Are you planning a trip to Japan and want to know more about your accommodation options? We explain it all in this article, so it will take the mystery out of what to expect.
When budgeting for travel around Japan it is imperative to think about your accommodations. Hotels in Japan run from small and cheap to sprawling and extremely expensive. Many of the hotels are just a place to spend the night, but other types of accommodations in Japan, like capsule hotels or ryokans, also provide a full-on Japanese experience, and we fully recommend you try different types of stays while you are here, so you can get a true picture of Japanese travel culture.
We’ve compiled a list of not only our favorite places to stay in this amazing country, but we’ve enlisted the help from some other travel pros as well. We’re sure you will find the best stays for your trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.
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Types of Accommodation in Japan
Ryokan – The most traditional type of Japanese accommodation, ryokans range from expensive to super expensive. However while you are there, you won’t want to leave. When you arrive, you change into your comfy yukata (light robe), eat meals in your room, and use the local spa and onsen. It’s truly an unforgettable experience, and well worth budgeting one ryokan stay during your visit to Japan.
Temple Stay – Not as common, temple stays are solely a chance at having a unique experience. They usually cost $50-$75 per person, you will get up super early in the morning and experience the life of a monk for 24 hours.
Resorts – Mostly found around the many ski resorts or beaches, resorts are plentiful. Most resorts offer full room and board, provide yukatas and/or pajamas, have a spa and onsen attached as well as a great restaurant. If you want to splurge, you can easily find a resort in all the major tourist spots.
Tourist Hotels – Japan loves to treat visitors right, so tourist hotels can be super luxurious or they can be more budget-friendly such as small guesthouses where you may be sleeping on a futon on the floor but at least you’ll get to know the owners.
Business Hotels – A great way to say money is using business hotels. These are typically no frills rooms, quite tight, such as the famous capsule hotels. We are fans of a couple of chains. Our favorite are Dormy Inns and we also like the business hotel chain called the Chisun Inn Hotels, both are a cheaper option, usually found in the center of the cities, and have everything you need.
Specialty Hotels – These include everything from Hello Kitty and Disney hotels to the less kid-friendly “love” hotels where you can find cheaper rooms but you may have to plan on staying in after you check in until you check out. We’ve heard that the proprietors will lock the rooms.
Pin the best hotels in Japan for your planning purposes.
Andaz Tokyo By Cat from For Two, Please
Tokyo has no shortage of luxury accommodations, but the design-conscious need look no further than Andaz Tokyo. The entire property plays on the concept of “harmony” and creates an experience that brings guests closer to the Japanese culture and its relationship with nature. Upon arrival, you can see washi paper used throughout the hotel to reflect this design concept.
What we loved most about Andaz Tokyo is the incredible city views. All guestrooms look out to either Tokyo Bay, Imperial Palace, and Skytree, or the iconic Tokyo Tower. Given that the hotel is perched on top of one of Tokyo’s highest buildings, you are guaranteed to secure completely unobstructed views!
And it is not just the guestrooms, the spectacular Tokyo skyline can be seen all over the property. For example, at Andaz Tavern on the 51st floor, you can admire stunning views of the city over the Imperial Palace through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. In the evening, the sky-high Rooftop Bar on the 52nd floor is one of the best places in the city to soak up the incredible cityscape while sipping on a cocktail. Even at the spa treatment rooms, you will have the pleasure of an exceptional view as you relax!
Park Hyatt Tokyo by Carrick of Along for the Trip
If you’re looking for absolute luxury during your visit to Tokyo, consider staying at the Park Hyatt Tokyo. It’s one of our favorite hotels in the world and continues to impress. Many may recognize it from the movie Lost in Translation, but the real charm of the Park Hyatt comes from its impeccable service and amazing views.
Located on the top 14 floors of the 52-floor Shinjuku Park tower, guests are guaranteed a breathtaking view of Tokyo’s urban sprawl. The second you set foot in this hotel, their sterling service shines. Hotel staff will remember your name throughout your visit, and every want or need will be addressed swiftly and with a polite smile.
