Best boutique hotels in Tokyo
Choosing a place to stay while traveling can be a daunting task. It becomes even more difficult in a city like Tokyo, where there is no shortage of luxury five-star behemoths and business hotels seem to dot every corner.
For those wanting to avoid the big chains in favor of something with a bit more character, a handful of the best boutique hotels in Tokyo stand out from the rest.
Whether your passion is history, culture, art or design, these five hotels should satisfy.
Located in the north of the city, not far from the sightseeing areas of Asakusa and Ueno, Andon Ryokan embodies all that is Tokyo, with its perfect blend of Western and Japanese.
From the street, the award-winning building looks like any other modern Tokyo structure.
But the steel, concrete and glass façade gives way to a cozy and friendly guesthouse that has been popular with backpackers from around the world since its opening eight years ago.
Inside, the common areas are an eclectic mix of modern industrial and traditional Japanese. Guests can enjoy a coffee (free throughout the day) while sitting in a sleek, clear acrylic chair in the dining area, or opt for a cup of tea at the antique low wooden table in the adjacent room.
Those who choose to stay at what is one of the best boutique hotels in Tokyo shouldn’t expect to be living in luxury. The tatami rooms are a tiny seven square meters, and bathrooms and showers are shared.
However, the reasonable rates and some handy extras -- free in-room Internet access, a private Jacuzzi and opportunities to participate in activities such as tea ceremony and flower arranging -- make up for the shortcomings.
Nightly rates from ¥8,190
2-34-10 Nihonzutsumi, Taito-ku; +81 (0) 3 3873 8611
Park Hotel Tokyo
Visitors with a penchant for sleek, contemporary design and fantastic views need look no further than the Park Hotel Tokyo.
Occupying the top 10 floors of a skyscraper in Shiodome, near Shimbashi, this hotel also boasts an extremely convenient location for those looking to explore the city via public transport.
The Park Hotel Tokyo is the city’s first member of the international Design Hotels network -- a surprise in a city that prides itself on being home to some of the world’s most creative minds.
As befits one of the best boutique hotels in Tokyo, rooms are spacious with large windows, and the simple yet stylish furnishings are complemented by original pieces by French Vietnamese-turned-Ivorian artist Monique Le Houelleur.
The French restaurant, Tateru Yoshino, on the 25th floor, is worth a visit to the hotel on its own.
Nightly rates from ¥21,000
Shiodome Media Tower 25/F-34/F, 1-7-1 Higashi Shimbashi, Minato-ku; +81 (0) 3 6252 1111
Possibly the quirkiest among the best boutique hotels in Tokyo, Claska is a favorite among creative types.
Despite its somewhat inconvenient location about a 20-minute walk from Meguro Station, its 18 rooms are often booked out months in advance.
More than just a hotel, Claska also houses a café, dog grooming salon, gallery, shop, event space and rooftop terrace.
The atmosphere in the common areas is laid back but entertaining, somewhat reminiscent of a house party.
Rooms at Claska are divided into four categories: Japanese modern, tatami, weekly residence and D.I.Y.
All are meticulously designed, but for a unique experience reserve one of the three D.I.Y. options, in which Claska let loose contemporary Japanese artists to do whatever they wanted. The results range from cute and colorful to strange and surreal.
Nightly rates from ¥7,875
1-3-18 Chuo-cho, Meguro-ku; +81 (0) 3 3719 8121
History buffs will love this stately hotel on top of a hill near Ochanomizu Station.
Built in 1937, the structure was used as a research center and officers’ quarters for U.S. forces before being converted into a one of the best boutique hotels in Tokyo in 1954.
Over the years, Hilltop Hotel (or Yama-no-Ue Hoteru in Japanese) has supposedly been a favorite of writers and scholars. The wood-paneled walls, leather sofas and antique decorations certainly ooze old-school intellectualism.
While some of the Hilltop’s furnishings have seen better days, that worn-in look is also part of its charm. Rooms are clean, comfortable and relatively large, and the well stocked bar and wine cellar make excellent places to wind down at the end of the day.
Nightly rates from ¥12,600
1-1 Surugadai Kanda, Chiyoda-ku; +81 (0) 3 3293 2311
The B Akasaka
Unlike major cities in Europe and North America, Tokyo is lacking in reasonably priced “design” hotels. Enter the B Akasaka, whose rooms, although simple, are outfitted in a modern style with clean lines and soothing, natural colors.
Bathrooms are a cut above average for hotels in this price range, and while they don’t come equipped with bathtubs, they make up for that with powerful showers.
Another unique feature of the B Akasaka is one normally found only at top luxury hotels: an onsite spa. The menu starts at ¥3,150 for a 20-minute head massage.
Akasaka is centrally located near a plethora of restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, but if you want to be even closer to the action, check out sister hotel, the B Roppongi. You’ll be able to stumble back to your room at any time of the night or day, no taxi required.
Nightly rates from ¥8,000
7-6-13 Akasaka, Minato-ku; +81 (0) 3 3586 0811