7 of the Best Hotels in Nagano
A city in one of Japan’s largest landlocked prefectures, Nagano is perhaps best known for its natural beauty, snow sports, temples, onsens and snow monkeys. Jigokudani Monkey Park (地獄谷野猿公苑) in Yamanouchi attracts visitors from around the world, all aiming to see just how charming and playful Japanese macaques can be. These monkeys are usually found in the water during the colder months, but they can be found in the park throughout the year.
In this article, I’m going to be sharing seven of the best hotels in Nagano with you. Hopefully they fill you with inspiration for your own trip.
Learn More: 10 of the Best Things to Do in Nagano
Choosing the Best Hotels in Nagano
When it comes to accommodation in Nagano, there are plenty of options for travellers to choose from. From comfortable hotels in the city to traditional ryokans tucked away in beautiful pockets of nature, there’s a little bit of something for everyone.
Using Nagano as a base, it’s easy to learn about Japan’s feudal past, make the most of the powdery snow, adventure into the Japanese Alps and eat as much local food as you want. I would highly recommend trying soba noodles and oyaki during your time in Nagano, both are wonderful here. You can also find some of the best apples in Japan in Nagano.
1. Kashiwaya Honten
Are you ready for a traditional experience? Kashiwaya Honten can be found just a stone’s throw away from Nagano in Ueda. It’s easy to get here via rail. The rooms are all comfortable, spacious and distinctly Japanese, complemented by tatami mats and shoji screens.
This ryokan places you in great proximity to some of Ueda’s main attractions, including Kitamuki Kannon Temple, a reconstructed temple whose roots can be dated back to the 9th century. Many visitors to the area relax in Bessho Onsen (別所温泉), a small resort town that houses the oldest recorded hot spring in the region. The onsens here aren’t particularly fancy, they’re just lovely little places to relax and unwind in.
There are a few different options in terms of rooms here, including some that include their own open-air baths. There are also several public options to choose from, including one that can be rented privately. After a long day of exploring, I would highly recommend dipping in one of the outside ones. The combination of fresh air and hot water is incredibly relaxing.
Learn More: Kashiwaya Honten (Official Website)
Hoping to catch a glimpse of Nagano Prefecture’s charming snow monkeys? Senjukaku places you right next to Jigokudani Monkey Park in Yamanouchi. This postcard-worthy natural setting is just a short journey away from central Nagano.
When staying here, I would highly recommend splitting your time between visiting the wild Japanese macaques, relaxing in onsens and exploring lush forest trails. This traditional hotel is just a short journey away from Shibu Onsen (渋温泉), an attractive resort town known for its hot springs. You could also take to the slopes in the winter at Shiga Kogen Mountain Resort (英語ページ).
In this hotel, you can find comfortable traditional Japanese rooms with futons and hybrid rooms with western-style beds. Some have private outdoor onsens, while others have one indoors. There are communal onsens elsewhere on the property, as well as a private one that can be rented for ¥1500 per group. The scenery and gardens surrounding Senjukaku are beautiful.
3. Dormy Inn Nagano
A better option for those who enjoy staying in hotels, Dormy Inn Nagano offers an ideal mixture of affordability and comfort. It’s also incredibly easy to find, located just down a quiet side street across from Nagano’s main train station.
Given the close proximity to Nagano Station, it’s easy to get around Nagano Prefecture from here. You can also board the Hokuriku Shinkansen to swiftly travel through Japan. From the snow monkeys to villages where you can learn about the history of ninja, there are many different options right on your doorstep. Just a short walk away from the hotel you’ll also find Zenkō-ji (善光寺), one of the best-known Buddhist temples in the area.
Here, you can enjoy complimentary ramen noodles late at night and a good breakfast in the morning. The latter is a buffet containing both Japanese and western choices. But, the real gem is the fact that this affordable hotel offers both indoor and outdoor onsens, a cold bath and a sauna!
