If you're planning a trip to Japan, one of the most important decisions you'll make is where to stay and what kind of accommodation to stay in. Japan offers a wide range of accommodation styles, from traditional ryokans to modern hotels. In this blog post, we'll take a look at some of the most popular types of accommodation in Japan, and rank them according to their unique features and amenities.
Ryokans are traditional Japanese inns that offer a unique cultural experience. These inns feature tatami-matted rooms, futon beds, and communal baths, making them a great option for travellers looking to immerse themselves in Japanese culture. Some ryokans also offer "kaiseki", a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner served in your room or in a communal dining room.
Beds and chairs are generally at floor level in a ryokan, so staying at a ryokan could be an issue for travellers with mobility issues.
Ryokans will expect guests remove their shoes and slide into slippers before entering.
Ranking: 9/10 for cultural experience and authentic atmosphere.
Capsule hotels are a unique type of accommodation that are popular among budget travellers. These hotels feature small, capsule-like spaces that are just big enough for a single person to sleep in. Most have charging points inside the capsule, and some even have a small TV. Capsule hotels usually offer shared facilities like bathrooms, lounges, and occasionally saunas and hot tubs. Think of it like a dormitory with slightly more privacy when sleeping.
Capsule hotels are often found in large cities, and are great for travellers on a budget who don't mind sleeping in a small space. Be sure to book a capsule hotel that offers a safe storage space for luggage.
Ranking: 7/10 for affordability and unique experience.
Business hotels are designed with the needs of business travellers in mind. They are usually located in urban areas near train stations and business districts, and often offer basic amenities like free Wi-Fi and breakfast. These hotels are often small and affordable, making them a good option for travelers on a budget, although the décor is often quite bland and dated. I consider business hotels a great no-frills option when travelling alone.
Ranking: 7/10 for affordability and convenience.
Western-style hotels in Japan are the same as those found in other countries. They offer comfortable rooms and modern amenities, some of which may include fitness centers and swimming pools, plus a variety of dining options within the hotel. Western-style hotels are often located in urban areas, but can sometimes be found in more rural areas as well. Western hotels are the best option for people who want privacy and/or have limited mobility.
Ranking: 8/10 for comfort and convenience.
Minshukus are similar to ryokans in that they offer a traditional Japanese experience, but are usually smaller and more affordable. These guesthouses are typically run by families and offer simple, traditional rooms with tatami mats and futon beds. Some minshukus also offer home-cooked meals for guests served either in the room or in a shared dining hall. Most of these traditional styles of accommodation only offer communal bathing, so perhaps not great for those looking for privacy.
Ranking: 8/10 for affordability and cultural experience.
Love hotels are a unique type of accommodation that are popular among couples. These hotels offer themed rooms, often with large beds and hot tubs, and are typically rented by the hour. While they may seem seedy to some, love hotels are actually very popular in Japan, and are considered a fun and unique way for couples to spend time together. Many have a wide range amenities available at no extra cost. Guests should be aware that many love hotels will unfortunately not accept same-sex couples.
Ranking: 7/10 for uniqueness and novelty.
Hostels in Japan are similar to those found in other countries, offering affordable dormitory-style accommodation for budget travelers. Many hostels in Japan also offer private rooms for those who prefer more privacy. Hostels are a good option for travellers who want to meet other travellers and don't mind sharing facilities like bathrooms and kitchens. The level of cleanliness in the majority of Japanese hostels is unbeatable. Hostels in Japan are generally Western style accommodation, although some hotels offer Japanese style rooms with futons.
We recommend Hostel World for booking hostels in Japan.
Ranking: 6/10 for affordability and social atmosphere.
Temple stays are a unique way to experience Japanese culture and spirituality. These stays involve spending a night or two at a Buddhist temple, where you'll often be invited to participate in meditation and other temple activities. Temple stays are usually very basic, with shared facilities and simple meals, although some offer private facilities and multi-course meals. One of the best places to do a temple stay is in Koyasan (also called Mount Koya), Wakayama. I recommend Souji-in, for a peaceful stay and lovely food.
Ranking: 9/10 for spiritual and cultural experience.
Which style of accommodation would you choose to stay at on your trip to Japan? Let us know down in the comments!