Taking tea with Ms. Sasaki, the General Manager of the former Sheraton Sapporo Hotel (now the Emisia) is like being granted a personal audience with the school principal. Not that you are in for a scolding, rather, behind the hive of activity in this epicenter of hospitality, time stands still as she distils years of experience of making great stays and connecting with travelers from around the world.
Looking around the cafe Dom at breakfast time, it is easy to see her spirit of international hospitality in various little touches. Her time working in Hong Kong has told her that guests, especially far away from home, are looking for home touches, especially at breakfast. Chinese congee along with miso soup and a fantastic made to order egg station means that your stomach is set just right to start your day.
Set in an airy five story high atrium, with the chapel Blanc a stunning backdrop, I could imagine for a moment to be in Southern France. The bright sunshine and comfortable relaxed atmosphere almost makes it worth it to get up early, and is a great way to treat those jet lag blues. The cafe has both buffet and a la carte choices, making it a joy to eat any time day or night.
For those arriving in Sapporo late at night (especially skiers coming from Australia), the hotel’s location between the airport and the City is a godsend. As it is two and a half hours from New Chitose Airport and the Niseko ski fields, a tired late arrival can be pampered here in their heavenly beds, or take a spa or sauna in the hot spring baths on the basement (1300 yen per person). While sipping a tea or taking in the delectable Hokkaido ice creams in the lobby, check in at one of the two internet stations or use the free Wi-Fi in the lobby. Currently the tariffs start from less than $100USD, so this is an easy way to justify some pampering at a spacious hotel.
The hotel often plays host to many weddings and conferences, so the lobby is a great place to do a bit of people watching. All the front desk staff I encountered spoke good English, and for the solitary business traveler, the wine tastings and the friendly staff at the La Stella Restaurant are a great place to make new friends. Being 30 stories above nearby Shin Sapporo station, there are fantastic views day or night, one that won’t be built in for a very long time.
Some people may find the hotel’s location 10 km from the city center a bit inconvenient, in the sense that you can’t just easily drop in for a power nap after some sightseeing in the city. While it does take 20 minutes to get here by subway, the JR trains are a faster alternative to the city center at just 11 minutes. By Tokyo or New York standards, 11 minutes is just a few blinks. Being away from the city gives the hotel a more peaceful ambience, one you would appreciate soaking in the deep bath after a big day.