Where to stay in Tokyo? That depends here more than it does in most cities. Are you traveling on a modest expense account, splurging on a luxury stay, or using points? Do you need to spend a lot of time in a specific area, like Shibuya or Ginza?
Tokyo’s best hotels are truly special, featuring simple—not over-the-top—luxury, many with inspiring skyline views from their rooms and swimming pools. But the city also has some excellent deals.
New and Nice
One of the newest luxury hotels in Tokyo, Hyatt’s more laid-back, design-y place has a nice pool, rooftop bar, and skyline views, including the nearby Tokyo Tower.
The Andaz takes up the top of the new Toranomon Hills tower, a very Tokyo-like “city in a building” complex, which includes a few solid restaurants and Toranomon Koffee, an offshoot of the popular (and recently closed) Omotesando Koffee.
There’s not much going on in the immediate neighborhood yet, but the Ginza shopping district is a short walk away. And there’s a lot of development planned ahead of the 2020 Olympics. The city is hoping to turn a stretch of boulevard here into Tokyo’s “Champs-Élysées,” including outdoor cafés.
A nice touch: Like other Andaz hotels, non-alcoholic drinks from the minibar are free, plus a few snacks. I’ve come to enjoy checking in after a mad dash from the airport or some other hotel, stretching out on the windowside couch, and destroying half a box of Meiji chocolates before heading out for the evening.
The Andaz Tokyo is also a Hyatt points level cheaper than the Park Hyatt, often making it a good redemption deal. I’ve stayed here parts of my last two Tokyo visits, and have had a great time.
A Great Value in a Great Location
The Dormy Inn is my go-to Tokyo hotel when paying with cash (and when it’s available). It’s relatively new, clean, simple, quiet, and inexpensive, with reliable wifi. But most important, it has a perfect location halfway between Shibuya, Harajuku, and Omotesando.
I’ve found the Dormy Inn convenient for business and personal stays, with a solid breakfast buffet in the morning, and good cafés, restaurants, and shops nearby. (See the Tokyo list for ideas.)
Rooms are fairly small and some overlook the railroad tracks (some ambient noise, but not much—the soundproofing works). Also, no skyline views here. But it’s very good overall, and often booked well in advance.
Best nearby: Coffee: The Roastery by Nozy Coffee. Quick lunch: Harajuku Gyozaro. Cocktails: Fuglen.
A Splurge You’ll Remember
The Park Hyatt totally lived up to my Lost In Translation expectations.
The first thing you see every morning is an amazing panorama of Tokyo. The scene at the New York Bar, live band and all, is appropriately cheesy. The bathrooms are stocked with Aesop.
While I’ve never felt followed around, the staff’s attention to detail is impressive. When my wife and I went to the pool and spa one afternoon, we left our wedding rings on the console in our room. By the time we returned a couple hours later, the staff had retrieved a leather ring holder and tucked ours in.
And yes, the pool is amazing.
The downside is that it’s a bit isolated—a 15-minute walk or short cab ride from Shinjuku station—and not exactly convenient. I prefer to think of it as an adventure. Finding the hotel, then navigating the elevators and various lobbies and hallways adds to the experience.
High Above Shibuya
Nice enough, and right at Shibuya station. “For the cost, it’s like a cheaper Park Hyatt without the obvious high-end touch,” a well-traveled friend reports.
There’s also good coffee downstairs at the nearby About Life Coffee corner kiosk.
A Designy Boutique
Small, homey, cute, super friendly, different, and affordable.
It’s not a perfectly central location, but not as far from civilization as some would have you believe.
“A totally different view on Tokyo,” says a friend who recently stayed there and enjoyed the French toast breakfast in the lobby restaurant.
If this were a year ago, I’d be urging you to check out the Hotel Okura before its scheduled renovation. But plans to modernize the hotel, including destroying its iconic, James Bond-chic lobby, have moved ahead as scheduled, despite the efforts of Monocle magazine. So those seeking a taste of retro Tokyo will have to look elsewhere.
The Palace Hotel, overlooking Tokyo’s Imperial Palace gardens, is one option. The hotel site dates back to 1947, when the Hotel Teito opened under the Allied forces. The original Palace opened in 1961, and was completely rebuilt at the beginning of this decade.
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