Destinations / Asia

Where to stay in Hokkaido: the ultimate seasonal travel guide

If you’re in search of a unique experience, Hokkaido in Japan’s north is definitely a place for you. It’s home to some of Japan’s most famous natural attractions, and offers travellers something special in every season. Winter brings highlights like the Sapporo Snow Festival, and cherry blossoms are the focus of the spring season. In summer, the mild weather makes it the perfect escape from Japan’s heat and humidity, while the many national parks in the area are the perfect place to take in those crunchy autumn leaves.

With so much on offer in Hokkaido, choosing the time of year is a great starting point for your accommodation search. The location of the attractions vary from season to season, and getting it right can mean benefits like saving on travel time, or getting a better deal on your hotel if you’re interested in staying closer to particular sights. With over 300 million visitors per year to HotelsCombined, we’ve put together a list of the Top 20 hotels booked, and our top recommendations for each season.

Winter in Hokkaido

Winter Hokkaido, Hokkaido snow

Hokkaido transforms into a white wonderland during the winter months, with much of the island covered in a blanket of snow. Every angle becomes a postcard picture, whether in Sapporo or visiting one of the Hokkaido ski resorts. The island has a range of adventurous ski and snowboard slopes to suit experienced skiers, while the beginner terrain attracts families and beginners. Niseko is the largest and most popular ski resort for visitors but Furano and Rusutsu also attract thousands of skiers and snowboarders.

Sapporo Snow Festival is another major visitor highlight of this season, taking place for a week in February. Many visitors look for hotels in Sapporo that are within walking distance of the festival’s three sites, while in the mountains they’re seeking easy access to the ski lifts.

Sapporo weather in winter

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Popular Hokkaido hotels in winter

Best Western Hotel Fino Sapporo

Best Western Hotel Fino Sapporo

Situated in the heart of Sapporo, this three-star hotel is ideally located for exploring the best of Hokkaido’s winter destinations. Visitors can walk to both the Odori and Susukino sites of the Sapporo Snow Festival. The hotel is only two blocks from the central Sapporo Station, providing an easy base for Hokkaido day trips. This hotel has a contemporary feel with modern décor and an array of inclusive toiletries. It provides excellent value for its central location and offers an impressive buffet breakfast containing both Japanese and international cuisines.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: US$30 – US$186
Guest Rating: 8.2
Address: 4-15 Kitaku Kitahachijonishi, Sapporo, Japan

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Hotel Monterey Sapporo

Hotel Monterey Sapporo

Hotel Monterey has been an iconic part of the Sapporo cityscape for many years. It retains a charming old-world feel, with a glamorous dining room and lobby area, although the rooms have been updated to reflect contemporary styles. This hotel blends Japanese and Western styles, making it a comfortable place to stay while still feeling somewhat traditional. Hotel Monterey is a ten-minute walk from Sapporo Station in a quiet part of the city, away from the bustle of Susukino. The Sapporo Snow Festival sites of Odori Park and Susukino are just 20-minutes away on foot.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: US$37 – US$269
Guest Rating: 8.3
Address: Higashi 1-3 Kita 4 Jyo, Sapporo, Japan

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Cross Hotel Sapporo

Cross Hotel Sapporo

Modern and stylish, Cross Hotel Sapporo provides a luxurious base for exploring the many traditions of Hokkaido. It’s situated between Sapporo Station and Odori Park, putting the hotel within walking distance of the main Sapporo Snow Festival sites and many other city attractions. Day trips and onward travel are easy from Sapporo Station and is only a 5-minute walk away. While the nearby ice sculptures are cold, the atmosphere is warm and cosy inside Cross Hotel Sapporo, with the lounge bar a popular place to unwind during the evening. This is a four-star hotel with modern facilities and rooms that are larger than most Hokkaido hotels.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: US$35 – US$371
Guest Rating: 8.8
Address: Nishi 2-23, Kita 2 Jo Chuo-Ku, Sapporo, Japan

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Apa Hotel Sapporo Susukino Ekinishi

Upbeat, colourful, and uniquely Japanese, this modern three-star hotel reflects the ambiance of Susukino district. Susukino is Hokkaido’s major entertainment hub and Apa Hotel provides quiet rooms amongst the bustle of the surrounding streets. Facilities include an in-house spa and wellness centre, along with two excellent restaurants. The Susukino site of Sapporo Snow Festival is less than a five-minute walk from the hotel, while the Odori site can be reached on foot in ten minutes. It’s hard to find a better located hotel for the festival and Apa Hotel is also just a short train ride away from Sapporo Station.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: US$28 – US$308
Guest Rating: 8.2
Address: Nishi 7-chome, Minami 4-jo, Sapporo, Japan

