Tokyo’s Top 10 Love Hotels
Just like its guests, love hotels come in all shapes and sizes. Check out the themed, the stylish and the cheap and cheerful in our list of Tokyo’s top 10 unforgettable love hotels.
In English, we have the expression “paper thin walls”. In Japan, they live the reality of paper thin walls. We may love the whole traditional, minimalist look but any teenager bringing their girlfriend or boyfriend home for the first time is wishing for a thick sturdy door and soundproof walls. Luckily, Japan came up with the perfect solution: the rabu hoteru (or ‘love hotel’ if you can pronounce the ‘l’ sound). The Japanese originally created love hotels for young couples to escape the watchful eyes of their parents (and most probably vice versa). Never one to miss an opportunity to add to the nation’s weird and wonderful inventions, the Japanese didn’t design the love hotel to be like any ordinary hotel.
Although Japanese history suggests that the concept of the love hotel has been around since the Edo period, the kitsch and the themed establishments we associate with the love hotel today started popping up in the 1960s. Having experienced an unprecedented boom in popularity over the years, there are now around 25,000 love hotels nationwide frequented by all types of people, whether it’s for an overnight “stay” or just a few hours’ “rest”.
If there weren’t already enough benefits to spending a night in an overly decorated room kitted out with a king-sized bed, Jacuzzi and freebies (OK, mainly condoms), love hotels tend to be cheaper than your average hotel. Just beware that check-in is usually from around 9pm and you pay per night so no leaving your luggage while you’re out in the day. Contrary to popular belief, themed rooms are in fact few and far between in Tokyo but we’ve searched out the capital’s top 10 love hotels that will give you a cultural experience that is sure to not disappoint.
1 – Beat Wave
Ideally located in central Shibuya on Dogenzaka slope, also known as “Love Hotel Hill”, Beat Wave is a music-themed hotel typically for a younger crowd. Images of your favorite singers will greet you into your room where you’ll also find black light images reflected on the walls and the Jacuzzi of your dreams. Be sure to check the choice of rooms as, sadly, there aren’t 100 rubber ducks in every bathroom.
Benefits: There is a free (non-alcoholic) drinks bar as well as room service there to bring you octopus balls and ice cream. Aimed at music fans, you will even find your own private karaoke set in your room!
Downside: On weekends check-in isn’t until 10pm and check-out is at 10am the next morning.
¥ Rest 5,000+
¥ Stay 9,800 – 11,500
2 – Hotel Sara Sweet
Ninja rooms, class rooms, train rooms – our writer Andrew had the opportunity to visit the Hotel Sara Kinshicho and its quirky rooms. Read the article in the Feature Stories section of loveinnjapan.com to find out more about this extravagant hotel! #quirky #hotel #sara #japan #tokyo #lovehotels #lovehotel #travel #traveljapan
Although not themed, Hotel Sara Sweet’s extravagant decor will give you your kitsch fix. If you’re just here for cheap accommodation in a nice hotel, ironically this is probably one of the best night’s sleep you’ll get with the bouncy king-sized beds and the most relaxing bathroom experience.
Benefits: Spacious, flashy rooms for reasonable prices. Kitted out with a sofa, big screen TV and jacuzzi.
Downside: Not located in central Tokyo. Best for those happy to stay out to the east of Tokyo.
¥ Rest 4,800 – 9,000
¥ Stay 7,800 – 13,000
3 – Hotel Sunreon
Love hotels aren’t hard to find in Shibuya if you know where to go. Make your way up to Dogenzaka slope, Love Hotel Hill, and search out Hotel Sunreon which offers some of the cheapest rooms in the most central of areas.
Benefits: Check-out time isn’t until 1pm which is late for a love hotel with many chucking you out as early as 10am.
Downside: Although slightly more decorated than your average hotel, the rooms aren’t as exciting as other love hotels.
¥ Rest 3,780 – 7,020
¥ Stay 6,480 – 11,880
4 – Hotel Zebra
Love hotels are usually discreet and hidden, allowing shy Japanese couples to slip in without being seen. However, Hotel Zebra isn’t trying to hide anything with its colorful zebra print walls slap bang in the middle of Ikebukuro. Go for the rooms on the higher floors for the extra swanky spaces with huge beds and massage chairs.
