The hotel is close to the Ginza metro station.

Good hotel in the heart of Ginza.

 

Click here for reviews and the latest prices :BOOKING AGODA
Maybe this is not what you were looking for?  Check out other hotels in Ginza with Booking.com and Agoda: BOOKING AGODA

Shibuya (Central West)

Shibuya is another popular entertainment and shopping district.  It attracts a younger crowd.  Relatively close to Shibuya is Yoyogi park.  The Omotesando avenue leads directly from Shibuya to the Meiji shrine inside Yoyogi park.

Shibuya got its popularity from Shibuya crossing which is rumored to be the busiest intersection in the world.  The intersection gives you a good feel of the Japan vibe. Thousands of people walking like ants in a chaotic but at the same time orderly stream while screaming billboards try to get their attention. This intersection is also where you will find Tokyo’s most famous dog, Hachiko.  The dog came to the station every day to meet his master and continued to do so for 9 years after his master had died, until his own death. A bit of a sad story that was filmed in Hachiko, a dog’s tale.

Shibuya intersection gives you a good feel of the Japan vibe.

Bus iconThe Shibuya station is next to this intersection and is serviced by 11 train and metro lines, one of them is the important JR Yamanote loop line.

Read also: The first-timers guide to public transport in Tokyo

Pros and cons

  • Convenient transport connections to the airport as well as other places.
  • Lots of restaurants and shops around.
  • Alive day and night.
  • Lots of nightlife.

 

  • Very busy especially during the weekends.
  • This area attracts a younger audience.
  • Fewer hotel choices compared with other areas.

Conclusion

Shibuya is the best place to stay in Tokyo for tourists if you want to stay in a neighborhood which is alive day and night and has great transport connections.

 

Hotels in Shibuya, Tokyo
Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, Tokyo, JapanShibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu, Tokyo, JapanShibuya Tokyu Rei Hotel, Tokyo, Japan
Cerulean Tower Tokyu HotelShibuya Excel Hotel TokyuShibuya Tokyu REI Hotel
LuxuryPremium ComfortableComfortable
BOOKING AGODABOOKING AGODABOOKING AGODA
Luxury Hotel

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Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel

Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, Tokyo, JapanThe Cerulean Tower Tokyu hotel is close to Shibuya station.  It has modern, functional and spacious rooms (according to local standards).  The bathrooms are very well equipped. Get up to the sky bar to have great drinks with a stunning view of the city.

All rooms come with a Handy smartphone.  (read more on this phone in our 15 tips article.)

Excellent hotel within walking distance to Shibuya station.
Click here for reviews and the latest prices :BOOKING AGODA
Premium Comfortable Hotel
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Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu

Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu, Tokyo, JapanThe Shibuya Excel hotel is a luxury hotel in an excellent location.  You can see the Shibuya crossing from the elevator foyers.  The rooms are spacious.  The Mark City complex, with many restaurants and shops, is connected to the hotel. The hotel has a coin laundry and the airport bus has a stop at this hotel (Shibuya Mark City stop).

Excellent hotel perfectly located.

 

Click here for reviews and the latest prices :BOOKING AGODA
Comfortable Hotel

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Shibuya Tokyu REI hotel

Shibuya Tokyu Rei Hotel, Tokyo, JapanShibuya Tokyu REI is a budget hotel in the heart of Shibuya. The rooms are well sound-proof. The staff is very friendly and accommodating and speaks English. WIFI is available but the signal can be weak in some rooms.  The bathrooms are well equipped and have all the amenities you might need.

 

Value for money hotel in a great location.

 

Click here for reviews and the latest prices :BOOKING AGODA
Maybe this is not what you were looking for?  Check out other hotels in Shibuya with Booking.com and Agoda: BOOKING AGODA

Best area to stay in Tokyo: outside Central

Asakusa

Asakusa is located north-east of central Tokyo.  For centuries up until world war 2, it used to be the prime entertainment district of Tokyo.

