Ryokan in Tokyo: The Best Tokyo Ryokan with Private Onsen & Without

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Looking for the best ryokan Tokyo can offer? Staying at a Tokyo ryokan hotel can be one of the most interesting experiences you have in Japan. Kyoto ryokan may be the most famous, but some of the best ryokan in Tokyo are just as appealing. Not only that, but the Tokyo ryokan hotel experience can serve as a nice contrast to all the capital’s modern attractions. Below I’ll tell you about some of the best Tokyo ryokan with private onsen, as well as those with the typical baths. New to this whole ryokan experience? Don’t worry. In addition to introducing some of the best ryokan in Tokyo, I’ll also explain what a ryokan is, how to use one, and why you’ll love it. 

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Best Ryokan in Tokyo with Private Onsen & Without

Travel in Japan is a big bucket-list activity for many people. The temples, the trains, the food…there’s so much to experience in Japan that it’s hard to list it all. If you plan to visit Japan, I highly suggest spending a few nights in a Japanese ryokan hotel somewhere along the way. Most travelers choose to stay at ryokan in Kyoto or further into the countryside, but I’m here to suggest staying in a Tokyo ryokan as well. 

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What is a Ryokan?

A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn. Japan has plenty of nice hotels, and many Japanese hotels look basically like any hotel you’d stay in anywhere. Ryokan, however, are distinctly Japanese. The rooms typically have tatami mat flooring and staff dress in traditional clothing. Shoes come off at the door and you can switch out your street clothes and into a comfy yukata robe. Best of all, great food and a dip in an onsen are usually part of the Tokyo ryokan hotel experience, just like they would be in any ryokan in the country.

Why Stay a Tokyo Ryokan Hotel?

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Tokyo is a fascinating city, where past and future collide and coexist in fascinating ways. By adding a Tokyo ryokan hotel experience to your time in the capital, you get to see how strong Japan’s cultural heritage remains even in its densest urban areas. You’ll stay in a traditional inn and wear traditional Japanese clothing (if you want). You’ll eat traditional Japanese food and sleep in the traditional way. Most people leave Japan wishing that they had stayed in a ryokan more.

Best Tokyo Ryokan

Below I’ve listed up our recommended ryokan in Tokyo. Most traditional Tokyo ryokan tend to flourish in the older parts of town like Asakusa and Ueno, but I’ve included others that are close to some of the capital’s most interesting neighborhoods and attractions. 

Best Ryokan in Asakusa

Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s most interesting neighborhoods and a place many travelers want to see. Here is where you’ll find the famous Senso-Ji complex and the heart of shitamachi, which is the classic old downtown area before the skyscrapers and modern architecture of Shinjuku and Shibuya pulled the focus of the city westward. This is a great place to base yourself if you want to engage with the traditional side of Japan, while still having full and easy access to its modern attractions. 

Ryokan Asakusa Shigetsu

ryokan asakusa shigetsu

Located just around the corner from Asakusa’s Nakamise Dori, Ryokan Asakusa Shigetsu is one of the best Tokyo ryokan locations. Rooms range in size from 7m2 (economy single) to 20m2 (executive suite). Traditional Japanese breakfast is not included in the rate but can be added. Just keep in mind that the window for breakfast is limited (7:30-9 am). The baths are on the sixth floor and have a view of Senso-Ji’s pagoda.

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Ryokan Kamogawa Asakusa

tokyo ryokan with private onsen kamogawa asakusa

Nestled in the center of the lively Asakusa neighborhood, Ryokan Kamogawa makes our list of best Ryokan in Tokyo for location and service. You’re less than 5 minutes on foot from Asakusa Station and minutes from the Hanzomon Gate and the entrance to the Sensoji temple complex. Japanese-style rooms are 13m2 for the 3-futon room and 15m2 for the 5-person room, which includes a seating area. Bathrooms (with private baths) are small, but considering the downtown location reasonable. If you’re looking for Tokyo Ryokan with private onsen, a bath can be reserved for 30 minutes a session.

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Sukeroku No Yado Sadachiyo 

Sadachiyo best ryokan in tokyo

Anyone looking for an authentic Japanese experience will find Sukeroku No Yado Sadachiyo to be one of the best ryokan in Tokyo. Standard rooms are 11m2 while the quadruple is 17m2 — each decorated with real antiques and ukiyo-e paintings. Service is top-notch and the staff speaks English well — something many of the best Ryokan in Japan cannot claim. Very close to the Asakusa train station and the Kapaabash culinary utensil district. 

