by Traci L. Suppa
Peaceful serenity may not be the most realistic expectation from a family getaway, but parents can find some semblance of calm at the Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid. A deep breath is practically instinctive when you look out your window over the tranquil lake and the mountain range that circles it. “Casual Adirondack Elegance” is a fitting description of the space, as you sip afternoon tea served from silver teapots while the mounted moose head over the fireplace stares down at you. The dÃƒ©cor features vintage photos of local scenes and outdoor sports equipment, like weathered snowshoes and antique oars.
Mirror Lake Inn is Lake Placid’s only AAA Four-Diamond property, which it has earned for the past 31 consecutive years. All the amenities of a full service, luxury resort are in place, including two pools, a spa, room service, and organized activities. Every effort goes in to making this a special experience, including the complimentary tea service. There are signs everywhere discouraging the use of cell phones to “maintain a peaceful ambiance,” and we were happy to see universal adherence.
This historical property has served as an inn since the 1930’s. The resort played a role in Lake Placid’s illustrious history as the only destination to host the Winter Olympics twice, in 1932 and 1980. During the 1932 games, the inn hosted the Norwegian delegation. Since 1978, it’s been owned by the Weibrecht family, which includes Olympic skier Andrew Weibrecht; his medals are even displayed in the lobby. The main building was completely reconstructed in 1988 after a fire.
Guestrooms are spread out over three buildings on seven meticulously landscaped acres. A recent $4-million renovation project updated 92 of the inn’s 131 units, making the Classic type rooms 20 percent larger, with floor-to-ceiling glass exterior walls to maximize the views. Your quest for peace is further rewarded with a thoughtful addition in these rooms — the sitting area is separated from the sleeping area by blackout drapes. You can put the kids to bed, and still be able to relax, read, or enjoy a drink.
Our Editor Loves
- Easy proximity to downtown Lake Placid
- Indoor and outdoor pools for year-round fun
- Newly-renovated rooms with lake and mountain views
- Water Sports
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
In all, there are 131 rooms at Mirror Lake Inn, and families of all sizes have a variety of lodging options. The standard type are the Classic Rooms, and all 92 of these have been totally refurbished and enlarged by more than 65 square feet, making them larger than most standard hotel rooms in Lake Placid.
All guestrooms have amenities including hair dryers, flat screen televisions, irons and ironing boards, and complimentary Mirror Lake Inn brand toiletries, including an unexpected pot of lip balm, perfect for winter skin chapped from skiing. There is a fee for Wi-Fi: $14.95 for your entire stay, or $9.95 for a 24-hour period. Cribs are available at no charge. There is a nightly fee of $30 for cots. The main building is built on varying levels of property, so there are a lot of steps and angled corridors. You'll need to utilize the elevators with strollers.
Offering more than 415 square feet, these rooms in the main building have a year-round open air sun porch with a tiled floor, sliding French doors and floor-to-ceiling glass exterior wall that maximizes the panoramic views of the lake and mountains. The sun porch can be closed off from the sleeping area by thick drapes, offering the chance to read and relax after your kids fall asleep.
Among the Classic Rooms, there are various configurations, including two queen beds, two queens with a pull-out sofa, or a four-post king bed. They are identified by location-appropriate names like Alpine Ridge, Cedar Run, and Lookout.
This building is situated across the street from the main building, on the lake shore. It was re-built from the ground up prior to 2013. The rooms here are popular with large families. The Little Whiteface Suite accommodates up to five people. The main room has a king-size bed and living area with a fireplace. The children's room has two twin beds, plus two full baths.
This building is situated across the street from the main building, also on the lake shore. The rooms here are popular with couples, but on the first floor, the Mt. Whitney suite includes a main room with a king-size bed, pull-out sofa, and fireplace, and a smaller room with bunk beds.
Guests in suites automatically receive turndown service. It's available upon request for all other room types.
