There are many options for accommodation in Zao Onsen but if you are looking for a place with English signs and English speaking staff, then the Zao Shiki Hotel might be for you.
One night in a nice Western-style room with a massive Japanese-style dinner and a likewise opulent Japanese-style breakfast comes at around 15,900 yen per person.
However, the price greatly depends on the season and day of the week. During high season - this is the Snow Monster Season - the prices shoot up and can easily be more than 20,000 yen. However, the location of this hotel is ever so convenient for winter sport fans: the ski slopes are more or less behind the hotel!
"Ski-in, ski-out" is true, I think, for this hotel right by the slopes covered in lots of snow during season.
If you prefer to sleep Japanese-style, then no problem. Book a Japanese-style room and the hotel staff will lay out the futon for you.
The lobby is spacious and coffee and other drinks are served there. You can meet up with your friends or business partners here and hold a meeting. There is free LAN access available in the lobby area.
Next to the hotel entrance there is a separate entrance for people with skis and snow boards which leads to a locker place for this equipment. Rental of skis and snow boards is also available.
Even better, there is a hotel-owned hot spring bath just a few steps from the main building. The bath house is all wooden and the bathtub is wooden too for added atmosphere. When you sit in the small rotemburo, the outdoors bath, then you can gaze at the stars or watch the snow fall. Access to the hot spring facilities is free for hotel guests.
There are more reasons for why a stay at Zao Shiko Hotel pays off. The hotel bus will pick you up from and bring you back to Zao Onsen bus terminal. This is convenient as you don't want to carry your luggage and any winter sports equipment. Best of all, this service is free.
Last but not least, they hand out colorful yukata to women in case you feel like having a walk looking very Japanese. The gents meanwhile might want to use 50 minutes of free karaoke service. Although a gents-only party might not be much fun.
This hotel offers barrier-free rooms and toilets and you can pay by credit card. 15 different cards are accepted.
Although staff speak some English and there are English signs at the hotel, the website is all in Japanese. So, if you get over the hurdle of making a booking, once you are there, you will be ok!
I have stayed at this hotel in February during high season when the Snow Monster Festival was on and it was quite busy but all was well handled by the hotel's friendly staff.
Winter is probably the main season for this hotel but its excellent service and its location near the Zao Sanroku Ropeway also make it a good choice for hikers during warmer seasons.