From a Muji-Furnished Haven to an Urban Ryokan, These Are the Best Hotels in Tokyo
Eight chic stays in Japan’s capital.
Published Jan 13, 2023 4:28 PM
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From dreamy decor to top-notch amenities, our Wish You Were Here series is your first-class ticket to the most design-driven getaways around the world. Whether you’re looking to steal away for a few days or just steal a few ideas for back home (we encourage both, for the record), check out where we’re checking in.
The good news: Japan officially reopened its borders to international travelers in October, and so there’s never been a better time to immerse yourself in Tokyo. The great news: The capital city’s boutique hotels are made for the traveling aesthete, whether you’re there to admire cherry blossoms in the spring or sift through the multilevel stationery stores year-round. From a stylish hangout for hip locals to a minimalist haven where function and style coexist, these are some of the best hotels in Tokyo for design lovers.
Trunk (Hotel), Shibuya
What we love: A distinctive aesthetic that matches Shibuya’s lively energy.
Trunk (Hotel) is a hot spot in this fashionable corner of town, where streetwear-donning locals work in the lounge with a locally roasted coffee by day and sip on craft cocktails while bopping along to a DJ at night. While the common areas are brimming with energy, the guest rooms are quiet retreats. All 15 accommodations have been uniquely designed and range from snug quarters to spacious digs. Snag the Living Suite if you can, where you’ll find an L-shaped bar, glass-encased lofted bedroom, ceiling projector, and record player. No matter which room you choose, expect well-appointed interiors featuring Japanese designs and a host of sustainably made items to use throughout your stay. $$$
Hoshinoya Tokyo, Chiyoda
What we love: Tranquility just steps from Tokyo Station.
Didn’t think you’d be able to find a ryokan in the center of Tokyo? Think again. This modern take on the Japanese inn is an idyllic and peaceful retreat for those who want a taste of local, time-honored customs. Upon entering, guests remove their shoes and store them in one of the chestnut and bamboo cubbies on the wall. Inside each of the spacious quarters, you’ll find contemporary furnishings, deep soaking tubs, and shoji screens that reveal floor-to-ceiling windows covered with a metal lattice representing komon, a kimono with repeating patterns. To round out your ryokan experience, the indoor and outdoor onsen (hot spring) is a must. $$$$
Muji Hotel, Ginza
What we love: A minimalistic setting by Japan’s home goods stalwart.
Located above Muji’s flagship in this swanky shopping district, the hotel’s lobby shares the store’s highest floor with a Japanese restaurant, library, and salon with a bar. From there, elevators lead you to minimalistic rooms swathed in wood and creamy, natural hues. Unsurprisingly, all the furniture and decor is from Muji, from the comfy beds to the sleek aroma diffusers. Entry-level rooms are admittedly compact but designed for efficiency, kind of like what you’d expect from a Tokyoite’s apartment. And although unfussy, each one is equipped with a tablet for in-room controls, Bluetooth speaker, and Toto toilet with a bidet. $$
K5, Chuo City
What we love: The O.G. Japandi vibes.
K5 occupies a converted bank on the northern end of Chuo City and is the brainchild of Stockholm-based Claesson Koivisto Rune. In creating this hotel, the architecture and design firm was inspired by the concept of aimai, meaning vagueness or obscurity. This might be why the sultry scarlet library doubles as a bar, while the lounge also serves as a restaurant and café—guests are encouraged to use the spaces however they please. The 20 rooms are characterized by custom furnishings from CKR, including teardrop-shaped paper lanterns suspended above veiled beds and a smattering of potted plants to add much-needed greenery to this urban corner of Tokyo. $$$
What we love: The art-centric quirkiness.
BnA_Wall is a playground for those who revel in creativity. A stark contrast to the surrounding historic district, this eclectic hotel is a little bizarre but in a fun way. Fourteen Tokyo-based creators are behind the room designs, giving guests the opportunity to essentially sleep in an art installation—meaning you could land in a gallery-like room or a sushi–meets–outer space suite. To further enhance the experience, guests are invited to watch the quarterly changeover of a 16-foot mural and take up sketching classes, offered every Wednesday. $
Nohga Hotel, Ueno
What we love: A collaboration with crafty neighbors.
