This Tokyo Hotel Immerses You in Japanese Culture

With its hushed atmosphere and cultural experiences, Hoshinoya Tokyo is a true urban resort.


The vibe: Japanese tradition in modern-day Tokyo

Location: 1 Chome-9-1 Ōtemachi, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-0004 | View on Google Maps

Book now: Website



The AFAR take

From the Japanese Hoshino Resorts group founded in 1914, Hoshinoya Tokyo is inspired by a ryokan, or a Japanese inn traditionally found in rural settings. The talented Rie Azuma is the architect behind this hotel, which opened in 2016, and all eight Hoshinoyas, as well as Hoshino’s OMO7 Osaka hotel. The exterior, a latticed metal pattern based on a hemp leaf, was inspired by an intricate Edo Komon pattern used on kimonos in the Edo period.

A large entrance hall with soaring ceilings features a wall of woven baskets. They’re for your shoes: you’re asked to remove them and leave them in one of the baskets for the duration of your stay. The idea is to encourage guests to leave the stress of the city behind and become immersed in another world through all five senses, including the soothing texture of woven tatami flooring that covers the floors of the hotel. An elevator leads to the lobby on the second floor. I arrived in the afternoon, and a musician in a kimono was playing a koto instrument on a stage in the reception lounge. I listened as I drank hojicha (roasted green tea) and ate mochi dusted in kinako (roasted soybean powder).

Interior of a guest room at Hoshinoya Tokyo

Each floor of Hoshinoya Tokyo feels like its own private ryokan.

Courtesy of Hoshino Resorts

Who’s it for?

Travelers looking to dive deep into Japanese history and culture in the heart of the city and want to experience ryokan-style hospitality. Wellness seekers who want a dedicated spa area for restorative experiences, including an on-site onsen. While families with young children are welcome, littles who have a lot of energy might feel pent up in the hushed atmosphere.

The location

Hoshinoya Tokyo feels like a sanctuary in the middle of the busy Otemachi financial district. Today, the neighborhood is filled with skyscrapers, but it has centuries of history: Samurai from the mighty Tokugawa shogunate lived here between the 1600s and 1800s. The hotel sits next to the massive Tokyo Station subway hub, and it’s a 10-minute walk to the Imperial Palace.

Hoshinoya Tokyo feels like a sanctuary in the middle of the busy Otemachi financial district.

The rooms

The hotel has 84 rooms, with six rooms per floor. The Kiku Room is the largest accommodation and fits up to three people. Each floor was created to feel like its own private ryokan and has a shared tea area called an ochanoma lounge. There you’ll find complimentary Japanese teas and snacks, such as handmade mochi and sesame crackers. While the lounge is technically a shared place, during my stay I often had it all to myself.

Everything in my room sat a little lower, including the chairs and the bedframes, though for people who want more Western-style seating, staff can provide extra seating pillows for chairs. The mattresses—custom-made by Nihon Bed, a bedding company founded in 1926, for the hotel—are truly amazing; they mix the best aspects of Western mattresses and Japanese-style futons. During the day, light floods into the room through latticed screens that leave patterns in the tatami flooring.

A person performing a tea ceremony in the lobby on the second floor

Tea ceremony classes take place in the lobby on the second floor.

Courtesy of Hoshino Resorts

The food and drink

On-site dining is for guests only. At the hotel’s eponymous subterranean restaurant, executive chef Ryosuke Oka applies French techniques to Japanese cuisine for multicourse meals that highlight the changing seasons and feature traditional Japanese fermentation, including pickles and salted fish. For quiet in-room dinners, guests can order dinner boxes that feature such items as beef chirashi-zushi, served with the vinegar-laced white rice that’s normally used in sushi. In the morning, a staff member arrives in your room to serve a fish-based Japanese breakfast, whose ingredients change every day according to the dozens of micro seasons in Japan.

Staff and service

Intuitive, empathetic, and warm. When one staff member was serving my in-room Japanese breakfast, she patiently answered my endless questions about the jewel-like dishes laid out before me.

A bather in the Hoshinoya Tokyo onsen

Hoshinoya Tokyo has an onsen fed by hot springs beneath the city.

Courtesy of Hoshino Resorts

An urban cultural immersion

While there’s plenty to do in the Otemachi neighborhood, the hotel goes to great lengths to feature on-site experiences that showcase Japanese cultural traditions—many of them complimentary. You can take a workshop on incense or take part in a tea ceremony tutorial. A morning kenjutsu practice pays homage to the samurais who used to live in this quarter during the Edo period; it takes place on the helipad of a nearby building. The class focuses on breathwork and basic swordsmanship, but the 360-degree views themselves are breathtaking—Tokyo SkyTree and Tokyo Tower are both on display. A class on Japanese tea ceremonies shows how carefully considered every detail of the experience is.

The onsen is one of the most coveted features of this property. The Hoshinoya Tokyo is the only hotel in Tokyo with an onsen that’s fed directly by hot springs nearly 5,000 feet below the hotel. The onsen is separated by gender, and you need to give yourself a good scrub before you enter. The bath leads to an outdoor space on the rooftop where walls frame the sky above, and you can feel cool breezes at night.

Jennifer Flowers is an award-winning journalist and the senior deputy editor of Afar.
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