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Dormy Inn Premium Otaru

Dormy Inn Premium Otaru

With its clean rooms and central location, Dormy Inn Premium Otaru is a popular choice for visitors looking to explore a variety of Hokkaido’s winter destinations. A charming sauna and hot spring is located on-site, ideal for visitors who want to re-energise when the outside temperatures are well below zero. Dormy Inn Premium Otaru is situated across the road from Otaru Station, where visitors can catch trains to Sapporo and the Sapporo Snow Festival; the journey takes around 30 minutes. This station also provides various train connections to destinations in Western Hokkaido.

Rating: 3*
Price: US$27 – US$341
Guest Rating: 9.0
Address: 3-9-1, Inaho, Otaru, Japan

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Skiing in Hokkaido

The Hokkaido mountains are blanketed with soft powdered snow every winter and the ski slopes cascade down from dramatic volcanic cones. Compared to major ski destinations in Europe and North America, the Hokkaido mountains are relatively low in altitude. However, each of the major three ski resorts has enviably consistent winter snow, with skiers often finding themselves waist deep in thick powder. The cold weather blows in from Siberia and the resorts receive record-breaking snowfall, all of it light, dry, and untracked for days. The season stretches from late-November to early-April, and onwards to early May in Furano.

Niseko

Niseko, Niseko snowboarding, Niseko skiing

Niseko is the largest and most famous of the Japanese ski resorts, located around 100 kilometres south of Sapporo. It’s also the most popular for skiers and snowboarders, predominantly because of the 16 metres of powder it receives every year. Off-piste skiing and out of bounds riding is permitted, and with plentiful fresh powder, it creates an easy backcountry experience for intermediate and experienced skiers. Beginners are also well catered for and there are over 60 runs totalling some 46 kilometres. Niseko is made up of four interconnected areas which are all accessible with the same lift pass: An’nupuri, Niseko Village, Hirafu, and Hanazono.

Rusutsu

Rusutsu is located on the other side of Mount Yotei from Niseko and the famous mountain peak is an inspiring part of the white winter landscape. The ski slopes stretch across three mountains and each distinctive area has a broad mix of groomed trails and tree runs. Like Niseko, the soft powder is legendary here and it’s easy for snowboarders to flop backwards and be almost swallowed by the snow. There are 41 kilometres of graded slopes including some iconic cross-country routes between the mountains. It’s especially popular for intermediate skiers and snowboarders to try out off-piste and backcountry routes.

Furano

The Furano ski resort is famous across Japan but is only just starting to receive international recognition. Nine metres of snow fall here each season and it’s so light and dry the powder remains for weeks at a time. Situated in the heart of Hokkaido, the resort is split over the Kitanomine and Furano zone, the latter having the final Japanese ski slopes to close for the season in early May. The slopes are steep here and the exhilarating downhill runs have featured in the FIS Downhill World Cup on ten occasions. In addition, a variety of cross-country trails provide wonderful panoramas over the valleys.

Hokkaido Snow Festival

Sapporo Snow Festival is one of Japan’s biggest visitor attractions and more than two million visitors descend on Hokkaido’s capital Sapporo every February. Surreal snow and ice sculptures are the famous highlights, turning the city streets into a white artistic canvas. Some sculptures are over 25 metres wide and are lit up during the evening. Snow slides and snow rafting provide family entertainment as the Sapporo Snow Festival is split over three distinctive sites. Note that the exact date of the week-long Snow Festival changes each year and is usually held in early February, with the Tsudome Site staying open for an additional week.

Odori Site

Odori site, Odori, odori snow festivalThe original and largest snow festival site is in Odori Park, central Sapporo. This is where the largest snow sculptures are erected, including those that rise over 15 metres into the blue Hokkaido sky. Over a hundred smaller sculptures line the park, each of them etched with exquisite detail. The largest sculptures are illuminated after dusk. Live concerts and events create a warming atmosphere during the week, with many using a snow sculpture as their stage. While the individual sculptures are best seen in the park, visitors can also enjoy a wonderful overview of the Odori festival site from the Sapporo TV Tower observatory deck.