Take in the views and some jazz at the New York Grill & Bar on the 52nd floor, or enjoy a book and canapes at the the Peak Bar. Splurge for a room service breakfast in your soft robe and custom pajamas. It will be a meal to remember. The Park Hyatt is also one of the few hotels in the city with a full-size swimming pool which is a great choice for families. If you get the chance, the Park Hyatt Tokyo is not to be missed.
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New Sanno Hotel (for U.S. Military Affiliated) by Vanessa of Wanderlust Crew
If you’re looking for an extremely affordable hotel in Tokyo with great amenities and you are a member of the US military or are traveling with military or a military spouse, the New Sanno Hotel is a great option. You can find the requirements for booking at the New Sanno here.
Room rates are based on a scale depending on your roll in the military, but they range from $53-$126/night. The hotel offers single, double, and family rooms, as well as their beautiful Japanese Suite. The New Sanno has many dining options including Tepenyaki, Formal dining, a Family Restaurant, and an American Deli. It has also been voted the best off base lodging and best Sunday brunch for many years in a row. The New Sanno is located in the prestigious Hiroo residential area of Tokyo which feels very quiet and safe but is also convenient for many city sites and easily accessible by the Tokyo rail system at the Hiroo stop on the Hibiya Line.
Rinn Gion Yasakamae Townhouse by Melissa at Parenthood and Passports
Staying in a traditional Japanese townhouse gives you a unique perspective that you don’t get when staying in a hotel. You get all the comforts of home with a dash of culture. During our time in Kyoto, we stayed at Rinn Gion Yasakamae, a two-story townhouse on a narrow, quiet alleyway in the heart of Gion.
As with many traditional townhouses or ryokans in Japan, guests are expected to remove their shoes upon entering the front door and before proceeding into the tatami room, which is the central room of the house and is used as a reception area or family gathering space. The tatami room has woven straw mats covering the floor and a small table in the center of the room where you can have your morning breakfast or evening tea. The townhouse offers complimentary lounge wear during your stay, and comes with a fully stocked kitchen.
Upstairs, there are two spacious bedrooms that sleep at least six people, and outside on the private patio, a large outdoor tub made for a great place to relax in the evening.
Rinn Gion Yasakamae is the ideal place for families traveling to Kyoto with kids.
Marriott Lake Biwa by Sylvia of Wapiti Travel
Prices for hotels in Kyoto tend to go through the roof in popular tourist seasons. We were reluctant to pay +800€/night but at the same time we also didn’t want to a stay in a basic and cramped hotel room. As we looked for other options we found the Marriott Lake Biwa.
Lake Biwa is just half-an-hour by train from Kyoto, it is the largest freshwater lake in Japan and the Marriott hotel is idyllically nestled on the edge of the lake. We chose this hotel because of the price but would return for its location and excellent service.
As much as we loved the vibrant megacities of Japan it felt good to escape the crowds at night and retreat to this quiet oasis on the lake. Lake Biwa is registered as a national park and is a popular summer destination among Japanese. It’s a great place for all kinds of water activities. You can go kayaking, wind surfing, yachting etc. The hotel also rents bikes and the route around the lake is supposed to be very scenic.
Being here in early April meant that we just enjoyed the scenery. If we would come back during the summer months we would certainly spend some extra days on and around Lake Biwa.
Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu
Another must see in Japan is the ancient samurai castle of Matsumoto. While this could be done as a day trip from nearby Nagano, it is also a convenient overnight location when visiting Lake Suwa or the Red Soba festival in Minowa. The place to stay in Matsumoto, as far as we are concerned, is the stylish Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu. This is an older style building in the old castle town with quiet rooms, an on site hot spring bath, and a gorgeous French influenced restaurant.
