Types of accomodation
First you need to decide what is right for your budget and your needs. Here is a table with price ranges and what you’ll get.
|Type||General price range|
|Shared hostel dorm room||¥2500-¥3300|
|Ryokan (traditional Japanese room)||¥6000-¥14000|
Where to book
To find a budget hostel, use a website like Hostelworld.com. Note that not every hostel uses Hostelworld and it might be worth it to check the individual chain websites too.
For hotel lookups, I like to use Agoda.
AirBnb can be a great alternative option: I’ve rented appartments in the middle of Shinjuku and Shibuya for ¥6000-¥8000 a night which proved to be very convenient for checking out those neighborhoods.
Pro tip Use the Hostelworld iPhone or Android app to book a hostel on the go.
What to look for
This is personal preference, but this is what I tend to look for when booking a place:
- Free WiFi
- Checkout at 11 AM
- Luggage storage available
- If it’s a dorm room, no more than 6 persons
- Central location, close to a train/subway station
- Clear website with visual directions
Hostels in Tokyo
Most hostels in Tokyo are in the traditional Asakusa area. This is one of the nicer areas to start your journey in but if you are visiting Tokyo for a week it might be worth switching to a different location mid-week. Venturing to Shinjuku and Shibuya from Asakusa can take a while.
Many hostels are part of a chain. There are many hostel chains like Khao San, K’s House, Hana hostels and J-Hoppers. They often have several locations and discount cards if you go to multiple hostels of the same chain.
Khao-San is the biggest and most famous hostel chain with 12 locations in Japan.
In Tokyo, all of their hostels are near the Akasuka area. I stayed at Khao-San World, Khao-San Khabuki and Khao-San Samurai. If you can, try and book Khao-San World. The 2nd best is Khao-San Khabuki, then Khao-San Samurai. All of them are adequate for for the price you pay.
- Link: khaosan-tokyo.com
K’s house is another hostel chain with 8 locations including 2 Tokyo branches and a Kyoto branch. I stayed at the Kyoto location and thought it was a pleasant hostel. K’s House can only be booked through their website.
- Link: kshouse.jp
If you are travelling as a couple and you want some private time a budget hotel might be a good option instead of a hostel. Do note that many hostels also offer private rooms, so you can combine meeting other travellers with the privacy of your own room.
If the best hostels in Tokyo are full — which tends to happen towards every weekend — you might want to consider checking out some of the AirBnB properties.
If you are travelling as a couple an AirBnb might be a good budget option with a little more privacy than a hostel. AirBnb is an especially awesome option if you can split the costs in a group of 3-4 people.
Be sure to look for hosts with good references on the AirBnB site - it’s important to filter a bit to find the right location.
- Link: airbnb.com
Few Japanese use Couchsurfing, possibly because their homes tend to be very small, possibly because they value their privacy. Despite this it might be possible to find a host in Japan, especially in the bigger cities.
There is a weekly Couchsurfing event in Tokyo which might be a good way to meet fellow travellers. It’s on friday night. Look up the details in the events section on Couchsurfing.com.
- Link: Couchsurfing.com
Below are some alternative places to stay, for those who are either bit more budget-conscious or adventurous.
Just so you know, the SM room is open.
A Japanese love hotel is a hotel where you can choose to either stay for a few hours (rest) or stay for a night (stay). Most love hotels are only available from 10 or 11 PM. Upon entering you will often see a board with pictures of the rooms. The lower price indicates rest and the higher price indicates stay. The common price range for love hotels is between ¥6000 to ¥17000 for staying.
The people operating love hotels usually don’t know any English so knowing some Japanese would be advisable. You might get lucky by just pointing at the room and handing over the cash. However because of privacy reasons the counter person usually has a half curtain in front of him/her so you can’t see each other.
Most love hotel rooms are plain hotel rooms with a with some added luxury, like a larger-than-usual bathroom or a stereo sound system. You’ll find complimentary condoms and soap/tootbrush. Sometimes they have some sort of advanced lighting system so you can dim the lights as you please; sometimes they offer a movie selection. In the room you’ll often find a minibar meets vending machine with overpriced drinks.
A capsule hotel is a tiny container where you sleep in. This is one of those Japanese-only things mostly meant for salarymen who missed the last train. Many capsule hotels are male-only. According to what I heard you’re to encounter a cigarette-smoke filled entertainment room full of sweaty Japanese watching weird TV, and a surprisingly comfortable capsule . Capsule hotels can be had for ¥1800 making it one of the most
A manga café will provide you (…)
- See: Shibuya