This is Part 3 of our 5 part series on planning the ultimate trip to Japan during cherry blossom season. We will cover every aspect – itinerary, accommodation, packing – of planning an unforgettable trip to Japan during cherry blossom season
Read Part 1 – Visiting Japan during Cherry Blossom Season: An Itinerary (opens in new tab)
Read Part 2 – A Guide to Tokyo (opens in new tab)
Read Part 4 – Packing for a trip in Japan during Cherry Blossom Season (opens in new tab)
Read Part 5 – Budgeting for a trip in Japan during Cherry Blossom Season (opens in new tab)
Finalising your itinerary for Japan is the fun bit but choosing accommodation, especially during cherry blossom season, is the hard part. Accommodation in Japan is usually minimalist in keeping with Japanese aesthetics. Additionally it tends to be smaller than most western style accommodation. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind before booking hotels for your trip in Japan during cherry blossom season
- Try choosing experiential stays over modern hotels. You could stay in a historical house in Kyoto or a skyscraper overlooking the entire city of Tokyo – such experiential properties compliment the destination in question and amplify a regular hotel stay to a memorable experience.
- Check the square footage of hotel rooms before booking anything. As I mentioned above, some accommodation in Japan can be quite cramped – even 3* and 4* hotels can have extremely tiny rooms. So make sure you check the square footage before booking a hotel room or apartment for yourself.
- Accommodation tends to be overpriced during cherry blossom season. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Read reviews thoroughly before booking.
Here are the hotels we chose for our trip in Japan. We chanced on some incredible gems and some real duds (I’m looking at you Osaka) along the way. Hopefully this list will help you choose the best possible hotels for your holiday in Japan:
Accommodation in Tokyo
There is no dearth of accommodation to suit every budget in Tokyo. In you are in the city for a short time, we suggest staying in a central area close to a subway station as you will be using trains to explore Tokyo. On reading several glowing reviews on Tripadvisor and readers’ recommendations, we chose Park Hotel Tokyo. The four star hotel is a 1 minute walk from Shiodome Metro Station and 5 minute walk from Shimbashi Metro and JR station. We chose one of their famous Artist Rooms. Each room on the thirty first floor has been hand-painted by a different Japanese artist. We were blown away by the amount of detail – the wall behind our bed had a dragon conversing with a Japanese lady. But that’s not all. we had petite ladies in kimonos painted at the dresser and a family dining together in a traditional Japanese home by the minibar. This level of detail amplifies the level above a regular hotel stay – it feels like one is staying amidst living, breathing art. As if this wasn’t special enough, our room offered an incredible view of the city of Tokyo. In fact, we could see the entire city of Tokyo stretched out in front of us.
Rooms start at £170. You can compare prices and book here.
Accommodation in Fuji
A lot of people visit Mt Fuji on a day trip from Tokyo. But we would really recommend spending at least 2 nights in the area because a hurried day trip just does not do justice to the beauty. Choose a hotel near Lake Kawaguchiko and one that offers shuttle service to/from the train station. We chose Fuji Premium Resort because it offers a stunning view of Mt Fuji at breakfast. It’s a 15 minute drive from Kawaguchiko Train station and the hotel offers free shuttle service to/from the train station all day. Rooms are spacious, well equipped, and at par with 3* hotels anywhere else in the world, which is as luxurious as they get in these parts. The sprawling grounds are perfect for a stroll and the buffet meals are elaborate and delicious. We particularly enjoyed the spread at their dinner buffet- fresh fruit, salads, and a vast array of Japanese and continental specialities.
Rooms start at £135. You can compare prices and book here.
And you can go for a walk in this enchanted woodland which is in the hotel’s premises 🙂
Here's another reason I love Japan 💚💚In Japanese culture SHINRIN YOKU, i.e. the practice of "Forest bathing" is actually recommended as therapy. Shinrin Yoku is not about hiking, burning calories, or accomplishing anything. It's about letting the trees SOOTHE your soul as your mind meanders- it's about taking a step back. SHINRIN YOKU – we could all do with a bit of that in our lives wherever in the world we are 🍃🌷🍃🌷
Accommodation in Osaka
Unfortunately we don’t have accommodation to recommend in Osaka. We booked our hotel at the last minute, which is always a bad idea during peak season. We ended up at Sunnystone Hotel due to good reviews on Tripadvisor but our stay there was mediocre at best. The hotel is conveniently located – it’s a short train ride away from both Shin Osaka Station and Dotonbori. But that’s where the good part ends. Rooms are clean but they are super cramped (at least the one we got was!). In fact it couldn’t fit 2 adults and 2 suitcases without something toppling over. We literally had to move around our luggage every time we wanted to use the toilet or leave the room. So let’s just say it was an ahem interesting experience. We’d suggest looking elsewhere – check out AirBnB if you can’t find a hotel to suit your requirements.
