Cool and unique places to stay in Tokyo

Bored of the same old, unremarkable hotels? Rest assured, these one-of-a-kind Tokyo hotels make staying in (almost) as much fun as going out

Written by
Mayumi Koyama

If you’re looking for a hotel that’s a little bit more interesting than usual, Tokyo is your city. With so many new, creative spaces popping up every year, there’s an abundance of ultra-modern, one-of-a-kind places to stay. But unless you know the city like the back of your hand, knowing where to start your search can be hard work. We’ve done the hard work for you, compiling a list featuring everything from luxe bathing options (Finnish sauna, anyone?) to super cute Hello Kitty decor. Book a stay at one and the only tough decision will be motivating yourself to actually leave the room...

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Book and Bed Tokyo Asakusa
  • Hotels
  • Asakusa

If you think B’n’B means Bed and Breakfast, it’s time to reassess your options. This Tokyo hotel has invented the first ‘Book and Bed’ mode of accomodation. If you self-identify as a bibliophile, this special place is sure to give you sweet dreams - although the owners joke that when the books are this good, you’re more likely to be up all night reading.

The endless shelves of books are all available to borrow free throughout your stay, which (crucially for every book-loving traveller) means you can cut down on the amount of books you need to bring with you in the suitcase.

They offer three room types: compact, standard and double, and the toilets and showers are shared between guests. And if you want somewhere nice to read, there’s an on-site bar. The Book and Bed concept has so far proved so successful they’ve opened further another branch in Tokyo’s Asakusa district, along with ones in Fukuoka and Kyoto. Book worms rejoice!

  • Hotels
  • Ebisu

Sauna and sleep are the two main features at this new design-driven hotel. While capsule hotels are common in Tokyo, °C has created a new, updated version featuring a clean, modern design inspired by Finnish sauna culture.

The hostel’s steam room is a standout among the city’s many sento (bathhouses). Here, you pour mint-scented water onto hot sauna rocks to create more humidity that will encourage sweating, before cooling down in one of the showers rooms, each of which is set to a different water temperature.

  • Hotels
  • Ryokan
  • Otemachi

Just when it was starting to feel that Tokyo ryokan (traditional inns) were on the verge of extinction, along came a major new player bringing the classic bed and breakfast (and sometimes also bath) experience bang up to date. Hoshinoya Tokyo is one of the capital’s very few luxury ryokan – and it’s located in central Otemachi, just a short walk from Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace. The 19-storey (including two underground floors) building houses tatami- floored suites, as well as a spa and dining space. Don’t miss the rooftop alfresco bath, whose water is fed by the area’s first natural hot spring.

  • Hotels
  • B&Bs
  • Bakurocho

Embrace your inner trainspotter at this one-of-a-kind hostel, accessible directly from JR Bakurocho Station. Named after the defunct Hokutosei sleeper train, which operated between Tokyo and Sapporo for 27 years before being retired in 2015, it boasts an interior that faithfully recreates the train’s cabins – think bunk beds, aluminium ladders and dark curtains – made with original materials from the Hokutosei carriages.

In addition to the usual dorms, they offer semi- private rooms roughly the same size as a regular sleeper train cabin. Prices are considerable cheaper than other options in the area.

Henn na Hotel Ginza
  • Hotels
  • Shintomicho

From the ubiquitous act of buying ramen through a vending machine to having a mechanical pet, the Japanese have long loved their machines. You can now even stay in the world’s first hotel chain staffed by robots – a claim recognised by Guinness World Records.

At Henn na Hotel – whose name’s first character means both ‘strange’ and ‘change’ in Japanese – you’ll be welcomed and checked in by androids. There are other robots on duty, and your room comes with the cutting-edge LG Styler, a sort of steam wardrobe that will help freshen your clothes. Can technology replace human hospitality? You be the judge.

Keio Plaza Hotel
  • Hotels
  • Shinjuku

Can’t get enough of Hello Kitty – Japan’s most iconic cat-girl? Then you’d want to book a stay at Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo specifically for its Hello Kitty-themed rooms. There are eight rooms dedicated to the cute cartoon cat – four Kitty Town rooms (brightly coloured and girly) and four Princess Kitty rooms (more mature interior design, targeted at grown-ups) – and they all feature Hello Kitty furniture and decor.

Plus, the rooms are well- stocked with special Hello Kitty merchandise, including skin care sets, pens and original dolls, which you can take home. Want more? You can even kickstart your day with a special order of the Hello Kitty breakfast set, where certain dishes either come in the shape of the cat or imprinted with the cat icon.

  • Things to do
  • Shibuya

This stunning new glass building is Shibuya, occupies the spot where the shopping mall Parco Part 2 once stood, is both a hotel and store - allowing you to literally shop until you drop.  Fashion-lovers can dive into racks of men, women and kids clothing (check out the Thom Browne collab), while those not spending can enjoy the healthy-eating bakery-restaurant, or catch a gig in the live music and DJ space.

The hotel, located on the third floor, offers 10 rooms that are modern in design, featuring liberal use of warm gray and natural wood tones, geometric lines and proportions, and ambient mood lighting.

  • Health and beauty
  • Spas
  • Aomi

In addition to housing natural hot spring baths, open-air baths and saunas, this Edo era onsen theme park also does a line in festivals, fortune telling, places to drink and dine, shopping and, yes, overnight accommodation. You might want to consider a night here if you have limited time in Tokyo as you get to experience various Japanese activities all in one place.

Oedo Onsen Monogatari houses six different type of baths, including one in which you can lie down (‘neyu’) and a lukewarm bath ideal for summer (‘nuruyu’). The water is rich in sodium and chlorine ions, drawn from 1,400m underground, and the thermal baths here are believed to help in relieving nerve, muscle and joint pain.

Unfortunately, like most bathhouses in Japan, it does not accept people with visible tattoos.

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