>Finally managed to get two nights in this business hotel near the railway station at Kanazawa.
After weeks of trawling hotel search engines and reading reviews, I came to the conclusion that Kanazawa lacks hotels with the X-factor for me. Yes, they have ryokans, inns, the usual cookie-cutter array of business hotels and the expensive tourist hotel groups. But these lack the oomph and personality I am looking for.
I checked out some ryokans but they left me feeling ‘meh’ and the reviews were lukewarm at best, ranging from the usual superlatives to criticisms on hygiene and cleanliness. The photographs also did not give me much to look forward to.
Given that the night before Kanazawa would be spent in Shibu Onsen, a hard act to follow, anything in Kanazawa would be less than exciting. So I made the decision to keep the budget tighter and head for a business hotel. The hotel that garnered the best reviews came from Dormy Inn Kanazawa, near the railway station. It was value-for-money for a hotel in its class, had a big public bath on the rooftop and the rooms looked far better, more spacious and more pleasantly fitted than any of its equivalents such as the Toyoko Inn range.
Still, once I settled on Dormy Inn I had a hard time making reservations – I just could not find an English site to do this and Rakuten, for some reason, had shut me out of making any reservations on its website. So I was dawdling on any decision on Kanazawa until sometime last week. I did one last check and found that Rakuten was again accepting reservations for Dormy Inn, with new offerings for the coming autumn/winter season.
Happily, I managed to book two rooms for two nights – one is a Japanese room for five and the other a semi-Western room for four. Best part was that kids below 12 sleep free.
We will come in late on the first night, travelling from Yudanaka (Shibu Onsen) to Nagano, and from there to Naoetsu, changing trains to Kanazawa. If time permits (though I think this is near impossible given that night comes much earlier in late autumn and travel hours are already high at 3.5hrs for the whole trip) we might sneak part of the journey through the magnificent Kurobe Gorge. Was told that we might see early snowfall and the scenery on a single-gauge track is said to be very nice! Given time (how many times have I said this!) the journey through Kurobe Gorge is worth breaking a night since there are numerous onsen ryokans lining the route, some of whom have rotemburos with stunning gorge/river views. Paradise for soakers like me. Ah well, next time…
But I digress. Back to Kanazawa. First night we’ll come in late and so I imagine we will sink gratefully into our futons at Dormy Inn, a mere 3-min walk away from the station. The short distance from the station was another big ‘pull’ factor for me since I can’t imagine persuading a bunch of tired kids plus my mother and my cold-averse sister to lug their luggage, change bus, walk great distances etc to get to a hotel.
The next day we will cover at least Kenrokoen early in the morning (I feel like a weird mix of boot camp sergeant, shepherd and baby-sitter here!) and then in no order, Seisonkaku villa in Kenrokoen, the Nogura samurai house in the Nagamachi district, popping over to Ninja-dera or more correctly, Myoruji (which is said to be lots of fun with all its Ninja trick walls, hidden rooms, escape hatches and so on) and perhaps by evening, walk through the Higashi Chaiya district, full of old wooden geisha houses and tea houses.