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Top 5 Crazy Hotels for Budget Travelers

Venture to some decidedly "untouristy" spots in Japan with these recommendations for unique — and still affordable — overnight options.

By 5 min read

Japan is full of cheap accommodation options for travelers. While this means youth hostels or Airbnb for most, there are an endless number of options. Couples can stay at love hotels, those who don’t mind a cramped space can sleep in a capsule hotel and the super cheap can do a bit of couch surfing. But Japan is the land of crazy, the land of maid cafés and Hello Kitty, so travelers should also try staying at some of the even more unique lodging experiences that the country has to offer.

Here are five spots currently trending in Japan for their unique take on travel accommodations.

1. Henn-na Hotel

With a suitable pun of a name (hen means “strange” in Japanese), Henn-na Hotel is a great place to start a unique holiday in Japan. The original hotel is only a few years old and located near the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Nagasaki, while another branch has been opened near Disneyland in Tokyo. What makes this hotel special is that it is staffed almost entirely by robots. They will check you in and out, handle your luggage, plus offer travel advice and other concierge services. While Henna Na Hotel could not be classed as budget accommodation, ¥5,000 to ¥6,000 deals do occasionally pop up. Especially for a couple, this may be a reasonably priced way to spend one, very odd night. Who doesn’t want to be welcomed by dinosaur robots at check-in?

2. Train Hostel Hokutosei

With prices from ¥2,500 per night, this is an awesomely cheap way to spend the night. Train Hostel Hokutosei is furnished with reused parts from an actual limited express sleeper train. The old Hokutosei was a much-loved one for the train-crazy Japanese, so much fanfare was created when this hostel opened after the discontinuation of the train service. The dorm style rooms use the same parts as the sleeper carriages in the old train and are decorated to feel as much like a train a possible. Friendly staff, dressed in train attendant uniforms, are always on hand to help out travelers. 

3. Hotel Gracery Shinjuku

For those wanting a fancier experience, check out the Godzilla-inspired rooms at the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku. A short walk from Shinjuku station on the west side of Tokyo, and right in the heart of the skyscraper district, Hotel Gracery would be a good option for a couple looking for a pleasant hotel downtown. While it looks rather dull from the outside, the inside has been spruced up with the big guy himself. Head up to the terrace on the eighth floor to meet Godzilla or book a room with a view of the monster. There is even a Godzilla-themed suite. Look out for the occasional cheap deal online or if you’re sneaky you can head inside and have a peek for free!

4. Oedo Onsen Monogatari

Don your traditional yukata and dip in and out of the outdoor baths in the Japanese-style garden.

Oedo Onsen is Tokyo’s best super sento (public bath). People describe it as a hot spring theme park. It’s definitely an apt description, with old school games to play, kimono to wear as you walk around a pretend traditional market and attractions such as “doctor fish” that eat all the dirty skin off your feet!

For those on a budget, Oedo Onsen has some good options for staying the night. All visitors have to do is pay a small overnight fee of ¥1,980 and they can stay overnight. You can sleep on the stuffed reclining chairs, lie down on the Japanese tatami floors on the free mats or pay a little more to have our own private capsule. There is also a free shuttle bus service to Tokyo and Shinagawa stations. After all that bathing, most travelers should sleep like a log.

5. Book and Bed

Standard capsule hotels can feel rather dull and sterile and have always felt like something that could be re-invented in a more fun, lighthearted manner. Book and Bed Tokyo is part of a growing phenomenon of hotels that combine the library and capsule hotel into one. While standard wifi is available, travelers come here to get away from their high-tech lifestyles, chill out and read a comic or two. There are over 2,500 books to enjoy at each location, including English language books. Prices start from ¥3,500 per night for compact beds. Book and Bed have two locations in Tokyo, as well as branches in Fukuoka and Kyoto.

For budget travelers coming to Japan, check out my digital book Super Cheap Japan: Budget Travel in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Hiroshima and Surrounding Areas (see link below). It includes:

  • Budget food — eat for only a few dollars with comprehensive listings of low-cost restaurants, takeouts, supermarkets and more
  • Budget shopping — ¥100 ($1) shops, free sample hotspots, tax-free shopping, discount passes and coupons
  • Color maps for budget travelers, making it super easy to get around
  • Highlights and itineraries based on discount train or bus passes, so you can keep your wallet happy while still having an amazing holiday
  • Hidden treasures — walking and cycling routes to cut down on train fares, cheap side trips and free alternatives to crowded, overpriced spots
  • Cheap accommodation — the best and cheapest capsule hotels, net cafes, overnight spas, hostels, campsites and more

It’s the perfect companion for any budget traveler to Japan. Great for backpackers, budget travelers, families on a tight budget, students and those who are new to Japan. Get the most out of this amazing country, without burning a hole in your wallet! Supports Kindle, iBooks, Nook and most other readers and devices.

Have you stayed in a crazy hotel in Japan? How was it? Let us know in the comments!

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