The Asakusa district is a good district to stay in Tokyo if you plan on visiting the Sensoji temple together with the nearby Kaminari gate, Nakamise street and Asakusa Shrine

It was severely bombed and completely rebuilt afterward but it has never regained the same popularity it used to have.  The Sensoji temple is very famous with tourists, the nearby entertainment district is again gaining in popularity after the completion of the Tokyo Skytree in 2012.

Pros and cons

  • Quiet and laid back area.
  • Much more budget accommodations.
  • Overall a cheaper area to stay.

 

  • Slightly less well located.

Conclusion

The Asakusa district is a good district to stay in Tokyo if you plan on visiting the Sensoji temple together with the nearby Kaminari gate, Nakamise street, and Asakusa Shrine.  From the temple, you can walk towards Sumida park and across the bridge to the Tokyo Skytree. The lack of any major transportation hubs means that you will need to change to get to most other tourist attractions.  This makes this district somewhat less interesting for first-timers to Tokyo.

Hotels in Asakusa, Tokyo
The Gate Asakusa Kaminarimon, Tokyo, JapanRichmond Premier Hotel Oshiage Tokyo, JapanAsakusa View Hotel, Tokyo, Japan
The Gate Hotel Asakusa KaminarimonRichmond Hotel Premier Tokyo OshiageAsakusa View Hotel
Premium ComfortablePremium ComfortableComfortable
BOOKING AGODABOOKING AGODABOOKING AGODA
Premium Comfortable Hotel

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The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon

The Gate Asakusa Kaminarimon, Tokyo, JapanThe Gate Kaminarimon is a modern hotel with a rooftop bar.  The rooftop bar offers vistas on the nearby Skytree as do some of the rooms.  The rooms are slightly more spacious than what you come to expect for standard Tokyo hotel rooms, as are the bathrooms.   The hotel has English-speaking staff.

Nice boutique hotel in the heart of Asakusa.

 

Click here for reviews and the latest prices :BOOKING AGODA

 

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Richmond Hotel Premier Tokyo Oshiage

Richmond Premier Hotel Oshiage Tokyo, JapanThe Richmond Premier Oshiage is right on top of Tokyo Skytree Oshiage Station (take exit B3) and some rooms offer perfect views on Tokyo’s Skytree. The hotel restaurant offers really good food and for even more choice you can head to the adjacent mall with shops and restaurants that are open till 1 am. The rooms are spacious for local standards.

In the room, you will also find the Handy smartphone (read more about this great phone in our 15 tips article).

Quality hotel in a great location.

 

Click here for reviews and the latest prices :BOOKING AGODA
Comfortable Hotel

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Asakusa View Hotel

Asakusa View Hotel, Tokyo, JapanThe Asakusa View hotel offers an awesome view of the Sensoji temple and on the Skytree at night.  The breakfast is really good and many people also recommend the restaurant for lunch and dinner.  It offers an extended buffet and you can enjoy the nice view while you’re eating.  The hotel has a pool but the use of the pool comes with an extra charge.

Excellent hotel with amazing views.

 

Click here for reviews and the latest prices :BOOKING AGODA
Maybe this is not what you were looking for?  Check out other hotels in Asakusa with Booking.com and Agoda: BOOKING AGODA

Roppongi

Roppongi is Tokyo’s most foreigner-friendly area.  Many embassies are situated in Roppongi and the neighboring districts of Azabu, Hiro, and Akasaka.  Because of the large expat community, all bars and restaurants are used to cater to foreigners and have English menus and English-speaking staff.

Roppongi is Tokyo’s most foreigner-friendly area.

Next to Roppongi is Akasaka, a high-end neighboorhood frequented by politicians and wealthy businesspeople.  Both regions have a wide range of upscale hotels and restaurants.

Pros and cons

  • Good restaurants and fantastic nightlife.

 

  • Less convenient public transportation connections.
  • Nightlife can be loud.

