I often travel to Inawashiro to go snowboarding during the winter months but i have never stayed in the area. I recently took a 2-day snowboarding trip and decided to try a local pension. After researching the nearby pensions i settled on Pension Buddy.
I spent the two days at a local Ski resort called 'Grandeco'. So, naturally, i wanted to stay nearby to reduce travelling time. A quick search of the map revealed many pensions but what drew me to Pension Buddy was mainly the price, rooms and the available onsen.
In terms of price, Buddy is one of the cheaper places. I can't speak for the other seasons but for the winter season it was cheap. Included in the price was dinner, which was served at 6:30pm, and breakfast, which was served at 8am. Both of which were delcious. The dinner was a course menu containing a starter set, fish, pork and a dessert, including some tasty fruit sake. The breakfast was a single course of salad, egg, sausage, a slice of orange and hot rolls, in addition to coffee, tea and fruit juice. I don't know how often they change the menu but it was very nice.
The room was comfortable. we stayed on the 2nd floor at the top of the staircase. There are maybe about 8 rooms, so it wasn't too busy. I believe every room has single beds regardless of couples or families. The room was all paneling and had an air conditioner. The room also had underfloor heating, which was a welcome surprise. Not so welcome when i forgot and left a bag of chocolate on the floor overnight though. Also, despite being winter the room was really warm. So warm that i opened the window for a bit. It was comfortable to sleep in though. In fact, it was the best night of sleep i have had for while because it is so quiet and dark.
The onsens were also what i expected. On the bottom floor there are two rooms which contain the onsens. Each was pretty small but comfortable for a small family. They were also open 24 hours a day, so it is perfect if you fancy a midnight soak. The onsens contained soap and shampoo. The pension provided onsen face towels but no big towels to dry yourself, which i later learned was common in pensions. However, even though my girlfriend had the foresight to bring towels i didn't need them as the hot water heated me up enough for me to dry naturally in a few minutes.
There was no bathroom in the room, but on the first floor there are three sinks side-by-side and a small toilet and in the basement there is a mens room and a ladies room, as well as the onsens that i mentioned before. This was no problem though because the location of the sinks was close to pretty much every room.
Another positive was the pension understands that a lot of it's business comes from the skiers and snowboarders so the lobby has drying racks for boards and skis and there is another area for boots. In addition, the rooms all have coat hangers to dry ski wear.
There were only 2 things that may be a problem. One issue is that the walls were really thin so we could hear the people in the adjacent room pretty well. On top of this there was a family staying on the first floor and we could hear the children running along the corridor and up and down the stairs as if they were in the same room. We were quite lucky due to being tired and having reasonably quiet quests staying the same time as us though. Also, the pension owner did a sweep of the house before sleeping to turn off the lights, and advise people about reducing the noise. Secondly, the location of the pension is a little off the main road so it wasn't obvious to find. We drove and used our phone's GPS to help though. The pension is located within a group of pensions, so once you see the group it is just a matter of peeking over the snow to find 'Buddy'. It wasn't such a big problem for us but just a warning. It is reasonably close to grandeco though. It is also worthy mentioning that the steps down to the pension were covered in ice and there was no handrail. I am not sure if the pension had a shuttle service to any resorts but i wouldn't have thought so.
I really enjoyed staying at 'Buddy'. The food was good, the onsen was nice, the rooms were cozy and the atmosphere was also nice. We didn't really see the owners apart from check-in, food and check-out. Whether that is good or bad depends on the experience that you want, but i appreciated it. Overall, I whole heatedly recommend staying here. Oh, and look at the owners pictures on the walls. He is somewhat of a photographer and has taken a lot of pictures of the surrounding areas in different seasons. They even give you a free postcard using one his a pictures when you stay.
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