Benefits: Maybe dressing up as a sexy schoolgirl isn’t your thing but the fancy dress box here will leave you spoilt for choice.
Downside: No wifi.
¥ Rest 4,800 – 9,400
¥ Stay 7,800 – 14,300
5 – Hotel Meguro Emperor
Live out your fairytale at Hotel Meguro Emperor, a castle-themed hotel towering over the streets of Meguro. This is one of Tokyo’s oldest love hotels, built back in 1973 and helping to kick off the themed love hotel craze.
Benefits: Room 704. This seventh-floor suite is the most expensive room in the hotel but with very good reason. Once you’ve checked out the immaculate room with its large leather sofa and massage chair, step outside to the outdoor terrace for your outdoor Jacuzzi experience.
Downside: Hotel Meguro Emperor is well known so this place isn’t for you if being caught walking in or out of a love hotel is too cringeworthy for you.
¥ Rest 5,800+
¥ Stay 9,800 – 19,800
6 – Hotel Moana
This hotel boasts stylish rooms in Shinjuku’s central entertainment district, Kabukichō. Although a love hotel, Hotel Moana acts as a normal hotel so you can book in for more than one night and keep your bags in your room, plus, check-in is at sociable times, from 3pm til 10pm. Following the traditional hotel theme, there is a restaurant serving Japanese cuisine and, unlike many love hotels, the owner is very chatty and happy to dish out Tokyo travel tips.
Benefits: Huge bathrooms and Jacuzzis.
Downside: Hotel Moana’s not fit for spur of the moment trips as it books up quickly so booking in advance is normally recommended.
¥ Rest 4,800 – 9,000
¥ Stay 13,800 – 29,800
7 – Hotel UFO Chiba
In an unlikely spot in Chiba prefecture, just east of Tokyo, you’ll find a UFO hovering off the main road tucked between standard high-rise hotel buildings. Step inside for UFO-shaped beds, round bathtubs and, what you’ve always wanted, 70s style furniture.
Benefits: If you’re into anything spacey/sci-fi, the theme will be right up your street.
Downside: The rooms certainly don’t have the style or charm of a lot of the modern love hotels.
¥ Rest 3,500 – 6,800
¥ Stay 7,600 – 11,000
Enjoy getting into different themes? Take a look at our alternative guide to Theme Restaurants in Tokyo.
8 – Hotel Gracery
Although not technically a love hotel, we’re talking about novelty hotels that you get you excited so of course Hotel Gracery with its “life-sized” Godzilla model had to be featured. This up-market hotel is slap bang in the middle of Shinjuku’s Kabukichō entertainment district and boasts a fantastic restaurant and bar.
Benefits: The restaurant, as well as some of the bedrooms, have a brilliant view of the Godzilla statue.
Downside: It’s not actually a love hotel, so the rooms and bathrooms are very standard.
¥ Rest not available
¥ Stay 14,400 – 25,000
9 – Hotel Atlas
Featured in well-known director Ryūichi Hiroki’s 2014 film Kabukicho Love Hotel, Hotel Atlas has become a popular destination for love hotel-seekers. Although the film highlights the difficult lives of those working and frequenting the hotel, it remains one of the locals’ favorites and offers some low prices considering its central location.
Benefits: You’ll find everything from DVD players and microwaves to karaoke. They offer discounts for girls parties.
Downside: Its popularity means it books up quickly.
¥ Rest 3,900 – 5,000
¥ Stay 7,800 – 17,600
10 – Hotel Colore
As the name suggests, Hotel Colore follows the colorful theme. But this love hotel has gone for a more tasteful, sophisticated look than others. If the rose petal-filled bath doesn’t tempt you in, I don’t know what else will.
Benefits: The free drinks and snack corner, including flavored teas and cookies. The drinks corner doesn’t include alcohol. However, on arrival, you’ll be offered a carafe of wine and some light snacks to take to your room.
Downside: Found in the east of the city, this is a little ride out of the center of Tokyo.
¥ Rest 4,000 – 8,200
¥ Stay 6,800 – 11,700