Tokyo is home to literally dozens of world-class hotels, but at a price (and not always a pocket-friendly one). Thankfully, help is at hand. We've been through the capital's broad (and growing) range of budget hostels, guesthouses and hotels – many of which can give you a bed for under ¥3,000/n – to find the best in town. That said, if you don't want to share a bunk in a dorm or sleep in a thin-walled cell with barely enough space for your luggage, you might want to take your business elsewhere.
As well as inner-city accommodation, many of the cheapest places are also found in traditional neighbourhoods like Asakusa and Minami-Senju. These are charming and quiet, in contrast to the bustling pop-culture hotspots of Shibuya and Harajuku. But whatever your requirements, one thing's for sure: in our selection of the best cheap hotels in Tokyo, you'll find something to suit your fancy and funds.
Backpacker hostels with style
A converted family house provides the setting for this intimate Asakusa hostel, opened in March 2012 by a backpacking owner who dreamed of 'travelling with her whole house'. With just two dorms, it's one of Tokyo's smallest hostels, and the décor – including a small lounge that looks more like a trendy Balinese café – make it one of the more agreeable, too.
Run by a bunch of East Tokyo hipsters, this converted 1920s townhouse north of Ueno offers the sense of staying in a traditional Japanese home at backpacker hostel prices. Then again, you might struggle to find a traditional Japanese home that comes equipped with its own bar and lounge, like Toco does.
One of the newer additions to Khaosan's Asakusa-centric hostel empire, this one must be the quirkiest of the entire bunch: a renovated love hotel, World Asakusa offers modern and stylish rooms that still maintain plenty of titillating features – think see-through bathtubs, bedside light controls and mirrored walls.
Kangaroo Hotel’s rock-bottom prices attract a mixed bag of guests, from Japanese tourists to backpackers, businessmen and families. The interior is a blend of old and new – the lobby's exposed concrete walls and white furniture give it the feel of a trendy showroom, but they also have some Japanese-style rooms, with tatami mats and futons.
Run by the same group behind Iriya's Toco (see above), this friendly Kuramae hostel boasts some nifty interior design and a stylish ground-floor bar – with grand piano – that's as popular with local residents as it is with guests. Rooms are ultra-spartan and, while there's no curfew, the common areas close at midnight, making it better suited to early sleepers.
Found just a stone's throw from the Skytree, Hütte offers convenient access to the newly-hip surrounding area and both of Tokyo's airports. All dorms are equipped with extra-wide bunk beds and personal lockers, while private Japanese-style rooms are also available. The ground floor hosts a café and co-working space with wifi and all that jazz.
'Bed and breakfast' is the name of the game at this Asakusabashi hostel, where you’ll get a place to sleep and a morning feed for your fistful of yen. Travellers in search of an authentically retro Japanese experience should appreciate the horigotatsu-style recessed seating in the communal lounge, as well as the option of sleeping on a futon in a tatami-floored (washitsu) dorm.
It bills itself as ‘Tokyo's first designer ryokan’, but you'd do better to think of Andon as a high-end backpacker hostel. Designed by architect Masayuki Irie, the chic-but-cramped interior incorporates traditional Japanese features while showcasing owner Toshiko Ishii's collection of antiques (even the breakfasts are served on vintage tableware).
It's only 10 minutes' walk from one of Tokyo's main transport hubs, but this Shinagawa guesthouse is set in an area with a distinctly old-school feel – including shrines, temples and a Showa-era shopping street. The traditional vibes continue past the front door, with mainly tatami-floored washitsu rooms on offer. Just watch out for all the extra fees.
One of the few ryokan in Tokyo to cater almost exclusively to foreign visitors, the family-run Sawanoya has a small library of English-language guidebooks and provides its own map of the old-fashioned Yanaka area, plus cheap bicycle rentals. Rooms are small but comfortable, and there are signs in English reminding you how to behave and how to use the bath.
