With beautiful natural scenery, delicious food, and an unhurried atmosphere, Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido is one of the country’s most popular vacation spots. There’s one big drawback, though, which is that airfare to and from Hokkaido can eat up a big part of your travel budget, leaving you less cash to spend on a hotel with nice amenities or local delicacies like fresh salmon roe and scallops.
Recently, though, we found a hotel in Hokkaido that offers it all, with soft beds, all-you-can-eat seafood, an all-night hot spring, and even a price that makes it a very affordable luxury.
The city of Otaru is known for two things, its picturesque canal and fantastic food.
Since we wanted to enjoy both, we were looking for a hotel with central location and a seafood-packed meal plan, which we found at the oddly and lengthily named Akari no Yu Dormy Inn Premium Otaru.
Dormy Inn runs a chain of budget hotels across Japan, but their branch in Otaru does a few things to earn its Premium badge. There’s a slight bump in cost as well, and the 14,400 yen (US$143.50) we paid for a room with two beds wasn’t the absolute cheapest accommodation in town. Considering all that we got for that price, though, we’re fairly confident it’s the best value you’ll find in Otaru, and at under 10,000 yen per person (including an awesome breakfast), we came away without a single complaint.
First off, you really can’t beat the location, which is just a one-minute walk from Otaru Station. Not only is this great for travelers arriving by train, but most of Otaru’s major sightseeing spots are within walking distance as well.
Hotels in Japan tend to be smaller than their Western counterparts across the board, but ours was clean with a simple yet stylish interior.
We were particularly grateful for the high-class Simmons mattresses, soft and perfect for collapsing into after a day of walking around town or a dip in the hotel’s hot spring.
Onsen are always a welcome amenity when traveling about Japan. Some, however, close pretty early, forcing you to choose between a relaxing soak or an after-dinner drink at a bar out in town. Thankfully, there’s no such dilemma at the Dormy Inn, whose hot spring opens at 3 p.m. and stays open until 10 the next morning (although the sauna does shut down from 1 to 5 a.m.).
But while all of this made us happy, what really pushed us over the line into ecstatic was the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet that was included in our package.
The Dormy Inn is part of the same corporate family as another Hokkaido hotel, the La Vista Bay Hakodate, considered by some to serve the best food of any property on the island. While it may not have the same level of prestige, the Dormy Inn’s offerings were every bit as delicious as we had expected. Aside from squid and amaebi prawns, the highlights were the ikura (salmon roe) and scallops, both of which Hokkaido is well-known for and were in abundant supply during our meal.
If all of that sounds a little too exotic to start your day with, there’s also a selection of Western-style choices, including sausage, corn, omelets, plus Hokkaido’s famed salmon.
We also found an assortment of breads and mini waffles, and even dessert in the form of green tea-coated mochi and chocolates.
Honestly, for the price we paid, we couldn’t have asked for anything more. Especially with autumn on the way, when Hokkaido’s mountains change to their beautiful fall colors and the salmon becomes even tastier, were already trying to see if we can go back.
Akari no Yu Dormy Inn Premium Otaru ./ 灯の湯 ドーミーインPREMIUM小樽
Address: Hokkaido, Otaru-shi, Inaho 3-9-1