Even if you don't stay here it's worth checking out The Old Faithful Inn built in 1903-4 and known to be the largest log cabin in the world. It's constructed of local materials and is a materpiece of log & stone construction. If weather permits, you can order a drink on the upper level patio and watch Old Faithful erupt. Tours are given daily.
I found it to be very busy all the time and was glad we found lodging elsewhere. Although very rustic and in harmony with it's natural surroundings it's also very dark inside.
A room there is not just very expensive but must be booked 6 months in advance. For this reasons, cancellations are really frequent so, if you cannot make a reservation so in advance, try to call them just few days before. (the same for the restaurant: difficult to book one month in advance but possible on the same day due to cancellations).
I have put in the "Things to do" section because you cannot miss a visit inside it: there are even free guided tours stating from the huge stone fireplace. It was built in 1903 (but it's not the oldest, which is the Lake Yellowstone Hotel) utilizing just wood. It's a wonderful example of wood artcraft!!! Besides this, you can enjoy the Old Faithful eruction from its terrace, have a break in the cafeteria or simply take a rest in their sofas.
My daughter told me that I needed to make a reservation a year in advance, and so I made the reservation as soon as I decided to go. I had a hard time because I wanted two beds (I was going to be traveling with my grandson) and did not want to share a bathroom with someone else. If you can possibly book here, this is the place to stay. But even if you can't do that, you should go and look at the inside or this National Historic Landmark.
The nearly 700 feet in length and seven stories high Old Faithful Inn was designed by Robert C. Reamer, who wanted the asymmetry of the building to reflect the chaos of nature. It was built around 1903 and is one of the few remaining log hotels in the United States. In the lobby is a massive rhyolite fireplace, and railings made of contorted lodgepole pine.
Nobody seems to mention the little clockwork sculpture that sits in the lobby and seems to have no function (it isn't a clock). The round thing at the top rotates back and forth
Most people, especially if it is their first time in Yellowstone, will go to watch Old Faithful, the park’s most famous geyser, erupt. The Old Faithful Inn is located adjacent to this geyser, and one can even sit out on the back balcony for a view of an eruption. This log and wood-frame structure, with its gabled roof, was designed by Robert Reamer, and contains lodging, an excellent restaurant, deli, gift shop, and a place to order a drink. Even if you are not interested in any of these, the building deserves a look inside. The original part of the inn is known as “Old House” and was completed in 1903. This structure includes an enormous lobby, complete with a huge stone fireplace that spans 16 foot at its base. The railings and poles are made of interesting twisted, gnarled logs. When you enter the Inn be sure to look up! The ceiling is 85 feet above you, and there are a series of overhanging balconies working their way toward the ceiling. The east wing was completed in 1914, and the west wing in 1927. The interior of the lobby contains Mission style furniture with arm chairs and rockers that anyone is welcome to relax in. Old Faithful Inn is one of the few remaining rustic log hotels in the United States. Its use of natural materials to create stylish rusticity has been an influence on architectural ideas in hotel construction. Today, Old Faithful Inn is considered the queen of rustic hotels in all of our national parks. If you have the time, take one of the Inn’s interpretive tours to learn more about the Inn’s interesting history. These guided tours last about 45 minutes. Look for a placard near the fireplace announcing when tours will be led, or ask at the information counter.
Besides the famous geyser that gave the area its name, the Old Faithful area is also a National Historic District. This historic districts includes a number of the older buildings that surround Old Faithful geyser including the Old Faithful Inn, the Old Faithful Lodge, and Hamilton's Stores.
The Old Faithful Inn is my favorite of the buildings around Old Faithful. This hotel was completed in 1904 and is a National Historic Landmark. It was made entirely of local materials, primarily lodgepole pine and rhyolite stone. It has a massive 85-foot long, 500 ton fireplace, and it is considered the largest log hotel in the world.
The Old Faithful Lodge was built in 1923 and it has dining areas and a recreation hall called Geyser Hall. During my visit in October 2008, workers were strapped to the peak of its 73-foot tall roof, shoveling snow, so the building could be re-roofed before winter.
Hamilton's Stores were built in 1897 and 1929 as general stores and gift shops. The Lower Hamilton's Store is considered the oldest structure in the Old Faithful area still in use. Hamilton's stores closed in 2002.
In my opinion, the most impressive thing at Old Faithful is not the geyser. Rather it is the building across the walkway, the Old Faithful Inn. Walking into the 7 story lobby is a jaw dropping experience for me. Built in 1902, and financed by the Northern Pacific Railroad, the Old Faithful Inn was built totally from materials found in the park. From the lodgepole pine, cut 4 miles away... to the rhyolite rock quarried 5 miles away, the Old Faithful Inn is a definate product of it's environment. Of course, today it could never be built under those conditions.
The hotel is currently under a major renovation, which has somewhat affected the look for the time being. Still, look around at the craftmanship, from the support beams, to the stone fireplace, to the furniture. Even the lighting today is in keeping with it original apperance. It may seem dark and dingy in the lobby, but that is because they use low watt pseudo-candles instead of todays lighting.
Be sure and climb the stairs to the second and third landing. Sit in an oversized wood comfy chair and just soak in the beauty of this historic building.
Construction of the Old Faithful Inn began in late summer 1903 and was completed by opening of the tourist season in June 1904, requiring most work to be done during Yellowstone's severe winter. Architect Robert Reamer supervised nearly everything done and designed nearly everything used. In the end, construction costs have been estimated at between $120,000 and $200,000. You can't miss the 500 ton chimney/fireplace in the center of the lobby. It is actually a central support for the rest of the lobby. It, and the Inn's foundation, was built from rhyolite quarried about five miles from the building site--- on the road to Thumb Geyser Basin. The lobby rises to a height of nearly 80 feet, mostly constructed of lodgepole pine from the area. On one side of the fireplace, Reamer designed a large clock and had it built on site by a blacksmith. There were origanally 140 guest rooms. In 1913 a 100 room east wing (left side as you look at the Inn from the front) was added. In 1922 a back diningroom was added. In 1927-1928, a 150-room west wing was also added by Reamer and the lobby was pushed out 30 feet. Also at that time, a half-moon-shaped room to the side of the old dining room was added. That room is now the Bear Pit Lounge. There have been other changes to the Old Faithful Inn , too, but the overall appearance of the old section of the Old Faithful Inn hasn't changed much.