Hakuba travel guide! (airbnb options, après ski bar/food/coffee spots!)

Time spent off the slopes, is just as important as time spent on! Continue reading to find out more about how you can take full advantage of all the delights Hakuba has to offer, besides its mountains n moguls.

With peak Hakuba season slowly approaching, start creating an itinerary that works for you, and get booking! Hakuba is definitely a favourite amongst locals, especially with COVID restricting everyone’s ability to travel abroad. With that said, let’s start with a quick briefing.

Born n raised in Tokyo, with parents who definitely thrived in the 1990’s trendy ski era, I was lucky enough to have been exposed to the mountains when I was still sporting my plastic baby skis. Having spent many of the winter seasons (pretty much yearly) indulging in snowy escapes- Hakuba has always been a favourite, returning around three times every year, so I am very much familiar with the ins and outs.

Only a 4(ish) hour commute from Tokyo, Hakuba is convenient to get to. I’ve done the bus, car and train routes, and all have been easy and hassle free. If you’re opting to stay in an airbnb (like we did), and not somewhere directly opposite the slopes, having a car is definitely handy.

Airbnb or hotel?

I have stayed in a fair share of hotels in Hakuba, especially because we used to go as a school twice a year. If you’re looking for a quick access to the slopes, hotels generally do provide that, so that may be better.

However, if you’re looking to stay in a more homely, cosy place, there are a plethora of options on Airbnb. I stayed in a cosy and comfortable Airbnb last winter, and actually preferred it to a hotel. It’s quite nice to have a quiet morning in a little house with your friends, rather than scrambling down for a buffet breakfast, often quite suffocating with the amount of families and kids haha. Also, the luxury of having your own kitchen is always a plus. I wouldn’t stay in an airbnb if I had no car access though- it might be a bit of a nuisance having to constantly order a cab to go places. Considering Hakuba is quite remote, you might be trudging through a snowstorm just to reach a 7/11.

Here is the link to the airbnb my friends and I stayed in last year!

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/31580668?check_in=2020-12-27&check_out=2020-12-30&adults=6&s=42&unique_share_id=A94DEE67-4935-480A-8D19-8727B367B914&fbclid=IwAR2tlH5cyVbpz-pq2V2-ZO3voW8Futr4VpNolF3B5nW2zWdxQs_uzjYQQOE&_branch_match_id=995981848507618213&_branch_referrer=H4sIAAAAAAAAA8soKSkottLXT0zKS9LLTdVPq%2FJKMvFxSclPTrJPS0rOyUyx9Sx3DDIqyfEwTa4MSyqo0i0oNAoz0o3yNy7LD7dwKy0pMgkr8MvPcTN2Ms0LN6oKT6kILI4vrcqKDAz0dwUAUXv1iGAAAAA%3D&source_impression_id=p3_1638698805_PbfVJvWf%2BfYg9T6l&_set_bev_on_new_domain=1638698803_MjEyOGFjMGNkMGQ4

Located in the heart of Hakuba, this airbnb is a great option to consider if you want to have not only the slopes but restaurants and bars within close proximity. We had plenty of room, and the airbnb was spotless and wonderful so I would highly recommend staying here. Very close to Happo-One too! 🙂 (We went as a group of four friends, but it would be perfect for families as well).

Best bar recommendations in Hakuba for après ski

The Rabbit Hole

The best place to unwind with a drink in hand after a long day. The atmosphere alongside the food is unmatched. The Rabbit Hole probably has just about everything you’re looking for: delightful, hearty eats, a diverse selection of drinks, unique shots, live music and even something to keep the kiddos busy.My friends and I really enjoyed the vibe of the whole place, it is very international, lively and fun! Can’t forget to mention the incredibly friendly and accommodating staff (who even took some shots with us at the bar!).The menu does lean on lot of meats and burgers, which we thoroughly enjoyed, but if you are vegetarian/vegan, you may be limited in options.

The Mocking Bird

Instantly soothed by the interior, this bar offers a more laid-back and cosy atmosphere, in comparison to the Rabbit Hole. It gives very much ‘woody, lodge vibes’, and the bartenders are also very friendly!

If I remember correctly, it has some more Japanese style cocktails and drinks, which were all reasonably priced. We came here for pre/post dinner drinks, so we weren’t able to try their food, but from what I have read, I am sure their food is just as good!

Recovery Bar

This was the first bar we went to in Hakuba, and I can’t say I remember much of that night… We went pre COVID so the bar was pretty packed with tourists, (oh how we took those times for granted)… There was amazing live music, and it was all around a buzzing and fun atmosphere. If you’re looking for a more upbeat, ‘après ski’ kind of night, this is a must. To heighten that vibe, the bar itself is more on the smaller side, contributing to the bustle, whilst also making it that much easier to mingle with others. 10/10 fo shuuure.

(Sorry I don’t have pictures here)

Breakfast and coffee!

