One time when a friend decided to visit Japan, I took her to see the snow monkeys in Jigokudani, in the countryside of Nagano prefecture. The main base for seeing them is the nearby town of Yudanaka, which has a fair few places to stay; the one I chose for us was Hotel Housei (ホテル豊生), a traditional onsen hotel close to the station.
Everything about the hotel is relaxing. Throughout, the decor is charming and understated, with lots of wood and soft earthtones, very easy on the eye. My room was a good size for a solo traveler, and in similarly traditional style: tatami mats warm and gentle underfoot, screen doors prettily decorated with painted flowers, a traditional low lacquered table.
As well as the monkeys, the main draw of the hotel is the onsen baths. Each day of our stay we'd put on the elegant yukata robes and make our way to the large public bathrooms, there to steam in the sauna, and soak in the indoor and outdoor baths. It felt like the quintessential Japanese experience to be in an outdoor bath, immersed in the hot water as the snow gently fell around me.
There's a well-stocked gift shop and a spacious lounge in the lobby, looking out onto a rock garden. In the evening we found the lounge had been screened off and transformed into a karaoke room for a large group of guests; the presence of a bar suggests that this is a permanent arrangement. Naturally we joined in, and allowed ourselves to be prevailed upon to treat the guests to our unique rendition of The Beatles' "Yesterday".
Despite limited English, the staff were wonderful, so friendly and helpful. We were able to arrange a shuttle bus to the snow monkey park at a time of our choosing, and a pickup to come back, and they even stopped off for my friend to go to a grocery store.