Where to Stay in Japan: The Ultimate Guide to Accommodation

October 28, 2017 - Comment

The One Bag Traveler recommends Gear, Destinations and Adventures. Japan has a huge variety of accommodation options that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s not cheap but the country is such a rewarding place to travel that it’s well worth the expense. If you are on a budget then finding the cheapest Japan accommodation will

The One Bag Traveler recommends Gear, Destinations and Adventures.

Mt Fuji view from Hotel Konanso, a ryokan in Kawaguchiko, one of the best places to stay in Japan.

Japan has a huge variety of accommodation options that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s not cheap but the country is such a rewarding place to travel that it’s well worth the expense.

If you are on a budget then finding the cheapest Japan accommodation will be a priority, but I recommend spending a bit extra and staying in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) at least once. Sleeping on a futon in a tatami mat room is a quintessential Japanese experience and it’d be a shame to miss out.

We have travelled around the country twice with a Japan Rail Pass and tried out a range of accommodation. Prices may be high (although no higher than Western Europe or the US), but standards are too and we’ve never had a bad experience. Just be prepared for small rooms and pack light as luggage storage space is limited. 

It’s best to reserve accommodation in advance because you could end up paying a fortune if budget places are booked up when you arrive. On our latest trip in 2017, we used Booking.com to find hotels everywhere except Tokyo where it’s cheaper to rent an Airbnb apartment

Japan Accommodation Contents

Here are the different types of Japan accommodation that we tried and a few quirky options that we’d like to next time.

Hostel

Living room at K's House Hiroshima hostel in Japan

Living room at K’s House Hiroshima hostel

You might assume that hostels are the cheapest places to stay in Japan, but actually, our least expensive accommodation was in business hotels (see below).

There are some benefits to staying in hostels, though. You usually get better facilities including a kitchen (which can save you money eating out), common area to relax and socialise in, WiFi, computers, bike hire, and laundry.

The staff is more likely to speak English (which isn’t commonly spoken elsewhere) and be able to help you with information on the local area.

If you are travelling alone, dorm beds are your cheapest option in Japan and hostels are the best places to meet other travellers. 

Kitchen at K's House Hiroshima hostel in Japan

Kitchen at K’s House Hiroshima

We stayed at K’s House Hostel Hiroshima and, although the room was small (most are in Japan), it was clean, comfortable, and had a private bathroom well equipped with towels, shampoo, and soap. The kitchen was immaculate and well-stocked, and the staff were welcoming. We loved the map they provided with details of restaurants in the area—we found a great little okonomiyaki place this way.

You can’t go wrong with K’s House hostels in Japan—you can stay with them in Tokyo, Kyoto, Takayama, Hakone (complete with onsen!), and many other places around the country. We’ve also heard good things about the J-Hoppers hostel chain.

You can find more hostels on Booking.com and Agoda

Cost: Beds in dorm rooms range from 2000 – 3000 yen (US$18-26). A private double room with shared bathroom is 5600-8000 yen ($50-70) per room and a private double ensuite around 8000 – 11,000 yen ($70-100).

Recommended For: Budget travellers, especially if you are travelling alone or want to self-cater.

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Business Hotel

Chisun Inn business hotel in Nagoya

Chisun Inn business hotel in Nagoya

We’ve found the cheapest ensuite double rooms in cities by booking business hotels online on Booking.com or Agoda.

Rooms are small but clean, usually have WiFi, and as they are aimed at businessmen who might have missed the last train home, come equipped with everything you might need: towels, soap, shampoo, toothbrush, comb, robe. They always have a private bathroom, desk, fridge, and kettle.

Some business hotels we’ve stayed in have laundry facilities, free breakfast, and even an onsen bath. 

They are often in convenient locations close to train stations, which makes things much easier when you are travelling around the country at a fast pace with a rail pass

Business hotels don’t have charm or character and the staff may not speak much English, but they are a good budget option for a few nights.

Some business hotels we’ve stayed in:

  • Smile Hotel Kanazawa – Comfortable room a little larger than average (with access to the bed on both sides!) in walking distance of the main sights. 
  • Super Hotel Hida Takayama – Tiny room but there’s a free breakfast and onsen, and it’s close to the train station.
  • Chisun Inn Nagoya – Standard rooms, free breakfast, and close to the station. 
Hotel Shinsaibashi Lions Rock Osaka

Hotel Shinsaibashi Lions Rock in Osaka

Cost: Prices vary but we’ve paid from 5600 – 12,000 yen ($50-106) per room by booking online on Booking.com or Agoda.

Recommended For: Couples on a budget.

Travel tip: Don’t forget to buy your Japan Rail Pass before you get to Japan. It will save you money and is the easiest way to travel the country. 

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Ryokan

Our favourite Japan accommodation - Hotel Mushashiya ryokan in Hakone

Our room at Hotel Mushashiya ryokan overlooking Lake Ashi in Hakone

A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn. When you are planning…

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