1. Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Everyone knows the Japanese are an innovative bunch, and this is shown in the multitude of capsule hotels across Tokyo as they make efficient use of space. This capsule hotel, although morbidly resembling a morgue, is far from it. Upon arrival, you are assigned to your little pod, which has a bed and a small television for entertainment. There is also a bath and sauna but these are shared facilities, which are pleasantly clean and sanitary. Be warned though, these capsules are not sound proof and for those who are light sleepers, its recommended that you bring ear plugs. For the sole woman traveller, this hotel has a floor specifically dedicated to women for safety purposes.
2. Meguro Emperor Hotel
Opened in 1973, this hotel was pretty much the fairy tale dream come true. With its castle-like exterior, tourists flocked here to ‘ooh and ahh’ at the architectural wonderment. Gone is its’ heyday but yet it remains as one of Tokyo’s more unique hotels. The interior is lavish and the rooms are elaborately decorated with plush bedding, detailed wallpapers, glass chandeliers and marbled fixtures. This hotel may be targeted at couples looking for a romantic fairy tale getaway but it really is open to all who are looking to feel like a king and queen for a day (or as long as you stay for).
3. Media Café Popeye
The Japanese love their Manga comics and it’s no surprise that they’ve come up with the ‘Manga Kissa’ or Manga cafes. These cafes run for 24 hours and have floor to ceiling bookshelves of manga comics and videos, clearly a manga lover’s haven. As more youths were staying out late watching and reading Manga in these cafes, lodging was provided. At Media Café Popeye, there is a smoking and non-smoking section and it has around 200 cubicles. You can choose your ‘room’ type which basically goes by the kind of seating it provides – a normal office chair, a comfy reclined chair, a flat seat where you can sprawl on the floor after a day of manga viewing or a ‘pair seat’ which are mainly for manga loving couples. There are shower facilities provided as well so you don’t have to worry about going home oily the next day. However this café is slightly different because it imposes a 12 to 5am power shut down to ensure that it’s users get a good night’s rest. A must-stay for any avid manga reader!
4. Hilltop Yamanoue Hotel
For all the history buffs and old souls, this will be the hotel for you. Used during the war by US army officials, it was converted into a hotel in 1954. Furnished with wood panelled walls, leather seats and carpeted floors, the Hilltop is classically styled and was an occasional hangout for famous writers, scholars. Service here is impeccable and if you want a temporary escape from the ultra-modern Tokyo, the old school charm of this hotel will be a well-received option.
5. Sukeroku No Yado Sadachiyo
If you consider yourself a Japanophile, staying at a Ryokan should be at the top of your list. Providing a traditional Japanese experience, guests will be treated to sleeping on tatami mats and for the more daring, public baths (females and males are given allocated timings, of course). Wake up to a choice of either a Western or Japanese breakfast but go with the obvious to complete your experience of staying in Japan, Japanese style.
Traditional forms of entertainment are provided as well such as geisha dancing, traditional comedy and a course on proper Japanese dining and house etiquette. The staff at this Ryokan are both thoughtful and attentive providing tiptop service that’s worth the price you pay.
Note: Private baths are available as well for those who prefer to wash up in privacy.
6. Komadori Sanso
High up in the mountains of Tokyo, lies a secluded two-storey wooden lodge and behind its doors, a tranquil escape that integrates traditional Japanese style of living with nature. Although the journey here might be a bit tedious, it is definitely worth the time and effort. The naturalist or anyone just looking for a place of serenity can come surround here to surround themselves with the natural beauty of the Japanese mountains. This place can serve as a spiritual retreat as well where you can head to the waterfalls to practice ‘Takigyo’ – a form of waterfall meditation. A must for an unforgettable and different experience!
This quirky boutique hotel cum residence, which contains 20 rooms are all individualised and designed with a modern albeit personal touch. There are 3 rooms however that were designed by artists who were given free reign over how they’d like the room to be. One of the rooms is decorated with plush toys stuffed under the mattress and scattered around the room and another with framed up dried flowers to look like someone’s atelier. The weekly residences have walls with carving that are in the shape of a room’s inventory such as a hairdryer, a lamp or even a pair of headphones. This hotel is definitely where design meets comfort and it is recommended that you book ahead to secure a spot.
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Images (from top to bottom) courtesy of TripAdvisor (1, 5 and 6), Global Grasshopper (2 and 4) and VIP Liner.