A complete guide to where to stay in Tokyo for first time (+ the best areas and hotels for sightseeing, one night, nightlife and during the cherry blossom season).
Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, ranks among the top tourist destinations in Asia. With its vibrant culinary scene and a unique blend of tradition and modernity, the city offers an unforgettable experience.
Tokyo is Japan’s largest city, home to almost 14 million people. The metropolitan city is divided into 23 special wards (prefectures with municipal autonomy). In Japan, a prefecture is similar to a state or province in other countries. So, Tokyo is best described as a group of many small cities, most with origins dating back to the Edo Period.
Considering how vast the city is, it can be overwhelming to decide where to stay in Tokyo for first time. In this guide, I will help you to choose the best location for you, taking factors such as the duration of your trip, planned itinerary and interests into account.
Where I stayed in Tokyo
Choosing the best place to stay in Tokyo for first time was a challenging task for me. After some research, I found out that most online sources recommend Shinjuku and Shibuya. Although they both are great neighbourhoods, they are not close to the most popular tourist attractions (except for the Meiji Jingu Shrine). And while they have excellent connections to the rest of the city, I preferred a more central location to minimize travel time between places.
So, I opted for Shimbashi and I couldn’t be happier. The Imperial Palace was just a short walk from my hotel and most of the attractions were easily accessible with a quick metro ride. Plus, there were plenty of authentic restaurants around and great hotels to pick from.
My favourite place to stay in Tokyo: The Blossom Hibiya
Why: central location for sightseeing, easy access to metro and JR lines
What I like: panoramic city views, Japanese sake bar, Western and Japanese breakfast buffet
If you’re visiting Tokyo for the first time, I highly recommend staying in Shimbashi. This is the most central area if you’re visiting the city for sightseeing. The district is excellently connected to all popular tourist attractions and other areas, including Shinjuku Station and Tokyo Station.
Most popular hotel in Tokyo
Looking for a great hotel in a prime location? Look no further than The Royal Park Hotel, one of the most popular hotels in central Tokyo.
The Royal Park Hotel – Most popular
The Royal Park Hotel is the perfect base for your stay in Tokyo. Ideal location, Shimbashi Station (metro and JR lines) and Shiodome metro station are right around the corner. The hotel offers a variety of dining options, including Chayama Macrobiotics (organic cuisine), Harmony Restaurant (Western cuisine) and Oshima Shiodome (Japanese cuisine).
Why book – great location for sightseeing, next to metro and JR lines and close to Tokyo Station, city views
Tips for booking a hotel in Tokyo
Public transportation – although the tourist attractions are spread all over the city, most of them are situated along the JR Yamanote Line. This loop train line links all major districts (such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ginza and Tokyo Station area). Stay close to one of the stops on the Yamanote Line so you can easily reach all places of interest. Plus, if you have a JR Pass you can ride it for free.
Another option is to stay near Ginza Line (connects Shibuya with Sensō-ji Temple), Marunouchi Line (Shinjuku with Tokyo Station) or Hanzomon Line (Shibuya with Tokyo Skytree).
Visiting Tokyo for the first time? Then take a look at my complete itinerary for 3 days in Tokyo, which includes all top attractions as well as my favourite places for ramen and sushi.
Where to stay in Tokyo (for first time)
- Shimbashi – the best area for sightseeing
- Tokyo Station – for one night
- Shibuya – for nightlife
- Ginza – for shopping
- Shinjuku Station – for cherry blossom
Shimbashi – best area to stay in Tokyo for first time
Due to the vastness of the city and the fact that the tourist sights are scattered, it’s difficult to choose the perfect location. If you look at the JR network map, you’ll see that the JR Yamanote Line forms a loop, which passes along the most popular attractions and areas. This is considered central Tokyo. I’d recommend choosing a hotel inside this loop, near a JR station.
Also, have in mind that the metro is separate from the JR lines (find here a map of the metro). Ginza, Marunouchi and Hanzomon are some of the lines, which you’ll probably use. Often, you’ll need to use both the metro and JR lines, so make sure your hotel is within walking distance of a station, which serves both of them.
Having said this, let’s narrow it down to the best area in central Tokyo for first-timers. The eastern part of the city centre is where you’ll find the most popular attractions, including Tokyo Skytree, Sensō-ji, the Imperial Palace and Tokyo National Museum. Here is also the Tokyo Station, from where you can take the Shinkansen bullet train to Kyoto and Osaka. While the western part is home to Meiji Jingu Shrine and Shibuya Scramble Crossing. With this in mind, I’d recommend staying in the eastern part of the city centre, and in particular in the Shimbashi district.
