Best for: Eco-conscious travellers who don’t want to skimp on comfort or style
A magnet for Tokyo’s creative crowd and in-the-know city trippers, Trunk Hotel scores high on the cool quotient – a perfect fit for its location around the corner from fashion-forward Cat Street. At its heart sits Trunk Bar, a buzzy lounge where local entrepreneurs and digital nomads work on their laptops during the day and swap their coffees for cocktails after the sun has set. Each of the bedrooms is different in size – ranging from a two-storey party pad with plunge pool to a cosy family suite equipped with bunk beds. Common denominators, however, are the lofty high ceilings, metro-tiled bathrooms and minibars stocked with artisanal soda pops and dried fruits. Sustainability is the name of the game here. Interiors are decked out in reclaimed timber while staff uniforms are fashioned from recycled denim. Even the amenities follow the same approach: they’re all produced locally and include recycled-rubber bathroom slippers and upcycled laundry bags. Most are available for sale at the on-site convenience store alongside craft beers from Tokyo and organic snacks.
Address: Trunk Hotel, 5 Chome-31 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
Prices from: £300 per night
Paper walls, tatami floors, and oversized bathing suites are par for the course in this ryokan in the heart of the city; a fun way to combine the tenets of Japanese hospitality with the spirit of a city hotel, one that doesn’t hold you captive, but let’s you explore your surrounds guilt free then retreat to your throwback digs. The clever idea: to take a few low-floor rooms in an aging hotel and completely reimagine them as a traditional Japanese inn – one that you’d usually find on the hillside of a quaint rural village. The secret perk of staying in one of the 16 Hanakohro rooms is unfettered access to the campus’ collection of executive lounges – one in all three of the towers – each filled with coffee bars, a snack carousel, and plenty of private seating nooks. Within the confines of the ryokan is a fourth lounge where guests can enjoy their oversized Japanese breakfast, and sample complimentary spirits – sake and umeshu – in the early evenings.
The Gate Hotel Tokyo by Hulic
A budget-friendly hotel disguised as a luxury stay, the Gate Hotel’s glass tower rises up over a bustling intersection in Ginza, offering those quintessential Lost in Translation views. The first thing you’ll notice when you step off the elevator is a lively champagne bar inhabiting the lobby-cum-lounge on the building’s fourth floor, filled with a mix of hotel guests and local business folk enjoying an afterwork coupe. The front desk around the corner may seem like an afterthought, but au contraire –service is as polished and capable as any of the city’s five-star offerings. Spic and span rooms come with a brightly colored accent pillow to enliven otherwise dim, nightlife-inspired decor. Light sleepers may want to request to avoid the rooms facing the train tracks—we did, however, think the double-glazed windows were doing an effective job of blocking out noise.
Hotel The Celestine Tokyo Shiba
Only a small percentage of Tokyo’s hotels are situated in proper neighbourhoods, and, this is one of ‘em. In the twilight of its glory days as a strong midrange contender, budget travellers can easily access the Celestine brand and its cache of perks: a massive buffet breakfast, and a sweeping private lounge with plenty of tea, snacks, and coffee table books. Rooms are arranged around an open, Italianate courtyard below, providing plenty of natural light in the corridors – light birdsong in piped in on speakers, which further enhances the surprising morning calmness in an otherwise frenetic city. The property is admittedly getting on in its years, there are nicks in the hardwood furnishings and the drapery could be freshened, but the budget price point is unbeatable, especially since the bones of the hotel are decidedly upper midrange.
Hotel Graphy Nezu
Before Airbnb, scoring living space in central Tokyo without all of the complicated accoutrements of Japanese bureaucracy (things like “key money” and hefty down payments) was a Herculean task. Shared dorm-like apartments (single rooms with communal bathrooms, kitchens, and couches) were the workaround for young professionals entering the workforce. Hotel Graphy borrows from that era, offering a short-stay twist for international and domestic travellers wanting a place to crash and cook a few meals without the hefty price tag. We love the private en suite rooms, which are styled with items that look like they’re from a Danish mid-century garage sale.
OMO3 Tokyo Akasaka by Hoshino Resorts
Structurally, the OMO3 reads like a business hotel, with slim, efficient rooms, but there’s a lot of soul in the small touches – designer bath products, adorable pillows and subtle design flourishes. The little lobby doubles as a planning zone where guests can lounge and scope out a mural full of neighbourhood recommendations (QR codes are available to learn more in English). The premise of the OMO hotels is simple: graded from 1 to 9, each property promises a different level of accoutrement; the OMO3, in this case, slides more toward the no-frills end of the spectrum but plenty of comfort is still on offer.
Mitsui Garden Hotel Ginza-gochome
The collection of Mitsui Garden Hotels has a strong reputation in Japan for providing quality accommodation at prices that don’t break the bank – their Ginza-Gochome property earns bonus points for its great location and Edo-style baths inside. Most Tokyo hotels cater to a mix of business and leisure travellers – we saw only tourists here; savvy visitors who like their lodging to have a distinct sense of place. Although most of the furniture is agnostic in style, the old-school nods to Japan feel welcome and never gaudy. Mitsui Gardens are a budget-friendly concept from Mitsui Fudosan, a well-established Japanese hospitality brand that has a keen eye for serving luxury travellers as well. The company has had a hand in helping both Aman and Halekulani make inroads in the country, and brings that sensibility – smart design and good service – to its more attainably priced properties as well. Standard rooms have limited views from the windows, but the tradeoff is the quietness in an otherwise busy neighbourhood. Go for the Deluxe Twin room, which fuses East and West design – think: a quaint tatami sitting area, low-slung beds, but a souped up entertainment centre and ultra-modern bathrooms.