Hilton Niseko Village Hotel skiing
Hilton Niseko Village Hotel bedroom
Hilton Niseko Village Hotel exterior
Hilton Niseko Village Hotel living room
Home to deep-powder skiing and luxury family hotels, Niseko is the name given to a group of village ski resorts clustered around the base of Mount Niseko Annupuri, on Hokkaido, Japan’s north island. Most slopes have a bracing view of the neighbouring Mount Yotei, a perfectly cylindrical volcanic cone, almost identical to Mount Fuji. Niseko may not have the glitz of St Moritz, but it has classier snow - vast swathes of knee-deep powder driven in by Siberian winds. It is also one of the few truly international parts of Japan (English is widely spoken), while retaining exceptionally high Japanese standards of service, food and… multi-functional, heated lavatories.
The Green Leaf Niseko Village
The Green Leaf Niseko Village is a stylish hotel for serious skiers of all ages.
The Green Leaf Niseko Village is a classy contemporary hotel at the base of Mt Niseko Annupuri, with ‘ski-in ski-out’ access to the slopes. This hotel prides itself on its appearance, with hand-painted wall art in every room and regular exhibitions of Hokkaido artists. All rooms have been designed flexibly to...Baby-friendly / Family-friendly Ski / Family-friendly Spa / See this Hotel & Book »
Annupuri Village Niseko
Annupuri Village offers seriously chic chalets in a peaceful rural location.
Annupuri Village Niseko is the least developed of the three resorts that make up Niseko (the others being Niseko Village and Hirafu), and is a good choice for families seeking a bit of discreet luxury. The chalets have double-height reception rooms, state of the art kitchens (unusual in Japan,) and indulgently...Baby-friendly / Family-friendly Ski / Pre-Teen friendly / See this Hotel & Book »
The Niseko Company
The Niseko Company offers luxury self-catering accommodation at the heart of Niseko's action.
Hirafu is where the fun happens in Niseko. The most vibrant of the three villages, it has a delectable range of Japanese and international restaurants and a lively bar scene. The Niseko Company has several smart chalets and apartments in the village, which range from cute and traditional to ultra-modern and...Baby-friendly / Family-friendly Ski / Pre-Teen friendly / See this Hotel & Book »
Hilton Niseko Village Hotel
The Hilton Niseko Village Hotel is a landmark hotel with the best views in Niseko.
You can’t miss the Hilton Niseko Village Hotel. A towering slab of concrete silhouetted against Mount Yotei, it was built in the 1980s ‘Bubble Era’, when Japanese real estate was the most expensive in the world, and developers ruled. None of this matters when you are inside and taking in the unparalleled...Baby-friendly / Family-friendly Ski / Family-friendly Spa / See this Hotel & Book »
The Barn in Hirafu
170-323 Aza-Yamada, Kutchan-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido 044-0081
Niseko’s most glamorous restaurant, The Barn in Hirafu, is a contemporary take on traditional Hokkaido barn design, with a double-height glass wall and mezzanine cocktail bar. Food is ‘Alpine’, which basically means French, with homemade ice-cream from Hokkaido’s famous dairy herds. Children are welcome, and half-portions are available, but for a properly indulgent evening you might want to splash out on a babysitter.
Niseko 431-4, Niseko-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido 048-1511
A relaxed, atmospheric option for an early dinner with children (it’s not open at lunchtime). Shoes must be left at the door at this cosy izakaya (informal Japanese bar – restaurant) in Annupuri Village, which seats a handful of guests upstairs in a log cabin. It’s Japanese home cooking in a very friendly setting. The pork belly is to die for.
Yamada 179-53, Kutchan-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido 044-0081
Perfect for a kid-friendly lunch, this spacious café at the Niseko Outdoor Centre has an integrated climbing wall and an open-air terrace with views of Mount Yotei. Load up on pizza, ricotta pancakes and homemade brownies before exploring the activity programme and outdoor gear on sale downstairs.
Skiing in NIseko
Winter sports are Niseko’s raison d’etre, and there is endless choice. The two main child-friendly ski schools are Niseko Base (nisekobase.com), which offers skiing lessons from age three and snowboarding from age seven, and Niseko International Snow Sports School (hanazononiseko.com/en/winter/niss/index.html), which offers group and private lessons – and a kids’ snow train. Essentially, whatever you can imagine doing in snow, you can do it in Niseko.
Summer in NIseko
Niseko is also a great family summer activity destination, with hill-trekking, fishing, horse riding, family rafting, canoeing, kayaking, hot air balloon rides and children’s insect-hunting night treks. Milk Kobo is a famous dairy, where children can watch (and sample) cream puffs, chocolate éclairs and ice-cream being made.
Getting to Niseko takes a while, and you will not be alone. The flight from Tokyo’s Haneda airport to New Chitose airport near Sapporo is one of the world’s busiest air routes. Niseko is a minimum two-hour drive from the airport. A bullet train link from Tokyo to Kutchan (10 minutes’ drive from Niseko) is expected to open in 2035.
European visitors who are new to Japan should bear in mind that the countryside features rather more concrete and pylons than they might wish. Niseko is one of the few parts of rural Japan with plenty of money, but the concrete habit appears to be hard to break. It’s best viewed under a blanket of snow.
Only mobile phones on a 3G network will work in Japan. The emergency number is 119 for ambulance and fire, 110 for police. Visitors on tourist visas will have to pay for any medical treatment in full. A list of English-speaking doctors can be found at www.healthhokkaido.com
Earthquakes are a normal part of Japanese life, and you should not panic if you experience one. Modern Japanese buildings are equipped with excellent anti-seismic technology. If it feels strong and lasts more than a few minutes, move away from glass windows or anything that could fall on top of you.
Food in Japan is safe to eat and the tap water is safe to drink. The government introduced strict testing on foods after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
When to go
There is no bad time to visit Hokkaido. The ski season runs from November to early May, and it can get a bit hairy – snow several metres deep is not unknown. The temperature rarely lifts above freezing in January and February. In summer, the high is 26C, but without the stifling humidity that envelops the rest of Japan. Unlike the rest of the country, there is no rainy season.