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Hightail It to This Scandi-Japanese Hotel Haven in the Japanese Alps
Julie Pointer-Adams
byJulie Pointer-Adams

A stunning mix of a sleek Danish sensibility and the raw, simple beauty of Japan, Hotel Hakuba is truly exceptional. Located in the small town of Hakuba in Nagano (sound familiar? it’s where the 1998 Olympic Winter Games were held), this beautiful valley town is surrounded by the powder-heavy Japanese Alps. Just a mere three hours from Tokyo, Hakuba is a must-do destination for all you diehard snow bunnies, not to mention design enthusiasts; we think it’s the perfect place for traveling with your (intimate) crew. Stay here and you’ll be welcomed with the warm, humble hospitality so engrained in Japanese culture—case in point, you’ll all be greeted at the door with a cup of sake.

Lauding Finn Juhl’s Legacy

Founded by two Danes with an affinity for furniture, this mountain hideaway is the first exclusive Finn Juhl Hotel. In case that name doesn’t ring a bell, Juhl was a much-beloved Danish architect, interior and industrial designer in the 20th century, highly recognized for his furniture design. He is famously known for helping craft our understanding of “Danish design” and helped bring Danish modern to the US in the 1940s. Hotel Hakuba founders Ivan Hansen and Hans Henrik (also founders of furniture company, One Collection) acquired the rights to produce Finn Juhl’s whole line and now proudly display it throughout the hotel. The brilliant result is a seamless setting that’s part showroom, all hotel and 100% homey.

A Design-Lover’s Hideaway For a Group

With six distinct double-rooms each named after a famous Finn Juhl piece of furniture (like the Poet Room, the Pelican Room and the France Room), this intimate lodge is truly a dream come true for the design-inclined group of pals. Beyond the extensive and exclusive showcase of Juhl’s pieces, the entire inn is a delicate blend of Danish and Japanese wares, from the linens and towels to the organic Japanese toiletries. With classic exposed black beams, black-framed windows and gorgeously whitewashed oak floors, you’ll all be taking design notes for a few interior updates when you head home. Oh, and whatever you do, don’t miss breakfast together in the bright, airy and beautifully bedecked communal dining area.

Ski, Snack and Soak

When you tire of ogling every stick of furniture in the hotel, don’t worry—there’s much to entertain beyond its walls. Nagano itself is a standout ski resort with slopes for every skill level and plenty of powder in the wintertime. For those post-slopes hunger pangs, Hakuba boasts plenty of restaurants and a buzzing nightlife. Being a hot destination for Australian skiers, most restaurants graciously offer menus in English (for those averse to having to point at other diners’ plates for reference). And for travelers less interested in hitting the mountain—or who are simply visiting in the off-season—Hakuba is also well-renowned for its hot springs, or onsen as they’re referred to in Japanese. With over 200 hot springs to choose from (some in public bathhouses within walking distance of the hotel), you’ll be absolutely saturated in serenity.

Photography via Hotel Hakuba

Need to visit now? Check out A Modernist's Guide to Japanese Design Hotels and Sleeping Pods →

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