Full disclosure: John manages Hakuba.com, a site we think is fantastic for skiiers and snowboarders headed to Hakuba. Read on for the best places to stay here.
The ski season is upon us! Japan’s most popular resort, Niseko, has already opened their runs to the public and the Hakuba Valley resorts will likely be ready for business soon. If you’re visiting the Hakuba Valley this year, read this guide before deciding where to book your accommodation.
Hakuba is much larger than your average ski town and offers various accommodations to choose from at every price point. The valley is comprised of many neighborhoods and I recommend staying at the three closest to Happo-One, the largest resort. These are Echoland, Happo Village, and Wadano.
Many of the best bars, restaurants, and cafés are located in Echoland making the area a great spot to stay for those interested in enjoying their time off the slopes as much as their time on it. Visitors staying in Echoland can walk to the Happo-One lifts and easily access the shuttles that visit all resorts in the valley.
Where to Stay in Echoland
Echoland is great for budget travelers and the Lab may be the best budget hostel in town. Its warm, inviting atmosphere makes it a great place to meet like-minded travelers and bond over beers and stories from the mountain. The Lab also houses one of the best hotel bars in all of Hakuba and is walking distance from a dozen other bars.
Where to Eat in Echoland
Beer, Ramen, Gyoza
An excellent ramen shop which serves exactly what you’re thinking. They keep the menu simple and delicious. Order the tan tan ramen, a sauce-less ramen, and go extra spicy if you are feeling dangerous.
Happo Village sits at the base of Happo-One and is the main ski village in the valley, home to the train and bus stations, many restaurants, bars, hotels, and more. This is the most convenient place to stay for most visitors to Hakuba.
Where to Stay in Happo Village
The Marillen Hotel
One of the few true ski-in-ski-out hotels in Hakuba, the Austrian themed Marillen Hotel offers comfortable accommodations, unrivaled location, and authentic European Alpine cuisine in the hotel restaurant, Bernd Keller’s. Marillen Hotel sits on the Nakiyama slope which offers night skiing so the kids can go tobogganing under the floodlights on the safe green slope while you watch through the large windows and enjoy warm sake or cold beer and a hardy meal.
The Hakuba Springs Hotel
The Hakuba Springs Hotel is a modern western style hotel located in the center of the Happo Village and minutes walk to the lifts of Happo-One ski resort. The hotel contains a Japanese hot spring, an authentic sushi restaurant, and a lively bar, Jack's Sports Bar. It’s the best bang-for-your-buck accommodation in Happo Village.
Where to Eat in Happo Village
Sharaku, located in the Hakuba Springs Hotel, offers a range of delicious Japanese food with a focus on fresh seafood and sushi. For those who prefer their food cooked, the wagyu steak is an excellent option. Sharaku is great for couples or groups alike and serves a wide-range of local Sake to accompany your meal.
Wadano Woods contains many high class hotels and chalets and offers more privacy than other areas in the valley, but still has a handful of great eateries and night life locations.
Where to Stay in Wadano
An upmarket property in Wadano offering guests a high level of service including housing what is in my opinion Hakuba’s number 1 restaurant, Mimi’s. The property also has a great lounge bar, Hot Springs, and offers guests private shuttles to and from the ski resorts.
If you enjoy the finer things in life, look no further than One Happo. Forbes Magazine called it the most luxurious chalet in Asia, and if you ever visit, you’ll understand why. Perched high on a hill with wide reaching views over Hakuba Valley, this private residence is James-Bond-esque in aesthetic with its fusion of red cedar, marble, stainless steel and glass throughout. There’s even a transparent fireplace, private hot spring, Olympic sized weight room, and stocked wine room to name just a few of its ultra-modern amenities.
Where to Eat in Wadano
The Rabbit Hole
The Rabbit Hole is known for the burgers and are probably the best in the valley. Don’t leave without trying the Chuck Norris burger. If you’re a vegetarian, the Smells Like Bean Spirit is the burger for you.
Please visit Hakuba.com for more information on accommodation, resorts, lift status and more.