Nojiriko Hotel El Bosco
What We Love
- Breakfast and dinner are included in the Jetsetter rate; dinner features exceptional seasonal Nagano cuisine and wines
- Every room has a lake view, with rocking chairs and reading nooks facing panoramic windows
- Development was banned after the area’s national park designation, so the hotel enjoys an exclusive isolation
- Short and long-distance hiking trails that loop through the forest and to the lakeside
What To Know
- The property is open only seasonally (April through November)
- From Tokyo it's a two-and-a-half hour bullet train ride to the local station (Kurohime); transfers to/from the station are included in the rate
- The location is remote, so take care with arrangements for train times, car rentals and hotel shuttle requests
- Front desk offers a free shuttle to/from a nearby golf course and hot springs
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
Lauded Japanese architect Kiyoshi Seike designed this secluded boutique hotel nearly 30 years ago amid the dense forests of Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, overlooking Lake Nojiri. And despite partial renovations in 2008, guestrooms and communal areas maintain Seike’s original Midcentury design. High ceilings and panoramic windows, and a palette of complementary colors such as mustard-yellow, chartreuse and deep purple, shift the eye outside and beyond to the water’s edge, all while accentuating the deep, calming greens of the surrounding forest. Natural materials, including local oak and pine and shigaraki (a Japanese brick), enhance the organic atmosphere.
Bed and Bath
There are eight room types, each slightly different in layout but with the same comfortable retro design. Furnishings such as custom rocking chairs (by renowned designer Riki Watanabe, “the Charles Eames of Japan”) and plush sofabeds encourage introspection, not just comfort. There are large flat-screen TVs, but reading feels like the natural course of action once the curtains are pulled back to reveal the floor-to-ceiling windows. Bathrooms are unremarkable, but amenities (shampoo, conditioner, soap) are provided, and there are hallway vending machines for water, soda and beer.
The vast beauty of Joshinetsu Kogen National Park is the star of the show here at El Bosco, and the property has access to two lovely hiking trails that wind down to quiet spots on the shores of the lake. Nagano’s countryside is famed for apples and blueberries, and the on-site restaurant, Moment, uses the freshest local fare, from domestic sirloin to mountain asparagus. Breakfast and dinner are included in the rate, which is another bonus. The dining room and adjacent lounge both feature stunning walls of windows and are ideal for breakfast (Western and Eastern) or afternoon tea. A small bar, Soba, is open every night.
In the Area
After the overstimulation of an international flight and the capital’s mobbed train station, El Bosco guests are encouraged to simply tune out Tokyo, open a book and enjoy the silence of the forest. However, there are various recreational activities available for more active travelers. El Bosco offers a free shuttle to the nearby Myoko Kogen Golf Club and Kohukan hot springs, and several lakeside activities, from fishing trips and lake cruises to waterskiing and kiteboarding, can be arranged at the front desk — but transport is not included. Joshinetsu Kogen National Park also provides myriad options for hikers, nordic walkers and naturalists.
How to Get There
Stayed several times before for years, as it is located at the deepest spot of Nojiriko Lake, surrounded by only trees. Beautiful stars at night, so quiet surrounding that it's good to just relax for a day. However, building is getting old, WiFi is weak, no hot spring facility in the hotel (although they can drive to the nearby Japanese ryokan hotel in the afternoon upon request). French restaurant serves dishes using local material, but nothing special nor unique. Breakfast buffet is good with some variations to choose from western and Japanese style.
El Bosco Nojiriko Hotel is probably one of our favorite hotels in Japan. We've only been there twice, but since living here for a dozen years, we've tended to travel to lots of different places in Japan rather than keep returning to the same places, so twice is a compliment to this hotel. As others have stated, the cost is a bit expensive, but considering its location on its own peninsula along a mountain lake, the high quality of the food, and the overall attentiveness of the staff, it's nice to splurge once in a while. As some reviewers have mentioned, it is in a remote location, and I personally would suggest coming by car; there really is so much to see within the surrounding mountains that would be missed without your own transportation. I heartily recommend driving through nearby Togakushi; especially the walk to the upper-shrine lined with tall 400-year old cedars is magical. The hotel is furnished in a casual but modern and understated but I think elegant fashion, with attention to natural woods and large windows that immerse you in the surrounding forest. Both times that we have visited, we were so happy with the presentation and taste of the dinner. This last time, we splurged and came for one of the hotel's combined wine tasting events with St. Cousair Winery. They shuttled us over to the winery, where we had a little break before going for an extra shuttle ride to the outer old-vine vineyards for a personal tour by the winemaker. There, the winery has a small two-story log building where we overlooked the vineyards and surrounding valley while tasting five or six white wines along with aged cheese and smoked deer. Because corking fees were waived for wines purchased during the event, we brought back a bottle of Nagano Chardonnay to have with dinner. I'm surprised to say that I think the winery's Chardonnay compares quite favorably with those in a similar price range (~$30) from my home-state of California. Overall, we had a very pleasant stay at the El Bosco Nojiriko Hotel.
I guess the high rate you pay is for the location, which is beautiful. However, we thought it was overpriced. The room was quite outdated, especially the bathroom (plus supersmall, no bath). Nothing special and simply not what we expected. The restaurant (which was a french cuisine) was disappointing too. The food quality was poor and not tasty at all, however not cheap in price. Breakfast was a little better. The staff was very friendly and did their best to help, especially the 1 guy who spoke English. We would not go here again unfortunately.
Yes, like many other reviewers have said, the decor is from the 70s. But the food was awesome. They have a chef making real food for every visitor, and catered to the allergies among members of our party. The location is beautiful. The view from the room can't be beat.
We stayed here for one night in a Superior Twin room. The staff were really excellent and very friendly and professional. The dinner in the restaurant was first class. The restaurant is beautiful and quiet and we could enjoy a relaxed dinner. The chef is from Nagano and he uses local, fresh seasonal produce from Nagano and neighboring Niigata. The hotel does not have its own onsen, however there is a good shuttle bus service from the hotel (arranged by the hotel) to one of the local onsens. This onsen is in a really good spot and there is a wonderful view of the surrounding mountains from the outside baths. I highly recommend visiting this hotel.... for the location, view of the magnificent lake and mountains and for the delicious food. Please note that the hotel is closed in winter due to heavy snow fall, making the roads difficult to pass.