By force of habit, my usual economy hotel chain in Japan is Toyoko Inn. Lucky for me, a friend made this Route Inn reservation for a New Year's group of 4 adults and 2 children visiting Nagano Prefecture. Like Toyoko Inn, these rooms are small by North American standards, but clean and efficiently laid out. Unlike Toyoko Inns where I have stayed, this Route Inn had Japanese-style public baths on the ground floor. These are segregated by sex, with an extra level of card-key security in place for the women's bath.
Route Inn Suwa Inter 2 and Suwa Inter 1 share the same block and have spacious, fenced-in car parking. Signs around the parking lot warn people to remove valuables from their cars; I take this to be normal legalese in modern times.
On check-in, we received a ¥500 discount coupon good for restaurants and bars in the vicinity. The coupon did not say explicitly where it would be honored, but a couple of us went to a seafood-oriented 居酒屋 (izakaya) called... More