There’s no shortage of places to grab an evening beer or two in the ski village of Hirafu – the area where most of the resort’s après-ski venues (and accommodation) are based.
The Vale Bar & Grill (tel: +81 136 215 833, www.thevalebarandgrill.com) offers an upmarket option with a fusion of eastern and western tastes and décor. Restaurant Lupicia (tel: +81 136 217 880, www.lupicia.co.jp) has a fine choice of wines in an old-world atmosphere.
For something a little more unusual, the funky Gyu bar (also known as The Fridge Door, tel: +81 136 231 432, www.gyubar.com) is easily spotted thanks to its door that's made from the front of an old Coca-Cola vending machine.
Niseko’s choice of dining options is rapidly expanding and now offers a mix of both traditional Japanese eateries and a diverse range of international restaurants. Additional options are also available in the nearby town of Kutchan.
Somewhat of a resort institution, Graubünden (tel: +81 136 233 371; www.graubunden.jp) has been a popular choice with resort regulars for years thanks to its freshly baked products and gourmet sandwiches.
Of the newer resort choices, Prativo (tel: +81 136 558 852; www.niseko-takahashi.jp/prativo) serves superb Japanese cuisine in an intriguing setting, with visitors sat in a theatre-like-space overlooking Mt Yotei.
Surprisingly, given its location, the resort is also home to The Flying Fish (tel: +81 90 1303 5172), a British-style eatery serving delicious old-fashioned beer battered Hokkaido Cod and chips in newspaper.
As expected, there are numerous establishments serving traditional Japanese cuisine, and specifically fish dishes. Among the best options is Bang-Bang (tel: +81 136 224 292), which offers over 30 different types of yakitori; while Senchou (tel: +81 136 222 001) specialises in scallops.
Beyond the slopes
The volcanic activity that created Mount Yotei also provides plentiful onsen (hot-spring spas) in and around Niseko. Try Hirafu-tei at the Prince Hotel (tel: +81 136 232 239; hirafutei.info/en), with its views of the slopes for men and of Mt Yotei for women. There’s also Yukoro (tel: +81 136 233 434) in Hirafu village, and Makkari (tel: +81 136 452 717), which has an open-air bath with a view of Mt Yotei.
Among the other activities are snowmobile trips around a 6km-long (4 miles) course at the Makkari onsen, climbing at Niseko Adventure Centre (www.nacadventures.jp), and Japanese culture workshops (covering such things as the tea ceremony) at Lodge Grandpapa (tel: +81 136 232 244; www.niseko-grandpapa.com) in Hirafu.
Sapporo is an easy day trip away and is certainly worth visiting in early February, when the famous snow festival (the Yuki Matsuri) sees giant snow and ice sculptures constructed around the city. Another good outing is the charming seaside town of Otaru.
Niseko ski resort has greatly improved its provisions for families in recent years, offering numerous family-friendly facilities and plentiful children-welcome dining establishments.
The Niseko International Snowsport School (tel: +81 136 216 688) in Hanazono resort has a variety of ski lesson and tour programmes for families and kids. At the Hirafu Prince Hotel (tel: +81 136 232 239; hirafutei.info/en), there's an amusement centre stacked with arcade video games.
Hotel Niseko Alpen (tel: +81 136 221 105; www.hotel-nisekoalpen.jp), in the Niseko Grand Hirafu resort, has a crèche looking after children aged two to six - family lift tickets are also available from here.
The main shopping areas are Hirafu and nearby Kutchan, the region's largest town. Here you can buy most essentials, with half a dozen ski shops, a bakery and several small supermarkets on offer.
Sakura in Hirafu (near the village's main crossroads) is the best place to buy traditional Japanese souvenirs and crafts. For snow gear and other outdoor equipment, try the Niseko Adventure Centre.
Niseko Gourmet (tel: +81 136 556 885; www.niseko-gourmet.com) is the resort's first in-house gourmet catering company. The service provides a talented chef, along with a waiter, who travels to your holiday accommodation to prepare a wonderful meal to your tastes, using fine locally sourced ingredients. Just think, now you can enjoy the delights of dining at a fancy gourmet restaurant in the comfort of your pyjamas.
Niseko combines three separate but interlinked ski areas: Grand Hirafu, Higashiyama and Annupuri Kokusai, where the standard of accommodation is excellent. Accommodation ranges from backpacker dorms and youth hostels to luxury lodges and boutique hotels in Niseko.
The Vale Niseko
This hotel provides the ultimate in alpine luxury, including ski-in/ski-out facilities. Rooms have kitchenettes, and the apartments have full designer kitchens. Penthouse apartments have private onsens.Address: , 166-9 Yamada, Abuta-gun, Kutchan-Cho, Hirafu, 044-0081
Telephone: +81 136 231 724.
Four Seasons Shiki Niseko
In the centre of Hirafu Village, this sleek, contemporary hotel offers rooms and apartments with great mountain views. The service is first-rate, and the supermarket and deli on the ground floor are convenient. There's a Michelin-starred French restaurant, and massage and babysitting services are also available.Address: , 190-4 Aza-Yamada, Abuta-gun, Kutchan-Cho, Niseko, 044-0081
Telephone: +81 136 214 191.
The M Hotel is located in the heart of Hirafu Village, just minutes from the ski lifts. The hotel is aimed primarily at an international clientele, with staff speaking English and a mainly Western buffet breakfast. There's also free Wi-Fi and an in-house restaurant.Address: , 170-142 Yamada, Kutchan-Cho, Hirafu, 044-0081
Telephone: +81 136 221 111.
Hotel Niseko Alpen
Set in a great location next to the Grand Hirafu lifts, the Hotel Niseko Alpen has mainly Western-style rooms and good facilities, including a 25m-long (82ft) heated swimming pool.Address: , 204 Yamada, Abuta-gun, Kutchan-Cho, 044-0081
Telephone: +81 136 221 105.
Black Diamond Lodge
This convivial backpacker-style lodge offers budget-end comfort, plus a restaurant and bar.Address: , 24-3 Higashiyama, Niseko, 044-0081
Telephone: +81 136 441 144
One of the resort's original hotels, with a choice of Japanese or western style rooms, the Niseko Park is virtually ski-in/ski-out and has rooms with views of Mt Yotei.Address: , 188 Niseko Kogen Hirafu, Kutchan, 044-0081
Telephone: +81 136 222 122.
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