Accommodation in Sapporo, Hokkaido (Hotel Mystays Premier Sapporo Park)

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Photo | BIG_MOUSE | Mesmerising view from the room

Name: Hotel Mystays Premier Sapporo Park (ホテルマイステイズプレミア札幌パーク)

Address: 〒064-0809 Hokkaido Prefecture, Sapporo, Chuo Ward, Minami 9 Jonishi, 2 Chome−2−10(Note: there are two Mystays hotel in this area. Premier and non-premier)

Map code: 9 463 578*03

Approx room rate per pax: 24,000 Yen (the most expensive hotel for this trip)

Parking rate: 1,000 Yen per night for the vehicles <1.55 metre high; 1,200 Yen for vehicles >1.55 metre. Valet parking is compulsory.

Free Wi-Fi access: Yes. Shared and can be a little slow.

My rating: 3.5/5

Thumbs-up:

  • Off-street parking lots; 30-second walk away from the hotel reception
  • Big bottles of shampoo and body foam
  • Daily housekeeping service
  • Free, unlimited access to onsen and shower facilities.
  • Located in a more secluded part (quieter and all), the main streets are just about a 10-minute walk away.
  • Drinking water available from the tap in the room bathroom.

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Room for improvement:

  • Staff couldn’t quite understand our requests; language barrier
  • No in-hotel washing and drying machines. Thankfully, you will find a couple of purpose-build shops around town – up to 10-min drive away. We tried “Great Coin Laundry by Clean Star” – 1,000 Yen for 60-min wash and dry. Much more ex, but more convenient.

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Some notes:

  • Hotels typically charge for parking. Parking rates may vary according to the size of your car.
  • Space is a premium in Japan, so don’t expect super spacious rooms.
  • All hotels we stayed at provided Febreeze or an equivalent. Thumbs up man. Good for them shoes or the carpet.

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Accommodation in Abashiri, Hokkaido (Toyoko Inn Abashiri Ekimae)

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Name: Toyoko Inn Abashiri Ekimae

Address: 1 Chome-3-3 Shinmachi, Abashiri-shi, Hokkaidō

Map code:  305 675 176*36

Approx room rate per pax: 8,600 Yen (about a third of the cost of the hotels. thumbs up)

Parking rate: No charge

Free Wi-Fi access: Yes. Unique passcodes in every room.

My rating: 4/5 (Mainly cause the rates are much more affordable.)

Thumbs-up:

  • Off-street parking lots; just behind the hotel
  • Extremely polite service staff
  • Big bottles of shampoo and body foam
  • In-hotel washing and drying machines – two machines each, situated in the laundry room a couple of footsteps from the hotel reception. 100 Yen for 30-min wash and 200 Yen for 30-min drying cycle. No need to bring your own detergent. Heavily used from dinner onwards
  • Right next to the train station

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Photo | BIG_MOUSE | Single bedded room. Super comfy bed.

Room for improvement:

  • Staff couldn’t quite understand our requests; language barrier
  • No housekeeping service. Pay a fee to get them to change the towels.
  • Simple breakfast, but that’s how they keep their costs low.
  • Drinking water not available in the rooms. Gotta use the dispenser in the lobby. Another way to keep costs low.

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Some notes:

  • Hotels typically charge for parking. Parking rates may vary according to the size of your car.
  • Space is a premium in Japan, so don’t expect super spacious rooms.
  • All hotels we stayed at provided Febreeze or an equivalent. Thumbs up man. Good for them shoes or the carpet.

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Click here to return to the main content page on my trip to Hokkaido, Japan.

Accommodation in Shimukappu, Hokkaido (Hoshino Resorts Tomamu The Tower)

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Photo | BIG_MOUSE | Spot the twin towers from the resort’s cable car system

Name: Hoshino Resorts Tomamu The Tower (星野リゾート トマム ザ・タワー)

Address: Shimukappu-mura, Yūfutsu-gun, Hokkaidō 079-2204

Map code: 608 511 246*30

Approx room rate per pax: 23,000 Yen

Parking rate: No charge

Free Wi-Fi access: Yes

My rating: 5/5 (Perfect score – cool weather, buffet of food options and just so resort-y. My favourite accomm.)

Thumbs-up:

  • Off-street parking lots; 2-minute walk away from the hotel reception
  • Extremely polite service staff
  • Big bottles of shampoo and body foam
  • Daily housekeeping service
  • In-hotel washing and drying machines – plenty of machines, situated in the laundry room mere metres from the hotel reception. 200 Yen for 30-min wash and 200 Yen for 30-min drying cycle. Gotta bring your own detergent.
  • Buffet of food choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Self-contained resort.
  • Beautiful mountain view
  • Even more awesome above-the-clouds view – take a cable car up to the summit to catch the Unkai Terrace or Sea of Clouds.
  • Free, unlimited access to a man-made beach with a wave pool, onsen and shower facilities.
  • Great weather – close to 0 degree celcius up there.
  • Free bus services for shuttling around the resort
  • Recently renovated
  • Drinking water available right from the taps in the room toilets

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Room for improvement:

  • Staff couldn’t quite understand our requests; language barrier
  • The nearest towns, for more food, petrol or supermarkets, are at least an hour away by car.

