This was our third trip to Japan skiing, though first to Shiga Kogen (otherwise been to Hakuba, Furano & Nozawa Onsen). Before discussing the merits of Hotel Alpenburg (www.alpenburg.com), you need to appreciate what Shiga Kogen has to offer. Its website http://www.shigakogen.gr.jp/english/ states it comprises 21 interconnected ski fields with about 70 lifts. It extends along a couple of valleys and is seriously extensive, with a wide variety of skiing on offer. It currently comprises some 5 lift companies that operate with the one lift pass. Two of these (Kumanoyu to the far east and Okushigakogen to the far west) are exclusively skier only, though for boarders that is not a great loss as they are both distant, involve a hike to get to and both are only a small portion of the ski fields, so there is more than ample alternate terrain.
Significantly, Shiga Kogen is a built resort, rather than having its origins as a village (such as Nozawa Onsen – a really classic place to visit – check Kawaichiya Ryokan). Shiga Kogen’s buildings have predominantly been built over the past 20-30 years and save for clusters of hotels, are quite fragmented. Whilst there is a good range of restaurants and cafes on the slopes, the only other restaurants are part of hotels and it is therefore common for accommodation packages to include meals.
If bars & crowds are your preference, consider staying at Ichinose. But if travelling as a couple, small group or family, Hotel Alpenburg may be an ideal choice. It is modern, comfortable, clean, has cheerful / helpful staff and has seriously good food. It had been recommended to us, with good reason and yes, we are already booked to go back.
Alpenburg is a purpose built, family run hotel. It comprises basement, ground and three upper levels, all serviced by lift. The basement has terrific lockers for ski / board storage, ski hire, a large heated pool, sauna and access to the separate male & female onsen (hot baths) at the rear. Having an onsen to start the day, or to soak away the aches of a hard day’s skiing is a special treat in Japan and Alpenberg’s onsens are high quality, well presented, very clean and feature views of the forest.
The ground floor mainly comprises the café for breakfast & lunch at the front and evening dining area at the rear. Reception is on the first floor, with a comfy adjoining lounge & bar. The hotel’s rooms are a good size, warm, clean and good quality / tastefully decorated. They have the typical for Japan, modular ensuite, with shower over bath; though this will be superfluous if you get used to the indulgence of having frequent onsens.
Alpenburg is located at the foot of the lengthy downhill course and faces the “Giant” ski run, which is the steepest in the region. Ski lifts are ~50 metres away and you ski home to the door.
Other than us two Aussies, in mid-January, Hotel Alpenburg was full of Japanese guests at weekends (always a good sign) and less busy during the week. The food warrants special mention for its quality and diversity. The breakfast buffet caters to both Japanese & Western tastes and is more than ample, with plenty of variety. Lunch can be recommended too. But dinner is terrific, with set Western / Japanese style meals on alternate nights (or by arrangement?). Western meals are ~five course and Japanese feature ~twelve different food items. When we stayed, one dinner at the weekend featured a half lobster, which was a real treat.
Hotel Alpenburg had not previously been listed with Tripadvisor but is truly deserving, so I had it listed in order to provide this review for the benefit of others looking for a great place to stay.
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Alpenburg Japan/Yamanouchi-Machi, Nagano Prefecture