I booked a room at the Lions Gate after reading several of the reviews here. My wife was concerned about SLCUT84109's review but we felt the pull and the appeal of the themed room we finally picked out. And we felt that pull and appeal in our drive from the Pocatello airport to Lava Hot Springs. And we felt it as we drove up the dirt road that leads to the hotel - right up until we turned the corner and saw a building that could have been picked up out of suburban anywhere.
Well, turns out that my wife (and 84109) were right. Flyfish, I think you grossly missed the analogy 84109 was using. The analogy isn't the physical location it's the feel and the spirit of the old ballparks in Boston and Chicago vs. the new parks located around the country. The look and feel of this facility was out of place and the charm was completely lacking.
The B&B is located several miles from the actual town on a dirt and gravel road among the pines and shrubs that embodies the wild mountains of the west. The beauty of the setting is not arguable. The building, however is two stories with white siding but mistakes newness for charm. Nondescript does not begin to describe it. There is no landscaping around the building and no amenities other than a deck of the back that admittedly does have a nice view but that's about all. Once you're inside, you're inside. There's pretty much nothing else to do but look at the mural on the wall in your room. Or maybe watch a movie on satellite or DVD. In other words the same thing you'd do in any other hotel room in any other town. Now, maybe during the summer there is an opportunity to hike but the mud of the rain & snow precluded that. So we essentially found that we had made a trip with high expectations and found that the only thing we now had to do was to leave for town. C'mon guys, we're spending nearly $1,000 to make the trek to your hotel for the weekend. Give us at least something to do, something that adds value to my hotel room with a fancy bed and paint scheme.
On the other hand when we were in town we had a grand time. There are several little boutiques, the restaurants are good for a tiny resort town in rural Idaho and the nightlife is curious to someone not totally used to the lifestyles of the west. This is one of the few places we've traveled in the last year that still allows smoking in bars which was somewhat irritating but when in Rome... We luckily had our suits with us and after an enjoyable lunch and some rustic shopping we decided to take a quick soak in one of the local pools. It felt great and after probably an hour in the pool we were totally relaxed and would have loved to dry off with our plush towels rather than the small white towels the public pool provides, retire to our room, have a glass of wine and take a nap. Were we in one of the in-town hotels that could have been easily accomplished. Having to drive back to the hotel in our still damp suits we arrived wet, a little cold and completely out of the mood for wine, relaxation or a nap.
As for the rooms at the Lions Gate they are interestingly themed but in all honesty the majority of the "theme" consists of paint, fake plants, murals and accessories. The beds are beds, the TV's are TVs and the DVD players are DVD players just like you find in any hotel room. The Phantom's room drew a chuckle from the overhead bath filler (which splashed all over the floor until there was about an inch of water in the tub) and the owner's insistence that all in our group be present to watch his grand reveal of the hidden staircase behind the bookcase (sorry if that's a spoiler) completely reinforces that he has a flair for the dramatic and showmanship. However once we were back in our room the gimmick of our room lasted about half an hour, then it was nothing but another hotel room.
Now I understand more what the previous reviewer was attempting to convey. The Lions Gate is the slick new ballpark with all of the amenities and luxury suites. It's clean, modern and beautiful with various gimmicks to attract the visitor yet void of any charm. It serves sushi, gluten-free pasta and soy lattes (an analogy, not Lions Gate's actual menu). I believe it was described as an analogy to SkyDome or any of the slick new ballparks that sacrifice charm in the name of "cool". Just as these new parks, the Lions Gate strives to be slick, cool, modern and perfect. It has its attraction but the attraction wears thin after you realize that you haven't rented a memorable theme, you've rented another hotel room. That's the analogy, not the location. Going to a ballgame at Wrigley or Fenway is an event you'll always remember. Sitting in a closed roof, climate controlled artificial grass stadium may be more comfortable and to some people cool but you won't remember it three or four years from now.
During our afternoons in town I found myself more drawn to some of the late 1800's/early 1900's B&Bs we saw during our walks. The staffs were very friendly and were more than happy to show off their nostalgic old gems with all of the pride in the world. What did we find? We found one where the carpet on some of the stairs was worn through and you couldn't take a step without hearing a long, loud squeak. We found another that could use some loving restoration particularly on the wooden stair rails where time has taken its toll on the stain. And there were more in this same genre. Warts, here, scars there, deformities in some places yet warts and all they had the charm of that antique ballpark. We wanted to sit in the lobby and start at the faded walls and say, hello old miner's hospital. Tell me your story. Hello old hotel. Tell us about the people over the last hundred years that have stared out these same windows at the mesmerizing river as we are right now. Yes the bathrooms are small, but sitting on the porch with a cup of tea watching the river roll past makes up for it. The wallpaper and furniture may be somewhat dated but I'd much rather have the convenience of walking downstairs to a private pool or two blocks to a public pool. The warm feeling in contrast to the stark bareness of the Lions Gate completely outweighs these little inconveniences.
I'm in total agreement that while the Lions Gate is an interesting concept if falls not only short but completely flat in this venue. It's out of place not only in relevant location to the town itself (much too far out of town) but also the concept itself left us feeling that we had just grossly overpaid for an absolute vacuum of what we were looking for: relaxing charm.
I've no idea if we'll ever visit Lava Hot Springs again but at this time I certainly want to again and recommend that you do also. However I am completely certain of one thing. Count us in a a couple that will be in one of these older and frankly somewhat run down establishments. Lava Hot Springs' version of the right field bleachers at Wrigley Field.
Great analogy, 84109. Made me go online and re-read "The Green Fields of the Mind" again.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- New luxury Bed and Breakfast located next to rustic western resort town of Lava Hot Springs. We have themed rooms and suites built for couples or the individual to enjoy a romantic or recuperative getaway. Each room has its own luxury bath with shower. All but one have an air jetted/lighted deep soaking tub. The beds are handcarved and have pillowtop mattresses. We welcome you each morning to a full country breakfast around our 'royal table'. Our suites include 'The Phantom's Lair,' 'Medieval Chambers,' 'Roman Baths,' 'Castillian Dynasty,' 'Victorian Suite,' 'Secret Garden,' 'Persian Dreams,' 'Cosy Cottage.' ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Lions Gate Manor Hotel Lava Hot Springs