Going Traditional in Tokyo
The best spots in Japan’s capital to experience ryokan (traditional lodging).
Despite lying smack dab in the center of Tokyo, Hoshinoya Tokyo offers a pleasant retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle. Each room is divided into several sections — a lounge for relaxing, the bedroom, and so on — and features a sparse design. Complete with futons made from soft cotton and spacious bath tubs for soaking, a stay here will make you feel as though you’ve snuck away to another world. Hoshinoya Tokyo offers no shortage of great Japanese food, too — ranging from a warm morning rice ball delivered to your room, to a multi-course dinner featuring seasonal fruit and some of the country’s top beef. Best of all, though, is the hot spring located on site, with the added bonus of unobstructed views of the sky.
One of Tokyo’s very first design hotels, Claska devotes an entire floor of its building to rooms with a traditional tilt. Their Tatami Rooms highlight the simplicity and comfort of older Japanese-style lodging, featuring straw mats (known as “tatami”) with minimalist futons placed over them. Claska completes the throwback experience with simple decor — a flower, a few cushions — but sets it all in a wood-accented room very much in step with contemporary times. The surrounding neighborhood of Meguro also provides a contrast as one of the city’s hippest enclaves, and Claska reflects this with an in-house art gallery, a shop, and a fashionable restaurant serving seasonal dishes.
Few places in the city will make you feel as though you’ve stepped into a different era like Sadchiyo Sukeroku. Located on a quiet street in the history-rich district of Asakusa, this spot exudes Edo period charm; in fact, the folks running it deliberately try to conjure up a sense of sliding back in time some 250 years. All rooms feature tatami mats with traditional Japanese bedding alongside communal sento-style baths — delivering one of the most authentic ryokan experiences out there (though, with a TV, a toilet and an air conditioner thrown in, there are some modern indulgences). Sadachiyo also allows visitors to enjoy traditional Japanese breakfasts and dinners, full of fresh fish, pickled offerings and Japanese-style desserts.
Hotel Ryumeikan Tokyo
Located three minutes from the always-bustling Tokyo Station, Hotel Ryumeikan Tokyo offers a traditional lodging experience in the heart of the city. Its special Japanese Junior Suites offer the most luxurious ryokan experience one can hope for in the metropolis, with tatami mats, a balcony garden perfect for seeking out zen, and a large bathtub complete with special bath salts. Rounding it all out, Hotel Ryumeikan features the traditional restaurant Hanagoyomi, offering a variety of Japanese dishes such as tempura and shabu-shabu (a hotpot dish of thinly sliced meat and vegetables), alongside matching glasses of sake wine. You’ll have the chance to experience a bygone era while still soaking in the perks of the modern world.