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Some notes:

  • Hotels typically charge for parking. Parking rates may vary according to the size of your car.
  • Space is a premium in Japan, so don’t expect super spacious rooms.
  • All hotels we stayed at provided Febreeze or an equivalent. Thumbs up man. Good for them shoes or the carpet.

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Click here to return to the main content page on my trip to Hokkaido, Japan.

 

Accommodation in Toyako, Hokkaido (Toyako Manseikaku Hotel Lakeside Terrace)

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Name: Toyako Manseikaku Hotel Lakeside Terrace

Address: 21 Tōyakoonsen, Tōyako-chō, Abuta-gun, Hokkaidō 049-5721

Map code: 321 519 551*55

Approx room rate per pax: 23,000 Yen

Parking rate: No charge

Free Wi-Fi access: Yes, but only at the hotel reception area

My rating: 4.5/5 (Good rating cause of the free fireworks display every night!)

Thumbs-up:

  • Off-street parking lots; 2-minute walk away from the hotel reception
  • 7-Eleven is just in front of the hotel reception
  • Free red bean pancakes given out during certain hours at the hotel’s snacks shop
  • Extremely polite service staff
  • Big bottles of shampoo and body foam
  • Daily housekeeping service
  • In-hotel washing and drying machines – one each, situated in the onsen bath area. 300 Yen for 30-min wash and 100 Yen for 30-min drying cycle. No need to bring your own detergent.
  • Nice breakfast spread
  • Lake view – Lake Toya!
  • Many sculptures around Lake Toya
  • Easy access to boating activities as the lake’s mere metres away
  • Free fireworks display every night. Closest I’ve ever been to a fireworks display. View the display from the comfort of your room. Walk to the lakeside for a closer view. Max convenience.

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Room for improvement:

  • No in-room tap for drinking water. You have to call reception/ operator and they will deliver a jug of iced/hot water.
  • Staff couldn’t quite understand our requests; language barrier
  • Hotel needs a renovation/ revamp – old vibes.

Some notes:

  • Hotels typically charge for parking. Parking rates may vary according to the size of your car.
  • Space is a premium in Japan, so don’t expect super spacious rooms.
  • All hotels we stayed at provided Febreeze or an equivalent. Thumbs up man. Good for them shoes or the carpet.

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Click here to return to the main content page on my trip to Hokkaido, Japan.

 

To-dos in Hakodate

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In Hakodate, you will find an airport. Sadly, airport exploration wasn’t in the itinerary. We flew in, collected our luggage and zoom, we boarded the OTS car rental company shuttle to collect the Toyota Boxy, oops I mean, Voxy.

And off we went to Hakodate. Please note, this isn’t an exhaustive list. Far from it. Japan has loads to offer. I’m only choosing the ones that left an impression on me.

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Hakodate Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse

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Aside from the pretty sights (red brick buildings, bay view), the main attraction here would be the warehouse shop, selling anything from seafood to snacks like the Potato Farm fries. This area is just 700 metres away from the Hakodate Kokusai Hotel. Stock up here if you wish as the prices are pretty much the same everywhere.  Spend above 5,000 Yen to free yourself from taxes – 8% savings.

Mount Hakodate Ropeway

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Walk further down – about 10-15 minutes away – and you will reach the foot of Mount Hakodate. Fork out 1,280 Yen per pax for a 3-minute ride up. The gondola comes every 5 minutes.

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What a view. Good place for family photos. The sole restaurant here is pricey though. During peak hours, you may need to wait quite a while to get a ride down. We waited close to an hour – in the cold no less.

Hakodate Railway Station

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I like trains. You will get to see pretty flowers and some sculptures. Inside the station, you will find a 7-Eleven.

 

Matsumae Castle / Matsumae Park

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This place is quite mesmerising. A huge park with loads of flowering cherry blossoms.

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You will get to see a Ninja village/ showcase too. Shall not spoil it for you, so here’s a wide shot. haha

IMG20170510135016.jpgWorth your time. And after your tiring walk around the park, exit the park and walk down one street. You will find a mighty harvest of food places.

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Click here to return to the main content page on my trip to Hokkaido, Japan.

Avoiding bill shock at restaurants

We kicked ourselves for not doing enough research, but we heaved a sigh of relief at the same time. We were slapped with a cover charge for five pax at a restaurant in Sapporo (see image below) on our second last night in Hokkaido. Thankfully, this was the one and only instance.

Costing 2,105 Yen, the cover charge came up to 21% of our total bill. And my, we didn’t know about the charge till we got the receipt. With loads of gesturing at the menu, Google Translating and speaking in simple English, we found out from the cashier than the cover charge would apply even if we were to order a glass of water, and water is chargeable too.

