Tokyo Hotels

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Tokyo Hotel Reviews

In both Nikko and the Fuji-Hakone-Izu area, there are modern, Western-style hotels that operate in a fairly standard international style. More common, however, are the traditional ryokan (inns). The main difference between these lodging options is that Western-style hotels are situated in prime tourist locations whereas ryokans stick strictly to Japanese-style rooms and are found in less touristy locations. The undisputed pleasure of a ryokan is to return to it at the end of a hard day of sightseeing, luxuriate for an hour in a hot bath with your own garden view, put on the yukata (cotton kimono) provided for you (remember to close your right side first and then the left), and sit down to a catered private dinner party. There's little point to staying at a Western-style hotel: these places do most of their business with big, boisterous tour groups; the turnover is ruthless; and the cost is way out of proportion to the service they provide.

Japan may have experienced more than two decades of stagnation following the collapse of the asset-inflated "bubble" economy of the late ’90s, but one wouldn’t know it from the steadily increasing number of high-end hotels throughout the metropolis. As land prices subsequently fell, Tokyo's developers seized the chance to construct centrally located skyscrapers. Oftentimes hotels from international brands were installed on the upper floors of these glimmering towers. This boom has complemented the spare-no-expense approach taken by many of the domestic hoteliers a decade earlier, when soaring atriums, elaborate concierge floors, and oceans of marble were all the rage. The result: Tokyo's present luxury accommodations rival those of any big city in the world.

There are three things you can take for granted almost anywhere you set down your bags in Tokyo: cleanliness, safety, and good service. Unless otherwise specified, all rooms at the hotels listed in this book have private baths and are Western style.

We highly recommend making your Tokyo hotel reservation before you arrive, especially if you are traveling in Japan’s peak holiday periods—late April to early May, August, and the New Year period.

The price categories listed here are for double occupancy, but you'll find that most normally quote per-person rates, which include breakfast and dinner. Remember to stipulate whether you want a Japanese or Western breakfast. If you don't want dinner at your hotel, it's usually possible to renegotiate the price, but the management will not be happy about it; the two meals are a fixture of their business. The typical ryokan takes great pride in its cuisine, usually with good reason: the evening meal is an elaborate affair of 10 or more different dishes, based on the fresh produce and specialties of the region, served to you—nay, orchestrated—in your room on a wonderful variety of trays and tableware designed to celebrate the season.

Are there bargains to be had? Absolutely, but you'll have to do your homework. Lower-profile business and boutique hotels are decent bets for singles or couples who do not need a lot of space, and, in addition to hostels, exchanges, and rentals, the budget-conscious traveler can utilize plenty of Japanese accommodations: ryokan, minshuku, "capsule" hotels, homes, and temples.

A number of boutique hotels—typified by small rooms, utilitarian concepts, and quirky, stylish elements—have popped up in Tokyo. Modern room furnishings of neutral hues are prevalent, but so are such Japanese touches as paper lanterns and tatami flooring. Reception areas are simple spaces bathed in dim lights and surrounded by earth-tone wall panels. Given that these accommodations often contain only a few floors, their locations are likely not easy to find. But when priced at around ¥20,000 a night, they can offer some of the best bargains in a city known for being incredibly expensive.

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