Tsudome Site

Tsudome site, Tsudome, Tsudome snow festivalTsudome is the most family orientated of the Snow Festival sites, with snow slides and snow rafting that’s tailored to different ages. A number of events are hosted inside the warm dome and there’s an array of food stands. Of course, there are also many snow sculptures, with those at Tsudome usually featuring popular children’s characters. Tsudome stays open for an additional week after the other two sites have closed, increasing the window for travel to Hokkaido in winter.

Susukino Site

Susukino Site, Susukino, Susukino Snow FestivalSusukino, Sapporo’s largest entertainment district, is transformed during the Snow Festival. Hundreds of ice sculptures fill the main shopping street, providing a strange contrast to the flashing lights and surrounding skyscrapers. Susukino is close to the Odori Site so it’s possible to explore both festival sites in one evening. However, the abundance and detail of the sculptures mean most visitors see Susukino at least twice. Many of the sculptures are lit up during the evenings.

Spring in Hokkaido

Spring in Hokkaido, cherry blossom in Hokkaido

As the snow melts and cherry blossoms fill the parks, spring is a time of natural beauty in Hokkaido. The season’s obvious highlight are the cherry blossoms themselves, which bloom later than anywhere else in Japan. To really enjoy the show, look for hotels that are within walking distance of a cherry blossom site. There’s much to admire in the Hokkaido national parks during spring, which also transform into colour and charm after the winter. Much of the island becomes accessible in spring and visitors are scattered across Hokkaido’s different regions. This is reflected in where to stay, with HotelsCombined’s five most popular spring Hokkaido hotels dotted across the island.

Sapporo weather in Spring

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Popular Hokkaido hotels in spring

Sapporo Grand Hotel

Sapporo Grand Hotel

This large four-star hotel is within walking distance of Sapporo Station and many visitors use it as a base for day trips to the Hokkaido region. Chic and contemporary, the Sapporo Grand Hotel has a Western-style design that is pleasing on the eye and comes with all the home comforts. Rooms are spacious and there’s an on-site spa that can be used for an additional fee. An extra bonus comes at the nearby Hokkaido University gardens, which offer one of the area’s lesser-known yet most spectacular cherry blossoms. Staying at this hotel allows visitors to really relax amongst this nearby bloom.

Rating: 4*
Price: US$52 – US$653
Guest rating: 8.6
Address: 4 Nishi, Kita-Ichi-Jo Chuo-Ku, Sapporo, Japan

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Hotel Kikuya Hakodate

Hotel Kikuya Hakodate

Hakodate is the most famous of Hokkaido’s cherry blossom areas and the Hotel Kibuya Hakodate is a prime choice for exploring the area. Mount Hakodate and the star fort of Goryokaku are a 20-minutes drive from the hotel, with the latter being well regarded as the most spectacular cherry blossom destination in Hokkaido. Small and cosy, Hotel Kibuya provides clean and comfortable accommodation for travellers on a budget. What it lacks in luxury amenities, it more than makes up for with friendly staff and a traditional Japanese feel. Hakodate Station is within walking distance for day trips across the region.

Rating: 3*
Price: US$23 – US$171
Guest rating: 8.0
Address: 8-23 Wakamatsu-cho, Hakodate, Japan

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Hotel Sunroute New Sapporo

Hotel Sunroute New Sapporo

Popular with both leisure and business travellers, Hotel Sunroute New Sapporo is conveniently situated between Odori Park and the entertainment district of Susukino. The Odori Park and Hokkaido University cherry blossoms are within walking distance, their calm colours contrasting the vibrant neon of Susukino. There’s a trendy new-world feel to this hotel, with long clean lines and a minimalist lobby area. An in-house spa and wellness centre help to reenergise after a Hokkaido day trip while the surrounding area has countless restaurants and shops.

Rating: 3*
Price: US$39 – US$404
Guest rating: 8.0
Address: 1-1 Nishi 6 Minami, Sapporo, Japan

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The Stay Sapporo

The Stay Sapporo

Intimate and clean, The Stay Sapporo offers excellent budget accommodation when visiting Hokkaido in spring. Odori Park’s cherry blossom is within walking distance while the nearby Susukino and Sapporo stations provides easy connections to other destinations across wider Hokkaido. This hotel offers a mix of private rooms and dorm accommodation, with shared bathroom facilities. A social atmosphere makes this an excellent place to meet other travellers.

