More about The Hotel Saranac
An adequate experience at Hotel Saranac
We stayed here around New Years, during a last-minute trip to go skiing in Lake Placid. The drive from Hotel Saranac to Lake Placid took about 15 minutes, and it was about 30-40 minutes to Whiteface Mountain. The town of Saranac is cute, but most of the restaurants and shops closed rather early…the ‘scene’ is definitely in Lake Placid.
The hotel was reasonably priced and we had a fine experience. It is an older property, somewhat idiosyncratic (from the plastic shrink-wrapped cups in the bathroom to the 2 small pillows on our king-sized bed to the plastic/vinyl window shade), and is definitely not a luxurious hotel.
Our room (and bathroom) was extremely clean. The bed was very comfortable, and we were satisfied with the wireless internet in our room. The shower was great! The décor of the hotel, overall, was somewhat dated and not always in the best condition—but overall appeared to be taken care of. We did find the hotel to be somewhat noisy (at times we could hear muffled voices around us, and it was noisy in the room when water was on in the bathroom). However, it was not unbearable.
The hotel is currently operating as part of the Paul Smith College, but is apparently set to be sold in the coming weeks to an investor/manager from Long Island. One of the hotel workers told us that the College has not put a lot of money into the hotel over the years, and they expect that the new ownership will bring renovations and an up-scaling of the ‘service’ and creating more amenities offered at the hotel (and probably also the prices).
At $100/night (including taxes) in the Lake Placid area during this time of year, we found Hotel Saranac to be fine. If we were to return to the area, we would likely try to stay in downtown Lake Placid.
The Belvedere restaurant is quaint and the towns people usually go there to eat and drink, bar is adjoining the restaurant. Very casual dress. Price is right.
The Hotel Saranac is a bit fast paced and a bit dressier, and a bit more pricey. Steak
not quite the old place...
Paul Smith's College recently sold the Hotel Saranac, and it isn't quite the place it once was. Still neat and clean (though a suprising stain was found upon a chair) with its quaint, small historic rooms, but the enthusiasm of the Paul Smith's students is sorely missed. The restaurant seems a bit in decline, and the gift shop even more so. Let's hope the new owner develops the elan that made the Saranac not just geographically central to the town, but culturally central.
The absolute worst hotel we have ever stayed in.
I am very sad to say that we had such a terrible time considering that my husband had planned this trip as a belated Christmas gift for us to enjoy together. We booked the "wild" package in early January before the hotel was sold. This package included an overnight stay and breakfast at A.P. Smiths in the morning.
Here is the breakdown of all that transpired in less than a 24 hour time period:
- My husband and I arrived at the hotel at 2:45pm. We were unsure of what time check in was but figured that if we were close, we could wait and look around. The young lady at the desk (the ONLY nice person that we encountered the entire time) said that she would get us checked in and then check to see if our room was ready. We were all checked in by 3pm and she said that we could look around and she would find us when the room was ready. We looked about and then sat in the lobby and waited...and waited..and waited. By about 4pm we had seen many other guests check in and go up to their respective rooms and we were a bit anxious to get to ours, simply because we had plans for that evening. I asked the young lady at the desk if our room was ready yet and she proceeded to call up to housekeeping...who never responded to her call. She then brought us two different keys and said that she was going to put us up in another room. We asked if the room was the same as what we had booked and she said that it was.
We went up to our rom on the 5th floor and found it to be the size of a work cubical. We knew that the hotel was old and that the rooms would be small, but this room was rediculious. We both decided that since we were only staying one night that we could make due, and off we went to our evening destination.
- When we returned for the evening (around 7pm) we settled in to relax, talk and watch some TV. We found each of these things difficult to do for most of the night because there were several guests in the rooms next to us and down the hall from us that decided that it would be fun to run up and down the halls yelling, screaming and racing up and down the elevator (which was right next to our room) This nonsence continued until 12 midnight when I finally fell asleep despite the noise.
At one point earlier in the night I decided to go to the vending machines on the second floor and as I walked down the hall I noticed the door to the room we had booked was opened and no one was in it. I glanced inside and noticed that the room was significantly larger than the one we had been switched to. Now, I am sure you are thinking...why didn't you just call the front desk? We decided again, that since we were only there for one night...and we "thought" the noise in the hall was coming from other guests, we would just try to deal. (we do not normally complain). We later found out that the noise was coming from the children of the people who are currently running the hotel and that they were allowed to do this as a means of staying busy and out of the hair of those people trying to run the hotel.
-At 3:30am we were awoken by the sound of the fire alarm that proceeded to go off for several minutes. Considering that we were on the 5th floor, we were worried about what was going on and if we needed to evacuate. My husband went in the hall to see if other guests were leaving but there was no movement in the hall. He returned to the room (by this time the alarm had stopped) and we decided to call the front desk to inquire about needing to leave. The phone rang more than 10 times and finally a lady at the desk answered gruffly. I asked if we needed to leave and she replied curtly that everything was fine and we didn't need to worrk and then she hung up on me. Of course that did nothing to settle my worries. My husband and I lay awake for atleast another hour before finally falling back to sleep. While we lay awake we could hear quiet, hurried scurrying out in the hall, and the elevator again going up and down. In the morning when I asked the desk why the alarm went off we were told that it was because the children on our floor decided that it would be fun to pull the fire extinguisher off the wall and spray things with it. (this was told to us by the same nice young lady who checked us in the night before. She was then scolded by the "General Manager" for telling us.)
