Staying in Japan – Hostels vs Hotels

Travelling on a Budget? Travelling alone? Don’t mind / like the college dorm experience of sharing rooms and community bathrooms? Like meeting strangers?

Congratulations!! You qualify to stay in a hostel! The Japanese hostel experience is one I will definitely recommend. It was absolutely incredible! Most hostels are located in great locations with public transport accessibility. The hostel staff are courteous and you have just enough of all amenities and space.

As I ended up staying in a mix of hostels and hotels, here is a breakdown of the two options, from my experience:

Hostel Hotel
Price Cheaper of the two – $30 – $40 / person. There are also ‘Private Room’ options for 2-3 people that comes up to about $70 – $100 / room. Cheapest hotel starts at around $110 – $120 and can go up to $250 for an average room.
Space Limited personal space, bathroom and general areas are roomy. Ranges from very small and cramped rooms to larger ones, but the whole space is yours.
Hidden fees All fees and taxes ae declared upfront, no hidden fees The usual hotel taxes, no hidden fees either.
Location Great locations, public transport accessible for. Some hostels are located right in the middle of major markets or shrines! Location can vary based on preference. Better locations would cost more.
Safety Safe. The front desk is usually closed at night, but there are gate codes and cameras every step of the way in (at least 2 electronic gate / door codes). Very Safe, front desk and security are fully staffed at all times.
Staff Extremely friendly and fluent in English. Very helpful! Friendly and cordial but communication was a little harder compared to the hostel staff.
Check-in and Check-out Hostel receptions are usually closed between 10PM – 7AM. Check-in within these hours might not be available. Note your hostel’s timing beforehand. This is why I needed to book hotels occasionally. As the reception is open 24/7, you are not restricted to make it to your hotel at a certain time.
Amenities – Towels, toothbrush etc. All amenities are available for purchase / rent. Prices are very reasonable between 1-3 dollars per amenity. All amenities are included in your room with no extra costs.
Availability Need to book about 3 months ahead to get the desired hostel and room. They fill up very fast. The hotels are usually available for last-minute bookings.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. amadl says:

    Almost all of my experience staying in Japanese hosteLs have been wonderful! I’m curious what hostels and hotels you’d recommend?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the question. I have been meaning to append the post with my hostel recommendations. Here they are:
      I always stayed in mixed-dorm style rooms. They are usually the cheapest and adds more flexibility, especially if you are travelling in a mixed group.

      1. Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki – Khaosan is a chain of hostels around the country with good guest ratings. There are several just in Tokyo. I recommend this particular one as it is located right in the MIDDLE of the Senso-ji Temple area. The temple itself is a 3 min walking distance and the hostel building blends into the markets. AMAZING location! Trains to almost everywhere (including the airport) pass through the Asakusa station.
      2. OAK Hostel Zen – OAK, like Khaosan, is a chain of hostels around the country with generally good guest ratings. This was a nice roomy hostel located in a relatively residential area. There is a train station (about 5 min walking distance) next to the hostel, that made for convenient transportation.
      3. Nui. Hostel & Bar – I have not personally stayed here. But I’ve only heard good things from close friends/

      Len Kyoto: LOVED IT. This is the same chain as the Nui Hostel. Very trendy and hipster. There’s a coffee shop / bar downstairs that is perfect if you want to take moment now and then. Kyoto is more convenient on buses than trains, and the closest bus-stop is a 3 min walk from the hostel. It is about a 15-20 min walk to the main shopping and bar area, so that was convenient too!



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