¥3,000 per person
From travellers on tiny budgets to salarymen toiling deep into the night – Kabukicho's most convenient capsule hotel welcomes everyone in need of a dirt-cheap (but clean and comfortable) stay. Both men and women are welcome, the capsules are generously sized and the comfy bathing area is a real sight for sore eyes, the strange decor not withstanding.
This informatively named Iriya joint isn't exactly located in the middle of the action, but does have free wifi and decently comfy beds. Rooms are actually available for the advertised price at most times, but higher rates may apply during peak times and around holidays.
OK, so you can get a cheap stay in a capsule hotel anywhere in Tokyo, right? Sure, if you're a bloke. The great thing about Capsule Inn Komagome is that anyone can join in the boxed fun. And if you're a woman who's nervous around the opposite sex, there's a rare women-only floor available.
Cheap accommodation and Shibuya simply don't seem compatible, so it's a case of the tallest dwarf for this male-only establishment, equipped with clean but smallish capsules and a bathing area with sauna and massage chairs. Rates also include a highly underwhelming 'breakfast' – you'll be better off just getting something from the convenience store next door.
Catching an early flight or arriving late in the night can be a pain when it comes to Narita Airport. Fortunately enough, summer 2014 saw the opening of this 24-hour capsule hotel right next to Terminal 2 (albeit in a less-than-glamorous parking garage basement). Those who just want to take a shower and sit down for a bit will be admitted as well.
Cheap hotels (with real beds!)
Dorms ¥3,300, singles ¥7,000, doubles ¥9,300
Dorms ¥3,300, singles ¥6,300
Dorms ¥3,200, singles ¥3,800
Hatagaya’s addition to the Sakura Hotel family is popular with businesspeople, presumably because it's just a three-minute train ride from Shinjuku. As with its siblings, this budget hotel has bilingual staff and a 24-hour café where sociable types can mingle, though the lack of dorms or communal bathrooms means that it feels less like a backpackers hostel.
Backpacker hostels in Asakusa
Other Tokyo hostels should probably start taking notes. Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki has a plum location, but it's the attention to detail that sets it apart from many competitors. If you're a sucker for Japanese-style touches, you'll probably appreciate the red, green and black colour scheme (kabuki's traditional colours), as well as the option to sleep in a tatami-floored room.
A laid-back atmosphere and predictably tiny rooms await at this hostel, just south of Asakusa. Facilities include a large living room (with free wifi) and shared rooftop space, as well as a communal kitchen and coin laundry. Choose from dormitories, singles, doubles, twins and a family room that can squeeze up to four people, and has an ensuite bathroom.
This renovated hostel sits just around the corner from the creaky old Asakusa Hanayashiki, so once you’re done relaxing in its ‘zen style’ surrounds, you can get your adrenaline up again with a roller coaster ride. If theme parks aren’t your thing, you could always just enjoy the free tea and coffee in the 24-hour lounge instead.
Tokyo's largest backpacker hostel is as functional as you'd expect. Fluent English speakers dispense tourist information 24 hours a day, and the early check-in and late check-out times are a plus. The kitchen area and 24-hour bar/café bring a little sense of community to what's otherwise a slightly impersonal (though scrupulously clean) facility.
Ultra-cheap backpacker hostels
Formerly Tokyo Backpackers, this dorm-style hostel is basic when it comes to decor – as in, there is none. But the bare cream walls house beds with privacy curtains, a minimal TV room, boardgames, free wifi and a shared kitchen. There's also a women-only floor.
If you're looking for a cheap hostel somewhere other than eastern Tokyo, your options get more limited. The DIY-till-I-die Yadoya Guesthouse in Nakano offers a welcome change of scenery, though it's not without its caveats. Expect to find plenty of long-term residents amongst the backpackers, and be warned that the management is a lot less hands-on than at other hostels.
Aizuya Inn offers a laidback atmosphere, eclectic music and multilingual staff who can even give advice on opening a bank account or getting medical care. Guests sleep on futons in tatami-mat rooms, and the price includes free wifi, a teeny kitchen and a lounge with complimentary soft drinks – though not the coin-operated showers.