We'd planned to stay in Bigfork, but when we got there, we discovered the place is a Tourist Trap, with one shop after another and crowds of people. That's not our idea of vacation in a gorgeous place like Montana. We made a u-turn and headed out, not knowing if or where we might find a dog-friendly place to stay, late in the day and where towns are small and far between. Then there was a Vacancy sign. A smiling woman was watering plants and cooling the swallow nests in the eaves. She told us #7 was open, go take a look. When we walked to the back, we entered the perfect place to stay. A shady courtyard full of flowers, log building with long veranda, tables already set with white tablecloths and stemmed glasses. Casual, relaxed, and elegant at the same time.
When we told Kathleen we'd stay, we discovered a rare laid-back trust: she didn't ask for credit card, name and adress, license plate. She just said, "Okay, it's yours," asked if we'd like to join them for dinner, and told us more about the swallows.
When we brought our dog to the back, he met 2 of the resident dogs, both friendly and well-behaved. The entire back area is fenced and gated, so our dog could be off-leash and relax along with us. There was even a basket of dog toys on the veranda, which he very much appreciated. We sat in the courtyard reading and enjoying the uniqueness and peacefulness of Laughing Horse Lodge--after wandering around taking pictures of flowers, raised vegetable beds, old travel posters, and quirky artistic touches in the garden. When it was time for dinner, our table was three steps away from the chairs where we'd been reading, which were three more steps away from our room.
Dinner was delicious, as all the reviews say, but also beautiful. We had to take pictures of our dinner salads because they were so artistically presented.
Just down the road a mile or so is a turnoff to a Watchable Wildlife location -- a viewing platform situated at the edge of a large grassy meadow. We visited it after dinner and in addition to watching deer, swallows, yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds, Montana gifted us with a spectacular, long-lasting sunset. Between our unexpected discovery of Laughing Horse Lodge and the dramatic sunset, the entire experience was of serendipitous magic.
The room was very comfortable, although a way to get more air into the room without losing one's privacy would be welcome. Breakfast al fresca the next morning was delicious. As we were leaving, Kathleen asked if we were interested in hiking (how did she know?) and suggested the hike to Holland Lake Falls, 45 miles south. Sure enough, it was fabulous. The falls were great but the view from them was even better.
Laughing Horse Lodge was the highlight of our trip. We'd love to return.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- European-style road house featuring gourmet dining and comfortable, quiet rooms - no TVs, Phones, or Alarm clocks in rooms, no cell service on property. Non-smoking dogs welcome. Complimentary WiFi. Near Glacier National Park and Bob Marshall Wilderness. Perfect for weekend getaways, intimate weddings, family reunions and retreats. Open May through October. Dining room known for presenting mostly organic, always fresh and totally delicious meals - gluten and dairy free, as well as vegan meals available. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Laughing Horse Hotel Swan Lake