Where to Stay at Niseko
There really are just three resorts where you should consider staying in Niseko, the ski villages of Annupuri, Niseko Village, and Hirafu. Each has a slightly different atmosphere but the snow quality is the same across them all.
Niseko Village is a great family spot as it's a smaller village and everything is quite close together, plus the ski facilities there are the best for children. For traveling groups it has to be Hirafu, the most hotels, restaurants, bars, and off-slope entertainment are centered here, although it's becoming quite a spread out resort. Annupuri is the quietest of the three, so stay here if peace and tranquility is your top priority.
There are two other resorts in Niseko that operate ski lifts, Hanazono, that's within the Niseko United ski area, and Moiwa, that's not. Both areas are worth visiting, but accommodation options nearby the lifts are still few and far between. By far the most common types of accommodation in Niseko are holiday apartments, lodges, and cottages, many being cosy family-run affairs. That said, there are some excellent luxury hotels too, most of which are ski-in ski-out. Here are our top three!
In Annupuri you have the Niseko Northern Resort Annupuri, comfy rooms and suites, wonderful views, and a fantastic spa. Hilton Niseko Village is probably the most popular hotel across the whole of Niseko, it won Japan's Best Ski Hotel Award four years running, from 2012 to 2016. Expect the full range of facilities and plenty of English speaking staff. If you want to stay in Hirafu, you're pretty spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation, but you'll find it hard to beat Niseko Prince Hotel Hirafutei, it even has its own karaoke room!
Getting Around the Resort
If you go with the car hire you'll be free to drive between villages at your pleasure, if not get familiar with the Niseko Shuttle. This is a free service for All Mountain Pass holders, stopping in Annupuri, Niseko Village, Hirafu, and Kutchan every 30 to 40 minutes, from 8am to 10pm. The Niseko public bus is another option, costing somewhere in the region of 500 yen for one journey (it does depend on how far you travel) and follows the same route. These two buses usually run around 15 to 20 minutes apart, so it could cut down on your waiting time if you're prepared to pay. Also, be prepared for a very tight squeeze during busy peak times in the morning and afternoon, and don't expect a seat!
For getting to Moiwa, there is a free shuttle bus leaving Hirafu's main bus stop in the morning and returning in the afternoon. Three buses run in the morning, at 7:40am, 8:40am, and 9:40am, then coming back the bus leaves Moiwa at 3:20pm and 4:20pm. It operates on a first-come, first-served basis, so get there five or ten minutes before to avoid disappointment. You can also ski there from Annupuri but the trail is unmarked and you'll need to be comfortable with tree skiing to make the trek.
If a taxi sounds much more appealing than standing on a crowded bus in ski boots with jelly legs, then opt for a cab. Be aware that hailing one down on the street is not the way to go about it here. Get yourself into a hotel or restaurant and politely ask the staff to order you one, they will almost alway oblige. Sprint Taxi offer a reliable service and online booking, so if you need a ride from your accommodation try them. Forget Uber, the only small presence it has in Japan is in Tokyo.