The countdown to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is fast gathering pace – and for those thinking about visiting during the sporting event, there is perhaps one key question to ask: where is best to stay?
One option is to head for the Heritage Zone – one of two oval-shaped 'zones' spanning the city that have been created for the games (the other is the Tokyo Bay Zone, where a flurry of new developments are taking shape). The Heritage Zone includes a vast swathe of the city’s best hotels – plus countless landmark structures created for Tokyo's historic 1964 Summer Olympic games (don't miss the gracefully sweeping concrete lines of Kenzo Tange’s iconic Yoyogi National Gymnasium). Here’s our pick of the best hotels to check into inside the Heritage Zone.
The Capitol Hotel Tokyu
This mesmerising skyscraper was designed by famed architect Kengo Kuma, who is also creating Tokyo’s Olympic stadium for 2020. It’s situated in the heart of Tokyo’s rarefied political district Nagatacho, with a convenient network of subway lines accessible directly from the hotel’s basement. With calligraphy artworks, sliding screen partitions and white washi paper lantern, the rooms are a luxurious contemporary take on a traditional Japanese home.
Read the full review: The Capitol Hotel Tokyu
Another beauty designed by cult architect Kengo Kuma. This hotel features an abstract wooden façade, a roof terrace and industrial-style rooms designed for a range of budgets. It’s quite literally in the shadow of Tokyo Skytree, less than a five-minute walk from the landmark. It's also just a short train hop from a clutch of east Tokyo landmarks, including Sensoji (the city's oldest temple), Sumida River and Kokugikan Arena, a historic venue for sumo wrestling and where the Olympic boxing games will be held.
Read the full review: One @Tokyo
Park Hyatt Tokyo
The Park Hyatt is among Tokyo’s top (and best-loved) hotels. The five-star legend is renowned for its starring role in Lost in Translation alongside Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. It offers flawless service, elegant design, views of Mount Fuji and one of the world’s most atmospheric cocktail bars, with a cherry and sake cocktail dedicated to the 2003 movie.
Read the full review: Park Hyatt Tokyo
The sleek, urban and functional Hotel Gracery is a contemporary 30-storey tower hotel, located above a 12-screen cinema and surrounded by neon and skyscrapers in Tokyo’s lively entertainment district, Shinjuku. There’s a Godzilla theme throughout, thanks to the building’s cinematic connections, with a vast 40 ft Godzilla replica hogging almost the entire eighth floor terrace and roars and blows smoke loudly throughout the day.
Read the full review: Gracery
This much-needed creative addition to Tokyo’s hotel scene is contemporary and stylish with a modern Japan design edge. It's located in the heart of Tokyo’s lively Shibuya district and is just seconds from hipster-magnet Cat Street, the epicentre of Harajuku’s famed street fashion culture. There is also a key Made in Japan concept, with products and materials focusing on all things local.
Read the full review: Trunk
The Peninsula Tokyo
Some of the most spacious rooms in Tokyo can be found at The Peninsula, a 24-storey, rose-tinted tower inspired by a Japanese lantern. Expect unwavering service, panoramic views from the rooftop restaurant, legendary afternoon teas and a convenient location neighbouring the Imperial Palace.
Read the full review: The Peninsula Tokyo
Imperial Hotel Tokyo
An epic list of fires, earthquakes and bombings has resulted in Tokyo’s most historic hotel being demolished and rebuilt twice since its original 1890 opening, but it still impresses with its history, sense of grandeur, impeccable service and views of Hibiya Park. The Old Imperial Bar offers Art Deco interiors and a legendary tipple: its Tinkerbell cocktail apparently inspired the Disney character, having been a favourite of one of Disney’s most prominent animators.
Read the full review: Imperial Hotel Tokyo
This is Tokyo’s original – and arguably best – design hotel. It’s a little off the beaten track, located on Meguro Dori, a street famed for second-hand furniture stores. The hotel carries impeccable design credentials: in addition to 20 rooms, it has several galleries and a beautiful design store serving an array of exquisitely crafted Japanese lifestyle products, from clothing to kitchen tools.
Read the full review: Claska
NOHGA Hotel Ueno
This boutique hotel – another opening riding the 2020 Tokyo Olympics wave – is a surprisingly well-priced bolthole showcasing local design and contemporary craftsmanship, just a few minutes from Ueno Park in east Tokyo. Bistro NOHGA steals the show, with a French-inspired menu using fresh ingredients from nearby family-owned shops.
Read the full review: Nohga Hotel Ueno