Best Tokyo Hotels for First Time Visitors from Mid-Range to Boutique and Luxury
Best Tokyo hotels for first time visitors are lodgings close to train stations in essential Tokyo neighbourhoods to explore like Shinjuku, Shibuya, Roppongi, and Akasaka. These are our picks of the Tokyo hotels you need to check into, from mid-range to boutique and luxury.
The best Tokyo hotels for first time visitors to Japan aren’t necessarily the hotels you’d check into again. In fact, we’d recommend an apartment rental in Tokyo for your second holiday. On our last Tokyo trip we stayed in a comfy apartment a 10-minute walk to the lively centre of Akasaka in one direction and a 15-minute hike in the other up to Roppongi Hills and its sleek shopping malls. I’d stay there again in a heartbeat.
But for first-timer visitors to Tokyo we strongly recommend checking into a hotel. Tokyo and its transportation can be tricky to navigate at first and takes some time to get used to. The services of hotel door staff to point you in the right direction and a good concierge to make restaurant bookings shouldn’t be under-estimated. We found ourselves lost a few times just minutes after leaving our Akaska street.
The best Tokyo hotels for first time visitors should be centrally located and not far from train stations in essential Tokyo neighbourhoods you’re going to want to explore like Shinjuku, Shibuya, Roppongi, Akasaka, and The Ginza. These are our picks of the Tokyo hotels you need to check into, from mid-range to boutique and luxury.
Best Tokyo Hotels For First Time Visitors
Best Shinjuku Hotels
Shinjuku is quintessential Tokyo for us with its neon lights, cat cafés and two of our favourite quarters, Omoide Yokocho or ‘Memory Lane’ with its narrow alleys of smoky yakitori joints and noodle bars beside the railway line, and, a short stroll away, the Golden Gai, with more dimly-lit lanes lined with some two hundred diminutive bars, each with a different theme. Close by is the red light district of Kabukicho that’s become more family friendly in recent years. By day there are department stores galore and one of Tokyo’s loveliest parks, Shinjuku Gyoen.
Park Hyatt Tokyo
I have to confess that the reason I have a thing about the Park Hyatt Tokyo is because it featured in one of my favourite films, Sophia Coppola’s 2003 indy hit Lost in Translation. The New York Bar and Grill, pictured above, where the film’s stars Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson meet, is on the 52nd floor and offers nightly live jazz and jaw-dropping views over Tokyo. On the downside, it’s packed with other tourists and prices are sky-high, but it’s one of those spots where you have to sip a Suntory if you’ve seen the film. Being one of the best five-star hotels in Tokyo, with impeccable service, makes it one of the best Tokyo hotels for first time visitors. As do the luxurious rooms – larger than most Tokyo apartments – with marble bathrooms and a complimentary mobile phone, handy if you get lost or need to call the concierge for restaurant reservations. The sweeping views across the city to Mount Fuji are a bonus.
3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Book the Park Hyatt Tokyo online with our booking partner Booking.com.
The mid-range Hotel Gracery is one of the best Tokyo hotels for first time visitors thanks to a helpful multi-lingual concierge team and central location a five-minute stroll to JR Shinjuku Station and a few minutes to Seibu-Shinjuku Station, in Kabukicho, the red light district that has evolved into an entertainment precinct with family-friendly cinemas and the Robot Restaurant close by. While the hotel tower itself is striking, the Gracery grabs attention for the gigantic Godzilla that peeps its head out from the eighth floor. The building is home to Toho film production company, which runs the on-site IMAX theatre and cinema complex. The hotel itself is huge, with almost 1,000 rooms, making it easy to find bargains. Rooms are comfy with super-soft feather comforters, pyjamas, complimentary Japanese tea, and fantastic city views. Although note that standard rooms are snug, starting at 18 square meters. Free Wi-Fi, free computers, an ATM and currency exchange near the concierge desk, and a coin-operated laundry, makes life easy for first-time visitors.
1-19-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Book the Gracery Shinjuku online with our booking partner Booking.com.
Best Shibuya Hotels
Along with Shinjuku, Shibuya screams Tokyo thanks to its famous Shibuya Crossing, a diagonal pedestrian ‘scramble’ crossing which millions of people cross a day (where we once did a late night photo shoot in the rain), watched over by enormous video screens, towers of department stores such as Shibuya 109, tree-lined shopping avenue of Omotesandō with its upmarket malls and luxury stores, the youthful street fashion shopping quarter of Harajuku and crowded Takeshita Street, and Dōgen-zaka’s love hotels. And when you need to escape the busy streets, there’s lovely Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine, and Shinjuku Gyoen, the former Imperial gardens, now a public park.
