12 Unique Places to Stay on Your Solo Trip to Japan
As a country, Japan is an ideal place for your first solo travel. One of the best countries to travel to, Japan offers many unique experiences that you will never find anywhere else in the world. With pristine natural scenery, beautiful temples and Zen gardens, enriching history, and a glimpse into the future, a trip to Japan never disappoints.
But on my solo trip to Japan, I have realised that one of the best things about this country is that you have a new experience at every nook and corner. No, I am not joking. From the time you open your eyes till you fall asleep, everything seems to be an experience when in Japan. To further reiterate my point, I will tell you about some of the unique accommodations in Japan that will further enhance your stay in Japan.
As a solo female traveller, we look at many things before booking our accommodation, starting with our safety. Japan is one of the safest countries to travel to. And the places of accommodations in this country provides an extra layer of protection for women and especially solo female travellers. Next comes affordability. Most of us who travel alone are usually more focused on seeing as much as we can rather than staying at an expensive place. Well, good news for you. Most of these places are quite inexpensive but sometimes, if a few extra bucks give you an experience of a lifetime, then why not. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s look at some of the offbeat and unique places to stay in Japan.
You can’t leave Japan without spending one night at a traditional ryokan to soak in the abundance of the culture of the country. Ryokans range from really expensive ones with an onsen in them to the ones who provide you with the experience on a budget. While this is a unique place to stay, it is not uncommon.
Earlier ryokans were constructed along the highways as a place to rest for local travellers. But now, there are plenty of ryokans that are found all over the country. Staying at a ryokan is one of the best ways to experience traditional Japanese hospitality, complete with traditional delicious cuisine and a hot bath.
When you enter a ryokan, you will feel like you are leaving behind reality. You have to open your shoes before you enter the main building. You are then also asked to don traditional clothes for that authentic experience.
In a ryokan, a bed is replaced by a futon, and the floors have tatami flooring on them. But the best part of a ryokan is the kaiseki or the traditional food. Squat on the floor and be prepared for some beautiful food while experiencing hospitality at its best. A ryokan isn’t all, know more about other cultural experiences you can have in Japan.
2. Capsule hotel
Capsule hotels are another unique experience you must have while in Japan. It is cost-effective, gives you all the space ship vibes, and on top of that, there are women’s only capsule hotels now so that you don’t have to have an awkward encounter with a man while waiting for your turn outside a bathroom (yes, speaking from experience). Plus, it is completely safe.
Well, if you are someone who is extremely claustrophobic, you might want to think twice before booking a capsule hotel. But if you are up for an adventure, this one is right up your alley. A capsule hotel, like a ryokan, varies in its price according to the amenities provided in the pod. But I would advise you to book a mid-range capsule because that will be cheaper than a hotel in the city. You can also choose between various capsule hotel experiences if you book a themed capsule hotel like a samurai or a ninja. The choices when it comes to this are plenty.
Where do you keep your belongings at the capsule, you ask? Don’t worry. You will be assigned a locker as soon as you enter. Pro tip: pack a small toiletries bag and take that when you go to the pod so that you don’t have to run back and forth. So all you need to do is get into the futuristic-looking pod, put on the robe that will be provided to you, and rest.
The best thing about capsule hotels is that usually there is never a mixed-gender floor, so as a female solo traveller you are safe. But even if you don’t want to take chances, book a capsule at the Nine Hours Woman Kanda when in Tokyo.
3. Get checked in by a dinosaur
Japan is no stranger to strangeness, and Henna Henna Hotel, which is located in Nagasaki, proves just that. This is one place I had read about way before I planned my travel to Japan, and my curiosity knew no bounds. All the crew at the hotel – receptionist, porters, cloaks, cleaners, janitors, etc. is actually robots! I was looking forward to getting a glimpse of a world where human interaction is replaced by machines. Sounds scary, right? But I assure you Henna hotel is a unique place to stay in Japan and one that you should definitely check out.
When you enter the hotel, you are greeted by robot Chu-ri-Chan who waves her hand and asks you to proceed to the reception to check-in. But just when you are overwhelmed at being welcomed by a robot, you see what’s in store for you at the reception. Well, there are two dinosaurs and another robot. You can choose who you want to speak with, and no points for guessing I chose a dinosaur. Though the actual checking in is done on a tablet placed in front, I was spellbound at the experience. Though after this, the interaction with robots is limited, it does add another dimension to your Japan trip.
4. Cup of Tea
What a beautiful name of a hostel. If you are travelling from Tokyo to Kanawaza, I would recommend you stop and spend a night at the beautiful Cup of Tea hostel tucked away in the mountains of Hida Takayama. It’s a minimal yet cozy hostel that is full of classy designs and beautiful artwork. They offer you a pod-style dormitory room with absolute privacy, and you can also choose to spend the night in a private room with futons on the tatami floor. But I would recommend otherwise.
The hostel has a scenic Japanese garden and because it is surrounded by the Japanese Alps, take a walk around the beautifully preserved Old Town to take in the essence of old Japan. And the best part is the courteous staff and the owner of the hostel who has lived in various countries and is a riot to talk to.
5. Spend a night in a bookstore
Why book a hotel when you can live among books? Well, at Book and Beyond in Tokyo, you come pretty close. It is a hostel in Tokyo’s famous Ikebukuro area, which occupies the seventh and eighth floor of a skyscraper. So it’s books on the inside and a beautiful view of Tokyo when you look out.
