Wise Owls Hostel in Shibuya

A fun, friendly hostel in the middle of Tokyo

Peter Sidell
Peter Sidell   - 3 min read

A lot of the hostels in Tokyo are around the peaceful historical district of Asakusa, and until recently, there have been few budget options in the livelier areas. However, this is changing, and there are now more central hostels such as Inno in Akasaka, and Wise Owls, an easy walk to Shinsen or Shibuya stations.

The first floor is shared with Farmer's Table Mother, a restaurant and bar serving dishes made with organic seasonal vegetables, and when you check in you're greeted by both the cheerful English-speaking staff and Meg, an animatronic bowing wooden owl. If you're on a late-arriving budget LCC flight, then you'll still be OK, because check-in is open until 2:00am.

They've made the most of the limited space: I didn't count, but according to the website, there are 97 beds across four floors, divided into family rooms, twin or double rooms, or labyrinthine dorms. I was in a dorm, but I was impressed by the comfort of my capsule, with a nice thick mattress rather than a thin little futon thing, and the soundproofing, that completely kept out noise from the main road outside. I also enjoyed the aesthetic, with lots of wood, big numbers on the walls and beds, and economical use of space, with cabinets in the capsules and shoe-lockers under the steps to the upper beds.

In more nods to budget travelers, towels and toiletries are provided, and on each floor there's a box of free goodies left by previous guests, including shampoo, shower gel, food and books. Each floor has a fridge and microwave, a small eating space, and good, strong showers with an agreeably large space to dry off, while on the 2nd and 3rd floors you'll find washing and drying machines. There's free Wi-Fi throughout and a PC and iPad near reception that you can use if your battery's out; you can charge your devices on the USB jacks by the beds. That's the attention to detail included in the design.

There's a nice little Buddhist temple just up the road, but not much else nearby by way of sights: however, it's an easy ten or fifteen-minute walk to Shibuya or Shinsen stations, putting the whole city within easy reach by train or subway. If you want to sample local drinks or dining, then on the walk towards Shinsen station there are plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants, and a 24-hour supermarket for snacks or cooking or breakfast supplies.

The cost will depend on what type of room, the date, how you book: roughly you can expect to pay ¥3500-4000 per person for most rooms, slightly more for a double or one of the more spacious twins. This is a little more than you might pay for other hostels in Tokyo, but for the convenient location, cleanliness and facilities it's worth the few hundred yen more.

Peter Sidell

Peter Sidell @peter.sidell

I came to Japan from Manchester, England in 2003, and have travelled a lot since then, around Japan and in Asia. When I'm not working, I write satire and perform stand-up comedy in and around Tokyo. Check YouTube for a taste.