Shirakabaso is a lovely little stay at Shigakogen and its two physical advantages were proximity to transport and slopes as well as its basement full of ski gear for rental.
The bus station is literally at the doorstep and the nearest ski slopes & lifts are just behind making it an almost ski in and out hotel (except the bus station is in the way!) The star of the hotel are really its people – Naoko-san and Sato-san who were so welcoming and helpful. We do not ski, but heard so much from fellow guests about the discounted ski lift tickets and the convenience of renting ski gear from the basement. They let us borrow ski boots and sleds free of charge and we had a whirl of a day sledding down the slopes just behind the hotel. As it’s located farther away from the main resorts, the slopes behind were a quiet retreat and only a sled ride away from a restaurant for lunch and coffee when a much needed break was called for.
The onsen was fabulous with both indoors and outdoors so you could enjoy the snowscape and apart from the ‘rush hours’ of morning and just before dinner, the onsen was largely quiet. My partner had it all to herself one night after dinner!
The other highlight was seeing snow monkeys right next door and some sat right by the entrance! They seem tame enough for photos but do not tempt them with any food or visions of plastic bags which they can mistake for food. But it was fabulous to have them so close and see them for free!
The only tiny improvement they could make was to the food – breakfast was simple but sufficient with a small traditional Japanese and Western serving. But if you are used to elaborate kaiseki meals served at ryokans, you may be disappointed with this. Dinners were equally simple and not every dish was as delicious as hoped. But it was adequate and what they did do well was delicious. Plus they made it up with their warm and friendly service!
We would definitely come back to this hotel especially after hearing about the less than pleasant stays at other bigger hotels from fellow guests!
Stayed at Hotel Shirakabaso, Shiga Kogen, Nagano