We stayed at the Shiretoko Grand from 8 to 10 June 2009. The hotel is located in the sleepy town of Utoro which is a 2 hour drive from Memanbetsu Airport - the nearest airport to Utoro.
Staff at the hotel parked our car and carried our luggage into the lobby. The lobby, while not jaw-dropping impressive, is adequate for an onsen hotel. We were seated down and offered tea while staff patiently explained how the onsen hotel works and did all the check-in paperwork for us.
In case you are not familiar with onsen hotels in this part of Japan, almost all of them provide both buffet breakfast and dinner. Breakfast and dinner were scrumptious spreads of food and produce sourced from within Hokkaido wherever possible. They were some of the freshest we have ever tasted.
The rather worn but meticulously clean onsen is on the top floor. Yukatas and towels are provided in every room for your onsen purposes. If you are new to the onsen experience, do read the many posters and instructions all over the place on proper onsen etiquette before you take the plunge.
Our hotel room consisted of a Japanese section and a western section. The Japanese section had tatami and a low table while the western section had regular beds. The bathroom was small but adequate. All the furniture and fittings were not brand new, but they were very well maintained and spotless. There were no English language channels on the TV.
The room window opens up to the sea, where we could see seagulls and fishing boats. Right behind the hotel is also where you board the Shiretoko cruise. We had booked the cruise through the hotel when we checked in - JPY8,000 per person for a spectacular ride to the tip of Shiretoko Peninsular and back. We saw gorgeous waterfalls, incredible rock formations, wild bears on rocky beaches with killer whales and dolphins frolicking in the waters.
Staff at the hotel - from the receptionist to the waiters to the fella at the stand selling locally produced tea - were immensely helpful and courteous. The level of service was totally outstanding. Being able to speak Japanese, we did not test out their English abilities.
Right outside the hotel are several small restaurants serving mainly (delicious!) seafood and a convenient store. It is only a short 15 minute drive to the Shiretoko Five Lakes or the Shiretoko Pass from the hotel.
Overall a fantastic stay. Though we are not likely to go back because, well, we've seen just about all the natural beauty and sights on Shiretoko, we will definitely recommend the hotel to anyone who has never been there.
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- Also Known As:
- Shiretoko Grand Hotel Kitakobushi Shari-Gun, Japan - Hokkaido