Most of the recently built accommodation in the Niseko area focuses on the luxury to mid-luxury market for inbound tourists. But before the current boom started Niseko was more of a sleepy ski town with accommodation focused on the domestic market. Apart from a few large hotels at the base of the ski lifts, the accommodation for many years was small pensions. These are like bed and breakfasts, often run by a couple who lives on site. They usually consist of a converted farmhouse or other large home, with rooms for about 10-15 people. Since they were built to appeal to domestic tourists, they tend to be a bit quirky. Most of them are like Japanese copies of Swiss mountain chalets, or at least what the Japanese owners image Swiss chalets to be like. Niseko has many of these pensions spread out around the area, but one of the most popular is the long running Grandpapa. Grandpapa is one of the few pension hotels in Niseko that is still owned and operated by its founding Japanese family. Grandpapa grew into its current 19 room, 64 bed capacity as the popularity of Niseko grew and the original building was expanded upon. It now offers western style ensuite rooms and non-ensuite rooms as well as japanese style (tatami) rooms. Grandpapa also features a bar/lounge area, complete with darts, foosball and, if the mood is right, karaoke! Other facilities include wireless internet, washing machine, ski tune up house and onsen-style communal baths. Located in lower Hirafu Village it’s a bit of a walk from the ski lifts, but offers a rustic charm that’s perfect for relaxed, casual stay. It’s also just across the street from Hirafu onsen, the village hot spring that lets you buy a day trip ticket and is a great place to soak tired muscles after a skiing or hiking. It’s an older wooden building, and tends to be full of backpacker types. The atmosphere is definitely casual, with the entranceway a jumble of ski boots and gloves, but what it lacks in luxury it makes up for in warm fireplace and pleasant, homey atmosphere. Cozy is the keyword, and it’s obvious that it was designed with Japanese sized guests in mind, which is reflected in the narrow staircases and somewhat short beds. Might not the the most comfortable place to stay for larger sized people, but the homey atmosphere makes up for it! This casual atmosphere makes it great for long stays, as you can cook your own meals in the kitchen, make yourself at home in the living room and common areas, and you’re sure to meet some interesting new friends while staying here. A great place to stay if you’re traveling on a budget or looking to make friends with some locals.
163 Yamada Kutchan, Abuta District, Hokkaido Prefecture 044-0081