We had a wonderful stay! We enjoyed the warmth of the Inn and the staff. Sitting in front of the fireplace while reading and having afternoon tea and cookies was a delightful way to relax. The food was delicious at The View restaurant including the breakfasts, and we had a great night with the band at The Cottage where the audience enthusiastically participated with tambourines and drums.
Recently we celebrated my wife's birthday at the MLI after not visiting the Inn for several years. Our stay was excellent. The room was great and the afternoon tea and "cookies" were as we remembered it. We were on the meal plan and the breakfast and dinner was fantastic. We now will have to go back more often. If you want to have a relaxing vacation, go up in November as there were not many people at the Inn and you can sit in the many public rooms and meet new friends. Best part, no cell phones allowed in the public areas. In your room and outside, fine.
Every day, you'll get a copy of the "Mirror Lake Inn Activities" sheet listing any classes or activities offered on property or in connection with contracted providers. The week we were there, there were yoga classes, a family fishing trip, a wilderness canoe trip, and evening S'mores on the beach. There are no supervised "drop-off" children's programs or babysitting services.
The indoor pool is open year-round, and is located on the lower level, next to the spa. The room housing the 60-foot pool has a fun rustic Adirondack theme, with columns designed to look like trees, clouds painted on the ceiling, and a stone waterfall at the far end with a wood footbridge over the pool. There are floating "noodles" available for use, and swim diapers are available for sale at the spa desk.
The outdoor pool also has a scenic location on a deck overlooking the lake. It is heated to 82 degrees, and open during the summer months as weather allows. The depth ranges from 3.5 feet to 9 feet. Attached is a one-foot deep kiddie pool.
There are no lifeguards on duty at either pool, but posted rules state that a minimum of two adults 18 years or older must be present whenever they are in use. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Towels are provided. The pools are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Across the street from the main building, you'll find a wedge of sandy beach with beach chairs, leading into Mirror Lake. The serene lake is surrounded mainly by forest, with an occasional house or hotel. The lake water is chilly, but our kids didn't seem to mind when they took a dip. A dock leads out into the water, with Adirondack chairs inviting you to sit and enjoy the views.
A beach attendant will provide you with kayaks, rowboats, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards to use, along with life jackets. In the winter, the lake freezes and is cleared for ice-skating. It is lit for night skating, as well.
Simple snacks (chips and cookies) are available for purchase at the attendant's booth, as well as bottled water. On Saturday evenings, S'mores are served on the beach over a fire pit as a complimentary treat for guests.
The warm, inviting lobby and stocked library have plenty of seating, including game tables. You can sit down to a game of checkers, or ask the front desk to see the games menu. There are nearly 50 board and card games in the collection to choose from, from Candyland for young children to backgammon and Trivial Pursuit.
Skiing is a popular winter past time in the Lake Placid area, strengthened by its ties as a two-time host of the Winter Olympics. The inn has a relationship with nearby Whiteface Mountain ski resort, so you can purchase lift tickets at the front desk, take the complimentary shuttle to the mountain 10 miles away, and skip the ticket lines there. The shuttle runs from mid-December to mid-March.
There is a tennis court on property, with complimentary use of rackets and balls through the front desk. Inn guests can also visit the nearby private Whiteface Club on Lake Placid to play golf on the 18-hole course there.
While there are many outdoor recreational activities in the area, there are several attractions specifically suited for children, including Adventure Golf in Lake Placid, the Adirondack Carousel in Saranac Lake, and the Wild Center in Tupper Lake.
There are three restaurants at Mirror Lake, the most "family-friendly" being the Cottage CafÃƒÂ©. However, children can eat from a standard children's menu at any of them, and high chairs are available.
The View is Lake Placid's only AAA four diamond restaurant for its exceptional cuisine and service. It has received the Wine Spectator's Dining Guide Award for Excellence for more than a decade, and its wine list is impressive. The seasonal menu utilizes products from local farms.
