The coolest hotel in Tokyo hidden in plain sight

Photo supplied: HOSHINOYA Tokyo

In Japan there are hotels, then there are ryokans. Traditional style inns in scenic countryside locations that date back to the 8th century, many handed down from generation to generation. Ryokan living is the epitome of zen with tatami mats and sliding doors, complimentary yukata (lounge pajamas), tea ceremonies, kaiseki cuisine and hot spring onsens.

Today’s ryokan culture has evolved to fuse old and new worlds and the country’s first luxury urban ryokan in downtown Tokyo’s Otemachi district. HOSHINOYA Tokyo’s seventeen  floors of a purpose built building in the financial district are a shrine to detailed design with a unique take on historical charm.

If you find Tokyo frenetic then you’ll love the peace of Hoshinoya, the perfect yin retreat after the madness of a yang tourist day in the city.

But be warned, you may not want to leave…

Fourteen Ryokans in One

Each of the fourteen guest floors act as a single ryokan and houses a mere six guest rooms and suites. An ochanoma communal area on each floor offers a central lounge for guests to use as a library, a snack room, a meeting place that serves onigiri rice balls and tea daily. The impact is intimate and soothing, quite the accomplishment in an 84 guest room hotel. You literally may not see another guest during your whole stay plus you’re given slipper socks to wear throughout the property.

Design and Details

From the giant single cut cypress entry door to the bamboo shoeboxes that create a 5.5 metre walled streamlined genkan (entrance) to the Edo Komon kimono motif facade of metal lattice to the rock formations of the basement restaurant. Every turn, every nook, every vista has been carefully thought out for maximum lighting and visual impact. Add home facial kits in the bathroom amenities, hi tech Japanese toilets that automatically open when you approach and flat screen televisions within walled mirrors.

Rooftop Onsen

The Japanese art of bathing is taken to a roof top level at HOSHINOYA Tokyo. The creators of the ryokan drilled over a kilometer and a half below the city to access volcanic mineral waters to feed the urban soul. After a day spent wandering the city, don the kimono in your room and head to the onsen to soak under the night sky with a square open roofed onsen.

Food Glorious food

Tokyo is home to over 240 Michelin restaurants, it is a city obsessed with pristine cuisine and the food offerings at HOSHINOYA Tokyo don’t disappoint. Make sure you choose a Japanese breakfast at least once during your stay and expect an intricate bento box of miso flavors and care.

Japanese breakfast served in guests’ rooms. Photo supplied: HOSHINOYA Tokyo

As a guest you have first dibs on the French Japanese fusion restaurant that sits in a zen style rock basement that will blow your design and taste bud socks off. A mere ten tables, the restaurant is found within a den of clay and rock walls with a menu that salutes nature from Executive Chef,  HOSHINOYA Tokyo, Noriyuki Hamada.

Light and Shade

Sliding washi paper and wood panels create a soft light from the outside in. As the sun changes position throughout the day the kimono motifs on the metal lattice work that encapsulates the building are projected within the walls of the ryokan guest rooms. The effect is constant delight with the changing hours.

Bathrooms feature glass walls that let natural light in and frost over when required with giant showers and deep black upright square tubs. Mood room lighting ensures warmth even on the coldest Tokyo winter days.

Service and Culture

From sake tasting to traditional tea ceremonies to Gagaku dance performance, the ryokan lobby presents complimentary elements of Japanese culture on a daily basis for guests to immerse themselves in the history of Japan.


Think tatami mats with western style mattresses to sink into for the soundest sleeps. The overall quiet of Hoshinoya rocks most guests into a meditative slumber. Add complimentary breath classes for those tackling jet lag and you may just have the best zzzz’s of your life.

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How much

HOSHINOYA Tokyo is the top of it’s field so expect five star hotel prices. Corner suites are worth the extra for more space, ideal for a smaller family.


Service is exceptionally attentive, it can feel overbearing at first but hang in there as once settled in you will be left to truly exhale and when you need something, anything, it will be done.

The hotel is so peaceful that we rarely left it and the convenience of Otemachi station accessed via the basement of the resort meant that when we did, we were never too far from returning ‘home’. The big plus is the rooftop onsen, true decadence in a city that already does luxury like no other.

If you want a traditional urban retreat experience with a contemporary touch then HOSHINOYA Tokyo has your name on it.

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SnowsBest was a guest of Hoshinoya Tokyo

Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017, a former columnist for Mountainwatch and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.

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