The best part, though, is not just being surrounded by books, but the collection in the library is impressive too. The only con of this place? Well, I didn’t sleep a wink!
The bunk beds here are tucked away behind bookshelves, and it is fascinating. Along with free Wifi, you can also access the vending machine. So don’t worry, you will not go hungry.
Get a clearer picture of the beautiful place before booking it.
6. Sleep like a monk
When we choose to leave for a solo female trip, it becomes a journey to discover oneself and to be away from the madding crowd in tranquility. For that very reason, you should look to spend a night or two at a temple in Japan. You will see that it is one of the best places in Japan to stay.
The practice known as shukubo goes back hundreds of years and was earlier for monks visiting other temples. Though this is a well sought-after accommodation in Japan now, remember that if you are looking to be pampered, this is not the place for you. You probably won’t have amenities like the Wifi but isn’t the whole point of this just reconnecting with yourself? So, it is a good thing to disconnect from the world to reconnect with yourself.
Many larger temples throughout the country allow you to stay overnight at their facility, but Kyoto houses the most options. You get to immerse yourself into the whole culture, complete with the monks’ meals, and hear the priests’ chants. I particularly loved how time slowed down here. A temple gong tells you to get up in the morning and attend the prayers where you can meditate while the head monk chants. In the busy reality, these are the moments that give you peace of mind.
7. Experience old-world decor
In the country’s fabled capital of Kyoto, you will find plenty of traditional wooden townhouses, which are known as machiyas. The narrow homes, which are mostly adorned by outdoor gardens and courtyards, was earlier used as accommodation for travelling merchants. But today, a lot of them have been renovated for travellers to experience a slice of history. During World War II, Kyoto miraculously remained intact, and thus these machiyas did not need a lot of renovation.
The rooms have tatami floors and sliding or shoji doors and windows covered by slatted wooden frames. As a solo traveller you will have the option of staying at only a portion of the house, but when in Kyoto, do not pass up this experience.
8. Spread some love
Well, aren’t we all familiar with the famous or should I say infamous love hotels in Japan? The don’t say, don’t tell hotels in Japan have long been used for hookups. You can pay by the hour here, and nobody asks you anything. The bright neon signs are outside these hotels are enough sign for you to locate a love hotel anywhere in the country.
But today, love hotels have become quite a tourist attraction and no not just for the hookups. The really low prices at these hotels make for a great place to stay in Japan if you are on a tight budget. And as far as love goes, as a strong single woman, maybe show some love to the matters the most to you – yourself. You can try booking Hotel Public jam in Osaka. This is not only a cheap option for female solo travellers, but also has a different theme in every room, from a wooden cabin to even a car inside the room! Read more to get an all-encompassing insight into Osaka.
9. Sleeping beauty
As adult women, we are expected to let go of our childhood fantasies and grow up, as they say. But why would we want to let go of fairytales? So, in Japan, you will have the chance to relive your fairytale again. How, you ask? Well, why don’t you check in into the Tokyo Disneyland hotel when in Tokyo? Before I begin to even tell you more, let me share that staying here will be a little expensive. But if waking up like a Disney princess was your dream, this is the best chance to relive that.
The hotel is inspired by Disney stories and has the feel of old Hollywood weaved into it. While the rooms with a Minnie mouse shaped pillow or polka-dotted bed sheets are a great attraction, it is the themed rooms that will steal your breath away. Rooms with themes like Peter Pan, Snow White (my favourite), and so on.
10. Live among art
The capital city of Tokyo gives you a plethora of options, and it had fulfilled another dream of mine. To spend a night in an art gallery. Well, the Park Hotel isn’t an art gallery per se. But with superb attention to detail and art from all up-and-coming contemporary artists of Japan, the place has a very artsy feel. It also comes at an affordable price, so staying here won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
Located just 2 minutes away Shinbashi station, also provides some excellent views of the city. Also, it is very close to the Tokyo Tower, so if you want to watch the dazzling tower from your bed, you can shell out a few extra bucks and book the room with a view. This is one of the best places to stay in Tokyo, and I would personally recommend this!
11. It’s Christmas every day
I am sure Christmas holds a special place in our hearts. I think it is less about the festival itself and way more about the spirit. And if you are like me, who loves everything Christmas, then Chapel Christmas Hotel, located in both Tokyo and Osaka, is the place to be.
It is technically a love hotel but one which is full of Christmas trees, tinsel, Christmas lights, Santa Claus. The best part? Since it is an adult-only hotel, you can enjoy Christmas without any wailing children nearby.
12. Stay at a family-run guest-house
These little B&Bs are a pleasure to stay at when in Japan, and I cannot recommend these enough. Book these family-run guesthouses, mostly found far from the hustle and bustle of the city in ski resorts or farms or even along the beautiful coastline. The rooms like traditional decor with tatami floors, and you will have to roll out your own futons at night before you go to bed. But what makes this experience worthwhile is how it is more like a community.
As a female solo traveller in a foreign country, things can get a little lonely at times. So, a stay like this where you can chat with fellow travellers while eating in a community dining room or learning more about Japanese culture from the owners is always an added advantage. A good conversation over a cup of matcha tea is indeed a priceless experience. But the best part? This experience comes at an extremely affordable price.
The list of crazy and offbeat places to spend a night in Japan is endless. But I have culled out the best, keeping in mind the safety of a female solo traveller. If I have missed any, let me know in the comments below.
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.