Where to start? There's much to say about this place because of the oddness of the experience, so I may be giving more detail than some would want, but because I found this so confusing, I want to paint a picture for those few who might find it useful. This review is not for The Lake House, which is listed here, but for The Lake House Townhouses, which is not but is run by the same proprietor. The address given for both is identical, but in fact, both do not exist at that same address: read below.
I had booked my room on another site. I stayed there because I was competing in a race the following morning, but my plans were finalized last minute because I was uncertain about entering, and this was the only hotel close by that had a vacancy. In any event, pre-race stays for me are a very utilitarian exercise – I just want to eat, shower, sleep, get dressed, and get going. No frills necessary, but I do have requirements: decent bed, enough pillows, and amenities as promised.
After driving 3½ hours, I get to Richfield Springs, about 12 miles from Cooperstown, NY where I will compete. I had kept my cell phone on airplane mode to conserve battery, and had gotten a voicemail about 2 hours earlier from Gene, who I took to be the manager or owner. He sounded a bit weary, I guessed because it was 8PM and getting late for check-ins. I call back to say I'll arrive in a few minutes, and when I get to the address given, I see a restaurant / tavern and outdoor musical venue, on the lake. It had basically the same name as the place I booked, but didn't look like the picture on the web site I had seen, so I continue driving, thinking it's a little farther down the road. I soon realize there's no other hotel and turn around. I go in and explain my situation to Megan, the clerk on duty, and sure enough, this is the right place. Only it isn't, quite—this is The Lake House. She is to escort me, each in our own car, to the place a mile up the road, far from the lake—these are The Lake House Townhouses.
On arriving, the facilities consist of the main building, which also was not pictured on the web site, and the separate set of eponymous “townhouses” which I recognized. Megan mentioned that the hotel had been an “old folks' home” before being converted, and I learned later that it was renovated in 2012. I was given a room on the 2nd floor of the main building. It was chilly inside. Storms had just gone through and the temperature would drop to 45 degrees. Megan said the heat had been turned off just recently by the town (!) and they had no control over it. By now I'm also pretty hungry and bit tired so I ask Megan where I can get a good hamburger and fries easily, which for me is a decent pre-race meal option. She said a McDonald's was close by but I demurred, and then she mentioned the restaurant / tavern where I had initially arrived. She was kind enough to take my order and place it with the kitchen when she returned. I would have to trudge back again to pick it up.
After getting set up in my room, I checked out main building. The 1st floor had several rooms on one wing as well as a large communal kitchen and dining room, tiny game room, living room with out-of-commission fireplace, and what looked like a reception area with desk, but no receptionist. The floors in the ground-level room wing were done in old linoleum; the living room was covered in carpet and a large oval rag rug. The kitchen had some rusted appliances on counter but no coffee maker as described. Broken promise number one. There was a big commercial side-by-side refrigerator but when I opened it it was warm inside. I would have to make other plans for my yogurt for tomorrow morning.
On my way back downstairs, I saw a mother and 2 children just standing and waiting, for what I'm not sure. They looked morose and at a loss. I drove back to the restaurant to pick up my burger, and while I waited, I had time to listen to an act performing in the outdoor theater. The band was playing a Journey song, and the singer sounded a lot like their actual singer. Prior to that, they played some other random Dino-rock at ear-splitting volumes, so I was actually relieved that the hotel was far away. Paying for my meal, the waitress needed to ask for my credit card a second time for some reason before we could settle up. While that was going on, I met Gene from the voicemail. He said that sometimes the refrigerator door latch didn't close completely but thought it was working now. The green light on top should be on; I said I hadn't noticed. In any event he would send someone over to fix it if necessary. I said I doubted it would be ready for me to use by the time I needed it, all things considered. I left with my food and got back to the hotel. The little green light was in fact on, but the door was not completely closed, and it was warm inside.
I go upstairs to my room. No in-room fridge or microwave. Broken promise number two. Luckily for me, I knew my yogurt would keep overnight no problem. The bed had a thick quilted blanket but only a couple pillows. I wanted one more pillow and an extra blanket just in case, but my room had neither. The doors to two rooms across the hallway were both open and they were vacant, so I wandered in and borrowed the extra pillow and blanket. Rooms had wood plank floors, and although hallway floors were partly carpeted, you could hear every foot-fall and closing door. The small LCD TV sat high atop an armoir. Since you couldn't adjust the angle down, the picture was shadowy and shimmery, so I had to put a towel under the base. The renovations had apparently included the bathrooms, and the location for the light switch almost seemed an afterthought. It literally took me 5 minutes finding it—wedged in the corner outside the bathroom, behind the hinge-side of the door. Windows had old, wavy glass and wood frames to match. Once I settled in, it was reasonably comfortable and mostly quiet. I ate my dinner in peace; the burger and fries weren't bad.
The take-away impression is of a decidedly odd experience. Although the staff were accommodating, the ludicrous confusion and lack of distinction between the locations of The Lake House versus The Lake House Townhouses suggests a certain indolence or indifference on the part of the owner. And the space fell well short of expectation. I can imagine that some would be pretty put off by these circumstances, and I've since read angry reviews by others. If you're looking for a one-of-a-kind experience full of local character, far from the big-box hotel chains, and you're flexible, this is your place. If on the other hand you want a hassle-free stay to make your life as easy as possible for a brief period of time, you may want to look elsewhere.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Lake House Restaurant and Lodge was built in 1843 and rests on the shores of Canadarago. The lodge and restaurant are a secluded haven for those looking for a place to relax, fish, hunt, and simply get away from city life. Lake House Restaurant and Lodge is host to our ever popular sulfur baths, which is great for your skin and has even proven to heal skin disorders and help relieve arthritis. There is plenty to do out here Richfield Springs, including a short drive to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, or rent out a jet ski and explore Canadarago Lake. We also boast large out seating area, which is perfect for outdoor wedding or concerts. Hurry out to Lake House Restaurant and Lodge and stay awhile. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Lake House Hotel Richfield Springs
- The Lake Hotel
- Lake Hotel Richfield Springs