Everything You Need To Know About Hotels in Japan
Hotels in Japan are not as straightforward as they are in other parts of the world. There are many types of hotels with different prices to accommodate different budgets. It can be difficult to understand the differences.
While traditional, “Western Style" hotels can be found all over Japan, they are not the most popular style of accommodation. Most people stay in Ryokans, apartments, or budget options like manga cafes and capsule hotels.
If you are trying to find a hotel in a fun neighborhood, the best option is to have a local plan your trip. Our locals in Japan will plan a completely personalized trip for you, with suggestions on where to stay, what to eat, and what to do. Your itinerary will be modeled after your travel preferences (Museum lover? Hiking junkie? Total foodie?) If you are ready to plan your authentic trip to Japan, match with your local today!
Here is a guide to different styles of hotels in Japan:
Japanese Hotel Guide
"Comfort Hotels" or “Western Style” Hotels
Traditional, Western Style hotels are usually called “Comfort Hotels” in Japan. These hotels are owned and operated by major hotel brands that have branches in every country. As tourism becomes more popular in Japan, more of these hotels open up.
A Comfort Hotel will provide all of your standard Western amenities - big rooms, big beds, lounge area, pool, English speaking staff - but you will pay for them. This is the most expensive types of lodging in Japan.
A step down from a Comfort Hotel would be a “Business Hotel.” Rooms in these hotels are much simpler, but more affordable. Typically, the rooms consists of a twin bed, a desk, and a tiny bathroom.
These cheaper and less luxurious hotels are called Business Hotels because they are where businessmen stay on overnight trips, or when they miss a train home and have to spend the night at the last minute.
Depending on the price, it is possible to find Business Hotel rooms with wifi and tv.
A popular option for travelers in Japan is staying in Ryokan. In fact, travelers have been staying in Ryokans in Japan for hundreds of years.
These inns were the common lodging for travelers on the Tokaido Highway, the Edo period road that connected Kyoto and Tokyo. Vagabonds, tradesmen, and samurai would stay in these inns when traveling between Tokyo and Kyoto.
Keeping consistent with their history, Ryokan are traditional Japanese inns. Instead of Western amenities, the style and decor is kept minimal and traditional.
For travelers looking for an authentic Japanese experience, a Ryokan is the best way to immerse yourself in Japanese culture. Guests walk on mats, ditch their shoes, sleep on a futon, and kneel on the ground to eat. Be respectful, and do not wear your shoes in a Ryokan.
The best place to stay in a Ryokan is in a hot spring/spa town. While Ryokan can be found everywhere, a large part of the experience is soaking in an onsen. Shower before entering, and soak completely naked. Also, cover up any tattoos with band-aids.
Ryokan are not cheap, but are the best way to immerse yourself in Japanese culture as a traveler.
Minshuku is to a Ryokan as a bed & breakfast is to a hotel.
Both accommodations are similar in the sense they are traditional and lack Western amenities, but Minshuku are smaller, and a more basic, family-run operation.
For example, a Minshuku will have fewer guests and less public space. For those on a budget, this is a great way to get a traditional experience for less money. Also, you will have the opportunity to chat with a Japanese family and hear about their life in Japan.
Love hotels are exactly what they sound like. These are late-night hotel rooms that provide lovers and couples with more privacy.
This is a very common concept in Japan and doesn’t have the stigma attached to it that some may expect. The hotels are kept very clean, and often provide a quick option for businessmen and travelers who are stranded without a place to stay.
Check-in is usually after 10:00pm. Because of this, most Love Hotels offer a “service” time during the day. Prices are lower, and this is a great way to ditch your luggage while you explore the city.
If you arrive late and need to find a place to crash, a love hotel could be a great option. Amenities will be limited, or, *ahem* themed, but most people find Love Hotels to be comfortable and will have a great story to tell friends back home.
There is a chance you have seen or heard of these pods before. These bizarre sleeping arrangements have gotten their time in the sun in the past few years, and have appeared in many publications.
Capsules are tiny pods with just enough room for a single bed. These little rooms usually have an outlet, light, and alarm above the bed. Bathrooms are shared with other guests, and luggage is kept in a locker.
Depending on how much you pay, some capsules even have tvs and wifi. For budget travelers arriving late, capsule hotels are another great lodging option.
Hotel booking tips:
Many hotel descriptions are written in Japanese, and prices translated to English are higher than Japanese prices. Use a Japanese site and an online translator to find the best deals.
Hotels are priced by the number of people staying in a room.
Book months in advance to find the best deals.
If you are going to stay in a hotel, it may make the most sense to do it during the week. Room prices are higher on the weekend.
When booking online, be sure to confirm if you are staying in a Comfort Hotel, or Western Hotel - the amenities and prices are different.
Free wifi isn’t as widespread in Japan as it is in other countries. Confirm online that your hotel has wifi. If you just assume that it will, you will most likely be disappointed.
Use sights like these find a good Ryokan:
Use sights like Tokyo Inn to find good Business Hotels.
This is an interesting guide on different unique accomodation options in Japan.