Sure, Tokyo has a plethora of high-rise hotels and boutique accommodations that wouldn’t look out of place in Sydney or Melbourne. But if you’re wanting a stay that’ll let you learn more about Japanese culture instead, it’s got plenty of options for that too.
From a stay in the centre of Tokyo with an onsen on the roof to another with dirt-cheap capsule rooms and an inn with a dining room featuring Michelin-starred chefs, these are the Tokyo hotels to book for authentic Japanese culture.
Tokyo Little House Hut
Built in 1948, Tokyo Little House is one of the few wooden houses remaining in modern Akasaka. Today, it’s home to a café and gallery downstairs and a hotel upstairs. Called The Hut, it can accommodate up to four guests in a queen-sized bed and sofa bed in the bedroom and two Japanese futons in the living room. Though the home was minorly renovated in 2018, it still remains an incredible example of mid-century life in Japan.
Stay Sakura Tokyo
A 17-room stay in Asakusa, Stay Sakura Tokyo is all about celebrating the ancient Japanese martial art of sumo wrestling, called ‘Shinto ritual’ in Japan. Once a sumo ‘stable’, a training centre for wrestlers, the property has since been renovated to house a range of accommodations, from twin rooms to suites. Its entrance of ‘shimenawa’, lengths of laid rice straw believed to ward off evil spirits, was made by the same craftsmen who made one at Izumo Shrine.
Mimaru Tokyo Pokémon Room
Mimaru is popular with visitors because it offers apartment-style hotel rooms, complete with kitchens. There are 15 Mimaru locations around Tokyo landmarks, all with the same layout. One of the most booked rooms is its Pokémon Room, bursting with characters from the animated series, including a giant stuffed Snorlax on the bed and Poké Ball-themed tableware. There are Pokémon Rooms in each Mimaru property.
Onsen Ryokan Yuen Shinjuku
Housed in a traditional Japanese inn, 193-room Onsen Ryokan Yuen Shinjuku is a blend of traditional Japanese with modern touches. Without a doubt, its highlight is its natural hot springs on the top floor. Hotel guests can sink into waters from the source in Hakone, as they take in views of Shinjuku skyscrapers. The hotel is a seven-minute stroll from Shinjuku-gyoemmae Subway Station and a 20-minute walk from JR Shinjuku Station.
This Japanese auberge, a dining-focused inn, is located on the outskirts of Tachikawa, about 30km from Shinjuku. Opened in April 2023, Auberge Tokito features four rooms with open-air baths and water flowing directly from a natural hot spring. After spending an afternoon soaking in the onsen, relaxing in your room, or exploring Tokyo, head to the hotel’s dining room to feast on a meal by Michelin-starred chefs. The dining experience here showcases the breadth of Japan’s food culture.
Shubou-Tamajiman is a guesthouse built on the grounds of the Ishikawa Brewery, which has been operating since 1863. It offers men’s and women’s capsule rooms with wood and tatami mats that fit up to two people per room. An on-site restaurant serves lunch with ingredients grown from the Tama area and sake from Ishikawa Brewery. A sake brewery tour and tasting seminar can be added onto your stay.
Capsule Inn Hamamatsucho
Capsule hotels were invented in Osaka, Japan in 1979, so a stay at one of them in the country is a must, if you can swing it. Capsule Inn Hamamatsucho in the Minato Prefecture is a 15-minute walk from the Hamarikyu Gardens and around the same distance to Shimbashi Train Station. The stay here is affordable, yet truly no frills, with capsule beds you climb into and a shared shower area in the hotel’s basement and toilets on each floor.