Known as Tokyo’s ‘Second Centre’, Shinjuku is a major hub within the wider metropolitan area. The world’s busiest railway station lies at its heart, keeping visitors well connected to other destinations across Japan. In many ways a microcosm of Tokyo, Shinjuku is incredibly diverse with a wide range of attractions on offer.
As with many Japanese cities, deciphering the different neighborhoods within Shinjuku can be difficult if you’re only looking at a map. This area is so diverse, so it’s important to get a sense of the place before you dive in and book your accommodation.
Which is where we come in! We’ve combined out own experience with hints and tips from locals and tourism experts, to figure out the four best places to stay in Shinjuku. Whether you’re interested in culture, nightlife or shopping, we’ve got somewhere for you.
So let’s jump right in!
Where to Stay in Shinjuku
Modern Apartment in Shinjuku – studio-D
This soothing abode was originally designed as a study space, but the owner has since decided to share it with international guests. You’ll have the entire studio to yourself, which includes a kitchenette and private bathroom. You’ll be right in the heart of Kagurazaka, the most historic district in Shinjuku.
Affordable Hostel in Shinjuku – Imano Tokyo Hostel
Japan is a notoriously expensive country, with Tokyo specifically among the most expensive cities in the world. Budget travellers need not fear, however, as there are still plenty of great hostels in Shinjuku on offer. Beds here come with privacy features to give you a little extra peace and quiet.
Luxury Hotel in Shinjuku – Shinjuku No.19
This luxurious 5-star hotel in Shinjuku is right in the heat of the student district, and is surrounded by bustling nightlife, cheap eats and unique entertainment attractions. The large terrace offers outstanding views across Shinjuku and even as far as central Tokyo on a clear day. There’s also a roomy hot tub for guests to use throughout their stay.
Shinjuku No.19 is one of our favourites in Shinjuku but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Up in the northeastern edge of Shinjuku, Kagurazaka is one of the last remaining hanamachi in Tokyo. What’s a hanamachi? These are geisha districts where you can discover one of Japan’s oldest traditions. The entire neighborhood maintains a historic vibe, perfect for those looking for something a little unique.
Takadanobaba is close to Waseda University making it a popular district for students. It’s a little bit out of the way, but is still well connected to central Shinjuku by metro. As a result of these two situations, Takadanobaba is the most budget-friendly neighborhood in the area.
Despite being right next to the centre of Shinjuku, Yotsuya is a surprisingly peaceful neighborhood. It’s mostly residential, so you’ll get a real feel for what it’s like to be a local in the city.
Kabukicho is the most central district in Shinjuku. It takes up the entire eastern side of the JR Station, so it will likely be the first neighborhood you encounter in the area.
Top 4 Neighborhoods to Stay in Shinjuku
Shinjuku is an area of Tokyo, but a major hub in its own right. The main entertainment districts, while the outskirts offer more peaceful and budget-friendly options. The great thing about Shinjuku is that the metro system is pretty extensive, so you’ll be able to visit all of Tokyo’s neighborhoods during your trip.
Kagurazaka is one of the last Geisha districts in Tokyo, making it a totally unique destination. It’s on the outskirts of Shinjuku, but totally worth it if you want a completely different experience. For first time visitors, Kagurazaka gives you a fascinating insight into Japanese tradition, history, and culture.
If you would rather stay centrally, Kabukicho is located right next to the train station. The nightlife here is far more diverse than in central Tokyo, and there are also some fantastic shopping destinations in the neighborhood.
In contrast to Kabukicho, Yotsuya is one of the more peaceful neighborhoods. It’s home to a nationally famous garden and great family-friendly attractions. If you’re bringing the kids along with you, Yotsuya is a fantastic place to stay.
Takadanobaba is the main student district in the area. There’s no escaping how expensive Japan can be, but the large student and expat population here keeps restaurants and bars well priced. Its distance from central Shinjuku also means you’ll find some great offers on accommodation.
Still not quite decided? There’s so much to choose from in this super diverse part of the city. Keep reading for more in-depth guides to each neighborhood. We’ve also included our top accommodation and activity picks for each to help you plan your itinerary.
Kagurazaka is one of the last remaining hanamachi (or geisha district) in Tokyo. The entire neighborhood maintains a historic vibe, perfect for those looking for something a little unique and wanting to get to know one of Japan’s oldest traditions.
Staying here is a fantastic way to really embed yourself in Japanese history. It’s also well connected to the rest of Shinjuku and the Harajuku district nearby. Kagurazaka is a bit of wild card, but we’re certain you’ll love it.
