TOKYO HOTELS | Where to Stay in Tokyo First Time

where to stay in tokyo for the first time

Are you traveling to Tokyo for the first time?  When you visit a country you never been to or not know so much about, choosing a hotel location could be tough.  

For those who can't decide, here are my tips and recommendations for where to stay in Tokyo first time.


Keys to Find the Best Location

1: Choose a hotel NEAR the station
2: Choose a hotel NEAR OR INSIDE of JR Yamanote Line
3: Do not choose a hotel at the station you never heard of


Best Area/Best Station for Hotels

Choice #1 Shinjuku
Choice #2 Shibuya
Choice #3 Ginza
Choice #4 Asakusa

TIPS to find the best location

Choose by Transportation ConvEnience

If you are planning to go around different tourist spots within Tokyo, you will be using subway which is the cheapest and fasted.  (Taxi is ridiculously expensive in Tokyo so check the distance to the location before you get on.)  Transits are not that hard as long as you have a metro map or a transit app, but you want to make your travel time as short as possible.  Believe me. It will be annoying when you have to transit many times when you are tired from walking around all day.

1: Choose a hotel NEAR the station

I used to live in an apartment which was 13 minutes away from the station one time, and it was PAIN.  In Tokyo, you have to walk a lot... a lot more than you think.  So, you want to choose a hotel preferably less than 5 minutes away from the nearest station. 

2: Choose a hotel NEAR OR INSIDE of JR Yamanote Line.

JR Yamanote line runs in circle and it is like a boarder line to the central Tokyo and one that is not. Staying in one of the station on Yamanote Line is a wise choice but avoid north part (somewhere between Takadanobaba to Uguisudani) because it is a bit far.

Also, if you are going to be outside of JR Yamanote Line, don't go too far. 'Too far' I mean is 2,3 stations away. 

3: Do not choose a hotel at the station you never heard of

Even if your hotel was near or inside of JR Yamanote Line, it could be a quiet business district or a bed town.  Your time here would be so much easier if there is a convenience store right by your hotel and restaurants that doesn't close early around the nearest station.  People say you can find convenience stores and restaurants anywhere in Tokyo but it's definitely not true.   


Honestly, I've seen so many of my friends choosing a hotel or Airbnb which is like 30 - 60 minutes far from Yamanote Line.  If it was cheap, I guess I would understand but there are so many affordable business hotels in central Tokyo. DO NOT make the same mistake as my friends made, and waste your precious time in Tokyo on stupid transportation. 

Where to stay in Tokyo First Time:Best Area to stay in Tokyo for Tourists

Choice #1 Shinjuku

(Best Area to Stay in Tokyo for Any Age Groups of Tourists)

where to stay in tokyo first time

Shinjuku is definitely one of the biggest hub in Tokyo and Shinjuku itself has lots of cool spot to check out.  It's very easy to get around in Tokyo and convenient access for day trip.  

This city is probably the same as what you've seen about Tokyo on TV or the internet - cool neon lights, modern skyscrapers , giant shopping departments and the red light district. You will have fun here. 

People sometimes worry that Kabukicho (Red Light District) would not make this city family friendly, but Shinjuku is way big enough to have other great factors like shopping, great restaurants, beautiful parks and shrines. I mean, I never go to Kabukicho but I go to Shinjuku all the time to go out with my friends.  

credit: wikipedia

credit: wikipedia

Since Shinjuku is known for its transportation convenience and lots of stuff to do, there are many hotel choices.  There are a list of hotels that I have stayed before and had a pleasant experience. 

To get to/from Narita Airport, you can simply take Narita Express (¥3,190) or bus (price depends on the companies) straight from the station.  Major hotels like Hilton or Hyatt have a paid limousine bus pick-ups and drop-offs. You can check it out on the Airport Limousine website.  If you want to save some money, you can go to Nippori by JR Yamanote and take Skyliner (¥2,659). 

To get to/from Haneda Airport, you can take a bus from the station, limousine bus from your hotel, or subway/monorail.  Haneda is less than 1 hr away so it's not too much to worry about. 

Choice #2 Shibuya

(Best Area to Stay in Tokyo for Young Adults and Group of Friends)

Shibuya has also lots of stuff to offer as you can see in TOP 10 Things to Do in Shibuya Tokyo, and a great access to any tourist spots.  Shibuya is a smaller station compared to Shinjuku so if you know that you will be spending time in Shibuya, Harajuku and Omotesando area, Shibuya is perfect for you.  In my opinion, Shinjuku station is way too big for me and easy to get lost so I prefer smaller and simpler station, Shibuya.

Also the city has the great young vibe and less spams. I got ripped off 3 times in Shinjuku (I'm Japanese and living in Tokyo for 10 years...) but never got spammed in Shibuya. 

Also, Shibuya has many hot night clubs like Womb and Vision, so if you are coming with a group of friends, just stay in Shibuya so you don't have to worry about the last train.  

To get/from Narita Airport and Haneda Airport, same routes as explained in Shinjuku are available. 

Choice #3 Ginza

(Best Area to Stay in Tokyo for Middle age to Elder Adults)

Credit Rooch

Credit Rooch

If you don't like crowd and prefer a grown-up atmosphere, Ginza would be your choice.  It's not on the young side of Tokyo (like Harajuku and Shibuya) but it's closer to nostargic side of Tokyo. If you are planning to go Ueno, Asakusa, Ryogoku and Tsukiji, Ginza would be very easy to get around.

Ginza is known for the premier luxury shopping area in Tokyo but there are also fast fashion store too. Ginza seems less trendy and young but has lots of traditional restaurants with cool atmosphere.

Since Ginza is a mixture of shopping and office buildings, there are many good lunch spots. And Ginza is in walking distance from Yurakucho and Shinbashi where great Izakaya and restaurants are gathered. Also very close from Tsukiji Fish Market.  Yup. You won't go hungry in this area. 

Ginza is only one station away from Tokyo station where you can hop on bullet trains to get to Osaka or Kyoto.  Also, it cost only 1,000-2,000 yen to get from Ginza to Tokyo station by taxi, so it would be nice if you have lots of luggages.  

To and from the airports, you have nothing to worry because Tokyo Station offers direct access by bus and express trains

Choice #4 Asakusa

(Best Area to Stay in Tokyo for anyone who loves Asakusa atmosphere or big groups of friends) 

I love visiting ASAKUSA because it's just beautiful but I can't deny that it's a bit far from the everywhere else other than Tokyo Skytree and Ueno area.  However, if you are just in love with traditional Japanese buildings and that distinctive atmosphere of Asakusa, you will just going to love staying there. 

There are many hostels near Sensoji, so if you are coming with a group of people or alone and looking to meet people, this is a place for you.  

Let me know if you are interested in a certain area and don't know local information. I can help you!