A quiet and relaxing property, Hotel Niwa has the outward appearance of a ryokan, but inside is a mix of modern amenities with Japanese touches. This midsize boutique has a chill and relaxed vibe that can be felt from the lobby to the restaurants to the rooms and to the staff. The area is also away from the chaos of the city as it lies on a not-so-noisy street surrounded by university buildings.
There are five different room types, but you typically see spacious accommodations with patterned carpets that are meant to evoke tatami mats, shoji screen walls, and free coffee, tea, and water. All rooms are equipped with Handy devices – a gadget that gives you free Wi-Fi everywhere in Tokyo as well as free international phone calls.
YOU SHOULD KNOW None of the rooms in the entire hotel have king beds. Double is as big as you’ll get.
Gray tiled floors give way to shower/tub combos and Toto automated toilets. It’s not fancy, but it’s also not claustrophobic.
The lobby is more of a way station and has really high ceilings and tall windows that let in a lot of natural light. There’s also a business center available to guests 24-hours with computers and free internet.
There’s no spa, but there is a small lounge with two electric massage chairs that are pretty heavenly.
The tiny gym is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and has a few Life Fitness machines but no free weights.
The Grill & Bar Lieu is a French-inspired all-day dining spot that also has a nice afternoon tea. The better restaurant is Yukuri. Also open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Japanese restaurant sits against a beautiful garden (Niwa means garden), and is a quiet and peaceful eating environment.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Yukuri has breakfast on weekends only and is closed altogether on Sunday nights.
Hotel Niwa is in a quiet neighborhood that is surrounded by universities making it a safe area to walk. There are a couple of subway stations within minutes as well to conveniently get you around town.
Next door to the hotel is a curry spot that phonetically would be something like Anchi Heburingan (1-minute walk). Just ask the front desk for the tiny curry shop next door, you won’t be disappointed. For some of the best tonkatsu in the city, hop on the subway and head west to Honke Agezuki (12-minute subway), a Michelin Bib Gourmand spot that has the most incredible pork cutlets.
There aren’t a lot of great bars in the immediate area, but if you head up towards the Tokyo Dome, you’ll find a couple of decent spots. In Tokyo Dome City there’s Beer Garden Breeze & Greenery (10-minute walk) that has cold brews that pair well with hot days. Also inside Tokyo Dome City, check out Yebisu Bar, another solid hang with a good beer selection.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Because of its ryokan-like feel, Hotel Niwa does a nice job of making guests feel welcome in a quiet and peaceful environment. While it’s a bit on the pricy side (especially considering the out-of-the-way neighborhood and lack of amenities), the rooms are spacious and comfortable and both restaurants are worth sticking around for. The best news is that the hotel is in a seismically isolated building that absorbs earthquake shocks – so you know, when the big one demolishes Tokyo, you’ll be fine.