It suddenly seems like everyone is talking about Tokyo and we all know someone that’s long dreamed of visiting the Far East or who’s booked a last minute trip for the coming year.
When it comes to Tokyo there’s so much buzz that the city can be a bit overwhelming. With 23 neighbourhoods or ‘wards’ grouped around major metro stations, it can be tricky knowing where to stay. So if you are thinking of going or have your ticket booked, we have the perfect array of hotels in our top 5 neighbourhoods to help you create the ultimate Tokyo experience.
[caption id="attachment_10632" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Harajuku Girls | Photo by Richard Giles (CC BY-SA 2.0)[/caption]
Make like Gwen Stefani and be surrounded by Harajuku girls. The infamous city district is probably one of the coolest neighborhoods in Tokyo and is home to a unique cultural movement, which sees its residents wear elaborate fashions or dress up in cosplay. Because of Harajuku’s vibrant youth culture, the district boasts a sea of fabulous outfits as well as plenty of shops and bars in the area to keep you entertained.
If I was a Rich Girl, I would stay in the Granbell Hotel Shinjuku which perfectly blends modern finishings with graphic design, colourful prints and the odd flash of school-girlish tartan. A neon-lit rooftop bar sets off the whole thing nicely, perfect for a casual drink before heading out to join Harajuku’s thumping nightlife.
Shibuya[caption id="attachment_10573" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Shibuya by night | Photo by Jonathan Lin (CC BY-SA 2.0)[/caption]
Neon lights, great nightlife and extensive shopping, Shibuya is one of Tokyo’s busiest neighborhoods for tourists and young people. Widely considered to be the busiest intersection in the world, the Shibuya Crossing is definitely an experience not to be missed. Thousands of tourists flock here every day to take pictures and pose for selfies alongside the busy road – as many as two million people scramble across the crossing daily.
Marvel at the madness of the Shibuya Crossing from the peace and quiet of your hotel room. The Shibuya Excel Hotel is located above the Shibuya metro station which makes it extremely convenient for getting around and possibly one of the best people-watching spots on the planet. When it comes to interior decoration, the rooms are natural and the epitome of Feng Shui.
Koto[caption id="attachment_10584" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Tokyo Bay | Photo by Yoshikazu TAKADA (CC BY 2.0)[/caption]
A top business district, Koto is a firm favourite with tourists at the weekend, as the city’s army of Salarymen abandon their desks on Fridays leaving the area much quieter. Visitors to Koto can enjoy the sweeping waterside views and see the cherry blossom in bloom along the canals. Fans of modern design are in for a treat, as the area boasts the Museum of Contemporary Art plus some incredible architecture owing to the interesting new office builds that have been constructed in the area.
In business speak, our ‘elevator pitch’ for the Hotel East 21 goes like this: outdoor roof-top pool plus a large indoor pool. Do we have your attention? If that’s not enough to wet your appetite then perhaps the eight uniquely-styled restaurants will do it for you, and if you’re looking for an authentic Japanese experience you’ll find plenty of inspiration in the décor, which integrates natural materials with classic Japanese prints.
Sumida[caption id="attachment_10630" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Cherry Blossom (Sakura) in Tokyo | Photo by ryuta kawakami (CC BY 2.0)[/caption]
Sumida is one of Tokyo’s oldest and more traditional neighborhoods. From sumo to traditional baths and ethereal gardens many of Tokyo’s historical delights can be experienced here. However it’s not all tradition, the Tokyo Skytree somehow manages to squeeze itself seamlessly amongst the buildings looking less of an eyesore than some might have expected. At 634 metres high, it’s the world’s second tallest building.
To get the full Skytree experience stay at the Tobu Levant Hotel. One of only four establishments that enjoy a friendship arrangement with the Skytree allowing for special panoramic tours that can be arranged by the hotel. Not only are the Tobu and Skytree best friends but you can also get a privileged view of the Tokyo giant from your room and the hotel restaurant.
Asakusa/Ueno[caption id="attachment_10613" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Senso Ji Temple | Photo by Tom Bennett (CC BY-SA 2.0)[/caption]
A slightly world-weary part of town but nevertheless fascinating, Asakusa/Ueno is slowly being rejuvenated with new shopping centres and apartment blocks appearing every year. One hidden gem in the neighbourhood is the Senso-Ji temple – the oldest of its kind in Tokyo, which dates back to 645CE. The streets along the entranceway to the temple are filled with small shops selling knickknacks and local produce. If you want to feel like a local, it’s well worth a visit.
Self-styled as a cross between Old Edo and modern Tokyo, The Gate Hotel is so named because it’s practically at the gates of Senso-Ji. The hotel also boasts incredible views of the Tokyo Skytree whilst maintaining a focus on Japan’s roots. The traditional yet modern interior design is by leading Japanese designer Shigeru Uchida, who has a talent for creating clean lines and making black look cosy and welcoming.
Looking for more Japan inspiration? Read about 8 wacky hotels unique to Japan here.