While children like ours will appreciate the lovely atmosphere and behave accordingly, parents should be aware that this is a fine dining venue with a suggested dress code, and meals are served at a leisurely pace. The menu features dishes such as grilled scallops with ratatouille, and prime beef filet with Lyonnaise potatoes. We enjoyed an amuse bouche and a palate-cleansing sorbet course, but it was a long evening for our 8-year-old.
The atmosphere during breakfast is much more casual, and while we still dined on white linen to the accompaniment of classical music, the buffet allowed us to get out of our chairs once in a while. The homemade baked goods and berry jams lured us back several times, actually. Breakfast is served from 7:30 to 10 a.m. On weekends and holidays, it's a "Hearty Adirondack Breakfast Buffet" served from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Dinner is served from 5:30 to p.m. nightly.
Taste Bistro and Bar
This small restaurant next to The View opens for cocktails at 4:30 p.m., then continues with dinner service from 5 to 9:30 p.m. The menu features more casual, yet beautifully presented items including burgers, pasta and salads. There is live music every Friday night.
The Cottage CafÃƒÂ©
Located directly on Mirror Lake across the street from the main building, The Cottage is the most casual of the three eateries, and this is where you'll see the most kids. But the bar section is hopping, thanks to an extensive selection of international beers and wines, and its signature Bloody Mary. The menu features pub-style favorites, such as delicious appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, and salads.
The inside seating is cozy, with a burning fireplace. Outdoors, there's a large deck with tables under umbrellas. During the summer, guests can paddle right up to the Cottage dock. In the winter when the lake is frozen, wood-burning fireplaces and heaters are brought outside, and the ice is cleared for skating. It's a popular aprÃƒÂ©s-ski spot for locals, as well as visitors. It is open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; the bar remains open until midnight.
In the lobby, you'll find complimentary coffee service and a plate of chocolate chip cookies around the clock. You can find the recipe for their signature cookies on the back of the postcard displayed in the lobby.
Planning & Tips
You don't have to leave a tip for the housekeeping staff. A fee of at least $3.50 per person, per day (depending on room category) is added to your bill to cover this gratuity.
The Spa at Mirror Lake Inn, rated the best in the Adirondacks, attracts locals, as well as overnight guests. The range of body, skin care and salon services include two kid-friendly packages -- "Mommy and Me" and "Mother & Daughter" -- with combination choices of facials, massage, and nail services. It is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Skiers should note that skis are not allowed in the guest rooms. There is an indoor ski storage area off of the main lobby where they will be kept for you.
A small gift shop in the lower level offers toys, snacks, souvenirs, and drugstore basics, as well as bathing suits and resort-style apparel.
Check-in is at 3 p.m. and check-out is at 11 a.m.
The Art of Smart Timing
Winter and summer are the most popular times to stay at Mirror Lake Inn, so expect the highest prices then. Spring and fall are generally better times to find value rates. During mid-week date ranges, even in the winter, you'll see rates drop.
There are always packages offered that include value-added extras, such as golf or spa treatments. During the holidays, the "Visit From Santa" package includes breakfast, as well as a visit from Santa and his elves, bearing milk and cookies.
Most guests drive to this property. Free parking is offered, and you will be assigned a lot for your car. Valet parking is available for $30 per day. On-street parking is prohibited in the winter when snow plows need access to the roadway. The closest airport is Plattsburgh (one hour), while the airports in Albany, New York and Montreal are both 2.5 hours away. There is also an Amtrak train station in Westport, 50 minutes away.
It's easy to walk into town from the hotel. It's less than a half-mile to reach the Starbucks in the center of town, taking Mirror Lake Drive to where it merges onto Main Street. Parking in town is hard to come by, and it's metered. Most guests have cars, and use them to reach sites and attractions that are beyond walking distance. A seasonal trolley, the Placid XPrss, makes stops at the local marina and beach.
For Mom and Dad
In addition to the spa, there is a fitness center. There's a sauna and hot tub in a space separate from the indoor pool. The two bars on property aren't open that late, but are convenient for a nightcap. Luckily, downtown Lake Placid is a 5-minute walk, and there are plenty of restaurants and bars that you can reach on foot.