Elegant Penthouse in Kagurazaka – studio-D
If you want to stay right in the center of Shinjuku’s Geisha district, look no further than this uber-modern studio. The peaceful interiors take their cue from Danish design, whilst large windows give you great views across the area. Whilst it is attached to a local home, the unit is entirely self-contained. According to reviews, the friendly owner is more than happy to give you tips.
Cute Flat in Kagurazaka – Kagurazaka Station
This central flat is right next to the metro station, meaning you’ll be well connected to the rest of Shinjuku. This cosy little bolt-hole is perfect for solo travellers and couples visiting the neighborhood. They also offer a substantial discount for those staying a month or longer.
Laid Back Hotel in Kagurazaka – Hotel Vintage Kagurazaka
This 4-star hotel near Tokyo’s train station offers chilled-out luxury at reasonable rates. Rooms are decorated in the traditional Japanese style and can host large numbers, making this a fantastic choice for families and groups. There are multiple temples within walking distance, and the Kagurazaka Metro Station is right on the doorstep. Many rooms come with city views – just ask for one when you book!
Things to See and Do in Kagurazaka
- Kagurazaka is one of the few remaining Geisha districts in Tokyo – head to Iidabashi, which is also the main shopping street in the area. it’s a great way to interact with the culture
- Another excellent cultural venue is the Kagurazaka Session House, where you can catch both traditional and modern performances
- Take a relaxing stroll around Shirogane Park and admire the cherry blossoms during the peak season – a perfect way to unwind in the heart of the city
- There are plenty of gorgeous restaurants and cafés on the streets adjacent to Iidabashi – especially if you want to try the local take on French pastries
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2. Takadanobaba – Where to Stay in Shinjuku on a Budget
Takadanobaba is close to Waseda University, making it a popular district for students. It’s a little bit out of the way, but is still well connected to central Shinjuku by metro. Consequently, Takadanobaba is the best neighborhood for those traveling on a budget. You’ll still have to prepare for Tokyo’s notoriously high prices, but staying in Takadanobaba will be a little easier on your wallet.
It’s also a fascinating area if you want something more authentic. There isn’t as much tourism in the area, meaning you’ll get to interact with a more genuine example of contemporary Japan. Make sure you set aside some time to visit the easy-going bars in Takadanobaba, even if you opt to stay elsewhere.
Traditional House in Takadanobaba – Nostalgic Home
Always wanted to stay in a traditional Japanese-style home? Look no further than this gorgeous little Tokyo AirBnB on the outskirts of Takadanobaba. Despite the cozy size, it can sleep up to six people. It’s common for people to share rooms in traditional Japanese housing, and in this case sharing can help you save even more money!
Budget Friendly Flat in Takadanobaba – Breathing Hotel
All that said, the real budget friendly options in Takadanobaba are the apartments. Breathing Hotel is an aparthotel that offers self contained accommodation in a hotel setting. This cute little room is just one of their offerings, but there are plenty of larger options available too. Takadanobaba Station is also right next to the hotel, keeping you well connected to the rest of the city.
Peaceful Hotel in Takadanobaba – Shinjuku No.19
Kick back, relax, and marvel at the gorgeous views from the hot tub on the terrace at this stunning 5-star hotel. Now, we know what you’re thinking, 5-star hotels aren’t budget friendly! Whilst it’s true that you’ll need to splurge a little on Shinjuku No.19, it’s still one of the best priced luxury hotels in the entire city. Enjoy a little bit of pampering for less.
Shinjuku No.19 is one of our favourites in Shinjuku but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Things to See and Do in Takadanobaba
- Tokyo Confectionary School offer some great day classes where you can learn how to make traditional Japanese treats
- Right next door to the train station you will find a small shopping centre – this is a great spot for grabbing bargains on local clothing and homeware brands
- Take a walk along the Kanda River – it runs right along the northern edge of the neighborhood, offering some serenity among the chaos of Tokyo
- Shinuchi Mikasa is our favourite restaurant in the area – offering some gorgeous Japanese noodles at very reasonable prices
3. Yotsuya – Best Area in Shinjuku for Families
Despite being right next to the centre of Shinjuku, Yotsuya is a surprisingly peaceful neighborhood. It’s mostly residential, so you’ll get a real feel for what it’s like to be a local in the city. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is to the west of the area, and attracts many people traveling through Japan throughout the year.
As a somewhat peaceful neighborhood ( by Tokyo standards), Yotsuya is an excellent choice for families. You’ll also find some great child-friendly attractions in the area that will keep the whole family entertained.