The Rabbit Hole

Breakfast is always an important meal. But even more so, when you have a long day of boarding awaiting. If you’re looking for a filling and flavoursome breakfast to keep your tummy satisfied until some lunch time katsu-curry, hit up The Rabbit Hole for an array of options. I actually completely demolished my breakfast here, it was just what I was looking for. And it totally serves up ‘morning, snowy and cosy lodge vibes’. The coffee here is good too!

Satoru Coffee

Just seeing the adorable dogs outside had me not only weak, but totally sold. GREAT marketing technique, I totally approve and applaud… This coffee place is probably one of the cutest and most aesthetically pleasing places, I have ever picked up a coffee from. Almost feels like winter wonderland, with the small wooden hut engulfed in snow. If you are looking for a spot for your morning coffee, alongside a side of serotonin (because of the puppies, of course), make sure to stop here!

Starbucks Hakuba Snowpeak

Whilst I agree that there is nothing much original about recommending a Starbucks, I guarantee you won’t want to miss the views this Starbucks has to offer. Located in Snowpeak, this Starbucks comes with an outdoor terrace outlooking the many mountains of Hakuba- it is absolutely breathtaking and straight outta pinterest. What’s better than sipping on your coffee with the mountains literally at your feet! *chefs kiss*.

Best Trendy Coffee Shops in Tokyo! (Shibuya/Harajuku)

An avid coffee drinker looking for the perfect coffee shops to wind down on a Sunday Morning? Here are a couple of my favourite go-to coffee stops in Shibuya & Harajuku!

WoodBerry Coffee Roasters

A hidden gem, but definitely popular amongst the local residents!

WoodBerry Coffee Roasters is tucked into the more quieter, residential area of Shibuya- a nice break from the hustle, and a ideal spot to indulge in some top tier coffee.

This cafe is quite small, with a few seats outside, and more on the inside. Despite its size, it appears as though they do roast their own handcrafted coffee. The aromatic aura of the place is enough to be sold!

Their menu offers a range of delights- from breakfast, brunch, to slightly heavier meals (all of which are quite healthy..and heavenly).

I am a BIG fan of their acai bowls and coffee, and can also never resist their nutty banana bread for an afternoon snack to look forward to later.

You can choose the beans you want in your coffee, from their hand crafted selection. My favourites are: ‘Costa Rica Gamboa’ & ‘Dark Note Blend’. They have a selection of beans to choose from, depending on what tickles your fancy!

(They provide non-dairy alternatives. My fave is oat milk, which is becoming more common in Tokyo!)

Ralph’s Coffee

Bang in the middle of Harajuku/Omotesando, this is the perfect pit stop for coffee and lunch during your Sunday Stroll. It is located in the big, white, Ralph Lauren building- quite tricky to miss.

The stunning green and white, slightly retro vibe interior complements the white exterior well- definitely good for the gram 😉

They also have more than a couple outside seats (accompanied by heaters) for some of the warmer, sunnier days out.

Although the coffee was amazing, the star of the show is definitely the carrot cake. It’s so moist, with the perfect ratio of icing to cake, AND a nice generous slice too. Definitely get it if you need to satisfy your sweet tooth!

The sandwiches, especially the ham and cheese were also delicious!

A coffee, sandwich and a slice of cake kick-start or even end off your weekend!

(They also provide non-dairy alternatives)

White Glass Coffee

Located just behind Cerulean Tower in Shibuya, this coffee shop radiates comfort and has a relaxing atmosphere, especially on the outdoor terrace.

Not only do they have a good selection of coffee (and seemingly roast their own beans!), but home to some wonderful sweet treats! If you are in need of satisfying a sweet tooth, this is the place to be.

Despite this being in the heart of Shibuya, it is fairly spacious, and there are plenty of seats to house the many coffee-loving Tokyoites out there. (The outside also has heaters, for the more chilly months). The perimeter of the terrace is enclosed in plants and small little trees, blocking out the noise of the bustle, for a more tranquil environment.

I STILL think about the lemon tart I had here- it was incredible, and lemon tarts are normally not my cup-of-tea.

(Non-dairy alternative offered)

Chop Coffee

Nestled away in the backstreet of Cat Street, this coffee shop is always a must to replenish my energy after some shopping.

Small, but cute & cosy, the coffee here is the perfect strength for me, and an iced latte never disappoints.

This store is a little easy to miss- it is right behind the ROXY store on Cat Street.

Most of the times, and definitely on the weekends, it can be challenging to find a spot in a coffee store, but this place normally proves different. Perhaps due to its size, it might be more of a takeout and drink whilst on your way home kinda job. But there are normally seats available, and they do have some seats you can sit on outside to soak in some sun too!

To accompany your coffee, they also have a small selection of treats, nibbles and even lunch-boxes! I thoroughly enjoy a banana muffin every time I take a trip here too! Nothing beats a banana muffin and some coffee.

(Non-dairy alternative offered)