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!
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!
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!
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*.