Adirondack Elegance at its finest.
By Katie DeTar
There’s something magical about northern New York’s Adirondack Mountains. A mystique created of history, natural beauty, and rugged terrain. It’s an allure that continues to draw me, year after year, to this beautiful 6.1 million acre park that’s been my summer escape since childhood. But for this spring visit, rather than tent camping or bunking at a family cabin, I spent a few days in rustic elegance at the Lake Placid Lodge.
The historic inn captures the Adirondack spirit, integrating the natural beauty of the area to create a serene and enchanting experience from the moment I arrived, right through the final goodbye.
My husband and I arrived on a sunny late spring day, with the sun just peeking following an afternoon rainstorm. The weather in the Adirondacks in notoriously unpredictable, and you’ve got to capture the sun when it shines. Knowing this, the friendly staff briskly greeted us with a champagne toast and then whisked us to the dock for an afternoon boat tour, “while the sun was out.”
Captain Jon was waiting at the helm of “Christy,” the 1932-replica Hacker-Craft wooden boat, to take us around Lake Placid Lake, the body of water for which the nearby town gets its name. The sun twinkled on the dark water as we put-putted about, close to the shore, touring the classic great camps that line a portion of the lake. Jon’s knowledge of the area was impressive, offering anecdotes about some of the famous residents that made their homes on this water. Like American singer Kate Smith, best known for her rendition of “God Bless America” and a multi-album career that reached its peak in the 1940s. She is buried in Lake Placid, and left her lakeside island home to the local Catholic Church.
We sipped our bellinis and marveled at the rustic yet ornate construction of the waterfront homes, and unparalleled views of Whiteface Mountain–home of the 1932 and 1980 winter Olympic skiing events–and enjoyed what turned out to be a warm and beautiful sunny afternoon.
As we rounded the final bend and the Lodge came into view, I captured my first glimpse of the property from a distance. It is stunning. The rustic stone archways, hand-hewn timber frame eaves, and rounded balconies and porches perfectly blend with the architecture of the lake. As the only full-service hotel property on Lake Placid Lake, it stands ornate and proud, blending with the historic properties nearby.
Lake Placid Lodge has quite a history of its own, and I learned that we were gazing at the most recent incarnation of a legendary local lodge that has been welcoming guests since 1946. A massive fire destroyed the property in 2005, and thus began a season of rebuilding and restoration to create an authentic great camp experience. The craftsmanship of the new hotel shines in the common lounges, restaurants, and in the 13 guest rooms and 17 private cabins. Each guest space has been designed and appointed by a local artist, with the bed frames and furniture hand-made from local timber. The resulting white birch-barked tables, woodsman red plaid area rugs, stone fireplaces and deep soaking tubs beckon for your attention.
The beyond-friendly staff escorted us to our King Lodge room for our first night. Here, expansive views of Whiteface Mountain greeted us through the large windows. There were house-made snacks waiting for us and a fire set for the evening. We enjoyed the complimentary bottle of wine and hummus out on the private balcony, soaking in the last of the daylight before nesting into the fluffy down mattress and comforter for one of the best night’s sleep I’d enjoyed in a long time.
The next day, after exploring the region and having a relaxing afternoon lounge in the Lodge’s lakeside lean-to, we headed to our cozy cabin accommodations for our second night. The Whitney cabin sits right on the edge of the lake, with panoramic views of Whiteface and the surrounding forest. A birch bark and twig canopy bed anchors the room, with a sitting area of red plaid furniture nearby; hand-crafted tables round out the décor.
That evening we dined at Artisans, the Lodge’s fine dining offering. The indoor dining room was pretty and beautifully decorated, but the expansive stone porch was too enticing to miss, and I’m happy we chose to eat outside. Our inventive four-course, three-hour dinner was enhanced by the views of the setting sun over Whiteface, and a crackling fire in the large stone hearth next to our table.
Our knowledgeable waiter explained every course, shared stories about the region, and intentionally allowed us extra time to sit and savor–an extra touch lacking in today’s hurry-up culture where tables are turned quickly to maximize profits and customers are too often thought of as numbers.
The chef takes care to include local and seasonal ingredients whenever possible, as with our “Hike in Lake Placid Spring”–the most creative salad I’d ever seen. Delicate greens, young root vegetables and edible flowers set atop a thin bed of cocoa and cookie crumbs designed to mimic the Adirondack earth. The rest of our meal followed suit: impressive, visual, and delicious.
S’mores roasted by the fireplace in our cozy cabin provided a delightful late-night dessert. We again slept well, lulled by the gentle sounds of water lapping against the shore.
The next morning we lounged outside on the Adirondack chairs, as loons slowly glided by and ducks hopped up on shore. The mist rose from the water as we sipped our tea and coffee, absorbing the crisp air and stillness.
Staff delivered our breakfast to the cabin: homemade comfort fare served with real local maple syrup. I thought of the hearty folk that settled the area in the mid 1800s: the lumberjacks, miners and farmers trying to make their way in this rugged landscape. This seemed just the kind of breakfast that would have fueled their pursuits, and was just the thing to kick off another day of outdoor explorations.
I imagine the wintertime would be just as, if not even more inviting than this spring visit. Roasting marshmallows in the large outdoor bonfire, cross country skiing on nearby trails, and enjoying a hot toddy near one of the dozens of stone-hearthed fireplaces.
Yes, I think we’ll just have to plan our next visit.
Lake Placid Lodge
144 Lodge Way
Lake Placid, NY 12946
- Free Wi-Fi
- Some pets allowed (in private cabins)
- Thirteen guests rooms, seventeen private cabins. All have stone fireplaces, private baths, and hand-built furniture.
- While there is a stone fireplace in every room, you won’t find a television. The Lodge strives to maintain a tranquil mountain setting, and offers one TV for guest use in Maggie’s Pub.
- Room rate includes and full made-to-order breakfast, turndown service, and stocked refrigerators and snacks
- Two on-site restaurants: upscale Artisans and casual Maggie’s Pub.
- Odds of Encountering Children: Lower than average! Children over the age of 12 are welcome. All younger children are welcome during special family weeks only!
Read more about Lake Placid, New York.
– Photos Courtesy Katie DeTar and David Lalley.
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.