The Tokyo Station Hotel
From the outside, this 4.5-star property looks like a century-old European railway station. And from the inside of its 150 luxurious suites, the Tokyo Station Hotel has the elegant decor to match. As the name suggests, this boutique hotel is directly connected to Tokyo’s main train station, making it a convenient option for travelers, as well as guests who want to splurge a little on the six restaurants, two lounge bars and modern health club.
Japan's first western-style hotel, opened in 1890 and rebuilt twice since, lays claim to a whole city block of prime real estate across from the landscaped grounds of the Imperial Palace. It remains the city's most prestigious hotel and the service is famously unparalleled. The grandeur is obvious as soon as you set foot in the cavernous lobby with its central staircase and an enormous chandelier that looks like an inverted wedding cake. The rooms are elegant but unfussy, done up in mahogany, scarlet and champagne. One lavish suite retains the romantic look of the building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1920s.
Traditional Ryokan have sheltered Japanese travelers since the eighth century and this modern version has been dubbed the first designer inn of its kind. Andon Ryokan first opened its doors in 2003, marrying traditional Japanese design with modern convenience at an enviable location between two well-connected metro stations.
Designed in 1962 by architect Yoshiro Taniguchi, this celebrated Japanese modern hotel sprawls in a way that would not be possible today. Newer five-star competitors lodged on top of office towers boast that they have so many contemporary art pieces, they are practically a museum, but the Okura actually has a museum, a teahouse for tea ceremonies and a Zen rock garden. Its neighbours are embassies, which makes it the go-to hotel for visiting diplomats. The decor is vintage modernism with Japanese touches, the aura sedate, refined. Strings of geometric lanterns dangle like earrings from the lobby ceiling; the elevators are gilded like Japanese screens.
This is Tokyo’s original design hotel and arguably still the best. It is unashamedly design-orientated as well as 20 modern, Japanese-influenced bedrooms (including a handful of uniquely designed rooms by artists and creatives), there are several floors devoted entirely to creativity, with galleries, artists’ studios and event spaces as well as its own great design shop and a decked rooftop terrace.
Rooms are nirvana for Japanese-design lovers from the Zen modern spaces with tatami flooring and minimalist pebble-like cushions to the rooms custom-designed by individual Japanese designers such as Kayo Sato. The hotel has a stylish custom-made fleet of Tokyo Bikes for guests to explore Tokyo’s arty side.
Wired Hotel Asakura
Wired Hotel Asakusa prides itself on its links to the surrounding Taito neighbourhood, partnering with local Asakusa craftsmen for its bespoke furnishings and hosting regular community events in the first-floor café, Zakbaran. This boutique hotel contains 31 very modern rooms, a comfortable shared lounge, an in-house restaurant serving Japanese cuisine and free bikes to explore the city on two wheels. Wired Hotel Asakusa is also one of the best-value boutique stays in town.
Ryokan Kamogawa Asakusa
If Andon is a new-age ryokan, then Kamogawa Asakusa is definitely old-school. This traditional inn offers truly authentic Japanese accommodation, including tatami-mat flooring and futon bedding, a tea set in every room, massage services, a large public bath, tea rooms, plus Japanese breakfast and dinner. The location is another big plus, only a two-minute walk from Kaminarimon gateway and the Sensō-ji Temple.