10 of Tokyo's best budget hotels, inns and hostels

The world’s largest city is notoriously expensive, but ryokans, pods and even design hotels can cost less than you think

More tips for keeping costs down in Japan


The roof terrace affords excellent views of the Tokyo Skytree, though it would be hard-pressed not to, as this modern hotel lies in the Oshiage district in the Skytree’s long shadow – head up to the rooftop bar after dark for a cocktail or two. Stylish wooden furnishings complement the building’s concrete construction. Some of the loft rooms on the upper floors also have views of the Skytree.
Doubles from £100 room only, onetokyo.com

BnA Hotel

BnA Art Hotel, Tokyo.
Photograph: PR

Self-described as Tokyo’s first art hotel, BnA (Bed & Art) has two locations in Tokyo: Akihabara and Koenji. Of the two, Koenji offers the more reasonable rates and the more interesting art, positioned as it is in one of Tokyo’s most up-and-coming neighbourhoods. Each room is designed by a local artist, and the profit from each room stayed in goes to the artist who designed it. It’s a little pricey for the size but an interesting concept and a unique hotel for those wanting to stay somewhere a bit different. Rooms come with a balcony and there is a small bar if you get peckish.
Doubles from £93 room only, bna-hotel.com

Retrometro Backpackers

Retrometro Backpackers, Tokyo.
Photograph: PR

You’ll never find a hostel in Tokyo as cheap as one in Delhi, but Retrometro isn’t (too) far off. It opened in 2012, within spitting distance of one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist destinations, Asakusa’s Sensōji Temple. The hostel only offers dorm rooms (mixed, or female only) and privacy is in short supply, with little but a curtain separating the bunks. Unlimited coffee and tea is available in the kitchen and common room areas and included in the price.
Dorm beds from £17 (cash only), retrometrobackpackers.com

°C Sauna + Sleep Ebisu

℃ Sauna + Sleep Ebisu, Tokyo.
Photograph: ℃ Sauna + Sleep

It’s not hard to imagine the extent of the facilities at °C (pronounced Do-C), a Finland-inspired capsule hotel in Ebisu. The capsule experience is similarly boxy to any you might find in the city but the hotel has the added bonus of a communal, mint-scented sauna and an ironically named “warm pillar” shower to cool off. No meals are included, but that’s no problem as Ebisu, with its high concentration of restaurants, is one of the best neighbourhoods for food in a city famous for its cuisine.
Capsules from £33 room only, do-c.jp

Hotel Koe

Hotel Koe, Tokyo.
Photograph: PR

If you’re a fan of poured concrete interior design, walk on past Tokyo’s famous Shibuya crossing and check into nearby Hotel Koe. The first (ground) floor has an all-day cafe-cum-bakery-cum-restaurant, the second floor a fashion space, and the third the hotel’s stylish, minimalist rooms that put the grey into monochrome. Though not included in the price, the breakfast is particularly good; the hotel’s menu was designed by executive chef Satoshi Kakegawa who is best known for his Tokyo restaurant Ata. Reservations don’t come easy, however, thanks to the combination of style and proximity to Shibuya nightlife.
Doubles from £99 room only, hotelkoe.com

Kimi Ryokan

Kimi Ryokan, Tokyo.
Photograph: PR

Though hardly a new arrival on Tokyo’s budget hotel scene, Kimi provides quality ryokan (traditional Japanese) accommodation for reasonable prices in the busy railway hub of Ikebukuro. All rooms have tatami mats and guests sleep on futons. Kimi has a Japanese-style bath made out of hinoki (Japanese cypress) wood and the staff’s invaluable source of local knowledge has made many a visitor’s trip. The walls are thin so snorers are discouraged and babies under one are not allowed.
Doubles from £35 a night room only, kimiryokan.jp

Grand Nikko Daiba

Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba, Tokyo.
Photograph: PR

Rooms with a view rarely come cheap but if you’re willing to step out of the heart of the city and on to the artificial island of Odaiba (once a landfill, now Tokyo’s premier waterfront development), this hotel offers excellent views of Tokyo Bay, the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower from its rooms. But the best views are to be had from the 30th-floor bars and restaurants (including a grill and sushi joint). The hotel lacks the charm of some of the city’s smaller establishments, but the breakfast included comes highly recommended.
Doubles from £110 B&B; tokyo.grand-nikko.com

Nine Hours Narita Airport

Nine Hours Narita Airport, Tokyo.
Photograph: PR

Nine Hours is one of the city’s largest chains of capsule hotels, and adds a little style to the usual capsule experience. The Narita location is particularly convenient as it cuts out the notoriously long journey to the airport early in the morning. Flexible plans allow for full-night stays, a short nap or just a shower if you need to freshen up before heading into the city. Rooms (sleep pods) are basic but clean and amenities include a bath towel, face towel, loungewear and a toothbrush. No breakfast.
Capsules from £33 room only, ninehours.co.jp

Love Hotels

Love hotels in Kawasaki, Tokyo.
Photograph: Jiangang Wang#99287/Moment Editorial/Getty Images

For a uniquely Japanese experience, stay at one of the city’s love hotels (rabuho). While these rooms are ostensibly to be used for carnal pleasures, they also tend to offer excellent facilities (Queen-sized bed, a Jacuzzi, karaoke on the TV) at competitive prices. Tokyo’s rabuho hotspots include Shibuya’s Dogenzaka (love hotel hill), Shinjuku’s Kabukicho, and around the north exit of Ikebukuro station in the north of the city. Happyhotel.jp is the website to scope out love hotels, though it is in Japanese only. They offer a variety of plans from hourly to nightly rentals.
From £50 per night (breakfast not included), Fridays and Saturdays more expensive. Overstaying the allocated time slot risks incurring extortionate fees

Ryokan Sawanoya

Ryokan Sawanoya, Tokyo.
Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Despite the city’s size and bustle, quieter parts of Tokyo do exist. Yanaka is one such district, and having largely escaped bomb damage in the second world war, is home to a bounty of temples and shrines, as well as this charming, family-run ryokan. The hotel dates back to 1949 and is well kitted out for English-speaking visitors, with useful explanations of all the facilities which include two Japanese-style baths, one ceramic and one made of wood. Guests sleep on futons on a tatami floor and the breakfast is a simple choice of toast, eggs and ham.
Doubles from £70 room only, sawanoya.com

Oscar Boyd is the travel editor at the Japan Times

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