Rating: 1*
Price: US$13 – US$153
Guest rating: 8.5
Address: Chuo-ku Minami 5 jo Nishi 9 chome 1008-10, Sapporo, Japan

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JR Inn Asahikawa

JR Inn Asahikawa

Asahikawa, Hokkaido’s second largest city, really transforms in spring, with the Daisetsuzan National Park covered in fresh colours. There’s much to explore in the surrounding area and JR Inn Asahikawa’s central location ensures ambitious itineraries can be realised. The hotel is situated above the JR Asahikawa Station, where there are direct trains to all corners of Hokkaido. This is a large three-star hotel that’s fitted with all the necessary essentials, including clean rooms, well-appointed private bathrooms, and an on-site spa. The spa area and some of the rooms offer views across the city towards the mountains.

Rating: 3*
Price: US$37 – US$218
Guest rating: 9.2
Address: Miyashitadori 7-Chome 2-5, Asahikawa, Japan

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Hotel Location

When to view Hokkaido cherry blossoms

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Summer in Hokkaido

Summer in Hokkaido, Hokkaido summer flowers

Summer in Hokkaido offers contrasting experiences. From June to August this is an island of adventure, with rolling fields, untouched wilderness, and many natural hot springs to soothe the legs. It’s milder and less humid in Hokkaido than most other Japanese destinations, providing respite from the heat and an ideal temperature to explore the island’s wild national parks. The Sapporo Summer Festival takes place for four weeks in the region’s capital city and many visitors spend a few days here before venturing off in different directions across the island. Centrally located Sapporo hotels are ideal during summer as they are within easy reach of the festival and can connect to destinations all across Hokkaido.

Sapporo weather in summer

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Popular Hokkaido hotels in summer

Hotel Gracery Sapporo

Hotel Gracery Sapporo

For summer day trips in Hokkaido it’s difficult to find a better location than Hotel Gracery Sapporo. It’s located just two minutes from Sapporo Station where there are train connections to the rest of the island. Sapporo Summer Festival is a 20-minute walk or short ride away by subway. Located in an unusual glass-fronted building, this hotel reflects a contemporary Japanese style and has retained its brand new shine. Each room has air conditioning and there’s a wide range of dining options in the hotel or on the nearby streets.

Rating: 3*
Price: US$58 – $239
Guest rating: 7.8
Address: West 4 North 4 Chuo Ku, Sapporo, Japan

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Hotel Mystays Premier Sapporo Park

Hotel Mystays Premier Sapporo Park

Towering above the Sapporo landscape, this luxurious hotel is quickly becoming an icon of the city skyline. Many of the rooms have expressive views over Sapporo, especially those on the highest floors overlooking the river. The modern Hotel Mystays Premier Sapporo Park has a variety of rooms, all of them providing a sense of space that is uncommon for Japanese hotels. Odori Park and the Sapporo Summer Festival are a 30-minute walk away, or they can be accessed using the Sapporo subway system. Susukino is the closest major train station.

Rating: 4*
Price: US$51 – US$329
Guest rating: 8.2
Address: Minami 9 Nishi 2, Sapporo, Japan

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Mercure Sapporo

Mercure Sapporo

Mercure Sapporo is just a ten-minute stroll from the Sapporo Summer Festival and is also very convenient for visiting the restaurants and shops of Susukino. Stylish and spacious, this is one of Sapporo’s best hotels in the three-star range. A variety of restaurants provide an alternative to the food stalls at the Summer Festival while the trendy lobby area feels more luxurious than the hotel’s star rating. Susukino Station is easily accessible on foot and from here it’s possible to travel across Sapporo, as well as connect with other Hokkaido destinations.

Rating: 3*
Price: US$48 – US$189
Guest rating: 9.0
Address: 2-4 Minami 4-jo Nishi 2-chome Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Japan

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Daiichi Takimotokan

Daiichi Takimotokan

Surrounded by green mountain slopes in Noboribetsu, this historic ryokan provides iconic Japanese accommodation. The traditional rooms come with tatami mats, enabling visitors to experience the local way of sleeping and eating. This style is in keeping with the enchantment of the surrounding area, which is packed with hot springs and walking trails. For exploring rural Hokkaido in summer, staying at Daiichi Takimotokan means visitors don’t need to have their own transport; many trails can be easily accessed from the ryokan. The on-site onsen is extremely spacious, providing a place for visitors to unwind after a day spent exploring.

