Hotels in Shiretoko, Japan

by Joanne Thomas

Shiretoko, a national park and a peninsula protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the northernmost part of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island. Shiretoko attracts visitors with its abundant wildlife including brown bears, sika deer and several species of whales; its spectacular scenery, including an occasional glimpse of the aurora borealis; and its numerous natural hot springs. Hotels in Shiretoko generally offer hot spring baths alongside lodging and dining options.

Shiretoko Prince Hotel Kazanamiki

With its elevated, hilltop position near Utoro Hot Springs, Shiretoko Prince Hotel Kazanamiki offers unmatched panoramic views over the landscapes of the national park. Its guestrooms include Japanese-style and Western-style options, as well as rooms combining both Japanese and contemporary Western furnishings. Guests have seven on-site dining options, including Kazahana, which offers fine dining in private rooms; Aurora, which serves buffet-style breakfasts and dinners; and Tenku, where diners can watch the chef at work in an open kitchen. The hotel also offers a tea lounge, a ramen noodle bar, a bar that serves drinks and snacks and a karaoke room. Other notable features are the bathhouse, outdoor bath, gardens and sauna, where guests can soak in steaming natural spring water.

Shiretoko Grand Hotel "Kita Kobushi"

The Japanese-style Shiretoko Grand Hotel "Kita Kobushi," which is close to the harbor and shops of Utoro, offers a large number of resort-like facilities. In addition to its guestrooms, the hotel features gift stores, specialist seafood markets, an art gallery displaying works connected to Shiretoko and a boutique that sells wooden handicrafts created by local artisans. The hotel's restaurant, Kifuu, offers a traditional gourmet experience with a sunken charcoal grill within each dining table, a live fish tank to choose your meal from and an open kitchen allowing you watch the chef at work. Traditional touches include a Japanese shrine in the lobby, a tea room and low-rise furnishings throughout. A number of guestrooms have attached open-air baths with hot water naturally sourced from the springs.

Hotel Chinohate

Hotel Chinohate is located in the remote wilderness of northern Shiretoko and is open seasonally from May through October. Japanese- and Western-style rooms are available to accommodate two, three or four. Guests staying in rooms in the main building enjoy meals in the restaurant, while guests in the hotel's newer building are served breakfasts and dinners in their room. The hotel grounds feature natural pools; a three-tier series of steaming, stone-walled baths; and deep soaking tubs carved from logs.

Iruka Hotel

Iruka Hotel is a small property with a cozy atmosphere and 13 guestrooms, 10 of which are Japanese in style. The on-site restaurant offers dining indoors or outside on an open-air, ocean-side terrace. Wireless Internet access is available in the restaurant and select guestrooms. Other facilities include a coin-operated laundromat, vending machines and a shuttle to and from the bus terminal. The hotel operates a cruise ship and fishing boat, and offers packages combining accommodations with scenic cruises or ice-diving excursions. Various meal plans are also available.

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