There is no place more beautiful than upstate New York's Adirondack Mountains and its crown jewel is Lake Placid, site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Known as "Winter Sports Capital of the World," with outstanding skiing, skating rinks and a host of international athletes in training, Lake Placid is almost as popular in the summer and fall foliage seasons.
Most of the shorelines of actual Lake Placid are hugged by multi-million dollar homes and boathouses. Unless you're an owner, it's not so easy to get a view until you're on the water. Nearby Mirror Lake is the traveler-friendly destination with the village of Lake Placid right on its shores, with stunning views of shimmering waters backed by mountain peaks in the distance.
Amazing Views From Every Room
Sitting on a hillside on the northwestern shore of the lake, the white clapboard, green-shuttered Mirror Lake Inn staked out the best place for views back in 1926, when it was a just collection of cottages. Today, evey one of Mirror Lake Inn's 131 rooms faces the lake and has a view. All the balconies were converted to year-round sun rooms with floor to ceiling sliding French doors, so you can sit and enjoy the view from a comfy leather chair any time of year, and take in fresh air in summer.
Ask For a High Floor
The higher your floor, the better the view. I was on the third floor of the Mountain View building in an Oak Knoll room and can honestly say I have never spent more time just hanging around my hotel room because it was the most beautiful place I could be. Across the street, Lake Cottage rooms are right on the water, as are the vast, roomy suites in the Colonial House, which are large enough to comfortably accommodate families. All guests have access to a private boathouse and beach, where you can swim, lounge, or explore the lake in a kayak.
Go on a three-mile walk on a paved trail that circles the lake, taking you through the charming village of Lake Placid, filled with charming shops. Gorgeous!
The inn was built in 1978 (and the main building was rebuilt after a fire in 1988), but retains a formal European feel, with wooden paneling, roaring fires, deer head sconces, and a lovely stained glass window at the entrance. The service and food are truly outstanding.
In Taste Bistro & Bar, try the Kilcoyne Farms burger with slab bacon, caramelized onions and NY sharp cheddar on a house-made kaiser roll, followed by their home-made ice cream like caramel with brownie). The View offers breakfast and in the evening, formal dining on dishes like house-smoked trout with creme fraiche and trout caviar and Atlantic Cod filet baked with buttered brioche crust. For lunch you head across the street to The Cottage, which is right on the water.
Skiing is the big draw in winter. In fact, the owners' son, Andrew Weibrecht has two Olympic Medals hanging behind the front desk for wins in the 2010 and 2014 Super G event. But there's plenty of other things to do in Lake Placid year-round. You can the Olympic Museum, take a gondola ride to the top of Whiteface Mountain, hike, fish, and boat -- but I'm always most interested in the spa!
Small But Excellent Spa
The spa is located on the lower floor, so just go down the front staircase and you're there -- no endless wandering. The spa is small by today's standards, but it's designed well and they used high quality materials, so it's held up well. Enjoy the eucalyptus steam room before you head into the a small parlor to wait for your therapist by the fire.
Many spas offer Maple Sugar Scrubs, but at Mirror Lake Inn, they make their own scrub with a mix of brown sugar, white sugar, real maple syrup and body oils. Instead of using a tiny amount of super-expensive product filled with preservatives, they use a lot of freshly-made scrub while you lie underneath a Vichy shower. At the end they apply a locally made vanilla lotion made by a local, and warn you that bees might follow you if you head outside.
The next day I tried something -- Ashiatsu -- where the therapist massages you with her (cleanly washed) feet. It is a great choice for someone who likes deep tissue massage, because the therapist can easily apply more pressure over a wider area, with less discomfort. My legs, which are chronically tight and never seem to get enough attention during a massage, felt more alive when I climbed off the table, and the benefits have been long-lasting.
Next to the spa there's an indoor pool for laps with a nearby hot tub and roomy sauna, and on the other side a fitness room to keep up with your strength training on holiday. Outdoors there's an outdoor pool and tennis court, and for an extra fee you can take a yoga class, go on a family fishing trip, or take a wilderness canoe trip. Mirror Lake Inn is truly a delightful place to stay, and hit every single quality mark.