Rating: 4*
Price: US$61 – US$554
Guest rating: 8.1
Address: Noboribetsu-cho, 55, Noboribetsu, Japan

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Dormy Inn Sapporo Annex

Dormy Inn Sapporo Annex

Situated very close to Odori Park, Dormy Inn Sapporo Annex is in a prime location for enjoying the Sapporo Summer Festival. In addition, the hotel offers a free morning shuttle to Sapporo Station, where trains depart to the mountains and hiking trails of Hokkaido island. The hotel’s contemporary style is dominated by wooden fittings and traditional indoor plants, which provide a serene sight after a day exploring. Rooms have spacious bathrooms and this three-star hotel also offers an on-site spa and sauna.

Rating: 3*
Price: US$59 – US$235
Guest rating: 8.5
Address: 6-10-6, Minami 3-Jo Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Japan

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Hotel Location

Sapporo Summer Festival

Sapporo Summer Festival, Sapporo Summer Festival performance

Central Sapporo is transformed for four weeks every July and August. In essence, the Sapporo Summer Festival is a series of different festivals taking place in a pedestrianised zone in the heart of the city. The centrepiece is an enormous beer garden that stretches through Odori Park. The district of Susukino hosts its own festival, the Tanuku Festival fills Tanukikoji shopping street, while an antiques bazaar and various traditional Hokkaido craft stalls celebrate the best of the island. Completing the festivities are fireworks and the traditional Hokkai Bon Odori dance. Access to Sapporo Summer Festival is free and different venues have their own events and opening times. The main part of the festival is found in Odori Park, accessed from Odori Subway Station, or a 15-minute walk from Sapporo or Susukino stations.

Autumn in Hokkaido

Japan is famous for its autumn colours and Hokkaido is well regarded as the best place in the country to see it. The landscapes are caressed by nature’s spell, with a stunning mix of yellows, oranges, deep reds, and shimmering soft greens. Hokkaido’s mountains and hot springs make autumn a wonderful time to relax, explore nature, and discover the foliage. The most booked hotels on HotelsCombined are those in Sapporo with good transport connections, helping visitors easily access the famous autumn foliage sites.

Sapporo weather in autumn

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Popular Hokkaido hotels in autumn

Dormy Inn PREMIUM Sapporo

Dormy Inn PREMIUM Sapporo

With its iconic local hospitality and internationally-styled facilities, this hotel provides a neat balance between traditional Japan and Western comforts. As an example, the sumptuous breakfast covers cuisine from across the world but still has huge offerings of salmon rolls. Dormy Inn Premium Sapporo comes with many complimentary extras, like free ramen noodles in the evening and fresh coffee throughout the day. A large onsen public bath can be used for free by hotel guests, which is extremely energising after a day on Hokkaido’s autumn walking trails. This three-star hotel is located between Odori Park and Susukino Station.

Rating: 3*
Price: US$42 – US$273
Guest rating: 9.0
Address:  6-4-1 Minami 2 Jo Nishi, Sapporo, Japan

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Sapporo Aspen Hotel

Sapporo Aspen Hotel

Autumn visitors to Hokkaido can be travelling in many different directions, enjoying the mountains and hot springs of an island that adores mystical colours. Sapporo Aspen Hotel may be in the city, but it has an ideal location for accessing all sides of the island. Sapporo Station is less than ten minutes’ walk away and valet parking is available for visitors with rental cars. Inside the hotel there’s a modern and elegant feel, with well-appointed bedrooms and large private bathrooms. Rooms on the upper floors feature views towards the mountains and their autumn hues.

Rating: 4*
Price: US$30 – US$282
Guest rating: 8.4
Address: 5 Kita 8 Jo Nishi 4-chome Kita-ku, Sapporo, Japan

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Keio Plaza Hotel Sapporo

With over 500 rooms, this modern five-star hotel is one of the most popular choices in Hokkaido. Location is everything during the autumn months and Keio Plaza is perfect for both the city and wider Sapporo. Sapporo Station is just a five-minute walk away while a variety of city attractions can be easily accessed on foot. This hotel towers above the city and many of the rooms offer a distant view onto the mountains. Interiors are clean and elegant, reflecting a modern minimalist style that’s popular in 21st-century Japan. Each room has a private bathtub and the hotel has a large swimming pool.

Rating: 5*
Price: US$45 – US$233
Guest rating: 8.3
Address: 2-1 North5 West7, Sapporo, Japan

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 Mitsui Garden Hotel Sapporo

Sapporo Station is an easy five-minute stroll from Mitsui Garden Hotel, making it easy for visitors going on day trips to see the famous autumn foliage across Hokkaido. After a day exploring, the hotel’s onsite public baths provide a serene space to unwind and rest the legs. The comfortable rooms easily reflect the hotel’s three-star rating, with well-equipped bathrooms and a refrigerator. For the location, Mitsui Garden Hotel offers excellent value for those exploring the city or heading out to the rest of Hokkaido.

