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“A Genuinely Nice Hotel”
Review of Hotel Alpenburg

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Hotel Alpenburg
Melbourne
Level 4 Contributor
21 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
“A Genuinely Nice Hotel”
Reviewed November 30, 2013

We’re currently booked for our 5th stay at Hotel Alpenburg. In 6 trips to Japan skiing, we’ve enjoyed skiing at 6 resorts (Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen, Myoko Kogen. Hakuba, Niseko and Furano). For our 7th trip to Japan, we’re only staying at Shiga Kogen / Hotel Alpenburg, for a week, on the way back to Australia.

I’ve previously posted two reviews of this hotel, so check these for the details regarding rooms etc. that you need, it’s still good. There are however, a couple of other things worth knowing about. One of the common features of reviews of Hotel Alpenburg is comment about the consistently high quality of the dinners. It is therefore pertinent to know that the same two cooks are retained from year to year, with one responsible for the Japanese courses and the other the alternating Western courses. The food really is just terrific.

This is a genuinely nice hotel. It is not one that seeks to manipulate Tripadvisor reviews and does not necessarily encourage guests to post gratuitous review, as some other hotels are inclined to do. The only reason I’ve posted this review is because other potential guests really deserve to know that this is a very good hotel, that is well worth considering.

In Tripadvisor, you’ll notice that this hotel is grouped, hotels in “Yamanouchi-Machi”, so it is worth knowing that this is actually quite a large area, that extends beyond the Shiga Kogen ski area. In particular, Yamanouchi-Machi includes the town and environs of Yamanouchi, which is located well below the ski fields – great if you only want to go and see the snow monkeys, but don’t assume that all Yamanouchi-Machi hotels are necessarily ski in, ski out, as is the case for Hotel Alpenburg. Incidentally, over a period of several days, it is fairly common to see snow monkeys on the Shiga Kogen ski fields anyway.

If you’re still trying to decide where to stay, it might also be worth knowing that the Grand Phenix Okushiga (currently rated no. 1 and designed by the same architect as Hotel Alpenburg), is actually situated beyond the furthest lift, at the distant end of the Shiga Kogen ski area. It is a skier only ski field (no snow boarders) and to get from Okushiga to the rest of the Shiga Kogen ski area, will involve either a tedious walk (traverse) or a bus trip. In contrast, Hotel Alpenburg has a choice of skiing in several directions and this area caters to both skiers and snow boarders alike.

I’d not previously mentioned that Hotel Alpenburg does have a good range of rental equipment and fortunately for us foreigners, many of the staff speak quite good English.

Purpose built in an Austrian theme, Hotel Alpenburg offers a modern style of accommodation, it is warm, comfortable and we’re again looking forward to getting back there once again.

The attached photo is one I'd meant to post previously. It was taken out the front of Hotel Alpenburg and shows how special the skiing can be after a dump of snow overnight.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
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17 Thank Skiculture
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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57 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (9)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Japanese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Sydney, Australia
Level 4 Contributor
49 reviews
48 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed July 25, 2013

We arrived late at night and went to the wrong bus stop. The Manager was very kind and came to pick us up. This set the tone for the weekend. They were very helpful at the hotel.

It is an old hotel, so so hot and you could not turn teh heat down. Too hot to even sleep well.

It is quite old fashioned, with fake flowers, old furninhings etc. but had a really nice feel. The dinner was very very good, and breakfast quite good as well. There is a friendly bar and also a nice indoor and outdoor onsen.

Most importantly it was ski-in and ski-out although it was a little challenging to find the way back skiing over the mountains from the main central ski area. This is a fabulous ski resort and the hotel is a nice choice to stay.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank TravelHappyOne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore, Singapore
Level 6 Contributor
114 reviews
54 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
Reviewed April 1, 2013

We just returned from a week in Japan and we spent most of the time skiing in Shiga Kogen. The hotel is at the base of 3 lifts, very convenient for skiing the resort. The staff is lovely and they make you feel welcome all the time. Their English is great and they really try to make your stay special. They have an equipment rental in the basement (good english) and sell discounted lift tickets (cash only).
If you book the half board the food is in the restaurant downstairs. The breakfast is quite limited but then again not that important for me when skiing. The dinner is excellent. They alter from Japanese style and Western style menus and everything was delicious. We were the only non Japanese in the house but they provided us with an English menu and guided us where needed.
Other than that, there is not much going around. If you are looking for a party place, this is not it. But they have a lounge, inside and outside onsen and a swimming pool. So perfect for a nice skiing trip. The bathroom is small but then you have the onsen to relax and shower, so not more needed. Rooms are comfortable in an Austrian ski resort style. I would definitely return!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank CathrinB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nagano Prefecture, Japan
Level 6 Contributor
230 reviews
178 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 235 helpful votes
Reviewed January 31, 2013

I stayed here with a business colleague (although we managed a little skiing... heh).

The hotel is in a small cluster of accomodations at the base of the Giant run. It's a pretty building that fits the "ski holiday" vibe. Check in was very friendly (and English wouldn't have been a problem - the owner can get by in English but in any case they had a young western staffer at hand).