- In the morning we awoke and began to get ready for the day. After my husband finished his shower, he came out and said that there weren't enough towels in the bathroom for me to take a shower. We hadn't noticed the night before but the room had originally been set for only one person. I tried again to call down to the desk and didn't get an answer this time. Considering that we had a shedule to follow, I just used the driest parts of the same towels that my husband used and gathered our stuff up and headed down to breakfast. By this time I was quite purturbed as you could probably imagine.
- Once we arrived for breakfast at A.P.Smiths, we were quickly seated at a booth right next to the waiters station. We then waited, and waited, and waited...for 20 minutes to be waited on. Since we were paying for breakfast as a part of our stay package, we did not plan on having to go else where so we chose to wait rather than get breakfast somewhere else. Finally I spoke up and one of the managers asked if we had been waited on yet. We said that we hadn't and he then told a female waitress to wait on us. (this waitress was dressed VERY unprofessionally and carried an even more unprofessional attitude.) The female waitress then retorted that it wasn't her table it was the male waiter's table. (This waiter was also dressed VERY unprofessionally but with a slightly better attitude, so it seemed) The two waiters argued over whose table it was and then the female waitress finally said "fine, whatever" and came to our table. Instead of the normal "Hi, what can I get for you?" we got a "what do you want" from her. We each ordered juice and coffee and she then proceded to walk away. I called her back stating that we had been waiting long enough and wanted to order our food choice. She took the order and curtly walked away. We really only wated a short time and then our food was brought out...without any beverages. We began to eat and then she walked by and said "Oh [---], I forgot your drinks, what did you order again?" I was really taken a back by her rude response, but retold her what we had ordered. As I proceeded to eat my food, I noticed that the steak that I had ordered was way overcooked yet ice cold. The homefries were also cold and rubbery and the eggs were very much undercooked. My husband enjoyed his omlet simply because it was made to order and had just been prepared however, he agreed that the other portions of his meal were quite awful. I didn't bother saying anything to the waitress because I had had enough of everything having to do with this hotel and wanted to talk to the general manager. My husband finished his meal and we walked out to check out.
-Upon check out I asked to speak to the general manager. A man was brought to me and asked me what the problem was. I explained everything that had taken place and instead of him apologizing or trying to make better a bad situation, he first asked me if I was sure that we didn't creat a bad time all on our own. I was absolutely apauled by that comment. I replied that this was a gift to me from my husband that we had both been much looking forward to and that we felt that it was unfair to pay what we were supposed to because of what took place. His solution was to hack off $14 from our bill. That wouldn't have even covered one whole breakfast. I paid what the remaining balence was but was still very unsatisfied with the situation.
-After inquiring to Paul Smith's College about why such things were allowed to take place in a hotel that was a training center for their students and which also held their name, I was told that the hotel had been sold to a private party in January. No wonder things were so horrible.
All this being said, I would highly recommend that you NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY staying at the Hotel Saranac. There are many other fine establishments in the Saranac Lake/ Lake Placid area that one could stay at where I guarantee they would be much better treated.
Worth going back to
The hotel building stands out as you approach the town; this simple pile is somehow impressive even nowadays, and breeds respect. By the look of it, you might feel that one needs to reach deep in the pocket. At least that is what we thought, yet there was little time left to explore other options. What with a Saturday night on our hands, and the town information centre closed. Well, it turned out to be the best-priced accommodation around.
To start with, we happened to come across a very helpful young gentleman at the reception desk (he should get really far in hotel business; other staff may not be so forthcoming), and what came out at the end of the conversation was $85.50 for a room with two double beds. This was the result of our following his advice and joining the Historic Hotels Association - for free. In the meantime he would even ring up another place with cottages, which is what we would have preferred. Having seen the room, we decided to stay for two nights instead of just one and make it a base for a day trip to Lake Placid & Whiteface Mountain. Funnily enough, our teenagers considered the hotel to be the best lodgings of the whole tour; perhaps they had had too much of some of the more rustic surroundings the older generation enjoyed so much.
The room had a nice colonial touch to it; the only thing we missed was a fridge. It can only be had for another $10 per day. Beds were very comfortable and although the air-conditioning was somewhat makeshift (an obvious afterthought in a historic structure), it did the job. Loud toilet flushes did not really bother us - most people sleep at night, and in the morning the sound of an obviously efficient mechanism at work provided a reassuring and gentler wake-up call than some obnoxious alarm clocks. Bathrooms are admittedly small but excellent toiletries come with them. It may be advisable to have breakfast in the hotel restaurant; there are few other decent alternatives. Wi-fi worked after some initial difficulties. There is a single terminal available but you need to be directed by a willing member of staff, and may have to wait. Parking in the street is time-and-space limited but good enough for a drop-off. The lot at the back is part tarmac, part dirt, fairly busy but we always found a space.