The castle is only a few minutes walk and the surrounding neighborhood is an artsy, hip community with small galleries, coffee shops, cafes, and excellent restaurants. There is parking available for a small fee and the rooms are equipped with flat screen TVs, minibars, and free wifi. There are a few different style rooms to choose from, each is sure to please. The restaurant is really where this place shines however. The chef spent several years studying and perfecting his craft living abroad in France before coming back to Japan and working in one of the most popular French restaurants in Tokyo. Now he is here fusing French and Japanese cuisine in creative, seasonal menus.
Kusatsu Onsen Ekinariya Ryokan
Ekinariya Ryokan is a small, family ran ryokan in the center of Kusatsu Onsen village. With only 14 rooms, onsite hot spring baths, and rich, comfortable common rooms, this is a highly sought after destination. As in most ryokan, shoes come off at the door and guests are invited to change into comfortable yukata, slippers and pyjamas for wandering around the hotel and even around the town.
Ekinariya is steps away from the the town’s famous public baths and a variety of local specialty shops and restaurants. One attraction not to be missed at Kusatsu Onsen is the Yumomi water bashing and dance. Visitors can view this performance in the old bath house in the town center where women dressed in traditional costumes demonstrate the method used to cool down the hot spring water using wooden planks while singing folk songs.
Kinosaki Onsen Hotels
Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsutei by Kallsy of Pages of Travel
If you’re looking for a romantic escape while in Japan, Kinosaki Onsen is a small, quaint town that is an easy overnight stay from Osaka or Kyoto. While visiting Kinosaki Onsen there are many ryokan, or traditional Japanese inns, you can choose to stay in. Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsutei is a unique luxury option that has traditional ryokan-style rooms but with a modern twist.
The building is set up like a hotel, rather than the small house-like setting most ryokans resemble. It also has more amenities such as an outdoor pool that is accessible during the summer, on-site restaurants, gift shop with local products, a karaoke bar, relaxation spa, and of course, public and private onsen.
Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsutei also has a shuttle that can take you into town to peruse the local shops or enjoy a dip in the town’s public hot springs that are free of charge when you’re a hotel guest. For a traditional dining experience, we highly recommend Kaiseki-style in-room dining. Kaiseki is a multi-course dining experience that often includes a variety of small plates with fresh, local ingredients that change based on the season. The two menu items that Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsutei is best known for is the Tajima beef which is a year-round specialty in Kinosaki Onsen, and the Matsuba crab which is only available from November 7th-March 31st.
Takayama Ouan Hotel
Leave your shoes, and your cares, at the door as you enter this Takayama hot spring hotel. The rooms at the Ouan Hotel are comfortable and affordable in the typical Japanese minimalist style. Relax in one of the private hot spring baths or enjoy city and mountain views from the rooftop, open air baths. There’s even a free foot bath in front of the hotel where you can wriggle your toes in the piping hot natural spring water, it’s totally amazing!
Takayama is ideally situated for visiting the famous thatched covered farming village of Shirakawa-go and is also a popular tourist destination in its own right. The historic center is a perfectly maintained and restored castle town with an open air morning market, local specialty shops, and historic sake distilleries. The hotel offers onsite parking for those arriving by car, or is a short five minute walk to the station for train travelers.
Intercontinental Osaka by Chris of Chris Travel Blog
The Intercontinental Hotel Osaka is a luxury hotel downtown just a minute walk from the Umeda train station. With the efficient public transport in Japan it’s a great base to explore the Kansai Region. Kyoto, Kobe, Himeji, Nara, and other places of interest are just a 60-minute train ride away. I stayed a few nights when I travelled in Japan following, what I think, is the best itinerary for 2 weeks in Japan.
The Intercontinental Osaka is located on the 36th floor and up giving each room magnificent views over Osaka. Both the regular rooms and suites as well as the family apartments are very comfortable. The biggest plus is however the size of the rooms which is very large for Japanese standards. There is an indoor swimming pool, gym, and a luxurious spa to rejuvenate after a long day exploring Japanese world heritage. One of the restaurants has a Michelin star in case you love fine dining. The views are amazing at night too.
