Japan has a reputation for being an expensive travel destination. This is not entirely undeserved, especially with a strong yen, but your trip doesn’t have to break the bank. So let’s talk about where you can stay when you visit Japan!
A hotel is the first thing most people think of, but they can be pretty expensive. When my family was in Japan last spring, we stayed in hotels that ran in the $110-$150 a night range, but a lot of places in the same areas are triple that, or more. Not recommended for solo travel, or travel with a friend, but good for a family trip.
I don’t have a picture for this one, but business hotels are common in Japan. Similar to a normal hotel and close to stations, they offer tiny, usually single-person rooms with en suite bathrooms and all the standard amenities (shampoo, soap, internet, etc.). They average about ¥5,000 ($60) a night and are my go-to when I’m on my own.
Hostels are great if you’re on a tight budget. They run in the ¥2,500-¥5,000 ($30-$60) a night range, depending on whether or not it’s a shared room. Bring your own toiletries and be prepared for communal facilities. I’ve stayed in a shared room, as well as a double-room with a friend, and I think it’s the best choice if you’re traveling with a friend or two.
A ryokan is a Japanese-style inn, often associated with an onsen. I’ve never stayed in one, because they’re expensive, but if you want a more traditional trip, complete with futon on tatami mats, I hear they’re nice. I happen to have spent a year and a half of my life sleeping on futon on tatami, but I’d still like to try the ryokan experience sometime.
If you’re desperate, you can try a night in an internet cafe. I’ve never done it, but for a little less than a hostel you’ll get a private booth with a recliner. If possible, though, I’d recommend the hostel. You’ll get a better night’s sleep.
There are also the infamous capsule hotels, but as a woman I have no experience (they’re almost invariably men-only). I’ve heard it’s a little bit like sleeping in a coffin.
Hostel World: A worldwide site dedicated to budget accommodation. You can filter by city and what you’re looking for (hostel, B&B, etc.), check ratings and read reviews, and then book through their site. A+
Expedia: You’ve all heard of it, but Expedia is a good choice if you’re looking for a hotel. Sometimes you can even bundle your flight and hotel and save a bit of money, so check there if you’re planning a trip from outside Japan.
While not a cheap place to vacation, Japan doesn’t have to be as expensive as people say. If you’re willing to be open-minded and get away from hotels, you can have an awesome trip and devote some of the money you would have spent on sleeping to going out and having fun.