Walking about the town and lake can be quite pleasant, although better times must have been seen in the past. To get a whiff, just book a hotel room here and use some imagination. Mine was set off by looking at the solid connecting door and brass work. Plus the ceiling fan. Great.
Not a good stay
Looking over some of the previous reviews of this hotel, I noticed that many started out with listing the pros. Unfortunately, I really don't have any. Our stay lasted four days at the end of October, which is not in the peak season. It was overly crowded, so you would have expected there to be lots of service and help. There wasn't! Here are the problems we encountered:
1. When reservations were made a few months in advanced, we had indicated our dog would be coming with us since it is a pet friendly hotel. We asked if there were any restrictions and were told no. Upon arrival, we were told that there were restrictions. First off, the pet was not to be left in the room unsupervised unless it was in a crate. We were never told this and hadn't brought our crate.
2. When we got to room, we were totally taken back by how small and cramped it was. It was so tiny that you barely had room to walk between the bed and tv on one side, and on the other were unable to open the doors to the amoire completely. We did ask for a bigger room, and got one a bit bigger.
3. Our second night, the electricity went out due to some unexpected snow fall. The majority of the town was without power for just a few minutes. We were without power for nearly two hours. During this time, we noticed that the emergencies weren't all working, the exit signs (which should be battery back up) did not work, and the staff actually lit candles in the stair well.
4. The breakfast buffet is a rip off. $9.50 and the food and selection is not good. On top of this, the wait staff was horrible. It took too long to get our waitress to take our drink order and then forever to get out bill. We noticed her busily running around doing other things, but didn't seem to concerned about us.
5. There was a wedding reception on Saturday night. It was held in the ballroom on the second floor. We were on the 4th floor and could easily hear all the music. Not just the bass, but could acutally make out the words to the songs. It was rather annoying.
6. We could every word and conversation of the people who were in rooms on either side of us.
Overall, I would not recommend this hotel. It was a good price, but would rather pay more and stay someone where the guests are treated as guest and not as annoyances.
We booked our stay at the Hotel one year in advance during Winter Carnival 2006 in order to stay in 2007. The Hotel was still owned by the College at that time. Some time during that year it changed ownership and was sold to a private person. When it changed ownership, they called us and demanded we pay for the room right then and there. The whole place has gone downhill since then. How sad for this historic hotel. The service was terrible. The bakery has closed up and with it, the promised internet access, but they still advertise that they have it. The gift shop is a ghost of its former self. They refused to seat us at the restaurant one day and told us to come back later even though there was empty tables. In the lounge I ordered a certain drink and was told they couldn't serve it to me because some of the ingredients weren't "fresh". Doesn't anyone check that stuff? The place was very loud and we couldn't sleep for two nights in a row. There was a band on a lower floor and we could hear everything from the room they were in. On the second night, the fire alarm went off for about ten minutes. As we were leaving the second floor, other guests were returning and told us it was a false alarm and nothing to worry about. There was no word for the management or any reassurances that everything was alright. The staff wasn't friendlly like the students used to be. We will never stay here again. Unless you don't care about eating or sleeping and you like to party all night long, don't stay here.
We were expecting to be fawned over by lots of students keen to impress (it's run by the students of the college in the town of Paul Smith's), but I suppose we should have expected some pretty dozy guys.
But they were all nice enough. The rooms and the hotel were clean and the restaurant had good solid American food.
Like a lot of places in the States, the usual complaint was about over-compensation. It was very cold outside -35F (-37C), honest, but we couldn't wait to get out because it was like the Sahara in our room, breathtakingly hot...
Saranac Lake itself is a pretty town, probably much nicer than staying in Lake Placid.
Still OK, but...
We had been to this hotel several times over the years, but this was our first experience since the sale. Although the hotel was still generally charming as it always was, there were some significant differences in the service. Although the service was competent overall, there were some lapses. We stood for 5 minutes at the entrance to the restaurant and waited to be seated for breakfast. We left and ate at the Blue Moon Cafe (highly recommended). Also, skip the breakfast buffet.
Beyond this one lapse, the service just didn't have the same quality as before. It's not like the service was terrible, but it wasn't great. Just average. if you didn't know the place before, you probably wouldn't remark on it but because had prior experience we definitely feel like we've lost something.
Three more remarks are in order:
- The hotel is historic. i.e. old. Do not stay at this hotel if you are expecting a modern hotel. But it is clean, so if the charm of an older place is appealing, you'll be fine.
- The town itself is still very nice, and the area can't be beat.
- Definitely go to Morgan's 11 for dinner at least once. Fantastic wood oven pizzas, good wine list at reasonable prices and great service. Best of all it takes all of 30 seconds to walk there from the hotel. This was probably the highlight of our most recent visit.
Historic, but nothing fancy
A historic hotel in a nice location. You can walk in and around Saranac Lake and are only a short drive to Lake Placid. Rooms are small and nothing special, although the service was excellent and there is some charm to the place (the second floor landing overlooking the street is a nice touch and a good place to hang out). Don't expect to be wowed, but a decent place to stay.