by Traci L. Suppa
Located in the southern Adirondacks region of New York State, Lake George is a year-round destination, but it’s especially booming in the summer. One of its oldest hotels, the Fort William Henry, originally opened in 1855. While completely re-built over the years, the hotel still invokes the spirit of those early summer getaways, when the well-to-do would escape to the hills overlooking Lake George for the cool breezes and picturesque views.
The main hotel building opened in 2004, after being rebuilt from the ground up. This section is referred to as the Grand Hotel, and the rooms here are priced accordingly. The older Premium East wing represents a middle tier room class, and the Standard West rooms are affordable, motel-style accommodations.
Relative to other Lake George hotels, the Grand Hotel rooms offer some of the best accommodations in the area. Families will find plenty to do on and off property. Children are welcomed, and there are plenty around. The hotel is booked solid most weekends, so always book your stay far in advance.
The hotel’s location, and its stunning views of Lake George and the surrounding mountains, are its strongest attributes. The property overlooks the lake’s southern edge, which you can reach within minutes via two sets of stairs that bring you to Beach Road. Canada Street intersects with Beach Road. This is the main stretch of shops, restaurants, and old-time attractions (like wax museums).
In the summer, activities focus on the water, with swimming, boating, and other recreation. The Great Escape, a Six Flags Theme Park, is a ten-minute drive. In the winter, the property attracts a ski and tubing crowd, and offers packages with Gore Mountain and West Mountain. As popular as Lake George is for the July 4th weekend, it’s equally as popular during February’s Winter Carnival.
Our Editor Loves
- Indoor and outdoor pools
- Lake George views
- Proximity to the fort, shopping and restaurants
- Theme Park
- Water Parks
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Meal Plan
Rooms & Rates
There are three distinct sections of the hotel. Rates are highest for the Grand Hotel, and lowest for the Standard West rooms. All three room types have some connecting rooms. NoÂ pets are allowed in any of the rooms.
Complimentary Aroma Botanicals toiletries are provided in the bathrooms. Not all rooms have bathtubs, so request one in advance. All rooms have: a hair dryer, iron and ironing board, coffeemaker, in-room safe, pay-per-view movies and games, and HBO and Showtime, along with kid-friendly networks like Nickelodeon.
While cribs are free to borrow (and available on a first-come, first-served basis), there is a $20 per night charge for rollaway beds.
The Grand Hotel
The original hotel opened on this spot in 1855, succumbed to a fire in 1909, and was rebuilt in a different style. In 2004, it was completely rebuilt from the ground up to closely mirror the hotel as it looked in 1911. The registration desk, gift shop, business center, and White Lion restaurant are in this part of the hotel. There's free coffee service and a cozy fireplace in the Great Room off the lobby. The Veranda is connected through the back doors -- a relaxing spot with rows of rocking chairs to enjoy the view.Â
This is the only part of the hotel with room service, and these are the only rooms that have mini -refrigerators and microwaves. Rooms offer either lake or mountain views, and range from 400 to 840 square feet. There are a variety of room types and options, including fireplaces, in-room Jacuzzis, and twin or double sofa sleepers.
Premium East Wing
The Premium East wing, constructed in 1984, includes 35 rooms on two floors. There is no elevator. The rooms are all a uniform 338 square feet, with either mountain or lake views. The indoor pool room with arcade is on the ground floor.
Standard West Motel
The Standard West Motel was built in the early 1950s, and provide basic, affordable accommodations. There are 64 rooms on two floors, and there is no elevator. The rooms are all a uniform 300 square feet, with either mountain or lake views on the patios outside the doors.
We were delighted with our Grand Suite overlooking the frozen lake where ATV's and snowmobiles were darting across the expanse of the lake while hockey players were involved in a pick-up game. The room had a fireplace, was spacious, and very clean. We enjoyed the king bed and fine linens.
Traveled to Lake George for the winter carnival and Fort William Henry's ice bar just for the weekend. We stayed in the extended part of the hotel which was dated and in desperate need of an upgrade. Not sure about the rooms inside the hotel. The festivities were great, good music and awesome weather (for February).
There is both an indoor and outdoor pool. The outdoor pool commands a high point on the back lawn, with a well-kept sundeck and lounge furniture. The depths range from 3 to 10 feet. There are no lifeguards, and children under 16 must have an adult accompany them. The hours are 10 a.m. until sunset. Towels are provided.
