Our main reason for choosing Japan was to visit my god-daughter, Fee, who was spending her gap year as a ski-instructor in the resort of Hakuba. Trailfinders put an itinerary together for us and her mum and dad, Debbie and Nigel. Unfortunately they had little experience of Japanese ski resorts as not surprisingly Brits do not generally fly 12 hours followed by a 2 hour train and bus journey to ski. We undertook our own research and chose to stay at “La Neige Honkan”:http://www.laneige-honkan.com/en/ – described as ‘British Tudor Style Resort with lovely graceful heart’.
As you can see from the photograph this is a fabulous looking building and not at all what you’d expect to find in Japan. Check-in was straightforward and we were quickly in our rooms (308 and 315). Debbie and Nigel had the larger one as they were spending a week with Fee, whereas ours was compact to say the least but it was fine for the 3 nights we were staying.
The first thing we noticed was the very floral, seventies carpet which dominated the room. The second, was the size of the bathroom which was minute but yet managed to fit in a small, deep bath, loo and basin. Rather than tiles, it was all plastic walls and floor – it was like being enclosed in a peach plastic box. The towels were similarly thin and small (think hand towel size), but toiletries were provided. Whilst there was a hairdryer, the only plug points were no where near a mirror (a big beef of mine). The main problem we had was as soon as the bath plug was pulled, the floor flooded and required all our towels to mop it up.
The dark wood furniture was old-fashioned in style with a small double bed. There was no wardrobe, but as our room was in the eves, we had a small, what I would call an under the stairs cupboard. The room managed to fit in a TV, tea and coffee facilities but no safe or mini bar.
At our first breakfast (7am to 9am), we looked at the central, circular buffet table with its cereals, toast and pastries and thought what a paltry affair. Once seated, we realised this was because juice and fruit were served to table as were eggs of the day. These were done in a variety of ways during our stay and presented really quickly after being seated, so much so that we ate them before anything from the buffet.
Whilst evening meals were available, we ate out. There was no bar as such, but drinks, ordered from the restaurant, were served in the large reception area. A bottle of wine was a fairly reasonable ¥3,000 (£20). There was also ice and vending machines on the third floor with a good selection of soft drinks and beers.
Whilst all this sounds doom and gloom, the hotel was charming in its own way. The public areas were reminiscent of an Austrian ski lodge with lots of dark wood, stained glass windows, Christmas and winter ornaments, coffee table books and bags of character. There was also a good tourist information board and leaflets. The elderly lady, who was always on reception, spoke very little English but was incredibly helpful in booking taxis and forwarding our luggage.
It should be noted there is no lift, the stairs are steep and there are only a couple of rooms on the ground floor.