What are the choices of hotels and accommodation in Japan?
When you look for accommodations for your stay in Japan, you might see something unfamiliar to you. There are some type of hotels that is unique to Japan, and some of them are good just as an experience, some of them are useful to save your budget.
By reading this article, you’ll get an idea of all types of accommodations in Japan including Ryokan and Business Hotel.
Ryokan is a style of Japanese hotel that you see often in the hot-springs resorts. Since the objective is of the hot-springs is to relax in the hotel, usually it has dinner and breakfast included. Ryokan is usually not a big chain, and operated by individual companies.
Ryokan might be good Japanese experience but it can be a little difficult if you are get used to the hotel.
1. Real traditional Ryokan, they serve foods in your room. They also come to the room to put futon down, so you might feel uncomfortable if you want to keep your privacy.
2. Japanese futon. If you are used to using the bed, you might feel a little uncomfortable to sleep on the futon on the floor.
3. Many ryokan are made to stay just one night, so hotel can be dead in day time. Usually there is no choice of lunch in Ryokan. In case you want to stay 2 nights, you might want to go sight seeing or go out to eat.
Japanese ryokan has more variety of styles recently, and you find many ryokan that you eat at restaurant and has beds in Japanese room. So if you want to try Japanese Ryokan but not sure, keep it just one night of your trip, or choose the ryokan with beds and the choice of eating at a restaurant instead of in your room. Even among Japanese travelers, this favor is depends on the person.
I usually don’t like someone coming to the room and prefer eating at restaurant, but as I get older, I started to like eating in the room. But I still prefer beds.
The price can vary from around $100 per person to $500. Usually they are including two meals. Of course you have access to the hot-spring bath.
Hotel is hotel, as you know. It can be Hilton, Westin. In Tokyo, the major luxury hotel brands is The Palace by the Imperial Palace, and Imperial Hotel, New Otani, and The Okura. Even though Japan has many choice of accommodations for your travel, hotel that you are used to might be the best choice if you don’t want any adventure.
In Japan, there some small to mid sized hotel called “business hotel”. Let me explain that in the next section.
Business Hotel (Premier type)
Major Brands: Mitsui Garden Hotel, Nishitetsu Solaria,
I made this category on my own because it doesn’t necessary belong to “hotel” as they usually don’t have in room dining service, or bell person. But it’s quality of beds and rooms are too good to be called “Business hotel”.
For example, many hotels in this category have larger room around 18 square meters to 24 square meters. While typical business hotel usually have only 11 or 14 square meters or so.
Also, some new business hotel (Premier type) has Japanese style bath, which is toilet is in a separate room from bath tub. Why? Since Japanese people put important on daily bath dipping, we need a separate place to wash our body and hair. Also seeing toilet from bath tab is uncomfortable.
My Review of hotels in this category:
Hotel report : Henn na Hotel Asakusa Tawaramachi
Business Hotel (close to Motel 6 or Days Inn)
Major Brands: Toyoko Inn, Super Hotel, APA Hotel, Sotetsu Fressa Inn,
Business Hotel is type of the hotel that you see a lot in anywhere in Japan. It’s close to the concept of motels in the United States, such as Motel 6 and Super8. Just it’s not specially made for visiting by car, and there are no window facing isle.
- Business hotel room is very small around 11~14 square meters. Usually made for one person. In case you need to stay with 2, some hotels allows to stay in one room, but you might want to get two rooms.
- Compact but well functioned. It has everything you need, Free WiFi (Not sure if I even need to talk about it), Empty Fridge, Electric Kettle… often it is more convenient than regular hotels.
- Many business hotels have long term business users, so they have laundry machine.
- Since the hotel is small sized, you can easily access to the city.
Some business hotels have public bath even in Tokyo. This “Super Hotel Akihabara” also had a small public bath.
Minshuku is a type of accommodation you often see in countryside. It looks like someone’s house but it’s bed and breakfast.. and dinner sometimes. Usually each room doesn’t have bathroom and you share with guests from other rooms. We don’t see many Minshuku anymore as people prefer hotels, and some Minshuku in country side has a bit of hygiene issue. But there are lots of nice clean Minshuku too, and those at seaside town serves amazing sea foods…
TIP: Try to see the Google Review rate as usually those are correct. Each person will experience different time, but you don’t fail big if you choose one above 4 / 5 score.
You can find Air-bnb rooms in Japan, but not that many since the regulation is very strict. Just like you can’t find Uber in Japan, Air-bnb is also not something developed well in Japan.
Major Brands: First Cabin, 9 hours
Price : $20-30
Capsule hotel offers a small beds looks like a capsule. Many capsules are put in one room, and usually men and women are separated. It’s originally made for Japanese salary men who missed the last train and just stay over night. However, it’s getting popular among young tourists who like to experience the capsule or just to save money.
Even though you share the space with other guests, it’t not kind of place you talk with other guests like hostels. You can not lock the capsule due to law, and also it’s impossible to bring in your suitcase to our pods. Put your suitcase in the locker and take out only some items you need to go bed.
Recently, some capsule hotels have lounges for guests and even public bath so you don’t have to stay in your capsule all the time during your stay.
There are some hotels available in Japan. In Tokyo, you see many of them in Ueno, Asakusa area. If you are on budget and prefer to communicate with other guests, this would be your choice.
So what is your favorite types of accommodations?
Try various types of accommodations in Japan. But put priority on your comfort. I personally prefer beds recently, so I don’t stay at Ryokan that doesn’t have beds. Recently, many Ryokan prepare Japanese room with beds.
What I recommend is choosing hotels or business hotel (premier type) in the city, and if you go to hot-springs, it might be nice to try Japanese Ryokan for one night.
You don’t have to make every night so gorgeous. If you pick two or three hotels that you want to stay, you can save on other nights by staying at low cost hotels.
If you are on tight budget or wants to spend everything for shopping, trying some hostels, capsule, and business hotel might be interesting. If you travel with someone and need privacy of two, I strongly recommend at least business hotel.