The best place to stay in Tokyo for first-time visitors is the Shimbashi district. The area is as central as it gets, within walking distance of metro and JR lines and the Imperial Palace. Plus, Shimbashi Station provides easy access to all popular tourist sights, including Sensō-ji, Tokyo Skytree and Shibuya Scramble Crossing.
Although Shimbashi is a modern area with a lot of skyscrapers, you’ll find some excellent authentic restaurants here as well. Go to Ginza Kagari Ramen for chicken ramen, to Nishimura for some tonkatsu or taste the delicious tempura at Tempura Yasuda.
Why stay in Shimbashi for sightseeing
- the best area for first-timers, an excellent base for exploring the city and within walking distance of the Imperial Palace
- Shimbashi Station offers direct access to Shinjuku Station (via the Yamanote Line) and Tokyo Station (for the Shinkansen bullet trains)
- airport access – direct to Narita Airport (via the Narita Express) and Shinagawa Station (from where you can take Keikyu Line to Haneda Airport)
- convenient access to several metro and JR lines, including Yamanote and Ginza lines
Hotels in Shimbashi (Best for couples)
Mitsui Garden Hotel – Most popular
Located right between Shimbashi and the fashionable Ginza district, Mitsui Garden Hotel boasts panoramic city views. Excellent buffet breakfast with both Japanese and Western dishes. Rooms are modern and some of them allow you to enjoy night views of the city while relaxing in your bathtub.
Why book – 5min walk from Shimbashi Station (metro and JR lines), amazing city views
Karaksa Hotel – Best rated
Overlooking the Ginza district, Karaksa Hotel features a prime location, just 3min away from Shimbashi Station. Rooms are spacious and some of them offer amazing views of the city skyline.
Why book – 3min walk from Shimbashi Station (metro and JR lines), self-service open bar with snacks and drinks, spacious rooms
Hotels in Shimbashi (Best for families)
The Royal Park Hotel – Most popular
The Royal Park Hotel offers stunning views of Tokyo Tower and Hama-rikyū Gardens. The location is central and convenient, within a 3min walk from Shimbashi and Shiodome stations. There are three restaurants to choose from – Chayama Macrobiotics (organic cuisine), Harmony Restaurant (Western cuisine) and Oshima Shiodome (Japanese cuisine).
Why book – 3min walk from Shimbashi and Shiodome stations (metro and JR lines), city views
Dai-ichi Hotel – Best rated
Quiet, but central location, within walking distance from Shimbashi Station and the Imperial Palace. Several dining options are available on-site, offering French and Japanese cuisines (sushi, yakitori and teppan-yaki restaurants).
Why book – 3min walk from Shimbashi Station (metro and JR lines), spacious rooms
Luxury hotels in Shimbashi
Imperial Hotel – Most popular
The Imperial Hotel is ideally situated in a prime central location. The Imperial Palace, Shimbashi Station and Tokyo Station are within a short walk away. You can enjoy a variety of dining options, including 13 restaurants, 3 bars and a classical Japanese teahouse. From French haute cuisine to Japanese delicacies, dining at the Imperial Hotel is always an extraordinary experience.
Why book – 5min walk from several stations (metro and JR lines), indoor pool, classical Japanese teahouse on-site
The Peninsula Hotel – Best rated
Make your first-time visit to Tokyo truly unforgettable by staying at The Peninsula Hotel. Located opposite the Imperial Palace and Hibiya Park, the hotel is a short distance away from several metro and JR stations, including Tokyo Station. The excellent wellness centre boasts a 20m indoor heated swimming pool, skincare treatments with products by Margy’s Monte Carlo and holistic treatments by Subtle Energies. The variety of restaurants includes Hei Fung Terrace (Cantonese cuisine), Sushi Wakon, Ten-ichi (tempura restaurant) and a teppanyaki restaurant.
Why book – 5min walk from several stations (metro and JR lines), beautiful city views, great Spa with an indoor heated pool
Tokyo Station – Where to stay in Tokyo for one night
The best area to stay in Tokyo for one night is around Tokyo Station. From here you can travel anywhere in the city (via the metro and JR lines), take the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto and Osaka or Narita Express to the airport. It is the most convenient place to stay for 1 or 2 nights in Tokyo.
Normally, I avoid staying near central railway stations, as they can be sketchy, especially in Europe. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that things are different in Tokyo. The area around the central station, known as the Marunouchi district, is modern and dominated by impressive skyscrapers. It’s completely safe and there are plenty of nice restaurants around!
The station itself is housed in a beautiful red-brick building with a rich history dating back to its original construction in 1914. Inside, you’ll find a huge shopping and dining complex, where you can taste Japanese specialties or buy souvenirs. There are several popular areas, including Tokyo Ramen Street, Kitchen Street and Tokyo Character Street (with Pokémon, Ghibli and Hello Kitty stores).
