Hotels in Japan are not that expensive
Hotels are thought to be really expensive and while yes a hotel that is very “AMERICAN” can be, and nice Japanese Hotel is pretty reasonable. There are a few types of hotels in my estimation in Japan. My biggest tip is to get a hotel you can afford that is close to a JR Rail line. Being close to the train is HUGE!
- Western Style
- Modern Japanese
- Older Japanese
This is what most people look for when they visit Japan. They go looking for the Hilton’s and Marriott’s but I avoid these at all costs. American Style hotels include your Hilton’s, and large expensive chain hotels you would find in the US. Most were in the larger cities and can run from $150 – $4000 a night. If you are on a budget these are to be avoided. There is always a cheaper alternative. The upside is there will be a good many English speakers in the hotel and they know how to take care of you. But don’t let this one small item push you to spend 4 to 5 times the cost of a good hotel room. Even hotels for $50 a night have someone who speaks English and you can get by without it. Trust me!
While it’s a fabulous place with everything you would expect from a hotel in the US the rooms start at $250 a night. While not cheap it’s pretty normal for a place like this.
If you do have Hilton or some big major chains points then this is perfect. If you have money and are on a budget, keep reading.
These are much like the western style but will be much less expensive depending on the location, time of year, and availability of other completion in the area. I stay at these when I can. As far as features they are all over the map. The rooms are smaller and can make the average American rather uncomfortable but it’s not the worst thing in the world. I enjoyed my stay using these types of hotels. Many of them will have someone that speaks a little english as long as you keep the questions simple.
Many of these hotels have a silly name that is either too long or does not make sense. Like the SMILE HOTEL. I have stayed at both the Smile Hotel and the Grand Park. The seasons really determine the costs. In the summer expect to pay over $100 in Tokyo. In the fall the price could drop to under $50. The rooms are smaller but you are just there to sleep. It’s a nice place to leave your things and go explore.
These hotels also know the value of being next to a train station. So the closer to the train station the higher the cost will be. This is worth the added cost. Being about to get up early and make it to the train station in less than 5 min is one of the best things out there.
Older Japanese Hotels
These are much like the Modern Japanese hotel but they were build in the 1970’s and are a little more compact. Nothing wrong with them in fact I find them all rather charming. They have very Japanese aspects to the architecture you don’t see today with some of the more modern Japanese hotels.
One of my favorites that is near and dear to my heart is the Sasebo Green Hotel. The lobby is compact with a nice sushi restaurant off the left side. Everything there screens 1970’s with a bit of modern take as well, but it’s located right across from the train station (bonus) and just a few blocks from the shopping mall (double bonus), not to mention the 30 – 40 places to eat near by that are all really good.
Expect the rooms to be small but not crazy small like some in Tokyo. Also expec there to be some left over 1970’s charm that they are not aware they need to cover up. I love these older hotels, they always have something that makes them very neat.
I have never stayed at one and can only tell you what I know about them from reading and wanting to visit one. I will stay at one next trip to Japan. These can be cheap to super expensive. The more important it is to the area the higher the price. So if it’s been around for 300 years and was the center of the city, then expect to pay. Many that are over 100 years old are no historic land marks. They take money to keep them working and in good shape so you have to pay for that service. I have seen some there were as much as $500 a night but you get a lot for the price. Most will have a bath or large soaking tub, meals or some meals, along with tea and other community services. It’s as close as you will get to staying with someone in Japan and get that Japanese feeling. From a photography stand point just taking photos would be worth the costs. Most are beautiful and have tons of character.
This can be tricky and are mostly for people who live in Japan. The reason I say this is most don’t have places to lock up all your bags. They were invented for Salarymen to sleep off a night of drinking. Not really meant to be for travelers, but in the last 10 years Japan has been paying attention and you can find modern Capsule Hotels that will work for travelers. Just know what you are getting into before you book them. The prices start out good, $30 a night, but I have seen some for over $70 a night and for that money I would rather get hotel room with my own shower.
If you have the opportunity then go for it. It’s worth it and it’s fun. Because they have community showers and baths they are hesitant to allow people with tattoos (some do) and only allow men. Again things are changing in Japan and you can find all kinds of exceptions.
My least favorite of all the hotels but I think it’s due to my age, but this can be the most fun along with the least expensive. Many people like them because of the shared spaces, meeting other people who love Japan and the rock bottom prices. I have seen hostels for as low as $11 a night. Keep in mind you might be sharing your room with 3 or 4 other people and there might be a bit more chatter than you are used to at night. Then again you might find a travel buddy for the day or someone to hang out with that was totally unexpected. There can be some neat upsides to this kind of stay.
Link to a simple guide to Hostiles
When I wrote this article the AirBnB thing was getting hot but I didn’t think I needed to include it. However it’s much hotter now and with the Olympics in 2020 it’s going to be a thing. I have many close friends who have used this site to find a place to stay. If you are going to be in a city for a more than a week it’s worth looking in to. Take you time and do your research and you can find a nice place to stay for pretty cheap and the Japanese who run them all seem to be very nice and love having guests.
If you plan ahead and do some looking you can find really good hotels rates. I used Booking.com for all the hotels.
There is a new chain in Japan that has hotels just about everywhere now…even the smaller towns and the rooms usually run about $50 a night for one person. ( Toyoko-Inn ) Stayed at one in Utsunomiya and it was really nice and they put them right next to the train stations for easy access. They do offer breakfast but it’s a traditional Japanese breakfast so it might not be perfect for everyone.
Here is a list of hotels I have stayed at and would recommend to you:
Smile Hotel Tokyo Nihonbashi – Near Central Tokyo – Really nice place and very close to everything Tokyo
Sasebo Green Hotel – Sasebo City – I used to live there and think it’s nice
Sun park Hotel Nato – Kofu Yamanashi – Near Train, Good bar in lobby with free bike to ride around
For Leaves Inn Nagai – Osaka – Not the best place I have ever stayed but it was cheap and near the JR Rail
Grand Park Hotel Panex Tokyo – Tokyo – Close to JR Rail and lots of food
Hotel Sunrote Hiroshima – Central Hiroshima – Good location and cheaper in the fall/winter. Excellent!
Diana Roynet Hotel – Yokohama – Just fabulous for $50. Next to baseball park and JR Rail. Will stay there again.