The room was large by Japanese standards, in western style with twin beds and a seating area, and a standard unit bath (which of course includes a clever toilet, hooray!). There was tea and a kettle in the room, and borderline-ok free wifi. Apparently the wi-fi is patchy and they're used to guests asking to move rooms because of this.

There's a good secure ski/boot room, with a small ski-hire booth. Believe it or not, there's an indoor pool, probably about 12-15m long. We didn't swim, tho as we didn't have our speedos in the middle of winter! More to the point, there's a really good onsen, with a rotenburo. In the morning, after a big snow-storm overnight, I walked the 3-4m from the inside bath to the outside bath, naked as the day I was born, through 20 cm of fresh snow - sliding into the hot water of the rotenburo was heaven, as was the feeling of sitting there with snow collecting on my head. That was one of the best bath experiences I've had in Japan, ever!

Dinner was good, a multi-course western dinner in a tablecloth-restaurant, at a set time, with serving staff. I heard from the other diners that each night alternates between western and Japanese, and that the Japanese dinners are also excellent. There was a limited but interesting drinks list, including, unusually for a smart restaurant in Japan, a good choice of local craft beers. Breakfast is a buffet, with a mix of Japanese and quasi-western foods. The atmosphere in the dining room was warm and friendly, and most of the guests chatted to each other. All in all, it did a good job of emulating an old-school European resort hotel experience.

By the way, the atmosphere and character of your hotel is important in Shiga Kogen. Although nearly all the mountain is linked so you can ski all over the valley without getting into your car/bus, that's not true of the accommodation choices. Generally, the only nightlife is what you find or create in your own hotel. If you want nightlife, go to Hakuba (for an international vibe) or Nozawa Onsen (for a traditional Japanese night out). Shiga is for skiers not party-ers.

In the morning one of the staff took our bags on a skidoo to our car, and then helped us dig it out of the snowdrift that had covered it overnight. No need for snow machines that night!

This is a really nice hotel for a ski holiday if you want a quiet and civilized atmosphere. It's "correcte" as the French would say, western enough to feel authentic to Japanese and comfortable to westerners, but with Japanese service, attention to detail... and an awesome bath!

I would love to come back on holiday for a few days. I bet it's an amazing base for summer hiking, too.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled on business
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Helpful?
4 Thank Peter D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Warsaw, Poland
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed January 27, 2013

Just returned from 7 night stay in January 2013. Travelled as family with 2 kids - 9 & 11 yo.

Fully endorse the positive reviews from earlier posts. To avoid repeating what many earlier posts have already mentioned, I am only listing the highlights for our family:

- The dinners - the Japanese and Western dinners were of a consistently high quality, exquisitely presented and generous. This made the half board option really value for money IMO. Quite a surprisingly decent wine list too! The hotel's own brand bordeaux was very drinkable.

- Ski rentals were not only cheap but also really good quality with high end skis to satisfy the avid skier. Boots are still in pretty good/new-ish condition (can't be more than 2 seasons old). Excellent powder skis from Japanese brand Ogasakaski (we've never heard of them, but are now real converts).

- The onsen - imagine soaking in the hot outdoor onsen while snow flakes twirled. Bliss.

- The ambience - the clientele is a welcome balance of Japanese and foreign/Australian. The size of the hotel lends itself to be more personable, and if you felt like socialising, people we encountered (both Jap n foreign) were open and friendly. But also respectful of your private space.

- Bedrooms are spacious. Twin beds are roomy twins rather than miniscule narrow ones we've encountered in other Japanese hotels. They do have double rooms too.

- Finally - the ski quality. To fully appreciate SK, you have to love skiing as there is not much else in the way of night life or shopping. We thought that SK had better runs and the pistes were better connected than Hakuba's. The scenery in SK is also prettier than Hakuba's. Lots of tree lined mountains and runs. Yes, some inevitable bit of poling around but that appears to be common issue with Japanese ski resorts. Otherwise, the plus sides for us are real ski-in/out hotels, large number of pistes inter-connected on one ski pass, good long runs and almost empty ski pistes when we were there in week 3/4 of January - save for Japanese school groups who tend to stay in the beginner slopes in Ichinose.

- Others - some shopping bargains to be found at the Snow Can rental shop in Ichinose - last season high end Atomic skis at 50% off! Head ski boots a steal at A$218!

- Ski instruction - most of the ski schools can offer English speaking instructors but privates only. You also need to book ahead a bit. The downside of SK ski instruction is that unlike Hakuba, there are no group lessons in English for kids. But as my kids didn't particularly enjoy the (pricey) ski school in Hakuba, it was no great loss. Instead, we had an excellent instructor from Austria booked thru' Sugiyama Ski School. Our kids had fun and managed to polish their technique too. Sebastian (he will be there until end Feb I think) was able to cater to the more advanced kid and the intermediate one. He gave them ski exercises and challenges that they were only happy to do.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Pena007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubbo, Australia
Level 5 Contributor
35 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed January 19, 2013

We have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Japan, which included a six night stay at the Hotel Alpenburg in January 2013. This hotel has had great reviews and for good reason. The location is truly ski-in, ski-out. The staff are very helpful and the facilities are clean and well maintained but really it’s about the food!