Rooms start at £70. You can look for other hotels in Osaka.
Accommodation in Kyoto
There are plenty of accommodation options in Kyoto and a lot of visitors choose a hotel around the Kyoto Train Station. However we would strongly recommend booking accommodation in the heart of the action in Gion. Most of the historical shrines and sites are concentrated in this area. Staying in Gion will mean a quick train change and an extra 10 minutes on the train when you get to and leave Kyoto, but it’s totally worth it.
Gion is the historical centre of Kyoto, so opt for an experiential stay in a traditional Japanese house (Machiya). We stayed in Machiya Maya Gion, a 100 year old house that has recently been refurbished into 2 luxury apartments. We loved the fact that the amenities at Machiya Maya Gion are ultra modern but the layout pays homage to traditional Japanese design. For instance the apartment boasts of heated floors, a bath tub, fast wifi, and a fully-equipped modular kitchen but the dining area has traditional tatami mats and Japanese-style floor seating. This makes it well and truly special.
The apartment is available for £170 per night. You can compare prices online and book here.
Accommodation at Arashiyama Forest
You will be chasing Cherry Blossoms, moving hotels, photographing, and taking a dozen trains and buses on your trip in Japan. So we strongly recommend to take a couple of days time to just wind down, relish nature, and truly relax after all that moving around. If you have 2-3 extra days at hand, spend it in the countryside around Kyoto. We chose Suiran Kyoto, which is located along the Hozu River, in the heart of the legendary Arashiyama Park. The hotel falls under the carefully curated Luxury Collection, so a plush and comfortable stay is almost a given. But Suiran offers more than just that – it offers a traditional Japanese experience in the lap of nature. The hotel’s restaurant and café actually date back to 1899, so the entire complex is closely intertwined with the history of Kyoto.
The intimate boutique hotel has a couple of gorgeous suites, perfect if you are on your honeymoon or celebrating a special occasion. We chose one of their mid-range deluxe rooms, which comes with a private onsen, Japanese style dining table, and large beds. We really enjoyed the couple of days that we spent at Suiran Kyoto – it’s the perfect place to relax and recharge yourself after a hectic fortnight of exploring Japan.
Rooms start at £300. You can compare prices and book here.
Accommodation in Hakuba
An alpine getaway calls for a traditional chalet doesn’t it? An experiential hotel can elevate your stay in Hakuba to the next level, so pick wisely. We chose to stay in Alps View Chalet by Morino Lodge. Since we were visiting during off season, we got upgraded to one of their largest chalets. The wooden chalet, located in the lap of nature, was special in so many ways and one of our favourite accommodations in Japan. It’s rustic exterior made it seem like an idyllic cabin in woods. But the interior is luxurious- expect a living rooms equipped with an LCD television, iMac, surround sound, fireplace; fully functional kitchen, spacious bedrooms and a luxurious bathtub. My favourite part was the balcony overlooking Hakuba’s skiing slopes on one side and woodlands on the other. Highly recommended!
If you’re travelling as a couple, the Alps View Chalet might be too big for you. You could also opt for a room in the Morino Lodge located close by. You can compare prices and book here.
Accommodation near Haneda Airport
We chose Mystays Haneda Airport as we had an early morning flight and wanted to spend our last night close to the airport. The hotel is well located if you have a flight to catch at an odd hour. Their complimentary shuttle drops visitors off at the airport, which is perfect. However the shuttle has limited spaces, so it tends to be fully booked during mornings. You might have to wait to take a cab to the airport, which is a bit of a bummer.
The hotel itself is spotless and well equipped – rooms are quite spacious and have every amenity you might need for a night or two. Mystays Haneda Airport is perfect if you want to stay close to Haneda Airport. You can compare prices and book here.
So that’s our list of recommended properties and the ones you should avoid! Hope you have an amazing time exploring Japan – it’s a special country indeed.