Japan Alps

Old Jan 14, 06, 2:29 pm
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Japan Alps

Hi!

I am planning a family vacation to Japan next summer for four weeks. We have been twice before. Right now, our plan is to spend 8-10 days in the Japanese Alps. Does anyone know of a nice hotel there? Either Western or ryokan would be great.

Thanks so much!

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Old Jan 14, 06, 2:39 pm
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I went skiing at Nagano and enjoyed my stay at the Kuroyan Royal hotel. I do recommend it, but it is not luxury by my definition (Four Seasons, One and Only, Peninsula's, etc.. I would stay there again, however. It is "nice" and I think would fit the needs of the family fine. Not that many people spoke fluent english there, which was okay, and none of the menus at the time were in English. But don't let that keep you from staying there.

Last edited by jeffreyt; Jan 14, 06 at 2:42 pm
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Old Jan 14, 06, 9:55 pm
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There are a number of very high end Ryokan in the Japanese Alps, that would qualify as ultra deluxe by everybody, even Wallpaper*. The winter issue of Kateigaho has an very nice article about their favorite onsen ryokan. There is also a book called The Japanese Spa, which has some pretty nice ones too. You can also try the Luxury Ryokan website.

Lastly, if Western is what you are looking for, my favorite is definitely the Imperial Hotel in Kamikochi. Not "luxury", since it is hard to do this well on a 70 year old building that is inaccessible 9 months of the year, but it is a wonderful experience. In keeping with Japanese inscrutability, there is no mention of this property in their English website. You have to go to the Japanese side to actually realize it exists here. Although they will be surprised that a foreigner has found out their little secret when you call up for reservations, they'll gladly take your money.
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Old Jan 15, 06, 7:34 am
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Originally Posted by Pickles
There are a number of very high end Ryokan in the Japanese Alps, that would qualify as ultra deluxe by everybody, even Wallpaper*. The winter issue of Kateigaho has an very nice article about their favorite onsen ryokan. There is also a book called The Japanese Spa, which has some pretty nice ones too. You can also try the Luxury Ryokan website.

Lastly, if Western is what you are looking for, my favorite is definitely the Imperial Hotel in Kamikochi. Not "luxury", since it is hard to do this well on a 70 year old building that is inaccessible 9 months of the year, but it is a wonderful experience. In keeping with Japanese inscrutability, there is no mention of this property in their English website. You have to go to the Japanese side to actually realize it exists here. Although they will be surprised that a foreigner has found out their little secret when you call up for reservations, they'll gladly take your money.
Thanks so much for the advice. Do you have any ryokan that you prefer, or should I be safe picking one from that Japanese Spa book, which I have?

Also, for the Imperial, is it alot like the Fujiya in Hakone, where I stayed based on a "best of Japan" in Frommers?
Thanks
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Old Jan 15, 06, 8:56 am
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Originally Posted by aa4ever
Thanks so much for the advice. Do you have any ryokan that you prefer, or should I be safe picking one from that Japanese Spa book, which I have?

Also, for the Imperial, is it alot like the Fujiya in Hakone, where I stayed based on a "best of Japan" in Frommers?
Thanks
I think the selection in the Kateigaho is probably more consistent in terms of quality. The Japanese Spa book is pretty good, but the quality of the places described is more variable than the author lets on.

The Kamikochi Imperial is very rustic, much more so than the Fujiya, although the Fujiya is older and can be seen as having more charm. But the natural surroundings of the Imperial are incredible. Also, the Imperial is a real PITA to get to, which makes it even more appealing. Reminds me a lot of the Swiss Alps, not at valley level (Interlaken), but up in the mountains (e.g. Wengen or Murren).

If you go to any of these places, reserve early and reserve often. They are small, and they fill up quick.
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Old Jan 16, 06, 8:23 pm
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If you are interested in hiking around the Kamikochi area where the Imperial is (and I would highly recommend this), it is possible to walk across the mountains to various onsen ryokan. If it were me, I might stay at the Imperial to get my bearings and have them help make the reservations and plan the route, then check out and leave the heavy bags and hike for 2-3 nights to different ryokan, then end up back at the Imperial to pick up bags at the end. The hot springs are really the best mountain experience in Japan.
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Old May 17, 19, 7:22 pm
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Originally Posted by jupitermars View Post
If you are interested in hiking around the Kamikochi area where the Imperial is (and I would highly recommend this), it is possible to walk across the mountains to various onsen ryokan. If it were me, I might stay at the Imperial to get my bearings and have them help make the reservations and plan the route, then check out and leave the heavy bags and hike for 2-3 nights to different ryokan, then end up back at the Imperial to pick up bags at the end. The hot springs are really the best mountain experience in Japan.
I've managed to get three nights at Imperial Kamikochi in August. Is that too long? Seems like there's not all that much to do there but enjoy the scenery. Does the hotel itself even have an onsen of its own?

What sort of hike are we talking about to get to the various ryokan in the area? Greater than 5 km a day?
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Old May 18, 19, 4:49 am
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Originally Posted by aa4ever View Post
Hi!