The meals are spectacular and I highly recommend the half-board option which includes a buffet breakfast of Japanese and Western dishes (no cereal) and a 6-8 course dinner each evening which alternates between Japanese and Western menus. They were delicious and beautifully presented. A few weird and wonderful dishes but that’s all part of the experience.

The rooms are very comfortable. The beds are twins, rather than a double. There is a standard bathroom. If you want internet access ask for a room on the second, rather than the third floor.

The facilities are great for skiing. The basement has a locker area and a ski/board/boot rental place. We took our own boots but rented our skis which were excellent and a good price. It’s way too difficult to transport your own skis if you’re planning to catch trains while in Japan.
We bought our lift tickets from the hotel and then exchanged them on our first day of skiing at the lift opposite – which is a cheaper way than buying direct.

There is also a heated pool (we didn’t use) and an indoor and outdoor onsen (which we did). One of my favourite memories is sitting in the outdoor onsen while the snow drifted down – very special. You do this naked, which can be quite confronting, but it’s a segregated onsen. It’s a great way to regenerate tired muscles and a truly Japanese experience.

We had wonderful conditions. Three beautiful days of sunshine with great snow and then a huge dump on the Wednesday night which gave us gorgeous powder for our final days of skiing.

We did give up half a day of skiing to go and see the monkey park, which is fantastic. About 160 wild Japanese macau monkeys, many of whom were blissing out in the thermal springs. You can get very close to them and take pretty amazing photos. If you can add an extra day to your trip to do this excursion I would really encourage you.

I would thoroughly recommend the Alpenburg but be aware of a few things:

Booking via the internet is not a goer. We did our research on the internet (thanks to Grant Parkinson from Trip Advisor) and then rang via skype and sent an email. The owner Mr Kodama and his son Yoshihiro’s English is ok but speak slowly over the phone.

You can catch the bus from Nagano and get off at ‘Hasuike’ bus stop and ring Mr Kodama, who will come and pick you up.

Shiga Kogen is comprised of a number of various ski resort areas, which you tend to get around via the lifts rather than by road. The Giant area is a bit isolated – it’s not on a main road but Mr Kodama or Yoshihiro will happily drive you to wherever you’d like to go. There doesn’t seem to be any central village area in Shiga Kogen and not much nightlife, which is fine if you ski hard all day and tend to flake at night but if you’re looking for nightlife this probably isn’t the place for you. This is a great resort for keen skier but if you’re more into lounging around and shopping then possibly not the best choice.

There is a bar/lounge area at Hotel Alpenburg but it isn’t terribly enticing and doesn’t have much available other than whiskey and sake. Pick up a bottle of duty-free alcohol on your way. It was sometimes full of smokers, which we didn’t enjoy. One family used the large TV in the lounge area to watch movies so we did that one night but most evenings watched our own movies or read books in our room. We met some great people while we were there.

My only real gripe about Shiga Kogen and it’s repeated elsewhere in these forums is that you need to do a fair bit of ‘poling’ to get around the resorts. We travelled all over the mountains every day and quite often you needed to get yourself up 5 metres or more (quite a bit more to get to the skiiers only area) to reach the connecting lifts/gondolas/magic carpet, etc. It seems quite illogical and frustrating and of course as you get more tired it becomes more of a chore. It wouldn’t put me off returning but it’s something to be aware of and something I haven’t really experienced at other resorts.

In general though, we loved Shiga Kogen and the Hotel Alpenburg.

Room Tip: Ask for a room on the second floor if you need internet access. Third floor doesn't have it.
See more room tips
  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Maree B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tokyo, Japan
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed December 21, 2012

Looking forward to some nice ski holidays with my family after New Year, I booked a room via the Internet quite a while ago. I got a confirmation by email with the information that someone will call me to confirm the details. Around two weeks before our vacation I call to confirm and the owner explains to me - as if it's the most obvious thing in the world - that the Internet booking service "doesn't work at the moment". And it didn't sound like he was going to do anything about that. He quite obviously doesn't care, since it seems he has no trouble getting his rooms rented out... There were no rooms available for us anymore and our vacation probably messed up - only after a while did he seem to offer something like an apology and reluctantly gave me the names of some other hotels in the region he could recommend.
I was told that this hotel is nice. However, if you don't get to stay at it when you want to and experience terrible customer service on the phone, I have no other choice but to give the worst possible rating!

Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
Helpful?
5 Thank Alex_Renggli
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Alpenburg

Property: Hotel Alpenburg
Address: Hirao | Giant Ski Area, Shiga Kogen, Shimotakai-gun, Yamanouchi-machi 381-0401, Nagano Prefecture
Phone Number:
Location: Japan > Chubu > Nagano Prefecture > Shimotakai-gun > Yamanouchi-machi > Yudanaka shibu Onsen
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #19 of 133 Hotels / Ryokan in Yamanouchi-machi
Number of rooms: 23
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Also Known As:
Hotel Alpenburg Japan/Yamanouchi-Machi, Nagano Prefecture

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