4. Sierra Resort Hotel Hakuba
A short journey to the west of Nagano you can find Hakuba (白馬村), a peaceful area that makes escaping to the Japanese Alps an easy task. Sierra Resort Hotel Hakuba is nestled within 25 acres of forests and carefully-groomed gardens, designed to reflect the natural beauty of the surrounding area.
If you love escaping to nature, Hakuba might be the right spot for you. In the summer, it’s easy to hike up lush trails, soak in the views of alpine flowers and go at your own pace. But, it’s the winter and winter sports that attract a lot of travellers here. A public bus connects Sierra Resort Hotel Hakuba with the surrounding slopes. I would recommend Hakuba Happo-one to people of all skill levels. The views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains are impeccable.
After a long day outdoors, it’s nice to return to the hotel and enjoy an onsen. Mizubasho Onsen offers pure water with no additional heating, enabling you to really enjoy a natural hot spring. The rooms are all comfortable, with some offering amazing views of the scenery.
Another Hakuba-based favourite, Shirouma-so is a modern ryokan that places you right at the base of the Hakuba Happo-one ski area. If you know you’re going to be spending a lot of your time on the slopes, this sort of proximity can be incredibly desirable.
The free shuttle bus between the slopes stops just outside of Shirouma-so, but the lifts themselves are also less than a ten minute walk away for those of you who would prefer to walk. After a long day in the cold, the quiet onsen can really warm you up from the inside out. The onsen here is tattoo-friendly, which is something I’ll talk more about in future articles.
The combination of both traditional and modern architecture at Shirouma-so is beautiful, leading to a memorable ryokan experience. The Japanese-style tatami rooms are all comfortable, with the rooms on the south side of the building offering views of the Japanese Alps. Not all of the rooms have showers in so it is worth taking that into consideration when booking.
6. Mountain Side Hakuba
Offering a real ski-in, ski-out setting, Mountain Side Hakuba is one of the most modern hotels in Hakuba. It’s just a stone’s throw away from the Happo Kokusai ski lift and the Happo-one ski area. Home of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, an abundance of powder falls here annually.
While this area is naturally famous for its snowboarding and skiing options, there are plenty of things to do year round. In the summer, you can go hiking to Happo Pond, take to the water in canoes or take to the skies while paragliding. There are a lot of adventurous options available for those who are interested in them.
Each of the modern apartments at Mountain Side Hakuba offer views of the ski hills themselves. Their open-plan environments are full of luxury furniture. The staff are incredibly attentive and willing to help with anything that they can. For a more luxurious experience, The Hakuba Company also offers NÍVIA and Villa El Cielo, two breathtaking accommodation options that can each house up to ten people.
Special Pick: Jinpyokaku Honten
In each of these articles, I like to include a special pick. This is always somewhere unique and somewhere I would happily go back to. For me, this would have to be Jinpyokaku Honten. This historic ryokan has attracted artists for more than a century.
If you’re hoping to see the snow monkeys during your time in Nagano, I would highly recommend considering this ryokan. The area where you can see the snow monkeys bathing is just a short walk away. After watching them, you can easily slip back here to enjoy an onsen yourself. There are a mixture of indoor and outdoor onsens here, with both mixed-gender and separate areas available. There are special robes that can be used in the mixed-gender baths.
It’s worth noting that Jinpyokaku Honten is only a small ryokan, with six rooms offering a relaxing atmosphere and a real sense of home. The size of this ryokan really enables you to get to know those working there, all of whom are incredibly attentive and happy to cook delicious food.
Learn More: Jinpyokaku Honten (Official Website)
Staying in the Best Hotels in Nagano
There’s an ornate beauty to the nature that is waiting to be discovered surrounding Nagano, where a backdrop of mountains sits beside lush apple orchards. From here, you can learn about the history of the land you’ve found yourself in or go exploring in the wilderness, with Chūbu-Sangaku National Park just a stone’s throw away.
I hope that my picks for the best hotels in Nagano have helped to fill you with inspiration.
Do you have a favourite place to stay in Nagano or a hotel that you would love to share? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.