Where to stay in Tokyo

Whether you want to be surrounded by neon lights and skyscrapers or shrines and temples, we’ll help you find the neighborhood in Tokyo that’s right for you.

The Tokyo skyline with Mount Fuji in the background. Image credit: yongyuan
The Tokyo skyline with Mount Fuji in the background. Image credit: yongyuan/iStock

With its looming skyscrapers, bright neon signage, ancient temples and shrines, and strict customs, Tokyo is a heady mix of the old and the new. A place of trendsetters and traditionalists, of zany gimmicks and Zen spiritualit. It also has an overwhelming number of neighborhoods, so deciding where to stay in Tokyo can be tricky. Some are even confusingly classed as cities, such as Chofu, which houses Tokyo Stadium, host of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and part of the 2020 Olympics. We have sorted through the best neighborhoods in Tokyo to help you make the right choice for you.

Shinjuku – Tokyo of the imagination, movies, and fiction

Towering buildings, flashing lights, and nonstop advertisements. Shinjuku station is the busiest in the world and huddled around it are some of the biggest names in hospitality alongside countless restaurants and some of the best bars in Tokyo. The Golden Gai area is a warren of six narrow alleys with more than 200 shacks serving food and drinks, jostling for space. If you are brave you could also venture into the red light district, Kabukicho, where you’ll find love hotels, massage parlors, and hostess bars.

Kabukicho district. Image credit: ke/iStock
Kabukicho district. Image credit: ke/iStock

Best hotels in Shinjuku

The Keio Plaza Hotel, considered one of the best hotels in Tokyo, is run by a major Japanese company and was the first skyscraper hotel in Japan. Try the Premier Grand rooms on the upper floors for luxury with a view. You can also hire a kimono for a day if you want.
The Tokyo Park Hyatt is where the movie “Lost in Translation” was shot. Go to experience the New York bar on the top floor to feel like Scarlett Johansson or Bill Murray. You can enjoy live music here every night (although watch out for the cover charge) with massive floor-to-ceiling windows providing panoramic views of the skyline.

Best bars in Shinjuku

The mixologists at Bar Benfiddichcraft cocktails from homemade organic herb spirits in a bar full of rustic ambiance while the Granbell Hotel Shinjuku boasts a lofty rooftop terrace that is perfect for drinks in the summer.

Best restaurants in Shinjuku

For a completely zany dining experience try Robot Restaurant, where you can watch a bizarre live show with massive robots. If you like chicken, then you should try Torikei a yakitori restaurant where you’ll get every part of the chicken grilled and presented beautifully.

Shibuya – a well-known part of Tokyo

You know that Tokyo picture of the people crossing the road in all directions? Well, that’s Shibuya. Apart from the crazy wide zebra crossings, this area is known as a shopping Mecca for the young and considered the best shopping in Tokyo. The iconic 109 building houses many small stores selling fashion and jewelry, some direct from the designers. The area of Harajuku is where you’ll find the famous “Harajuku girls” dressed up in elaborate costumes and makeup – expect to see puffy skirts, candy colors, and glittery faces.

A busy crossing at Shibuya. Image credit: Sean Pavone/iStock
A busy crossing at Shibuya. Image credit: Sean Pavone/iStock

Best hotels in Shibuya

The glitziest five-star hotel in the area is the Cerulean Tower Hotel, which has large comfortable rooms and a sophisticated piano bar. The executive floor was refurbished in 2018 and among the benefits of staying in one of these premium rooms is a free laundry service if you book for two nights or more.
Shibuya Stream is a new waterside oasis on the south side of Shibuya Station. Try the Shibuya Stream Excel hotel to be right at the heart of this new vibrant area. This hotel opened in 2018 and the public rooms mix the old and the new, with bare brickwork and exposed piping and mid-century furniture.

Best bars in Shibuya

For a taste of Japanese sing-song head to Karaoke-Kan. It’s open 24 hours and you rent a room by the hour, drinks are paid for separately.
Fancy a kiwi and lavender martini? Then head to Ishino Hana bar where they mix their own creations as well as a few more recognizable drinks.

Best restaurants in Shibuya

For some super fresh sushi with a view try Gonpachi Sushi on the 14th floor of a building near Shibuya Station. Go at lunchtime for their set menu to save you the trouble of working out what to order.
You get to choose how soft you want your noodles at Ramen Nagi, as well as how thick you want your soup. A great place to experience this traditional dish.

Marunouchi – the economic and retail hub of Tokyo

Situated between the Imperial Palace and Tokyo station this business-focused neighborhood with glinting towers housing offices, shopping malls and hotels is an economic and retail hub. If you are looking for somewhere central to stay in Tokyo, this is it –but it doesn’t have the neon and nightlife of an area like Shinjuku.

Marunouchi means “within the enclosure” and during the Edo Period it was within the outer moats of the Edo castle and was home to some of Japan’s most powerful men. Tree-lined Nakadori Avenue is a pretty place to shop, closed to traffic at lunchtime it is lined with fashion boutiques and cafes.

