Ryokan Asakusa Shigetsu
Asakusa 1-31-11, 011-81-3/3843-2345, shigetsu.com
Traditional inn in the shadow of Senso-Ji Temple with kimono-clad, English-speaking staff. Don't miss the wonderful wooden tub on the top floor. There's no extra fee for a soak with views of the neighboring five-story pagoda. From $129 for a western double, from $140 for a more interesting Japanese-style room with tatami mats, futons, and shoji screens.
Sukeroku no Yado Sadachiyo
Asakusa 2-20-1, 011-81-3/3842-6431, sadachiyo.co.jp
Atmospheric, cozy ryokan filled with Japanese fire-fighting antiques from the Edo period. Rooms are simple, with wood detailing, tatami mats, and futons. There are also bicycles for rent; the charming landlady will point you in the right direction. The neighborhood has plenty of colorful back streets that are ideal for exploring on two wheels. (Note: People bike on the sidewalk in Japan.) Doubles from $160; add $9 for stays on Sat., Sun., and nights before holidays. $1.75 per day for bike rental.
Homeikan (Morikawa Annex)
Hongo 6-23-5, 011-81-3/3811-8171, homeikan.com
For over 50 years this exceptional ryokan has provided a way for guests in the city to experience the charm of a traditional rural inn. In the Morikawa section, each room features expert carpentry, elegant shoji screens, and delicate wood carvings of pine trees and landscapes. Within easy walking distance of three major subway stops--Hongo-Sanchome, Marunouchi, and Todai-Mae. Doubles from $97.
Chuo-cho1-3-18, 011-81-3/3719-8121, claska.com
Tokyo's only boutique hotel. It has just nine rooms--all chic. Some come with glossy hardwood floors and sexy glass- paneled bathrooms. The first-floor lobby lounge, complete with DJ, bookstore and canine grooming salon, is popular with local fashionistas, but don't expect service with a smile. Doubles from $170.
Meguro Club Sekitei
Shimo Meguro 2-1-6, 011-81-3/3494-1211
An imitation castle, this is Tokyo's favorite "love hotel." It provides discreet sanctuary for amorous young couples seeking to escape their cramped apartments and families--most Japanese live at home until they marry. Themed rooms are available for a euphemistic "rest" or overnight stay. Weekends get especially crowded. A fun, uniquely Japanese experience. No reservations. Note: Most overnight rates are for stays 10 p.m.--10 a.m. From $50 for a three-hour "rest," from $80 for midweek overnight stays, $105 on weekend nights.
Villa Fontaine Roppongi
Roppongi 1-6-2, 011-81-3/3560-1110, villa-fontaine.co.jp
One rank up from other so-called business hotels. It even provides you with your own pair of pajamas, and some rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art vibrating massage chairs. The best features of the attractive rooms are the cozy feather comforters. The complimentary breakfast buffet--a rarity in Tokyo--has flaky pastries and fresh fruit. There's no concierge, but the reception staff can provide information and directions in English. Doubles from $125.
Green Plaza Capsule Hotel
Kabukicho 1-29-2, 011-81-3/3207-5411, hgpshinjuku.jp/cap/
The king of capsule hotels, with 660 horizontal "pods" for male guests only. Capsule hotels are famous for providing cheap emergency accommodation for drunk Japanese salarymen who've missed their last train home. All baths are communal, and there's also a sauna with a giant hunk of 400 million-year-old Himalayan salt (it supposedly emits healthy negative ions). Note: There's a strict no-tattoo rule. (See box on p. 6.) Capsules from $38, including outside locker rental.
Odakyu Hotel Century Southern Tower
Yoyogi 2-2-1, 011-81-3/5354-0111, southerntower.co.jp
Great city center location--it towers over Shinjuku Station. Guestroom interiors are nothing too special; the real reason to stay here is the dramatic city views. Rooms are on floors 22--35. Beds are comfortable, and the staff brews free pots of green tea every morning. Doubles from $190.
Yanaka 2-3-11, 011-81-3/3822-2251, sawanoya.com
Although the Japanese-style guestrooms--some with private baths--are small, this is a warm family-run ryokan in a peaceful part of the city that's steeped in history. Ask charismatic owner Mr. Sawa about the area's temples and traditional shops, and for his hand-drawn English map to help you get around. Reservations recommended. Doubles from $85.
Park Hotel Tokyo
Shiodome Media Tower, Higashi Shimbashi 1-7-1, 011-81-3/6252-1111, parkhoteltokyo.com
A glitzy giant in the newly developed Shiodome area, where the service is slick and the concierge can help you with just about anything. The light-filled atrium lobby stretches 10 stories high. Guestrooms are light and airy, with soothing neutral color schemes, modern wood furniture, custom-made pillows, and artwork inspired by nature. It's worth paying extra for a Tower Side room with uninterrupted views of the city and, when the sky is clear, distant Mount Fuji. Tower Side doubles from $210.