I am planning a family vacation to Japan next summer for four weeks. We have been twice before. Right now, our plan is to spend 8-10 days in the Japanese Alps. Does anyone know of a nice hotel there? Either Western or ryokan would be great
If you donít mind a more active trip and moving hotels, I would recommend doing a Walk Japan hiking trip and just let them take care of everything
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Old May 18, 19, 6:49 am
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It may be a really special place but it sure doesn't look like a luxury hotel.

Here's what appears to be an official English language website about the Imperial that has a booking form on it:

https://www.imperialhotel.co.jp/e/kamikochi/index.html
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Old May 18, 19, 7:28 am
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Originally Posted by RichardInSF View Post
It may be a really special place but it sure doesn't look like a luxury hotel.

Here's what appears to be an official English language website about the Imperial that has a booking form on it:

https://www.imperialhotel.co.jp/e/kamikochi/index.html
It certainly is a special hotel in a special setting. As for whether it's luxury, it's all relative. The rooms are well-appointed if somewhat spartan, but that's what you'd expect from an 90-year old mountain lodge. The common areas are gorgeous and the service, as expected, is outstanding. Think of it as a Dorchester or a Connaught pre-renovations: mostly small, simple rooms, luck of the draw, but a historical setting with gorgeous common areas and crisp old-school service.

Landing a three-night booking in August is no mean feat.
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Old May 18, 19, 7:32 am
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Originally Posted by hailstorm View Post
I've managed to get three nights at Imperial Kamikochi in August. Is that too long? Seems like there's not all that much to do there but enjoy the scenery. Does the hotel itself even have an onsen of its own?

What sort of hike are we talking about to get to the various ryokan in the area? Greater than 5 km a day?
The other ryokan in the area are all in the same general lower valley, so walking distance. As for hiking, if you like hiking, you can do day hikes in the area and come back to the hotel, as opposed to ending up in some non-luxury hut up in the mountains. Many people will do multiple-day treks going from point to point, staying at huts or small inns along the way. Staying at the Imperial is over the top compared to the standard mode of roughing it.
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Old Aug 7, 19, 7:47 pm
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Originally Posted by RichardInSF View Post
It may be a really special place but it sure doesn't look like a luxury hotel.

Here's what appears to be an official English language website about the Imperial that has a booking form on it:

https://www.imperialhotel.co.jp/e/kamikochi/index.html
Originally Posted by Pickles View Post
It certainly is a special hotel in a special setting. As for whether it's luxury, it's all relative. The rooms are well-appointed if somewhat spartan, but that's what you'd expect from an 90-year old mountain lodge. The common areas are gorgeous and the service, as expected, is outstanding. Think of it as a Dorchester or a Connaught pre-renovations: mostly small, simple rooms, luck of the draw, but a historical setting with gorgeous common areas and crisp old-school service.

Landing a three-night booking in August is no mean feat.
Originally Posted by Pickles View Post
The other ryokan in the area are all in the same general lower valley, so walking distance. As for hiking, if you like hiking, you can do day hikes in the area and come back to the hotel, as opposed to ending up in some non-luxury hut up in the mountains. Many people will do multiple-day treks going from point to point, staying at huts or small inns along the way. Staying at the Imperial is over the top compared to the standard mode of roughing it.
Thanks for all the feedback. In the end, we reduced our stay from three nights to one, staying the first two nights at Hoshino Resorts Risonare Yatsugatake instead. I think this worked out much better for us, as we weren't about to go full-on mountain climbing, and we were easily able to get to all of the easily available tourist options (Kappabashi, Weston Monument, Taisho Pond, and all the nature in between) with a few hours of walking.

Imperial Hotel Kamikochi was absolutely stunning. An amazing treat for all five senses. It's really impossible to do it justice in words alone. But while it has luxury amenities, including some of the most comfortable pajamas and bathrobes I've ever worn anywhere, it most definitely is not a luxury hotel. Most telling was the fact that there is zero air conditioning anywhere in the building. At 1500m elevation this didn't used to ever be a problem, but it was close to 30C on this day. We were also strongly discouraged from opening the veranda door at night due to the abundance of bugs, the smaller of which could make it into the room even through the screen door. The small fan that they supplied us with was not enough to make for a very pleasant night's sleep.

But I've no complaints about anything else. Had Imperial Hotel's world famous Chaliapin Steak for dinner, and the American Breakfast was top class. They make an awesome Manhattan at the Bar Horn, and the bartender is a great guy to shoot the breeze with in both English and Japanese. If you're an Imperial Club member or Imperial Club International member (membership is free for the latter for all non-Japan residents) you get a free drink coupon at the Grindelwald Lounge that's also good for beer or wine. Be sure to head outside for a walk after dark; free flashlights and bear repellent bells are made available. Unfortunately we didn't get to see any stars, but the after-rain smell of this pristine forest is a sensation that I don't think I will ever forget.

It certainly isn't cheap, but the memories made here were priceless.
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Old Aug 9, 19, 5:42 am
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Tottally agree
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Old Aug 9, 19, 6:02 am
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Kuroyan Royan hotel

I am another person to recommend Kuroyan Royan hotel
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