February 7, 2014
Tokyo is many things – sprawling, overwhelming, totally captivating – and few would argue that it’s also one of the world’s quirkiest places. The city’s offbeat nature extends, as well, to its hotels. For the traveller seeking a place to stay that exemplifies the city’s unique character, these five unusual options – from a manga café equipped with sleeping areas to one of the city’s famous “˜sleep pod’ capsule hotels – make for an unforgettable night in the Japanese capital.
For the true Japanophile, a night spent at the Ryokan Sawanoya is a perfect way to discover Tokyo’s traditional culture. Yanaka inn features old-fashioned architecture and even two onsen-style baths, and when guests arrive, they’re greeted with a tray of tea. The classically Japanese amenities follow suit: expect to sleep on a tatami mats and futons on the floor.
More interested in Tokyo’s modern side than its traditional origins? A night at a capsule hotel is in order. The truly bizarre hotels offer little more than a place to lay your weary head, and the miniscule pods typically contain just a bed, a small TV, and shades that can be pulled across the glass door that seals the sleeper in. While some capsule hotels can be seedy, or are aimed at salarymen who’ve missed the last train home, the Asakusa Capsule Hotel is one of the best, and caters to both men and women.
Another option for the plugged-in traveller, particularly one who’s operating on a tight budget? The manga kissa, or café. Though these venues are packed with Japanese comic books, reading isn’t the main objective here. Rather, manga kissas host private cubicles that come equipped with reclining leather chairs, computers, pillows and blankets, and which can be rented for the evening. Whether frequented by young people who’d prefer not to rent an apartment, workers looking for an inexpensive place to crash, or the curious traveller, they’re a uniquely Japanese phenomenon. The GeraGera Manga Café chain exemplifies the style, and is one of the most affordable sleeping options in the city.
If you’re looking for an option that’s a few notches up on the comfort (and price) scale, one of Tokyo’s most unusual places to stay is The Meguro Emperor Love Hotel. Designed especially as a romantic getaway spot, though it’s accessible for all, the hotel’s exterior is distinctive for its castle-like design, complete with spires. On the inside, highly decorated rooms complete the theme, with plush bedding, elaborate wallpaper, and marble fixtures.
Prefer your quirk with a dose of design cred? The trendy Claska is a boutique hotel that’s as unusual as it is stylishly outfitted. While a number of traditional Japanese-style bedrooms are on offer, the hotel’s “˜Contemporary’ rooms have been designed by various artists. One features a bed made of stuffed animals; another uses branches and dried flowers as decoration. Meanwhile the “˜Weekly Residence’ rooms are nothing short of conceptual, with special nooks carved into the wall designed to fit a lamp, hair dryer, TV, and more. Also on site are a studio, gallery, and restaurant.
Whether you’re after a dose of luxury or are fine with sleeping in a two-metre long bedroom, Tokyo’s hotels cover the full spectrum of unusual. Don’t forget to bring a camera: odds are, you won’t stay in another hotel like these anytime soon.
Have you stayed in any of these quirky Tokyo hotels? What did you make of the experience? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Claire Bullen