Located in a district that’s home to some of Tokyo’s most lauded cultural sites and creative types, the 130-key Nohga Hotel is a model for celebrating the work of local creators. Accommodations are understated but feature an array of thoughtfully curated amenities like organic toiletries by Osaji, memo pads from family-owned Ito Bindery, hangers and shoehorns from home goods shop SyuRo, and soft robes by Atomsphère Japon. During your free time, make sure to peruse the lobby gallery, where a rotating collection of pieces by local artists is on display. $
What we love: Budget-friendly rooms that boast techy amenities.
Masterminded by world-renowned architect Kengo Kuma, the concrete building’s facade is adorned with crisscross beams that showcase Kuma’s signature penchant for working with wood from the outset. Inside, an industrial-style aesthetic is inspired by the area’s factories—accommodations feature plywood-lined walls, metal sinks, and exposed ceilings. The rooms are snug, but modern conveniences make up for it, namely the smartphone with a data plan you can carry with you while exploring the city. While you’re there, don’t forget to head up to the terrace for an exceptional view of Tokyo Skytree. $
Trunk (House), Kagurazaka
What we love: An exclusive home with the perks of a hotel.
For those seeking privacy without sacrificing the joy and convenience of hotel amenities, this one’s for you. Tucked away on a quiet street, the property is an exclusive-use residence that tells a pleasant story of old and new. Paper screens and wood-panel ceilings are contrasted by brass pendant fixtures and Edison bulbs. A modern kitchen looks out to a manicured garden. Above the Hinoki cypress tub in the bathhouse-inspired washroom is a cheeky mural by Ukiyo-e artist Masumi Ishikawa. And the tatami-matted tearoom is surrounded by leather furniture crafted by Stephen Kenn. The price is steep, but with a private chef and a full-time attendant who will gladly mix up some cocktails while you party in your very own karaoke disco room, it’s totally worth it. $$$$
Where to Shop
- SyuRo: If you’re looking for handcrafted goods made in Japan—whether it’s ceramics, glassware, chopsticks, or totes—this store has you covered with a beautifully curated collection.
- Kakimor: For anyone who still enjoys putting pen to paper, this stationery store is an absolute dream. In addition to writing instruments ranging from rollerballs to fountain pens and a dizzying array of ink, you can also customize your own notebook with your choice of cover, paper, binding, and closures.
- Shibuya Parco: Following a two-year reconstruction, this massive department store has a little bit of everything. Clothing, home goods, and cosmetics are of course expected, but it even has a floor dedicated to games and character goods that include a Nintendo store, Pokémon Center, and One Piece shop.
Where to Eat
- Den: Arguably one of the finest dining experiences in Tokyo, chef Zaiyu Hasegawa puts a modern spin on kaiseki (a traditional, multicourse meal) with hyper-seasonal ingredients and a touch of humor. Make sure to inquire about a reservation as soon as you can, as the restaurant frequently books up.
- Tonki: A Tokyo institution since 1939, this restaurant is a favorite for tonkatsu. Pork cutlets are fried to perfection and served with rice, miso soup, pickles, and shredded cabbage. It’s perfect for a casual night out, but be prepared to wait for a seat at the counter that wraps around the open kitchen.
- Kamunabi: More popular among locals than tourists, this ramen shop delivers an unctuous bowl of noodles in either a shoyu (soy sauce) or shio (salt) broth, topped with a large piece of roasted pork packed with flavor.
- The Pizza Bar on 38th: If you’re asking why you’d go all the way to Japan for pizza, hear us out. Recognized by the Michelin Guide with a Bib Gourmand, this spot tucked away in the Mandarin Oriental hotel ferments its dough for 48 hours, which results in a light and crispy crust after spending a few minutes in the wood-fired brick oven. You can go the classic route with bufala or diavola, but a seasonal pie with local ingredients is the best way to slice it.