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Best Ryokan in Ueno

Staying at an Ueno-are ryokan in Tokyo usually means you have easier access to the JR Yamanote Line, which circumnavigates downtown to many of the best neighborhoods and attractions in the city. Ueno also has some of the city’s best museums and is one station away from Yanaka, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city not destroyed in WWII. 

Edo Sakura

Edo Sakura tokyo ryokan with private onsen

One of the best Ryokan in Tokyo with a private onsen available by reservation. The Edo Sakura is a short walk from Ueno Station and even closer to Iriya Station which takes you right into town on the Hibiya Line. The Edo Sakura is one of the best Tokyo Ryokan for experiencing traditional Japan. You’re in one of the oldest parts of town, with Ueno and the Yanaka neighborhoods within walking distance, and free tea ceremony performed daily. Optional Japanese breakfasts come recommended. Rooms are larger than the standard and good for families.

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Sawanoya Ryokan Ueno

tokyo ryokan sawanoya

One of the most charming family-run ryokan in Tokyo. The Sawanoya is tucked into one of the oldest neighborhoods in Tokyo, which was spared some of the worst WWII bombings. Unlike most ryokan in Japan, you can wear shoes inside, but shoes off before entering your room. There are swank luxury ryokan in Tokyo, but Sawanoya became the highest-rated ryokan in Tokyo on Trip Advisor thanks to personalized service and a concerted effort to cater to Western travelers. Signs are in English and the staff communicates well. They also know the area well. Voyagin now has a deal where you can pair a stay here with a walking tour, which includes a visit to Nezu Shrine, one of the city’s most famous.

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Best Luxury Ryokan Near Tokyo Station and the Shinkansen

If you’re traveling on a JR Rail Pass, then Tokyo may be just the first (or last) stop on a long trip through the country using shinkansen (bullet trains). The shinkansen stop at two stations in the capital: Shinagawa Station and Tokyo Station. Both are interesting areas of the city in their own right, with lots of accommodation options nearby. 

Hoshinoya Ryokan Tokyo 

hoshinoya tokyo ryokan

For those looking for a luxury ryokan in Tokyo but prefer Western bedding, then look to Hoshinoya. Located a short walk from Tokyo station and the Imperial Palace, Hoshinoya Tokyo Ryokan has all the elements of a traditional Japanese ryokan but with modern design at its core. Rooms span 17 floors and run between 40 and 80m2 which is downright palatial by even the best Tokyo ryokan standards. Each floor also has a common room stocked with Japanese drinks and sweets. Hoshinoya is relatively new on the scene and perfectly located for those using the Shinkansen with their JR passes. That said, the price reflects such luxury.

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Best Ryokan in Shinjuku

One of the most densely urban areas of the capital, Shinjuku is where to stay in Tokyo for city life. Yet you can still find pockets of tranquility in the concrete jungle. These Shinjuku ryokan are proof. Here you can have a peaceful night’s rest after wandering through Kabukucho to see the crazy Robot Restaurant show.  

Minabiyado Takemine

Takemine shinjuku tokyo ryokan with private onsen

This Tokyo ryokan is close to the bustle of Shinjuku but far enough away to have a neighborhood feel. Rooms are quite large compared to even some of the best ryokan in Tokyo. For example, the “compact” double is 30m2 with rooms that reach just over 50m2 — quite large for hotels in Japan. Minabiyado Takemine also mixes traditional and modern in a few ways. For example, some rooms have a sofa and microwave, and Netflix is on TV. Also great for those looking for a Tokyo ryokan with private onsen, as several premium rooms have a semi-open-air bath. The public relaxation room has free-flow wine and soft drinks and a few massage chairs. All are bonus points for Minabiyado Takemine, but keep in mind that it’s not in the heart of Shinjuku.

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Yuen Shinjuku

Yuen Shinjuku ryokan in tokyo

A modern take on the Tokyo ryokan hotel, Yuen Ryokan Shinjuku is set mostly on high floors with the onsen on the 18th floor with spectacular city views. The room range starts at 12m2 (sleeps 2 adults & 2 kids) up to the luxurious 51m2 suite. Budget rooms feel small and don’t have a view really. Personally, we think the Double Room with City View (25m2) is more than ample for a couple or family of four. These rooms are on high floors as well so the view of Shinjuku below is great at night and very different than the usual ryokan in Tokyo.