Rating: 3*
Price: US$47 – US$195
Guest rating: 8.3
Address: 6-18-3, Kita-Gojo-Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Japan

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Nest Hotel Sapporo Ekimae

While the Nest Hotel has a modern Western facade, the atmosphere is as traditional and unique as Hokkaido’s autumn colours. Many kinds of sashimi are included in the breakfast, an on-site onsen (spa) becomes a hub of activity in the evening, and the hotel staff are eager to showcase local hospitality. To complete the Japanese experience, walk five minutes to Sapporo Station and take a train to any of the autumn foliage sites across Hokkaido. From this station there are easy subway connections to most of Sapporo’s sights.

Rating: 3*
Price: US$27 – US$293
Guest rating: 7.6
Address: 2-9, Kita Nijo-nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Japan

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Hotel Location

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Which Hokkaido season inspires you?

Hokkaido is dominated by national parks and a sense of wilderness, providing an outdoor playground throughout the magical winters, spring cherry blossoms, mild summers, and wonderful autumnal colours. With four distinctive seasons, choosing the right time is the first step in deciding where to stay in Hokkaido. Let our list of the Top 20 hotels booked on HotelsCombined, and our top recommendations for each season, inspire you with your upcoming Hokkaido adventure.

Have you been to Hokkaido? Tell us about your Hokkaido adventure!

References

  1. Welcome to Sapporo
  2. AccuWeather.com
  3. ClimaTemps.com
  4. Hokkaido Tourism Organization
  5. Hokkaido Railway Company

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10 thoughts on “Where to stay in Hokkaido: the ultimate seasonal travel guide”

  1. I visited Hokkaido this summer (July / August) with my girlfriend. We had an amazing 3 weeks touring the island in a camper van and covered nearly 3,000km.

    A few tips if you’re planning on driving around Hokkaido:

    The speed limit for most roads is either 50kmh or 60kmph, but the vast majority of drivers seem to ignore it and go much faster. We saw a few vehicles pulled over by police though, even on really quiet roads in the middle of nowhere, so be warned!

    You can drive faster on Hokkaido’s expressways, and they are far more direct, but if you’re on a budget I’d strongly advise avoiding them. Our sat nav led us on to one and it cost 1,700yen, and we were only driving along it for about 30 minutes. You can buy expressway passes which allow unlimited use for up to two weeks though which makes them a bit more affordable.

    One of the highlights our Hokkaido trip was the outdoor onsen (known as rotenburo). Campsites with showers on the island seem to be few and far between but luckily there are dozens of free public hot springs! Two of the best I’d highly recommend are:

    • Fukiage Onsen, which is in the hills at the south western edge of Daisetsuzan National Park, just a bit further on from Fukiage Hot Springs (a large indoor onsen / hotel / campsite). You walk through some woods and down a stone staircase to find 2 outdoor pools nestled in the trees. It’s really close to the Blue Lake and Biei so you can visit on the same day.

    • Kotan Onsen, which is on the south eastern shore of Lake Kussharo in Akan National Park. The view is stunning – you can look right out over the lake and it made for a spectacular sunset. There are separate baths for men and women but it’s just a low stone barrier separating the two pools and ladies were in the male bath and vice versa when we visited.

    Also – the blog mentions the Sapporo Summer Festival. If you find yourself in the city while it’s on, definitely check out Odori Park. The whole area is converted in to a kilometer-long beer garden! It’s a really friendly atmosphere and a great place to meet some locals.

  2. Hokkaido is a very nice place to visit and live, the reason is people are really polite and clean in Hokkaido, and the hotels presented in this page are really good, I know most of them and some of them are located in Sapporo downtown, Hokkaido is everything about hospitality, Japanese are people who like working and the service you find in most places is quick, polite and efficient. The winter is long, but if you are into winter Sports, well it is paradise, the summer is hot for just a few weeks but long enough to enjoy swimming or hiking, and the Spring and Autumn are the best seasons if you like cool weather to enjoy any festival in Sapporo at Odori park.