Minimalist House in Yotsuya – Condo Yotsuya
Condos aren’t easy to find in Tokyo, especially in Yotsuya. This compact home was designed with tourists in mind. The interiors are modern, whilst still making use of traditional Japanese furniture arrangements. It can sleep up to 10 guests across three bedrooms but the small size keeps it affordable, even for smaller families. The Tokyo Toy Museum is only a five to ten minute walk away.
Stylish Aparthotel in Yotsuya – Citadines Shinjuku
Citadines Shinjuku is a short walk away from local attractions, but remains peaceful in the evenings. It is an aparthotel, so you’ll have everything you need for a comfortable stay. Shinjuku Station is a seven minute walk away, and the National Garden is also easily reached on foot.
Cozy Apartment in Yotsuya – H2O Stay
This is a more typical apartment offering enough space for five guests across two bedrooms, making it a great choice for smaller families looking to stay in Yotsuya. It’s located just off the main street, so you’ll have plenty of restaurants and local stores right on your doorstep. The free Wi-Fi offered is actually portable, so if ou wanted to, you could bring it along with you for internet access from anywhere in the city.
H2O Stay is one of our favourites in Shinjuku but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Things to See and Do in Yotsuya
- Visit Tokyo Toy Museum, where you can enjoy a journey through the history of toys and childhood in the country.
- Unleash your creative spirit in this fantastic Japanese painting workshop hosted by a local artists just north of the Toy Museum
- Bento Boxes are another creative tradition, this time involving food! Learn how to make your own character lunch boxes in this cute little workshop
- Yotsuya is a truly cosmopolitan area known for its decadent French and Italian cuisine. Café La Boheme is an excellent introduction to culinary scene here.
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4. Kabukicho – Vibrant Nightlife District in Shinjuku
Kabukicho is the most central district in Shinjuku. It takes up the entire eastern side of the JR Station. Kabukicho is vibrant and bustling, and is well and truly the neighborhood that never sleeps. This is a great neighborhood for discovering a little bit of everything that Shinjuku has to offer.
Kabukicho is the red-light district of Shinjuku and is also home to some of the busiest nightlife. Just to the east is Shinjuku ni-chome, the heart of gay nightlife in Tokyo. This is a truly diverse region and in many ways a great reflection of the city as a whole.
Dreamy Apartment in Kabukicho – Near Station
Another fantastic option for those hoping to stay centrally, this cosy little apartment is only a minute’s walk from the JR station. The quaint interiors give off a homey and contemporary vibe, with plenty of space and heaps of natural light in the morning. It comes with a kitchenette with everything you need for a self-catered stay in the city.
Lively Hostel near Kabukicho – Imano Tokyo Hostel
One of the few hostels in Tokyo that hasn’t been converted into a pod hotel, this is actually among the cheapest options in the entire metropolitan area. Despite these great prices, it’s a well kept hostel with modern technology and fantastic guest reviews. They host a couple of social events throughout the week where you can meet fellow travellers. This is our top pick for backpackers in Shinjuku.
Indulgent Hotel in Kabukicho – JR Kyushu Hotel Blossom
Connected to Shinjuku JR Station, it doesn’t get much more central than this! This 4-star hotel oozes cool, with brooding interiors and stunning skyline views. The main shopping district in Shinjuku is a five minute walk away, making this a popular choice for retail enthusiasts. Rooms are also among the most spacious in Shinjuku.
Things to See and Do in Kabukicho
- Start your night off right with some of the best cuisine in Shinjuku thanks to this tour – you’ll also hit up some of the most popular drinking spots with locals
- If you want to sample a piece of Japanese culture, learn about Samurai and train as a master swordsman in this incredibly popular experience
- Shinjuku i-Land Tower dominates the skyline of Shinjuku – it is surrounded by famous artwork, including pieces by Robert Indiana and Roy Lichtenstein
- Just outside the station you’ll find a small cluster of hip nightlife – we love ‘B a o B a b’ as a starting point, but make sure to check out their neighbours
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What To Pack For Shinjuku
Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.
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Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in Shinjuku
Shinjuku is a bustling and vibrant area to stay within Tokyo that has so much to offer. Whether you’re interested in ancient traditions, buzzing nightlife or diverse cuisine, there’s truly something for everyone in Shinjuku.
For us, the neighborhood that really stands out is Kabukicho, as it’s home to some of the most exciting nightlife and shopping destinations in Tokyo. You’ll never be short of things to do here, and proximity to the JR station means getting around is easy as pie.
That being said, all of the neighborhoods mentioned in this guide have their own benefits. Whether you’re after bustling city streets or well preserved history, we hope we’ve helped you narrow down your options for your upcoming trip to Shinjuku.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!