The indoor pool is in the Premium East wing. The room is less cheerful than the outdoor space, but it's a good option in the cold months. The depths range from three to five feet, and there are no lifeguards. There is also a hot tub, sauna, and an arcade with several video games and air hockey. Unfortunately, Ms. Pac Man did not work when we were there.
You can access Lake George via an easy five-minute walk, and there are two beaches nearby: Shepard Park Beach and Lake George Beach State Park. The beaches have lifeguards, and the shallow swim areas are cordoned off. There are several outfitter businesses for water-based activities around the lake, such as water skiing and parasailing. Boat cruise operators, such as the Lake George Steamboat Co., offer cruises on historic vessels, with some excursions including meals, fireworks, and/or musical entertainment.
In addition to the arcade near the indoor pool, there is an outdoor shuffleboard court. There is a huge outdoor lawn offering plenty of space for kids to run around. There is no playground on property, but there is one in Shepard Park, which you can walk to in less than 10 minutes along the paved perimeter of Lake George.
The actual fort for which the hotel is named, Fort William Henry, is located next door to the hotel, and the tour of this museum and restoration is family-friendly. Kids enjoy the costumed interpreters leading fife and drum processions and firing the muskets and cannons.
In season, breakfast is served every day from 7 to 11 a.m. in the White Lion room, one of the original spaces of the historic hotel, and more than 100 years old. (In the winter, it's only open on weekends). It doubles as the wedding reception space, and has windows facing Lake George on three sides. There is a kids' menu, and high chairs available.
If you want to stay inside the hotel for dinner, the Tankard Taverne serves pub fare starting at 4 p.m. The kids' meals, available for 12 years and under, include an entrÃ©e (burger, mac and cheese, chicken fingers or grilled cheese) fries, and a drink. It's open daily in season, and on weekends only in winter.
Eateries Along Beach Road
The property also owns a few eateries along Beach Road, accessible by stairway from the back lawn. It's a very short walk, and you can charge your meals to your room. From May through October, the Lookout CafÃ© serves lunch and dinner in a covered patio with lake views. Adirondack Sandwich Works is a small indoor space serving gourmet sandwiches and salads. The Sticky Bun specializes in coffee and pastries. Frosty Creations is a self-serve frozen yogurt shop, and the Candy Apple sells homemade fudge and other sweets.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Check in is at 4 p.m., and check out is at 11 a.m.
There are no fees for Wi-Fi or parking. Guests may also use the two computers and printers in the business center off the lobby.
There is a small gift shop in the lobby that sells souvenirs, small toys, snacks, and health and beauty aids. There are also brochure displays aplenty (look for the coupons), so you have plenty of information to plan your days.
Parking spots are limited in downtown Lake George, so it makes sense to park here and walk around town. As a guest, you will be required to display a parking pass on your dashboard to enter the lot.
The Art of Smart Timing
Due to its popularity, the Fort William Henry generally sells out every weekend. Rooms are even harder to find when a special event or wedding is held at the property, which happens often. July and August are the busiest season, and your best bet is to stay mid-week. You'll find the best rates from November through April, followed by May to June and September to October.
Most visitors drive to Lake George, and it's very accessible from I-97, the New York State Thruway. The closest airport is Albany International Airport, 50 miles south. Amtrak's Fort Edward station is approximately 15 miles away. Lake George is also served by the Adirondack Trailways bus line, and the depot is half a mile away on Canada Street.
During the summer season (last Saturday in June through Labor Day), Greater Glens Falls Transit runs a trolley service around Lake George that connects hotels to local spots along Canada Street. There is a trolley stop right at the hotel.
A few trolley lines travel to neighboring Queensbury, where you can shop at multiple outlets and visit the Great Escape Six Flags theme park. The one-way fare is just $1 per person.
For Mom and Dad
A night out on the town without kids might begin at the Tankard Taverne or the Veranda Bar right on property, sipping a cocktail, rocking in a rocking chair and enjoying the lake view. You could also drive over to the Tiki Resort for a Polynesian dinner show, or one of several other dinner theaters. It's an easy walk into Lake George Village for a stroll along Canada Avenue. There are a number of bars in town, many of which feature live musical entertainment. The hotel does not provide babysitting services.