Hôtel de L’Alpage Offers Luxury, History, and Nature in Nagano

Nestled below the Tateshina Highlands in picturesque Chino, Nagano Prefecture, lies Hôtel de L’Alpage. The exclusive new property, which I visited in April, features classic French charm and cuisine with a contemporary twist and seamless maître d’hôtel service.

Formerly the historic Hotel Heidi, which was built in 1974 by a cousin of former Emperor Akihito, the Tyrolean property was taken over and demolished in 2019 and reopened in March 2024.

Featuring 12 guest rooms, the property will no doubt attract discerning Japanese and expa­triate couples and individuals who appre­ciate European culture, life­style and cuisine with a blend of sophi­sti­cation, comfort and indulgence. 

I was awed by the welcoming garden, winding staircase, centerpiece stained-glass windows and sparkling chandeliers. My spacious third-floor room with sweeping mountain views was replete with exclusive European brands—Duxiana beds, Maison Duvivier Canapés furniture and Farrow & Ball paint and wallpaper. A huge bath and heated balcony mat added to the opulence.

The Art of Hospitality

The fusion of French culinary excellence and Latin-style la vie en rose hit me as I entered the high-ceilinged Restau­rant Le Jardin, where chef Keiji Azuma, trained at Michelin-starred restaurants and former chef at Ile de France in Aoyama, creates classic French dishes using fresh local ingredients.

I embarked on a journey of haute cuisine, from a delicate appetizer to sumptuous main courses of attractively presented light and creamy seafood and umami-rich steak in delicate red wine sauce to decadantly colorful dessert followed by herbal tea and mignardises. The sommelier perfectly paired my light, fruity and perfumed Bourgogne Roncevie 2017 Domaine Arlaud. 

The experience, however, began and climaxed at Bar Le Rêve, a cozy enclave adorned with antique books on art, photography and architecture. Inviting seats provide the perfect setting for pre- and post-prandial joie de vivre with an aperitif or digestif.

The next day, after a 20-minute drive and warm greeting by a friendly guard in traditional Swiss dress, I took the swish, seven-minute ride on the Kita-Yatsu­gatake Ropeway to Tsuboniwa Nature Park at 2,237 meters. We were rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Japanese Alps, after which we popped in for a jolly lunch at the multiple award-winning Barakura English Garden.

But the Hôtel de L’Alpage was my raison d’être for visiting Chino. From the exquisite cuisine to the ambiance steeped in history, culture and nature, it was a testa­ment to the art of hospi­tality—maître d’hôtel meets omotenashi.


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