A bumper Australian ski season is drawing to a close, and keen skiers are casting their eyes north, already impatient for more powder snow. Niseko is famous for more than just its 16 metres of annual snowfall; the quirky blend of Japanese culture and western ski town vibes offers experiences that are hard to come by anywhere else in the world.
Every destination has options for those who cherish the comfort of a five-star hotel, the flavour sensations created by a Michelin-starred chef, and the thrilling feeling of experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
Here are our recommendations for those who are looking for the most luxurious experiences that Niseko has to offer.
Niseko Luxury Accommodation
The Vale Niseko
It’s hard to beat the central location of The Vale Niseko. Set at the base of the Ace Family Ski Run in the heart of Hirafu town, The Vale claims one of the most desirable ski-in, ski-out locations in the Niseko region.
The airy apartments are furnished with designer flourish, and the southern corner suites offer spectacular views of Mt Yotei, Niseko’s iconic, semi-dormant volcano. For an extra dash of luxury, book yourself a private onsen apartment. These stunners boast a hot spring on the balcony, with water piped straight from the volcanic source. Go all out and nab a stay in the award-winning Yotei Panorama Penthouse, where you’ll enjoy unbeatable views of Yotei from the onsen on your heated deck.
Do you value the privacy of a ski chalet but enjoy the service of a resort? Meet Hakuchozan, a seven-bedroom palace designed with family time in mind. Nestled in the heart of Hirafu’s Middle Village, Hakuchozan’s features include a man cave, kids’ game room and a Yotei-view Jacuzzi.
A private butler and driver are included just to make sure you’ll want for absolutely nothing during your stay. From gourmet meals cooked and catered in-house to your favourite cocktail waiting on your return from the ski hill, Hakuchozan is the definition of indulgence.
Niseko Luxury Dining
Kamimura is a long-standing Niseko institution that never fails to dish up the divine. A French fusion degustation created from local ingredients is served in a setting befitting its Michelin-starred status. White-collared waiters, crystal and silver tableware and airy yet soothing decor set the scene for one of Niseko’s most exquisite dining experiences.
Chef Kamimura comes out to thank each table personally at the end of most seatings, a charming finale to your delicious dinner procession.
Anthony Bourdain may have put Rakuichi on the map, but the locals fell in love long before he made his famous visit. You can only book for dinner at this tiny wooden restaurant, but if you miss out on a reservation (highly probable during peak season) then it’s worth lining up for lunch.
Soba master Rai san rolls and cuts the noodles right before your eyes, a graceful process that is both soothing and fascinating. Other family members are busy cooking and serving fresh soba, tempura and seafood on Japanese pottery dining sets. It’s a meal that becomes an experience that extends far beyond the satisfaction of filling your belly.
Niseko Luxury Skiing
ProPeak Powder Guides
Powder guides aren’t just for gung-ho daredevils. Touring the mountain with an experienced local helps you experience the best spots and the most premium conditions immediately, with a few tips on technique thrown in for good measure. ProPeak offers a range of lift-assisted tours, but if you do feel like getting extreme they are just as comfortable in the alluring Niseko backcountry.
Weiss Cat Skiing
Take it one step further and head out on a powder hunt with Weiss Cat Skiing. Mount Weisshorn has some of the deepest snow in the region and is kept exclusively for cat tours, ensuring you and your group don’t have to compete for fresh tracks. The mix of mellow bowls and more advanced ridges makes Weisshorn suitable for a wide range of ability levels.
Niseko Luxury Activities
Does anything scream “winter” louder than a reindeer sleigh? Whoosh across the snow on a gratifyingly ornate sled towed by one of the most beloved animals in the world. Reindeer sledding is available at Niseko Village and Ki Niseko in Hirafu at select dates in the height of winter. The magical sound of sleigh bells is guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit.
If you’re looking for something extreme, then a snowmobile/dirtbike cross should fit the bill. Snowbiking is the newest winter thrill of choice for adrenaline seekers. While Niseko Snowbike Adventures recommend that you have some on or off-road motorcycle experience, sessions are also available for plucky beginners.
Niseko Luxury Relaxation
Niseko Spa is a relative newcomer to town, having opened in December 2016 to offer Hirafu’s only full-service beauty and relaxation facilities. Whether you need a haircut, waxing appointment or a pedicure, follow up your beauty treatment with a relaxing facial or massage and a green smoothie from the conjoined health bar, The Wellness Shop.
Moku no Sho
Book yourself in at Moku no Sho for a full Japanese immersion, from onsen (hot spring) bathing to set course delicacies. Just a 15-minute drive from central Hirafu, this gorgeous modern ryokan (traditional hotel) has a guest-only onsen, so serenity is guaranteed. Book a night at the ryokan or make a dinner reservation at the excellent Restaurant Shorai to take advantage of the delicious hot springs and spa treatments.
You’ll need a car to get to this recently hot spring complex, but it’s well worth the drive for the tranquillity and secluded mountain views. Yukichichibu was once a hotel, but is now a beautiful, updated collection of indoor and outdoor onsen. Although you can choose from scores of onsens in the Niseko area, Yukichichibu has the distinction of being one of the only hot springs with a mud bath.
Niseko Luxury Transfer
Who said airport transfers have to be boring? Step aboard the custom-designed Cool Star mini bus and relax in a soft, white leather recliner for a journey with a difference. A dedicated hostess will serve you speciality snacks, play your favourite tunes or set you up with a movie for the two hour journey where you are the star of the show.