It’s a short drive from the airport to the Sapporo Prince Hotel located in the heart of Sapporo. Compared to other cities, there are fewer hotel options, but this one is a popular choice.
Budget or boutique?
It’s not the most modern or stylish, and it’s slightly dated, but it’s clean and comfortable, with good service, friendly staff and fantastic views.
The 587 rooms spread over 28 floors have free wifi, flat screen TV, a safe, room service, air con, and non-smoking rooms are available. There’s also an open-air hot spring bath and spa. For a panoramic mountain backdrop, aim for the higher floors, especially on a snowy winter’s day.
Wining and dining
The hotel sets its sights on using Hokkaido’s local sustainable produce. We enjoyed an à la carte meal at the hotel’s Le Trianon French Restaurant with a delicious amuse-bouche called Gifts from the Sea which included Pacific saury with eggplant, squid with seaweed and squid ink, squid fritte, and mussels with cream and saffron.
The Sapporo Prince Hotel is home to a number of restaurants and the Sky Lounge, where you can enjoy a drink while watching the sunset over the cityscape. There’s a cocktail bar, elegant restaurant, champagne terrace and tea lounge.
Royal floor suite occupants have exclusive access to the 28th floor breakfast lounge where Japanese and western food is served; it’s quieter and there are no large groups to contend with.
Steal away from the hotel’s onsen and head to Aburiya, an izakaya (informal Japanese pub-style) restaurant serving Hokkaido seafood for £26 per person.
Head to Kitanoryoba restaurant in the Curb Morning Market, which specialises in Hokkaido seafood and local produce, for local domburi breakfast dishes – seafood served over rice. The Prince Hotel works closely with the market to offer guests an authentic experience, and provides a complimentary shuttle bus service to and from the hotel.
For self-drivers, there’s a reasonably priced underground car park. For those on foot, there’s a regular shuttle to the nearby train station. Guests have access to the hotel’s hot spring bath for £3.40 per night, as well as the Sapporo Wellness Club for £14.85.
Worth getting out of bed for
The former Hokkaido government office building is a pivotal starting point to understanding the history, art and cultural importance of this significant town.
Hokkaido is famous as the birthplace of Japanese beer. Sapporo Beer, one of the oldest and most popular brands, has been brewed in Sapporo since 1876. The Sapporo Beer Museum introduces visitors to the history of the beverage with a free 20-minute tour.
Elevate to the top of the Sapporo TV Tower that is inside the Odori Park area, famous for its Snow Festival in February.
Susukino is Japan’s largest entertainment district north of Tokyo and, packed with stores, bars, restaurants, karaoke shops and pachinko (gaming) parlours, is fun to explore. Or head for Tanukikoji, a kilometre-long roofed arcade with around 200 shops that runs east to west in downtown Sapporo.
If you’re a rugby fan, take a tour of the Sapporo Dome stadium, where England will play against Tonga in their first match of the Rugby World Cup on 22 September.
Step back in time through a historical torii gate to 1871, in the footsteps of Emperor Meiji, at the Hokkaido Jingu shinto shrine.
The Prince Hotel has fantastic rooms with excellent views over Sapporo. Close to many restaurants, shops and Odori Park, the staff are helpful despite language differences.
Sapporo Prince Hotel, Nishi 11-Chrome, Minami 2-jo, chuo-ky, Sapporo, 060-8615 Hokkaido. Standard twin rooms start from £83, and deluxe doubles from £248, based on two people sharing (+81 11 241 1111, email: princehotels.com, www.princehotels.com).
All Nippon Airways has direct flights in economy return from £856; premium economy return from £1,639; business class return from £3,547 (www.ana.co.jp)