    The food is good, I like things like Gyudon, which is a bowl of rice topped with beef and onions simmered with a sweet sauce and served with ginger. You can find very cheap food in many regular restaurants.
    If you come in winter you have to bring warm clothes because the average temperature in Sapporo in winter is -5 but in February some days get as low as -16, so if you come to the winter festival in Sapporo consider those days are really cold here.
    If you go farther north it gets colder, cities like Asahikawa, Wakkanai or Obihiro
    For those who like skiing, you can rent the ski gear, but it is better to bring your own gear and equipment. The winter is long, it lasts from early December to late April, so bringing warm clothes is a must.
    I have been the Okurayama ski jump stadium, or the Tsudome winter festival with my family, the service and price was excellent in both places, and Tsudome is excellent for young children, my son had a really good time there.
    If you are foreigner you will find yourself at home, it is the whole cultural experience, not only because of the very well known Japanese customs, but by the very small details that make life beautiful, if you like winter sports this is the place to be, at schools even young children have ski lessons; and in winter on the street you can see, cute toddlers on their sleds that are pulled by their mothers. Why I like Hokkaido? Well it seems it is a place set apart in this world, it is peaceful, beautiful, and you do not need to be worried about crime like in other cities around the world, in few words once you visit Hokkaido, you will want to come back here, I have the whole Hokkaido experience, I live here, and I am married to a local Japanese woman, this place is so nice that I have Russian, American, Aussie and Nigerian friends who have become expats once they came here.

  3. We visited Hokkaido in June for one week.Rented a car for 400USD, with Expressway pass,
    as fares can be quite expensive. Take note that the speed limit is 70km/h.
    Weather was extremely fine, but mornings and evenings are a little cooler.
    Travelling in Japan, think about having cash and coins always available, even
    if you can use your cards in the main cities, little shops and markets prefer cash.

    Sapporo – Sapporo Grand Hotel
    The hotel per se is fine, conveniently located and easy to find and access.
    Staff kind and professional.
    At night we visited ramen yokocho, a covered street as many in Japan, a paradise for foodies.
    We had a delicious and cheap ramen in a small eatery at the end of the alley.
    After we had a stroll in Susukino area when we took some pics of the famous neon lights.
    The day after we visited the fish market, where we found an incredible variety of fish,
    hairy crabs and shells…you can see local people bargaining for the best price.
    In one of the many restaurants on the first floor, we had the best
    and biggest sashimi bowl for a reasonable price.

    Hakodate – Henmi Ryokan
    Near the fish market, with a parking at walking distance.
    We stayed in a Japanese Style room with shared Bath.
    Room was a bit old but very clean, the atmosphere is very traditional.
    The Lady speaks no english and is extremely kind, definitely tourists oriented.
    We visited Hakodate fish market, where you can eat fresh fish, and
    taste fresh yogurt made with the famous Hokkaido milk.
    We took the ropeway up to the hills, there is a beautiful view and temples to visit.

    Lake Toya – Hotel Grand Toya
    Hotel is a bit dated but the staff was very kind and professional again.Food very good.
    We were kind of out of season and the atmoshpere was like from other times. Had the chance to see fireworks at night on the lake. A few traditional restaurants nearby.
    We had a wonderful boat trip to he lake and they dropped us in the island in the middle of it,
    we took a path and walked in a magic atmosphere.

    Furano – Ryokan Furusatoso Hotel
    Another traditional stay with good food and friendly staff.
    Had omelette with rice and curry in a nearby restaurant, the kind lady gave us a little souvenir.
    Visited the lavander field, saw beautiful landscapes, rice pads, old women working in the fields. Had a lot of lavander ice cream and melon.

    Jozankei – Daiichi Hotel Suizantei
    We moved to this quite expensive mountain onsen, easy to reach, beautifully located.
    Every dollar was worth, I think this is still my best experience in a ryokan.
    The dinner was fantastic for taste and presentation, expect to feel like an Emperor.
    The onsen experience was wonderful, you can also have a privete outdoor bath, diving in the mountains woods.
    You can take an easy stroll in the woods nearby with plenty of beautiful photo occasions.

    Hokkaido in summer is a wonderful wild region with good food and beautiful
    landscapes, and staff everywhere is extremely kind, as it should be in an area with so many tourists.

  4. Thank you for writing an article about Hokkaido!
    This article reminds me my childhood as a resident of Hokkaido. Now I’m living in New York, but I miss Hokkaido so much!
    Hokkaido is known as a best place to enjoy outdoor activities throughout a year!
    My favorite place to ski was Rusutsu since they have more ski courses than Niseko has. If you enjoy snowboarding, Niseko has lots of courses with powdered snow (they leave overnight fallen snow on courses as is)

    In spring, I enjoy not only cherry blossom, but also picking wild spring vegetables known as sansai and eat them! If you have eaten ramps, you know what I am talking about! If you visit Hokkaido in spring, you should look for eating Sansai which will be available at a restaurant called, Azumayazyuraku in Sapporo. They have amazing soba noodle and sansei tempura.

