If you are not after an onsen (hot spring bath), then the Hakodate Kokusai Hotel may be a better choice than Hakodate’s most popular hotel, the LaVista.
Other hotels I have stayed at in Hakodate include the LaVista, Loisir, Grantia Eki Mae and the Dormy Inn Goryokaku Hotel. The strengths of the Kokusai Hotel are its lobby area, location and breakfast.
In Japan, the name ‘Kokusai Hotel’ is traditionally synonymous with high class. In the past, the Hakodate Kokusai hotel was the hotel of choice for the Japanese Royal Family. The original building has now aged and an Annex (Bekkan) has been recently built in the West Wing. The floors in the East Wing are being refurbished. I stayed in the older East Wing which has little to offer in the way of views but is very reasonably priced. The best deals are with a rail travel package from JR.
The first impression of the hotel is of the spacious lobby area. Also located on the ground floor is the Bar/Café/Lounge, LeHavre. Although I did not use this lounge, it looks like a great place to meet people and will be my preferred choice in Hakodate for this purpose.
Like the LaVista, on the top floor of the new annex there is a cocktail bar that has good views of the Bay.
The East wing rooms are fair. Not as big as the Dormy Inn and the facilities are what you would expect from a top class hotel, but nothing more. I heard the rooms in the newer west wing are quite spacious. The bath tub is large for a Japanese hotel. The windows cannot be opened but each room, in addition to the room air conditioning, has a portable humidifier.
The big surprise at the Kokusai Hotel was the breakfast. I am tempted to say it is better than the famous breakfast at the LaVista Hotel. Like the LaVista, bowls of salmon eggs (Ikura) and seafood are plentiful. It feels like there are even more choices of food than the LaVista. Something definitely better than the LaVista is the breakfast steak, cooked to your taste.
I walked to the hotel from the railway station and although it is not in front of the station, like the Loisir and Grantia, it is a comfortable walk for those without heavy luggage. Otherwise, it is very short taxi ride. It is closer to the station than the LaVista, making it great for those who want to experience both the bay area and areas such as the Morning Seafood Market and the nightlife of Daimon Yokocho.
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