The Intercontinental Osaka is highly recommended. It’s comfortable, spacious and has all the facilities one would need. The central location at Umeda station makes it a great starting point to explore the area or get to your appointment efficiently. The Intercontinental Osaka is a modern luxury city hotel where both the leisure and business traveler will find their home.
Ritz Carlton Osaka by Alex of Swedish Nomad
Ritz Carlton in Osaka lies within walking distance to Osaka Station and Umeda. From here you can get around easily to all the different parts of the city. On top of that, you’ll be staying at one of the most elegant hotels in Japan, and a contender for Asia’s most elegant as well.
The interior and rooms are well-planned and decorated nicely. The views are great as well and you have everything needed for a wonderful visit in Osaka. Ritz Carlton has several restaurants that serve exquisite food, both local and international. There is also an indoor and outdoor pool as well as a Jacuzzi and Spa area.
The breakfast up in the club lounge is another treat you should get while staying there. The breakfast comes with a view from the 32nd floor and the food options are healthy and fresh.
Ritz Carlton in Osaka is the perfect hotel to wake up in and the perfect hotel to get back from a day of sightseeing or shopping in the city.
Hotel Musashiya by Erin of Never Ending Voyage
Our favourite place to stay in Japan is Hotel Musashiya, a ryokan (traditional inn) on Lake Ashi in Moto Hakone where you can see Mount Fuji on a clear day.
It looks like a modern hotel from the outside, but the minimalist rooms are decorated in traditional style with tatami mat floors, futon beds (that are cleared away during the day), and a low table and chairs. Unusually for ryokans there’s a small ensuite bathroom. Some rooms have gorgeous lake views and you can also enjoy the view from their onsens (hot spring baths) and comfortable guest lounge.
In typical Japanese style the onsens are public with outdoor and indoor baths for men and women. Soaking in the hot water after a day exploring is a wonderfully relaxing experience.
Other than the onsen, the highlight of our stay was the dinner served in our room. They can cater for vegetarians (which isn’t always the case at ryokans) and treated us to a feast of tempura, rice, miso soup, yuba, pickles, vegetable and tofu hotpot, eggplant and mushrooms in a delicious sauce, Caprese salad, matcha pudding, and plum wine. Breakfast is also a culinary adventure.
Hotel Musashiya was a highlight of our two weeks in Japan and although it’s a bit of a splurge, it’s much more affordable than many ryokans and well worth it for a unique experience.
Hakone Kowakien TEN-YU
Travelers top Tokyo looking for a city escape out to the mountains should consider taking the train out to Hakone for majestic views of Mt. Fuji and luxurious hot spring retreats. Our favorite destination here has to be the spectacular Hakone Kowakien TEN-YU hot spring resort. The rooms are spacious, beautifully decorated, and most have a private open-air hot spring bath ensuite. This is the true splurge experience with deliciously prepared breakfast and dinner menus included. On arrival you’ll remove your shoes, change into comfortable yukata and pajamas and begin to relax and let your worries wash away.
Guests who can tear themselves away from their amazing rooms also have access to the connected public hot spring complex, Hakone Yunessun, with numerous co-ed (bathing suit only) pools that include some unique experiences such as a sake pool, a red wine bath, coffee, and and even a fish nibbling pool. This is a great place for children, too with a set of water slides and shallow pools with kid friendly water features. Of course, there are also traditional men and women’s separated onsen with both indoor and outdoor pools.
Guesthouse Sumica by Halef of RTW Guys
Japan, especially in the most popular sites to visit, is not always a cheap place to stay. However, if you dig deeper, you can find a few options to make your stay at least a bit cheaper. It’s even better when these budget places to stay maintain the charm of traditional Japanese culture!
If you visit the beautiful mountain town of Nikko, consider staying at the Nikko Guesthouse Sumica. It is located in a prime location in the center of Nikko, not too far from the train station, grocery stores, and a few public onsens.
Nikko Guesthouse Sumica is a very small place; however, it still has the traditional Japanese house layout, retrofitted into a hostel/guesthouse to accommodate budget travelers. A family room and a few bunkbeds are available, as well as a small living room platform with a low table in the middle. It’s the perfect place to socialize with fellow travelers after a long day exploring the beautiful Nikko landscape.