This stylish boutique hotel is an absolute stunner with cool, contemporary décor that feels more Japanese than most and individually decorated rooms that feel more like apartments than hotel accommodations. Spacious rooms are decorated in neutral shades with carpet, white tiled bathrooms, and plenty of natural woods. Each category is very different to the next, so choose carefully: some come with large garden terraces dripping with greenery, some with the addition of barbecues and outdoor white tiled bathrooms. (If you don’t book a private balcony, there’s also a shared garden you can enjoy.) The Dining Suite has a beautiful kitchen and table for six for entertaining, while the Living Suite has two long, large sofas, a bar, a record turntable, vintage magazines, and books. All come with lovely robes, beautiful toiletries and there’s free WiFi. Excellent English speaking staff, an informative local guide, and a great location in the heart of Shibuya, just minutes from hipster-central Harajuku, and a 10-minute walk to JR Shibuya Station, make this one of the best Tokyo hotels for first time visitors. Meiji Jingu Shrine is a 10-minute saunter from Trunk while the Nezu Museum is just a 15-minute bus ride away.
5-31 Jingumae, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo, Japan
Book the Trunk Hotel online with our booking partner Booking.com.
Shibuya Granbell Hotel
The 3.5-star Shibuya Granbell Hotel is one of the best Tokyo hotels for first time visitors with friendly staff who speak English, a fantastic location just a few minutes walk across a pedestrian bridge (don’t worry, there are elevators if you have heavy luggage) to Shibuya station and nearby Shibuya Crossing, and an easy amble to Omotesando and Harajuku. While I wouldn’t go far as to call it a ‘design hotel’, the minimalist rooms are comfy and the splashes of colour, chandeliers, and art on the walls set it apart from the plain and often drab décor of rooms in most hotels in this price category. The single rooms are super-snug, so it’s worth paying extra for a double. If the budget stretches, the loft rooms are the best. There’s a casual pub on site and an abundance of eateries in the neighbourhood. There are two more sister hotels, a Shinjuku Granbell and an Akasaka Granbell, which I also recommend if you prefer to stay in those neighbourhoods.
15-17 Sakuragaoka-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Book the Shibuya Granbell Hotel online with our booking partner Booking.com.
Best Roppongi Hotels
Roppongi is home to huge, high-end, mixed-use developments featuring sleek shopping malls, gourmet supermarkets, impressive museums, art galleries and cinemas, parks, residential apartments, office buildings and luxury hotels, such as Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown. In between are affordable eateries and buzzy izakayas, and lively neighbourhoods such as Akasaka are only a short stroll away. Aside from the great eating, drinking and shopping, the Tadao Ando-designed 21_21 Design Sight, Mori Art Museum, Suntory Museum of Art, and the National Art Centre are musts.
The Ritz Carlton Tokyo
The location of the luxurious five-star Ritz Carlton Tokyo, which starts on the 45th level of the city’s tallest building at Tokyo Midtown, make this one of the best Tokyo hotels for first time visitors. The breathtaking views from floor-to-ceiling windows of the city skyline, including Tokyo Tower and Mt. Fuji, are a bonus. As you’d expect of a hotel of this calibre the English language skills of staff are impeccable and the concierges must be some of the best in the city, making your first stay in Tokyo a breeze. Rooms are super-spacious and come in either plush, comfy (albeit conservative) European-style furnishings or a more Zen style with a Japanese aesthetic with futon beds, traditional Tatami mats and Shoji door. Add to that a fine spa with lap pool, Michelin-starred restaurants plus a sumptuous lounge and bar, a tea house, and unique services, such as an ‘aroma butler’ you can call who will come and waft essential-oil blends around your room depending on your mood and needs.
9-7-1 Tokyo Midtown, Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan
Book The Ritz Carlton Tokyo online with our booking partner Booking.com.
It’s hard to beat the Remm Roppongi for value in an area best known for its pricy high-end hotels, although what makes it one of the best Tokyo hotels for first time visitors is the unbeatable location, just a few minutes’ walk to Roppongi Station, Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Midtown, and the must-see museums and galleries, along with helpful English speaking staff, 24-hour concierge, and vending machines for drinks and snacks. While the bright, light-filled rooms are compact, guests love the seeping city views, big tiled bathrooms with rain showers, tea and coffee making facilities, bold splashes of colour, and the massage chairs, which are much appreciated after hiking the hilly neighbourhood. There’s free WiFi throughout the property and on-site restaurant called Cedar, with very generous buffet breakfasts for the price.
7-14-4 Minato-ku, Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan
Book the Remm Roppongi online with our booking partner Booking.com.