Why stay near Tokyo Station for one night
- best area to stay for one night, because of its central location right next to the Imperial Palace
- easy access to Shinkansen (bullet train) for regional travel
- direct access to Narita Airport (via Narita Express) and Shinagawa Station (from where you can take Keikyu Line to Haneda Airport)
- more than 20 metro and JR lines cross here, including the Yamanote and Marunouchi lines
Hotel Metropolitan – Best mid-range
Hotel Metropolitan is located right next to Tokyo Station (directly connected to Nihonbashi Exit), perfect for a pre or post-flight stay. The TENQOO Restaurant on the 27th floor offers a variety of French and Japanese dishes. Excellent buffet breakfast, featuring both Japanese and Western-style dishes.
Why book – next to the train station, 24-hour front desk, great city views
The Tokyo Station Hotel – Best luxury
Overlooking the Imperial Palace, this hotel is a perfect base for a short stay of 1 or 2 nights. Direct access from the Central Train Station via the Marunouchi South Gate Entrance. The property offers a lavish Japanese and European-style buffet breakfast with quality ingredients.
Why book – right next to the train station, 24-hour front desk, great Spa
Shibuya – best place to stay in Tokyo for nightlife
The best area to stay in Tokyo for nightlife is Shibuya. The district is one of the city’s major nightlife hubs, offering everything from bustling clubs and trendy cocktail lounges to cosy izakayas. Plus, Shibuya is on the JR Yamanote line and is excellently connected to popular attractions and Haneda and Narita airports.
Located in the western part of the city centre, Shibuya is home to some famous tourist sights such as Shibuya Crossing, Hachiko Statue and Meiji Jingu Shrine. The area is also a shopping paradise, featuring big shopping malls like Shibuya 109, Shibuya Hikarie, Shibuya PARCO and Mega Donki.
For an enjoyable night out, head to Center Gai (a narrow street with popular nightclubs), Nonbei Yokocho (a street with tiny izakayas) or Dōgenzaka (an area filled with restaurants, bars and love hotels).
Also, the Roppongi district, famous for its fantastic restaurants and bustling nightlife is just 15min away by metro (from Shibuya Station). While Roppongi is renowned for its nightlife, I don’t recommend staying there as the area is not on the JR Yamanote line. It is mainly served by Hibiya and Oedo metro lines, crossing at Roppongi Station. So, accessing all the famous tourist spots will be more challenging.
Why stay in Shibuya for nightlife
- convenient location, perfect for a night of dining, shopping, and exploring the city’s most popular attractions
- easy access to the rest of the city, as several metro and JR lines, including the Yamanote Line, pass through Shibuya Station
- direct access to Narita Airport via the Narita Express from Shibuya Station
Shibuya Stream Excel Hotel Tokyu – Best mid-range
The hotel is located in the heart of the vibrant Shibuya district, making it easy to access popular clubs and restaurants. The modern rooms are spacious and some of them boast breathtaking views of the nighttime cityscape.
Why book – 3min walk to Shibuya Station, 24-hour front desk, spacious rooms
Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel – Best luxury
For a luxury stay in the heart of Shibuya, book a room at Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel. The wellness centre provides a 20m indoor swimming pool and a jet bath, where you can unwind after a long day. The on-site dining options include several Japanese restaurants, a cigar bar, a jazz club, and a pastry shop.
Why book – 5min walk to Shibuya Station, 24-hour front desk, panoramic city views
Ginza – best place to stay in Tokyo for shopping
Renowned for its upscale boutiques and high-end department stores, Ginza is known as Tokyo’s premier shopping district. Many international fashion brands have flagship stores in the area, making it a paradise for fashion enthusiasts.
Ginza is home to the famous Mitsukoshi (one of Japan’s oldest department store chains), Matsuya, Tokyu Plaza Ginza and LUMINE Yurakucho. Here you’ll also find the iconic Wako (a famous luxury department store) and its Wako clock tower, which is the symbol of Ginza. There are two main shopping avenues as well – Harumi-dori Street and Chuo-dori Street, both lined with luxury boutiques, stylish restaurants and cafes.
Why stay in Ginza for shopping
- central area, home to numerous luxury boutiques and flagship stores of international fashion brands
- plenty of fine dining restaurants (like Ginza Ukai-Tei and L’Osier), but also many excellent local small restaurants (such as Ginza Kagari Ramen, Nishimura and Tempura Yasuda)
- easy access to Tokyo Station and popular attractions from Ginza Station (via Ginza, Hibiya and Marunouchi lines)
- direct access to JR lines and Narita Airport (via the Narita Express) from Shimbashi Station
Hotel GrandBach – Best mid-range
Strategically located in the heart of the Ginza district, Hotel GrandBach is within easy walking distance of Chuo-dori, the main shopping street. The hotel’s restaurant prioritizes wellness, serving excellent dishes crafted with seasonal ingredients.