What can you do in Nikko? It is arguably one of the most beautiful places in Japan, with significant shrines and temples that are protected by UNESCO. My recommendation is to visit Nikko in late April for the Cherry Blossom festival. Majestic trees dot the town and are illuminated at night for all to enjoy.
Hachimantai Mountain Hotel and Spa
This medium sized hot spring hotel is nestled at the base of the Hachimantai ski area with superb skiing right at its doorstep. Hachimantai Mountain Hotel and Spa offers a variety of western and Japanese style rooms, each clean and comfortable. The staff here is the friendliest we’ve come across in our travels in Japan. They really go out of their way to make visitors feel like they are at home among family and friends.
Relaxing in the beautifully landscaped rotenburo after a day on the slopes as the snow falls gently into the hot spring water around you is absolutely magical. Later you can have a massage and then finish off the night with some karaoke. Whether you’re coming for the skiing in winter, mountain biking in summer, or just getting away for a mountain retreat, Hachimantai Mountain Hotel and Spa is sure to please.
Sierra Resort by Carrick of Along for the Ride
The Japanese Alps in western Japan are a beautiful escape from the big cities. Winter is particularly lovely and we stayed at the Sierra Resort Hakuba for a recent ski trip. The Sierra Resort Hakuba is a western-style resort with all the amenities you’d come to expect from a modern hotel. For families with younger children like us, this worked better than a more traditional ryokan.
In typical Japanese fashion, the service was stellar, and the amenities were fantastic. Rooms were on the larger side and were able to accommodate our family of four comfortably. A large buffet breakfast is included in the price and featured Japanese selections as well as Western ones. One of our favorite features was the evening curry and happy hour. Guests may help themselves to wine, beer, and soft drinks in the lounge, or have a hot steaming bowl of curry and rice out on the patio. Yum! Free hotel shuttle rides to nearby restaurants are available if you like as well. If you’re skiing, take advantage of the on-site rental shop and shuttle to the slopes.
Rihga Royal Hotel by Leah of Kid Bucket List
We booked the Rihga Royal Hotel in Hiroshima purely for the location. It’s close to both the Hiroshima Castle and the Atomic Bomb sites whilst also being in walking distance to public transport.
Travelling with two kids, securing rooms large enough to fit the four of us can be tricky anywhere in the world, but especially so in Japan. We have found that Rihga hotels across Japan have bigger than usual rooms and have suites that can accommodate us without the huge price tag.
The Rihga Royal Hotel has all the luxury inclusions one could want. The bathroom was huge, the towels were fluffy, the toiletries were plentiful. It also has a pool, incredible breakfast options and is situated within a shopping precinct too. Housekeeping seem to pick the perfect time to do the room too – we left every day returning at different times to a pristine room, as if it had never had us in it!
But what blew us away was the view! Gigantic, single plane windows overlook the Hiroshima Castle. Look how breathtaking it is! When booking request a high room with a castle view.
Looking for a great hotel, try the Rihga Royal Hotel in Hiroshima.
Shojoshin Temple Stay by Victoria of Bridges and Balloons
For an insight into the life of Buddhist monks, stay at the Shojoshin-In temple in Kōya-san. The mountaintop town is the centre of Shingon Buddhism and many of the over 100 temples on the mountain offer lodging for you to stay. The temple lodging varies in quality and Shojoshin-In is one of the best. The classic Japanese tatami mat rooms are clean, cosy and comfortable, some with balconies looking out to the sacred mountain. Traditional breakfast and dinner are included and everything is vegetarian as the temples only serve shojin-ryori (Buddhist vegetarian) food. The meals are a highlight and a true Japanese experience, served to you in a private room while you’re dressed in the provided Japanese robes. Also don’t miss the early-morning service where you can go and listen to the monks chanting. The Shojoshin-In is right next to the atmospheric Koya-san graveyard, which is set in a magnificent forest, lit by lanterns. All in all, Koya-san and Shojoshin-In combine to create an unforgettable Japanese experience.