Conclusion

A drawback of this district is that due to the limited public transportation options you will likely need to change to reach most of the tourist attractions.

Hotels in Roppongi, Tokyo
Ritz-Carlton Tokyo, JapanGrand Hyatt Tokyo, JapanRemm Roppongi Hotel, Tokyo, Japan
Ritz-Carlton TokyoGrand Hyatt, TokyoRemm Roppongi Hotel
LuxuryLuxuryComfortable
BOOKING AGODABOOKING AGODABOOKING AGODA
Luxury Hotels

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Ritz-Carlton

Ritz-Carlton Tokyo, JapanThe views from the rooms in the Ritz-Carlton are amazing.  You can even view Mt. Fuji on a clear day.  The food and hospitality are exceptional and all of the staff offer top notch service. The hotel is situated in the newly developed midtown complex with many dining options.

 

Fabulous hotel with impeccable service.

 

Click here for reviews and the latest prices :BOOKING AGODA

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Grand Hyatt

Grand Hyatt Tokyo, JapanThe Grand Hyatt hotel is located in Roppongi Hills. Developed in 2003 this is a city-in-a-city with offices, apartments, shops, musea, restaurants and an observation deck on the top floor.  The rooms in this hotel are spacious, some people even mention that they’re up to American standards. To freely use all the facilities of the hotel you need to sign up for free to the World Of Hyatt loyalty program.

One of the best hotels to stay in Tokyo.

 

Click here for reviews and the latest prices :BOOKING AGODA
Comfortable Hotel

Hotel icon

Remm Roppongi

Remm Roppongi Hotel, Tokyo, JapanRemm Roppongi is a nice hotel in a great location right next to the Roppongi metro station.  The rooms are rather small but offer everything you might need and some come with great views.  All rooms have a complimentary massage chair.  Great to help you relax after a full day of exploring Tokyo whilst you overlook the sunset over the city.  Breakfast offers a good variety of Western and Japanese options.

Modern hotel in an amazing location.
Click here for reviews and the latest prices :BOOKING AGODA
Maybe this is not what you were looking for?  Check out other hotels in Roppongi with Booking.com and Agoda: BOOKING AGODA

Conclusion

If this is your first visit to Tokyo I would definitely consider staying in Shinjuku or the Tokyo station area. Staying in these areas will grant you more time to explore the city’s many interesting sights, time you will otherwise spend traveling on the trains or the metro system.  We opted for Shinjuku as this vibrant neighborhood is such a perfect reflection of Japan’s heartbeat.

If you rather prefer a more laid down area the Tokyo Station area has just as many benefits.

The Tokyo Station area has a slight advantage if you will be traveling on the Shinkansen.

Shibuya and Ginza are other areas you might consider.  The many train and metro lines that service Shibuya station makes Shibuya the favorite of these two.

I would not consider any of the areas outside Central Tokyo on a first-time visit, although that for subsequent visits it might be interesting to consider these areas as you can often find larger hotel rooms for affordable prices.  Something which is hard to find in Central Tokyo. It’s a trade-off between the comfort of a larger room and the time you lose on the way to the sights.

There is lot’s to see and to do in Tokyo. Take a look at these other interesting posts :

Related Posts

Other Japan travel tips

If you are traveling through Japan, our Japan travel guide will help you plan your trip.

 

Wondering what to wear in Tokyo? Take a look at our complete Japan packing list. 

 

If you are planning a 3 week Japan itinerary, you will find a lot of information here. if you have 2 weeks to spend in Japan, take a look here.

 

Here are some travel guides to get you started.

Lonely planet JapanLonely planet phrasebook & dictionaryFodors Travel Japan

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Categories: Japan

2 Comments

Lewis Johnson · September 24, 2018 at 5:18 pm

Tokyo is one of my bucket list destinations. I am doing some research because I am planning to go next year so this has been very helpful. Thank you!

kris · September 29, 2018 at 3:59 pm

Thanks, glad to hear you find it helpful.

Comments are closed.

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