Isn’t Japan prohibitively expensive?
Is there such a thing as a cheap hotel in Tokyo? One of the most common, recurring myths about Japan is that it is prohibitively expensive. So expensive in fact that, as much as you’d love to go there, you’re simply not sure you can afford to go for any decent amount of time.
Whilst it’s true that travelling in Japan isn’t likely to be the cheapest trip you’ll ever embark upon, it’s also true that it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Take accommodation as an example. A key aspect of any travel plans.
What do you think it would cost for two adults to stay in a good hotel in Japan for one night? How hard is it to find a decent cheap hotel in Toyko?
An ideal hotel room wishlist
Let’s make the picture a bit clearer.
Here’s a reasonable list of criteria you might want to apply to staying in a hotel in Tokyo – the capital city of Japan (and therefore one of the most expensive places to stay):
- Should be clean, comfortable and modern, if not exactly 5 star
- Needs to have central location that’s conveniently close to key areas you want to explore
- Needs a decent size double bed
- Air conditioning/heating
- A vanity table/desk would be good
- Wardrobes to hang clothes and some drawers for smaller items
- A separate seating area – ideally with a table would be really nice
- A fridge
- An en-suite toilet and bathroom is essential! (For me, I really love to have an actual bath rather than a shower – a bit of an ask, particularly in Japan where hotel rooms can be on the ‘compact’ side, but ideally – that’s what I’d like)
Some bonus features would be:
- A safe
- Free Wi-Fi
- Coffee and/or tea-making facilities
- A microwave
- A hob to cook on (if you wanted to keep costs down by not relying on eating out all the time)
- A separate area to store your luggage (rather than right next to your bed)
- A balcony
- A decent view of the city outside
- Breakfast included – ideally one where you can choose from a range of different options including at least one vegetarian option
- A contemporary rather than dated decor
- A trouser press
Anything else? OK, so this is actually quite a long list of requirements/desires!
The mini-apartment hotel room
But, let’s suppose you could have the benefit of all these features. In Tokyo, the capital of Japan – one of the most expensive cities in the world. What do you think that would cost?
Re-read through the list and write down a sum that you think you’d have to pay for all of this.
How much was it?
I expect it may have been more than ¥14,000. How much is ¥14,000? Around £78, or $116, or €106.
That’s the per-room rate. No the per-person rate. And it includes breakfast. So, per person that’s around £39, $58, €53!
All of that in the middle of Tokyo, in Japan – one of the so-called most expensive cities in the world. I don’t know about you, but to me that’s not only not expensive, I’d say that’s bordering on downright cheap! It’s certainly a bargain.
And, just for good measure, in addition to all of the above, it had a full-sized washer/dryer machine in the mini-kitchen as well! It was as much like a mini-apartment as it was a hotel room and if you were there for any length of time would make a great base for a trip.
An apartment hotel room in Tokyo for 14,000 yen per night
To take advantage of such reasonable prices it’s good to book you reservation as far in advance as you are able. Hotels in Japan often offer an early booking ‘plan’.
Some also offer special, internet only rates (when booking via their own websites) that can be discounted from the standard room rates or those available elsewhere.
But what would such a room look like in reality? Well, here’s where I can also help. :-) On a recent stay in Tokyo my wife and I stayed in a room with all of the above features, including breakfast, for that total of just ¥14,000.
My recommended hotel in Gotanda
The hotel we stayed at was the Tokyu Stay in Gotanda.
Here’s some photographs of our suite…
If you only need a single bed then the hotel offers similarly (though not quite so extensively) equipped single rooms for almost exactly half the price of the double example above – from around ¥7,000 (£39, $58, €53) per room per night, including breakfast.
I’m not sure about other countries, but in the UK a single room rarely costs half the price of a double room.
Location, location, location
The hotel is just 1 minute on foot from Gotanda Station. It’s also convenient for Shibuya, Shinjuku, Shinagawa and Odaiba.
We chose it as it is only around 30mins from Haneda International Airport and as a base from which we could easily get to Shinjuku and Shibuya – where we had plans on our two days in Tokyo.
When we stayed there several floors were undergoing renovations (but the price we paid was not discounted on account of the works). There were signs around politely notifying guests of the works and apologising for any noise or mess.
Needless to say, despite the warnings we experienced neither.
The breakfast experience
Taking breakfast was a novel experience as the hotel itself doesn’t have a kitchen or dining area at all.
Instead, it has a deal with the neighbouring Jonathan’s Restaurant, a chain of what’s known as ‘family restaurants’ in Japan – ie family and children friendly. You are given a breakfast token, when checking in, which you redeem at the restaurant.
This might initially sound a bit inconvenient, but both the hotel and the restaurant are in the same building and are connected to each other via a simple glass door accessed on the second floor! (Both hotel and restaurant have their own, independent separate entrances at street level – you wouldn’t know they are connected inside.)
The breakfast options were fairly extensive. The menu having helpful colour photos making choosing easy for non-Japanese speakers. There are unlimited hot and cold drinks like coffee, tea, fruit juices, squashes, milk and water.
Compared to other hotels I’ve stayed in (it is possible to still pay less, and of course you can easily pay an awful lot more) but in terms of amenities and value for money this was just about the best deal yet.
*Note: Make sure you choose the correct hotel, there are several chains in Japan with similar names (like Tokyu Inn, Tokyo Inn, Tokyu Hotels or Toyoko Inn), but for the purposes of this article it’s Tokyu Stay you’re after.
Use this link to take you to the correct hotel: Tokyu Stay Gotanda.
This is an entirely independent review, there has been no considerations of any kind from the hotel in question. It was just a genuinely impressive hotel, in a good location for a great price. So I thought I’d share that with you!
Best Tokyo hotel deals
Tokyu Stay hotel
If you have other needs, requirements or locations, try Jalan.net (one of the biggest online hotel booking websites in Japan):
Was this article inspiring/helpful/the best thing since sliced bread? Maybe you’ve experienced an even better deal on a hotel room? If so, please share your comments and queries by leaving a comment below…
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