Toyama Onyado Nono
From the outside, Toyama Onyado Nono Hot Spring Hotel and Spa didn’t seem like much more than another average Japanese Business hotel. And there’s not too much going on in the lobby, either. It’s a little small and very matter of fact. But after check in, and once the shoes are off and safely stored in the lobby shoe lockers, you enter a serene world of tatami flooring, and light wood paneling. The room was a little small by western standards but extremely comfortable and well appointed. One feature I especially loved was the extra deep bathtub.
Toyama Onyado Nono Hotel is located on the main street in the center of the city, near the old castle and the shopping district. There is parking in a 24 hour secure parking garage very near the hotel and the nearby tram stop offers direct access to the train station and other parts of the city. Of course, the main attraction for the hotel is the 2nd floor spa area with separate hot spring baths for men and women, massage services, and sauna. Travelers on a longer trip will also appreciate the onsite laundromat. You can change into the hotel pajamas, toss your laundry in a machine and go soak in the hot tubs while you wait for your laundry to wash and dry.
Tajimaya Guesthouse by Vicki of Vicki Viaja
If you love hiking and nature, Magome is an amazing destination for you to visit. While many people just visit on a day trip, I highly recommend you to stay a night and see this little town in the Japanese Alps after all the tourists have left. We loved our stay at the a local Magome guesthouse as it is an amazing place to spend the night, especially for couples. Staying the night in this house includes two private rooms, from which one is for sleeping and one to spend the day. The rooms’ interior is typically Japanese and reminds a little bit of a Ryokan. Guests can try a Yukata, an item of traditional Japanese clothing, when going to take a shower or bath. You can find a description of how to wear them in your room. The dinner and breakfast are included in the room price and shouldn’t be missed. You will have a lot of tasty Japanese food and during the meal, you can also enjoy some entertainment.
Lamp no Yado Aoni
For a true off-the-grid, Japanese ryokan experience you can’t do much better than the peaceful, secluded Lamp no Yado Aoni Onsen on Raizan mountain in northern Honshu. Everything about this hotel is rustic luxury. You’ll leave your cares and worries from the modern technological rat race behind as there is minimal electricity, no wifi, and no cell phone service. Just mountains, nature, and relaxing, soothing hot spring water to soak in.
Rooms here are minimalist but comfortable and charming. The gas lamps twinkle at night competing with the splash of stars overhead. This is a full board ryokan with all meals included and guests are guaranteed of a true Japanese culinary journey. Visitors arriving in winter park their cars in the private parking lot at the bottom of the mountain and then are shuttled up to the ryokan on board the hotels private snow cat. This is truly a once in a lifetime adventure!
Yaeyama Islands Hotels
Ishigaki Seaside Hotel by Stefan of Nomadic Boys
One of our favourite places to visit in Japan, outside of Tokyo, is the tropical Yaeyama islands, which is the southernmost part of the country. Ishigaki is the main island and transportation hub, so a logical base. We stayed at the Ishigaki Seaside Hotel, which we highly recommend. We stayed in one of their bungalows, which are awesome. They are massive and each has its own private terrace with Jacuzzi.
They also have rooms in the main building with sea facing views. As it’s west facing you get some beautiful sunsets here.
Highlights of the area include the beautiful Kabira Bay and fascinating Yaima Cultural Village, where you can learn more about the local culture and dress up and interact with the playful resident monkeys. We also love the Yaeyama islands because of the world class diving on offer. Ishigaki is an excellent base to take diving tours from with many diving schools to choose from on the island.
Our standout highlight from the Ishigaki Seaside Hotel was the matching pajamas they offer guests. At breakfast time, most people come to the buffet clad in these darling outfits.
That’s it. Some tried and tested fabulous hotels in Japan. We’re pretty sure you’re going to love a night or two in any one of these places. And drop us a line if you’ve found any to add to our growing list!
Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.