The calm and peaceful Nakadori Avenue in Marunouchi. Image credit: Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau
The calm and peaceful Nakadori Avenue in Marunouchi. Image credit: Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau

Best hotels in Marunouchi

Tokyo Station hotel occupies a historic building, which dates back to 1915. Damask curtains, velvet chairs, and gilt picture frames give the rooms period opulence. Choose a room that looks out over the Imperial Palace to some greenery in your view.
To get even closer to the Imperial Palace try the Palace hotel, which has an enviable moat-side location. Completely rebuilt in 2012, the hotel’s rooms are stylish and contemporary. An Evian spa includes a heated indoor swimming pool with views of the city. Their impressive art collection contains nearly 800 works by local and international artists that reflect on the theme of the “palace garden”.

Best bars in Marunouchi

Yesibu Bar in Tokyo station is a great place to experience izakaya – the Japanese version of tapas where each drink is served with a small dish, such as dumplings or edamame beans followed by skewers of meat known as yakitori.

Best restaurants in Marunouchi

If you’ve eaten your fill of sushi and noodles than try this French restaurant on the 36th floor of the Marunouchi building. Mona Lisa serves French dishes with a Japanese twist, think grilled pork with wasabi, with fantastic views from floor to ceiling windows.
Kimono-clad waitresses serve you at Kitaohji, a traditional restaurant where you’ll be seated on cushions on tatami mats while you sample Kaiseki cuisine, a beautifully presented multi-course meal often served at celebrations.

Asakusa – a beautiful blend of old and new

This is one of Tokyo’s most characterful areas, part of the old city and home to the 7th-century temple Senso-ji. In front of the temple is a shopping street of traditional souvenirs called the Nakamise, where you might pick up a theatrical Kabuki mask, a decorative fan or a lucky cat.

At the temple, you can find out your fortune for a small donation but beware; if you get bad luck they don’t hold back on the descriptions of your misery. Before the Second World War, there was a thriving entertainment district in an area called Rokku between Senso-ji and today’s Kokusai-Dori district, now only a handful of venues survive. Try Asakusa Engei Hall to experience rakugoan historic form of comic monologue.

The shopping street in front of Senso-ji is full of colorful Japanese gifts. Image credit: Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau
The shopping street in front of Senso-ji is full of colorful Japanese gifts. Image credit: Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau

Best hotels in Asakusa

For views of the Temple try Asakusa View hotel, one of the better hotels in an area known for its affordable hostels. The top-floor Ice House Bar gives you a perspective over the old and the new of the city, with views of Senso-ji temple and Tokyo Skytree, one of the city’s main observation towers.
To experience a traditional ryokan guesthouse try Sadachiyo,where futons are laid on tatami mats and you can try a Japanese communal bath. This is one of the few remaining ryokans in central Tokyo, and the experience has changed very little since the Edo Period. Remember to take your shoes off before stepping onto the tatami mats.

Best bars in Asakusa

Kamiya Bar opened in 1880 and is one of the oldest bars in Japan. It is the only producer of the drink Denki Bran, a kind of brandy concoction, and you can buy souvenir bottles to take home.
To try a range of different sakes, head to Daimasu sake bar, try a sparkling one for something a bit different.

Best restaurants in Asakusa

Try soba noodles and tempura at Owariya, a restaurant that’s been in existence 160 years. Picture menus help as there is nothing in English.
For a taste of some authentic Zen Buddhist cuisine try Bon Great for vegetarians, the meal comprises of several beautifully presented dishes with various vegetables, often cooked in innovative ways to resemble meat.

Chofu – a great place to catch big sporting events

The opening match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup will take place at Ajinomoto Stadium, in Chofu. It is not a traditional tourist district, but if you want to be close to Tokyo stadium then this is a good place to stay. Alternatively, if you would prefer to stay in a more central location, book a reliable Blacklane car service in Tokyo to drive you out to the stadium in style. Tokyo stadium is more regularly used for soccer matches, and home to the clubs FC Tokyo and Tokyo Verdy, so you’ll find lots of places attract soccer supporters. Don’t forget to check out the Jindaiji temple, which was built in 733 and is one of the oldest temples in the region.

Yakitori stands are plentiful in Chofu. Image credit: tororo/iStock
Yakitori stands are plentiful in Chofu. Image credit: tororo/iStock

Best hotels in Chofu

If you are looking for somewhere to stay near the stadium in Tokyo then try the Creston Hotel, which is just one minute from Chofu station. Choose the Japanese-style room for something a bit different, otherwise opt for a deluxe room, which will give you a view of the Tama river from their wide windows.

Best bars in Chofu

If Ireland makes it to the quarterfinals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, then you’ll be wanting an Irish pub to celebrate and watch the match. Try Kenny’s Irish pub, where you’ll get a good pint of Guinness and a couple of screens to watch the game.
Alternatively, if you fancy a craft beer try 12, where you’ll find a small selection of international craft beers and plenty of soccer memorabilia to enjoy.

Best restaurants in Chofu

For some authentic yakitori try Ishii, just one minute’s walk from the east exit of Chofu station. It’s always busy so you may have to wait to be seated.
If you visit the Jindaiji temple you will find dozens of soba noodle shops in the vicinity. Try Teuchisobadokoro Yusui, which you may have to queue for but is considered to be the best.


Antonia Windsor

Antonia Windsor is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers and writes widely for publications such as the Telegraph, The Guardian, The Financial Times, and South China Morning Post.