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Tokyo: Stay in style

  • Story Highlights
  • Why stay at the Peninsula Hotel? Because it has in-room espresso machines
  • The views from the Park Hyatt were the real star of "Lost in Translation"
  • A "ryokan" is a traditional inn, with futons and "tatami" floor mats in the rooms
  • If you're short on cash, or just curious, spend a night in a capsule hotel
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(CNN) -- From luxury hotels in colossal tower blocks to traditional "ryokan" and functional capsule hotels, there's plenty of variety in Tokyo's hotel scene.

Capsule hotel

Sample the salaryman lifestyle at the Capsule Inn Akihabara.

If you can afford it -- and you probably can't -- you owe it to yourself to stay at the Peninsula Hotel (1-8-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku). As well as overlooking the Imperial Palace, what makes this hotel so special is the incredible array of high-tech mod cons in the rooms.

There are wall panels that show the outdoor weather conditions, in-room nail dryers and espresso machines and, best of all, the toilets have a heated, self-lifting seat and built-in power deodorizer -- ingenious.

Another top-end option is the Park Hyatt (3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku), immediately recognizable as the setting for the movie "Lost in Translation." The hotel occupies floors 41 to 52 of the Shinjuku Park Tower, and with breathtaking views over the city and towards Mount Fuji, its popularity with visiting celebrities is understandable.

A more economical option is the Park Hotel Tokyo (Shiodome Media Tower, 1-7-1, Higashi Shimbashi), which also has great views, along with modern, unfussy rooms. The hotel even employs "Pillow Fitter" staff to make sure you get a good night's sleep. Marunouchi Hotel (1-6-30 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku) has comfortable rooms and is surprisingly luxurious for a business hotel.

A "ryokan" is a traditional Japanese-style inn, often featuring communal baths and rooms with futons and "tatami" (straw mat) flooring. They also tend to be cheaper than regular hotels.

Family-run Ryokan Sawanoya (2-3-11 Yanaka, Taito-ku) is cheap and homely. The English-speaking owner is exceptionally helpful and keen to immerse you in Japanese culture. If you're lucky, his family will put on a tea ceremony or lion dance for your viewing pleasure.

Ryokan Asakusa Shigetsu (1-31-11 Asakusa, Taito-ku) is a more expensive but more traditional option. Most rooms have private bathrooms but it's worth using the communal baths just for the views of the nearby five-storied pagoda. 'Western-style' rooms are also available.

If you're on a tight budget, or just curious, you could always try a 'capsule' hotel, where guests sleep in coffin-sized capsules, just big enough to sit up in. Aimed primarily at workers too tired or too drunk to make it home, capsule hotels are only really suitable for single-night stays.

Asakusa Riverside Capsule Hotel (2-20-4 Kaminarimon, Taito-ku), with a women-only floor, is one of the few capsule hotels in Tokyo that allows female guests. You'll be provided with a dressing gown and toothbrush and you'll have access to communal bathing facilities. Be sure to take earplugs, as the snores of drunken salarymen won't do much for your beauty sleep.

Where to stay | What to see | Where to be seen | Where to eat | Where to shop


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