Hoshino Resorts KAI Poroto is a luxurious stay, with a touch of Ainu inspiration found in its decor and offered experiences.
What’s the hotel like?
You know what you’re getting when staying at a Hoshino Resorts hotel: Local experiences, unique architecture — and a rather high price tag. Luckily, this is one of their more affordable establishments.
The Hoshino Resorts KAI Poroto is situated on Lake Poroto, making for spectacular views and a tranquil atmosphere from the moment you arrive. The entrance is not overly showy — common for ryokan (Japanese traditional inns) — but no expense has been spared in attention to detail.
The area that surrounds the hotel is sacred to the local Ainu people, and so the community’s culture is seen in the choice of shapes, use of wood, and the dishes on offer.
What facilities does the hotel have?
The most impressive facilities are the hotel’s two hot springs (onsen): Maru-no-yu and Sankaku-no-yu.
Both were influenced by Ainu culture, but Sankaku-no-yu is the one that stands out due to its triangular, cone-shaped architecture inspired by traditional chise Ainu houses. Because it is situated apart from the main hotel building, you have to brave the elements to get there, but the relaxing lounge and outdoor bath that blends into the lake make it worth it.
While Sankaku-no-yu is for hotel guests only, Maru-no-yu is open to the public during certain hours. Locals get in for ¥400 but visitors need to pay ¥1,500. In contrast to Sankaku-no-yu, Maru-no-yu’s cave-like interior makes you feel cozy and enveloped.
There’s also a lounge with a fireplace, a small library with coffee machines, a room for drying skis, and a restaurant.
Is there anywhere to hang out in the hotel?
Apart from your spacious room, there are a few spots where you can chill out and get yourself a cup of coffee. The most interesting of these is the hotel lounge, which has a fireplace. When there aren’t events on or experiences to try, you can relax here with an open view of the lake and gardens — including the resident crane, Poroto-chan.
What are the rooms like?
As with the rest of the hotel, the Ainu inspiration continues in the rooms. Find tables turned faux fireplaces, white tree trunks, and Ainu decorations and motifs.
How big are the rooms?
Rooms allow for arm flailing, cartwheels, and any number of spontaneous physical activities. Don’t think about bringing the whole football team, though as rooms cap out at four people. A Western-style standard room is 42 square meters, but the biggest room gives you 56 square meters with the added luxury of an outdoor bath.
Are the rooms comfortable?
The beds are quite close to the ground, so those who need a couple of goes getting off the couch may struggle. Alternatively, you can just stay in bed and enjoy the fluffy pillows, generous duvet, and butter-soft mattress. There is also another comfortable spot: a long, squishy seat by the window.
What’s the view like?
All rooms look out onto the lake and surrounding forest. To your left, you may be able to see the outline of a road, but most of it is covered by shrubbery and trees.
Should I order the breakfast?
Currently, they only offer a traditional Japanese breakfast — including fish, pickles, rice, and other dishes. It may be worth skipping breakfast if you prefer something lighter. If you do end up getting it, make sure to bring your own coffee from the lounge area, as they only offer tea in the restaurant.
Let them know your food allergies and they will do their best to cater to your requests.
What’s the location like?
The area feels remote but still has easy access to Sapporo. The hotel is situated in natural surroundings, so it’s possible to go on short walks around the nearby lake and forests. However, you may want to rent a car if you plan to go on a deeper adventure.
How is the access to trains?
Shiraoi Station is around a 20-minute walk away. Sapporo Station to Shiraoi Station is around 1 hour on the JR Hokuto Limited Express.
How do I get there from Sapporo Airport?
From the airport, you’ll need to change at Minami-Chitose Station before getting on the JR Hokuto Limited Express bound for Shiraoi Station. The whole journey takes around 40 minutes.
What’s the surrounding neighborhood like?
The neighborhood is very local and so there’s not much around you except for the Upopoy National Ainu Museum and Park.
Are there many good places to eat nearby?
There are limited choices in nearby restaurants, so it may be worth getting the filling dinner course at the hotel or heading to Haru Ran Na Open Flame Dining and Cafe, which is just outside of the Upopoy National Ainu Museum.
What points of interest are within walking distance of the hotel?
Upopoy National Ainu Museum and Park is the main point of interest and is only a 5-minute walk away.
Who should stay here?
Those with an interest in Hokkaido that expands beyond Sapporo, but without the inconvenience of having to travel for hours to get into nature. In winter, nearby mountains open up for ski season, so it’s also an option for those who enjoy winter sports.
What sustainability measures do they have?
Hoshino isn’t known for their sustainability — their brand has too many hotels to count — but they do have some initiatives. You can find out more on their website.
Tips and tricks for the best stay
Don’t get breakfast if you aren’t into a heavy morning meal. And if you only have time for one onsen in the hotel, aim for Sankaku-no-yu.