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Tokyo is frenetic magic. There’s constant motion, endless lights and magnificent food. It’s also massive, so if you only have a few days to explore, it’s a great idea to stay someplace central so you don’t spend too much time navigating Tokyo’s labyrinthine metro system.
There’s no “downtown” Tokyo per se, but Chiyoda City is arguably the “center” of the city, in that it’s where you’ll find the Imperial Palace, the National Diet, Supreme Court, Prime Minister’s residence and more. Tokyo Station and the National Theater are here as well, and it’s just a few minutes’ walk to the world-famous Ginza shopping district, the bonkers Akihabara and so on. A few minutes on the metro will get you just about anywhere in the city.
If you’ve never been to Tokyo before, this a good place to start your adventure, and luckily there are some incredible hotels in this area as well.
This is actually the first Tokyo hotel I stayed in on my first visit many years ago. It overlooks the gardens and grounds of the Imperial Palace. And while it may not have the amenities of some of the more luxurious hotels in the area, it also costs less per night.
Sadly, Frank Lloyd Wright’s original masterpiece of design is long gone (though mostly intact outside of Nagoya). Even so, the Imperial is still a magnificent hotel. The Forbes Travel Guide calls it a Japanese institution, and rightly so. The elegant main building and stunning lobby dates from 1970, but you wouldn’t know it. It’s a timeless and awe-inspiring design.
This hotel has some of the best rooms of any hotel in the world. They’re spacious—which is a commodity in Tokyo—with contemporary fixtures, light furniture designed in whites, greens and wood colors. It’s also conveniently right next to Otemachi station.
You might recognize the Hotel New Otani, but by a different name. In the James Bond classic You Only Live Twice it’s the headquarters for the SPECTRE front Osato Chemical & Engineering Co Ltd. The hotel itself feels like a place 007 would have actually stayed, since multiple heads of state have. There’s also a magnificent 400-year-old garden on site.
If you’re looking for something a little different, head to the palatial Tokyo Station Hotel. It wouldn’t seem out of place in London or parts of Europe. Not only are there award-winning restaurants on site, but the location is in the name—you’re right at Tokyo station with easy access to the entire city.
Also located near Tokyo Station, the Mandarin Oriental is one of the best hotels in the world. In addition to exceptional rooms and service, there are eight restaurants and two coffee shops—that is, if you don’t feel like walking a few minutes to Ginza and other nearby Tokyo hotspots. Or you could just take in the views of the city from the expansive windows.