Why book – next to 2 metro stations and the main shopping street, spacious modern rooms
The Gate Hotel by Hulic – Best luxury
The Gate Hotel is situated in the fashionable Ginza district, opposite the Imperial Palace. Walking distance to Ginza Station and the main shopping avenue, Chuo-dori. The dining options include the Anchor Restaurant (Western cuisine) and Teppanyaki Yasuma (offering delicious Wagyu beef and seafood).
Why book – 5min walk from Ginza Station and the main shopping street, rooftop terrace
Shinjuku Station – where to stay in Tokyo for cherry blossom
The cherry blossom season is celebrated every spring, usually between late March and early April. During this time Tokyo transforms into a dreamy landscape adorned with cherry trees with beautiful shades of pink and white. You can find cherry trees all over the city, but there are several popular spots, which are must-sees.
Among them are Meguro River, Chidorigafuchi, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Ueno Park and Yoyogi Park. Many of them, such as Ueno Park and Chidorigafuchi, are illuminated at night, creating a magical atmosphere. Thus, a single daytime visit is not enough. That’s why it is crucial to choose a convenient location when visiting the city during the cherry blossom season.
The best area to stay in Tokyo for the cherry blossom is around Shinjuku Station. From here you’ll be just a short distance away from the beautiful Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and Yoyogi Park. In addition, you’ll have direct access via the metro and JR lines from Shinjuku Station to other cherry blossom spots across the city.
Find out more in my complete Tokyo cherry blossom guide (including festival dates and the best sakura spots).
Apart from its strategic cherry blossom location, Shinjuku is one of the city’s most popular and vibrant districts. There are many fantastic local restaurants here, such as Udon Shin, Gyopao Gyoza Shinjuku (izakaya) and Fūunji (ramen).
Why stay near Shinjuku Station for cherry blossom
- most convenient location to visit the popular cherry blossom spots – Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (within walking distance), Yoyogi Park (10min ride on the Yamanote Line), Meguro River (25min via the Yamanote Line), Chidorigafuchi (22min via Shinjuku Line) and Ueno Park (30min via the Oedo Line)
- direct access to Narita Airport via the Narita Express from Shinjuku Station
JR Kyushu Hotel Blossom Shinjuku – Best mid-range
Strategically located opposite the Shinjuku Station, JR Kyushu Hotel Blossom Shinjuku is the perfect base for your cherry blossom getaway. The modern rooms feature large windows and decor inspired by traditional Japanese motifs. The hotel’s restaurant Akasaka Umaya Shinjuku offers dishes made from carefully selected ingredients from Kyushu.
Why book – 3min walk from Shinjuku Station, delicious Japanese and Western breakfast buffet
BELLUSTAR – Best luxury
Situated just a short stroll from Shinjuku Station, BELLUSTAR offers spacious rooms with an amazing panorama of the city. There are three restaurants to choose from – Restaurant Bellustar (blends French cuisine with Japanese ingredients), Sushi JIN-E (offers authentic Edomae-sushi) and Teppan Ten-yu (serves the finest Wagyu beef).
Why book – 5min walk from Shinjuku Station, amazing city views, excellent Spa
Faqs about where to stay in Tokyo
The best hotel for first-time visitors is The Blossom Hibiya. The hotel is strategically located next to Shimbashi Station (metro and JR lines), close to Tokyo Station and the fashionable Ginza district. Rooms are modern and spacious, featuring panoramic city views.
The best location to stay in Tokyo is Shimbashi. The area is centrally located with close proximity to metro and JR lines, Tokyo Station, as well as the Imperial Palace. Shimbashi offers easy access to popular tourist sights like Sensō-ji, Tokyo Skytree and Shibuya Crossing, making it a perfect base for exploration.
The main city centre is the district of Chiyoda. Chiyoda is not only the political centre of Tokyo but also the economic and cultural heart of the city. It houses important government buildings, iconic landmarks such as the Imperial Palace but also the Tokyo Station, the city’s main transportation hub.
Best hotels to stay in Tokyo, Japan
|🔝 Most popular hotel||The Royal Park Hotel||8.6 | 4,570+ reviews|
|🏩 Best mid-range hotel||The Blossom Hibiya||9.0 | 2,390+ reviews|
|💎 Best luxury hotel||The Peninsula Hotel||9.1 | 500+ reviews|
|💖 Best hotel for couples||Mitsui Garden Hotel||8.6 | 2,160+ reviews|
|👨👩👧👦 Best hotel for families||Dai-ichi Hotel||8.7 | 800+ reviews|
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