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So in essence, the cover charge would apply once you sit your butt on the chair – non negotiable; compulsory. The English menu contained mention of “cover charge”, but we assumed it was for consumption of alcoholic drinks. How wrong we were! Aside from “cover charge”, restaurants may use other terms like “seat charge”, “table charge” or “appetiser charge”, based on an online search.

Food was no doubt good, and we ate a lot, but it was surely a painful experience. We learnt from this; hope you won’t fall into the same pit.

Click here for the Itinerary in Summary; details in the following articles:

  • Hakodate – 2 nights / dining / activities [coming soon]
  • Toyako – 2 nights / dining / activities [coming soon]
  • Shimukappu – 3 nights / dining / activities [coming soon]
  • Abashiri – 2 nights / dining / activities [coming soon]
  • Sapporo – 3 nights / dining / activities [coming soon]

Protip #1: Taking the wheel in Hokkaido
Protip #2: Enjoying some rest in the restroom
Protip #3: Avoiding bill shock at restaurants [You are here]
Protip #4: Chilling and dropping off at convenience stores
Protip #5: Taking the Dreamliner Boeing 787

Accommodation in Hakodate, Hokkaido (Hakodate Kokusai Hotel)

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First stop, Hakodate. And this town would turn out to be our favourite town (second favourite, to me. Shimukappu rocks harder.) The thumbs up primarily went to the quality of the food options. It then went to our accommodation. This was our first real experience with Japan’s unbeatable service standards. Super clean too.

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Name: Hakodate Kokusai Hotel (函館国際ホテル)

Address: 〒040-0064 Hokkaido Prefecture, Hakodate, 大手町5−10

Map code: 86 072 033*58

Approx room rate per pax: 18,000 Yen

Parking rate: 800 Yen/night

Free Wi-Fi access: Yes

My rating: 3.5/5

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Thumbs-up:

  • 20-min drive from Hakodate Airport
  • Off-street parking right under the hotel (many carpark lots were sealed off for construction works)
  • 2-min walk away from convenience stall Family Mart
  • 10-min walk away from Hakodate morning market
  • Extremely polite service staff
  • Sparkling clean place
  • Effective heater
  • Humidifier provided
  • Big bottles of shampoo and body foam
  • Drinking water available in the toilet, through a small tap at the wash basin
  • Daily housekeeping service

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Room for improvement:

  • No in-hotel washing machines and dryers
  • Staff couldn’t quite understand our requests; language barrier

Some notes:

  • Hotels typically charge for parking. Parking rates may vary according to the size of your car.
  • Space is a premium in Japan, so don’t expect super spacious rooms.
  • All hotels we stayed at provided Febreeze or an equivalent. Thumbs up man. Good for them shoes or the carpet.

###

Click here to return to the main content page on my trip to Hokkaido, Japan.

 

Bringing back the convenience

The convenience stores caught my eyes. Specifically, the signboards. The old-school 7-Eleven design brought me back to my childhood era.

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PHOTO | BIG_MOUSE | 7-Eleven. It’s everywhere.

This ‘feels’ isn’t just limited to Japan’s convenience stalls. Traffic lights look ancient, but equipped with useful technology. Instead of pushing a physical button, you just need to lightly tap on a metal plate to signal to the lights you want to cross.

Same thing with their convenience stores. Drabby looking outside, full of goodies inside. You will be able to find fried/grilled chicken thighs, steaming hot buns with crab/pumpkin/red bean filling, all kinds of salad, boiled eggs, instant ramen and your usual dried snacks. Think of such stores as mini but generously stocked pasar malams. You can fill your tummies in there. And the prices ain’t exorbitant – definitely cheaper than restaurants.

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PHOTO | BIG_MOUSE | In-store dining for the win!

The other competitor to 7-Eleven is FamilyMart. I like this place cause it provides chairs for in-store dining. Power packed. Give it a try when you are there. Like 7-Eleven, it is everywhere, at least in major towns.

Finally, aside from food, these stores allow you to deposit your recyclables like paper, plastic items. How awesome is that. It’s darn hard to find any kinds of bins in Japan. These stores are your best bet.

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Click here for the Itinerary in Summary; details in the following articles:

  • Hakodate – 2 nights / dining / activities [coming soon]
  • Toyako – 2 nights / dining / activities [coming soon]
  • Shimukappu – 3 nights / dining / activities [coming soon]
  • Abashiri – 2 nights / dining / activities [coming soon]
  • Sapporo – 3 nights / dining / activities [coming soon]

Protip #1: Taking the wheel in Hokkaido
Protip #2: Enjoying some rest in the restroom
Protip #3: Avoiding bill shock at restaurants
Protip #4: Chilling and dropping off at convenience stores [You are here]
Protip #5: Taking the Dreamliner Boeing 787