    When you visit Hokkaido, just to make sure that you bring one extra layer with you, especially in spring and fall. They can get chilly at night. Only middle of summer is the time you will only wear shorts and shirts. As you may know, it’s super called in winter! So take lots of layers to keep yourself warm.

    While you go to Susukino in Sapporo, don’t forget to eat Sapporo Miso Ramen at Ramen Yokocho. You will see lots of ramen restaurants in a narrow hidden sidewalk. Even if you have to wait for a half hour or so, choose a crowded ramen restaurant and try to wait in line. You won’t regret it after all once you take a bite of the noodle!

    Agh now I miss everything about Hokkaido!

  5. Like the rest of Japan, the people in Hokkaido are very kind and helpful. I had the pleasure of staying in Sapporo over a decade ago for a conference.

    I would strongly encourage people that are interested in Japanese culture to do two of these activities while in Hokkaido. The first would be to stay at a ryokan or a nice hotel that has a hot spring either there or near by. Hot springs in Japan can be not only very relaxing but also very good for your health. Natural hot springs in the mountains are best during the winter when the scenery is so nice with snow all around.

    My second suggestion would be to do an activity that involves the Ainu culture. The Ainu are indigenous people of Japan. The majority of the Ainu are in Hokkaido and they have suffered a history somewhat similar to the native American Indians in the United States. One location related to the Ainu that is not far from Sapporo is the Shiraoi Ainu Museum in Shiraoi along the shore of Lake Poroto. This is an open air museum that is about 1.5 hours from Sapporo by train. Various Ainu cultural activities take place at this museum each day including dancing, singing, and some traditional crafts. There is also information within the museum that can further educate visitors on the history of the Ainu and their culture.

    Have a great time while in Hokkaido.

  6. I’m Japanese .
    I’ve been to Hokkaido few times, and loved Hokkaido more and more whenever I go.
    But there is so many beautiful things I could not ever imagine in Hokkaido.
    Thank you for the articles!!

    I wish I could feel every season of Hokkaido!

  7. Ive stayed in Hokkaido many times and the best place to stay, during winter, is in Niseko. With 4 ski resort areas within a small radius, it makes it one of the best places to ski in the world. The best place to stay in that area, would be in Hirafu. Hirafu is the most central area within the region, with many shops and accommodations to suit any type of traveller.

    One of the most homely and family style places to stay isnt just one, but two pensions that sit side by side right in the middle of Hirafu. Full Note Pension and Woody Note Pension are family run, Japanese style pensions that cater from small to large groups of travellers during the winter. The staff can collect you when you arrive and they also feed you an a delicious Western style breakfast every morning. And at Full Note, they have a Jazz Bar downstairs called Half Note which is open every night! They even have live music 3 times a week from local and international musicians, and one of the only free pool tables in town.

    For those on a budget, Niseko Backpackers is another great place to stay. In the hostel style, this building houses many guests throughout the season offering a communal accommodation setting. It is surrounded by several of the towns best restaurants including Moon Bar and Ebisutei. Right up the street is the main intersection which features some great cafes including Green Farm.

    It can be busy during the winter, but Hirafu Niseko is still one of the best places to visit for some fun, Japanese snow activities.

  8. When my friends plan to visit Hokkaido, I am always asked which place to go.
    Although I have lived in Hokkaido for many years, there are many places where I haven’t visited yet and I would want to visit in the future. Because Hokkaido prefecture is many times broader than others.

    Talking about recent trip, one of my foreign friends visited me and I took her to some cities.It was the beggining of May, but suprisingly it snowed. When traveling in Hokkaido, we need to consider our clothing.

    From new Chitose airport we went to Otaru city by car which is famous for fishery to have seafood on the first day. Around Otaru station there were many seafood cafeterias and we could choose three various fresh seafood that we wanted to put on rice. It cost us about $18 a person.

    After that, we headed for Noboribetu city. Car is preferable to travel around Hokkaido. Roads are wide and seldom traffic jam except for Sapporo. We were able to experience wilderness at Jigokudani (Hell valley) which is explosion crater of a mountain. Boiling water and smoke made us imagine hell definitely. We stayed at hotel nearby Jigokudani and its cost was about $200 for two people. Noboribetu was a good place not many people know about.

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