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Best Budget Ryokan in Tokyo

As many travelers discover, an authentic ryokan experience isn’t always the cheapest option but there are ryokan in Tokyo with more moderate prices. Here is our recommendation. 

Kimi Ryokan (Ikebukuro)

kimi ryokan best budget ryokan in tokyo

Located in the Ikebukuro neighborhood, Kimi Ryokan is one of the best budget ryokan in Tokyo thanks to service, convenience, and value for money. Rooms are small (7-10m2) and the bathroom is shared, but the place has everything budget travelers want along with Japanese touches. Coin laundry is on-site, and there are plenty of places to eat, drink and shop in the area. Also, you’re 5 minutes on foot from Ikebukuro Station, the second-busiest in Tokyo after Shinjuku. Here you have great train access, including the JR Yamanote Line, which circles the heart of the city and is included in JR Rail Passes. Kimi Ryokan Tokyo has a communal kitchen and lounge area. Unlike some ryokan in Japan, staff speak English and are accustomed to foreign travelers.

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Ryokan Ettiqite & the Ryokan Experience

There are a few things you should know before staying in Tokyo ryokan — or any ryokan in Japan, really. The Japanese ryokan works differently than a typical hotel, so keep these things in mind before you arrive.

Shoes Off

This one should come as no surprise. If you know anything about Japanese culture then you know that shoes are not worn inside many places such as homes and some religious sites. The same is true for ryokan all over the country. When you first walk in, you’ll probably see slippers right in the entryway and a place to take off your shoes. Most ryokan in Japan also has small lockers up front where you leave your shoes since you won’t be needing them again until you go back outside.

Futons & Tatamis

Part of the ryokan experience is sleeping the way much of Japan does: on a futon placed on tatami mats. There are a few ryokan in Tokyo that have Western bed options, but for the most part, all Japanese ryokan utilize traditional rooms. Some people (like me) love this style of sleeping. Some don’t. Either way, expect it to be part of your ryokan hotel experience unless specifically booking a room with a bed.

Yukata

Another part of the ryokan hotel experience is wearing yukata, the more casual form of the kimono. Most ryokan in Japan provide these to guests, and you wear them after bathing, although you’re free to put them on whenever really. You’ll see many people wearing their yukata at dinner, since they may have already taken a bath. Personally, if I’m staying in a ryokan with an onsen, then I’m bathing multiple times since it’s so relaxing. That means I’m wearing my yukata during most of my visit. It’s all part of the ryokan hotel experience.

Public Baths

One of the biggest differences in hotels and ryokan revolves around bathing. Ryokan usually have public baths, separated by gender. There are usually a number of shower stalls next to one or more large steaming tubs. It’s important that you shower first, before getting in the tub. You should already be clean when you get in the bath. The point of the bath is to soak and relax — if the onsen water has specific health properties, all the better. Many of you may be looking for Tokyo ryokan with private onsen, but I encourage you to try the public bath as well. It’s a very Japanese experience and something you may only get to try once.

Any Tokyo Ryokan with Private Onsen?

Most ryokan have only public baths, but there are many Tokyo ryokan with private onsen baths as well. I’ve indicated them in these listings. 

Ryokan Rooms

Part of the Tokyo ryokan hotel experience — or any Japanese ryokan experience — is staying in a traditional Japanese room. We’ve already talked about the futon and tatami mats, but there’s more to it. For example, most traditional ryokan rooms have a seating area with low chairs and tea-making equipment. There also may be a shoji, those sliding wooden doors with paper screens, which separate the seating area from the bedroom. To many Western eyes, the room may seem somewhat empty and plain. That’s part of the zen-influenced design. Most ryokan in Tokyo and elsewhere are simply designed and decorated, with little ornamentation.

Food at a Tokyo Ryokan

One of my favorite parts of the ryokan experience is the food! It varies, but breakfast and/or dinner may be included in your Tokyo Ryokan hotel booking. Check first. Ryokan food tends to be Japanese, and in some places quite exquisite. Some ryokan serve the dinner at their in-house restaurant, while others may serve you in your room.

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you, we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book a ryokan in Tokyo using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend Tokyo ryokan that I believe will genuinely enhance your Japan travels

Photo Credits via Creative Commons CC BY or other Royalty-free image sites. Some images may have been altered slightly via cropping or color enhancement: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8-#18

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