(This Mirror Lake Inn review was updated on January 10, 2023.)
The first time we saw the Mirror Lake Inn, it was decorated like a Christmas storybook for the annual Lake Placid Holiday Stroll. Decadent trees shrouded in ribbons, lights and pinecones, all unique in their execution — one for each common room and restaurant throughout the property. The effect? Dickens on overdrive.
And I’ve been wanting to stay in this fairytale Lake Placid hotel ever since.
It is the epitome of elegant charm and has the Small Luxury Hotels of the World designation to prove it. But as gorgeous as it is, my recent stay at the Mirror Lake Inn helped me conclude that “luxury” has as much to do with impeccable service as it does with decor and amenities.
Mirror Lake Inn: a brief history
Owned by just two families since the 1920s, its current ownership belongs to two-time Olympic medalist Andrew Weibrecht. Andrew, his wife and one of his brothers are heavily involved with the resort’s day-to-day operations, so your visit may also coincide with meeting an Olympian.
In 1976, Ed Weibrecht and his wife, Lisa (Andrew’s parents), moved to Lake Placid and agreed to manage the Inn for a year with the intention of taking over and purchasing the property from the original owners.
Until 1978, the Mirror Lake Inn was made up of a bunch of private cottages around the main building. Then construction began to create more lodging and connect some of the buildings. This is part of the labyrinthian feel you get when wandering the halls. It’s a bit of an Arts & Crafts mashup and don’t be surprised if it takes more than a day to get the lay of the land as a result.
Since 1984, the Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa has been a AAA Four Diamond-rated resort. It boasts a number of other awards, too — too numerous to list here but you can click here to read more.
Mirror Lake Inn rooms
Every room at the Inn faces the lake, and there are two buildings with 11 rooms in each that sit right at the edge of Mirror Lake. If you’re staying during the warmest months, I’d suggest staying in either of those to take advantage of their close proximity to the beach and other water activities offered in summer.
The rooms follow suit decor-wise with the rest of the property: warm colours, rich wood tones and typical Adirondack style adorn even the hallways, which are also filled with local memorabilia and artifacts. Old wooden skis and snowshoes invite guests to imagine what it may have been like to roam the property in its early days.
Even the least expensive “Classic Rooms” are roomy and sport beautiful lake views with a sitting area to enjoy sunrises and sunsets, offering the perfect book nook for those who’d rather spend time in their own space rather than one of the busier (but still quiet) common rooms. These have either one king bed (with an extra sitting area thanks to a couch) or two queen beds. There are Family Rooms with two and three bedrooms as well, but these are on the pricier side and much harder to book because there are so few of them. There’s even a two-floor presidential suite. But the Classic Rooms have plenty of space for families who plan to use their rooms primarily for sleep.
There are many different suites available, some that are more than one floor and some with Jacuzzis. Each room on property seems to have its own individual style, making subsequent stays even more interesting.
Pet-friendly rooms at the Mirror Lake Inn
This section is why an update for my Mirror Lake Inn review exists. Since the original publication date, sometime in February 2020 before the world as we knew it imploded thanks to a microscopic virus that travelled the globe, we spent time as a family re-evaluating how busy our lives were and examining what’s most important. And, finally, when our eldest (The K Man, if you aren’t new here) was on the precipice of starting high school, we decided to get a dog.
Duchess has impacted the way we travel — and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We don’t even remember life without her in many ways. So, bringing her along whenever we adventure-by-car is how we roll now. We waited until she was absolutely, positively housebroken, exceptionally well-trained and consistently excited to go for longer and longer car rides before embarking on our first road trip as pet parents — and the Mirror Lake Inn was her perfect début.
The hotel has several rooms dedicated for guests who want to bring their furry friends. There are some common-sense rules and you’ll sign a contract upon arrival to ensure you understand them. Your pup will need to be 70 lbs. or less and crate-trained, unless you never plan to leave him/her in your room unaccompanied. There’s also a US$50 per night pet-related cleaning fee that will be added to your bill, which ensures that extra cleaning protocols are afforded when you leave.
All five of us stayed in one of the Classic Rooms, with the hubs and I in a king bed, my 14 year old in the pull-out sofa and my 12 year old on a rollaway (which, by the way, she said was really comfortable for a cot). Duchess sleeps in our bed at home and was happy to do the same at the Mirror Lake Inn, but we also took along her travel-friendly Diggs Crate for times we needed to leave her in the room, like when we went for breakfast each morning.
If you don’t have a dog who can hold their first-morning pee for long, though, you may want to request a ground-floor room. We were on the second floor and getting downstairs and over to a suitable patch of grass was a test of our potty training. She didn’t have a single accident, thankfully, but next time, I will ask about a room that’s closer to the ground or to grass — or both.
Mirror Lake Inn service
Part of what qualifies a hotel for the Small Luxury Hotels of the World designation is its unwavering dedication to guest wellbeing. And that simply shines at the Mirror Lake Inn. We’ve experienced a lot of great service at hotels and resorts around the world, but few are as universally consistent across the board — from the front desk to the restaurants and housekeeping to even construction workers renovating rooms.
If you’re looking for attention to detail, a welcoming warmth and thoughtful touches, you’ve come to the right place.
Housekeeping, for example, is just lovely here. During both of my stays at the Mirror Lake Inn, I’ve had the same housekeeper, Linda; she is the BEST! Linda’s been at the Mirror Lake Inn for 23 years, and was previously the owners’ private housekeeper. And although we usually prefer not to have our room made up most days, when I visited solo, she would often chat as I was coming and going and ensured I had enough towels — and wine glasses! — for my stay.
When you stay at the Mirror Lake Inn with a dog, however, part of your agreement states that housekeeping must be allowed into your room each day. That’s understandable, since not every guest may be forthcoming about damage or accidents.
During our most recent visit, my iPhone dropped out of my bag somewhere between our room and the door leading to the parking lot. I hadn’t taken my Apple Watch and, because we were in the USA, my phone was on airplane mode to avoid roaming charges. Dear reader, there was no way to ping or call my damn phone.
My whole life is in that iPhone and I was on the verge of a panic attack as we frantically searched the room, stairwell and hallways. Linda helped us turn our room upside down looking for it and talked me off the ledge. This is not hyperbole — I was nearly in tears and I could feel my heart beating in my throat. Someone — an angel! — turned my phone in at the front desk, and it was that very housekeeper who calmly sat with me while The K Man ran to retrieve it. She is simply the kindest, friendliest woman and the Mirror Lake Inn is so very, very lucky to have her.
Mirror Lake Inn rates
Considering the property’s quality, I think it’s outstanding that you could score a room here for a family of four for as little as US$279 per night. The trick is to stay midweek rather than during a weekend. Expect those prices to surge up to US$599 a night on weekends. Also keep in mind that there are only 131 rooms here, so if you want to visit during, say, a holiday weekend, you’d be wise to book quite far in advance.
Take a closer look at the Mirror Lake Inn rooms and grounds in this video (shot and edited in early 2020 entirely on the iPhone 11, by the way!):
The Mirror Lake Inn’s common rooms
There are several common areas in the main building that are perfect for quiet conversation, reading or totally zoning out. From small sitting rooms to grand living spaces (complete with a harp!) to cozy nooks with furniture wrapped in a red mountain-inspired pattern, there’s always somewhere to sit and relax beyond your bedroom.
Sitting in front of this fire quickly became one of my favourite daily rituals at the Mirror Lake Inn. If I didn’t think it would be entirely uncouth, I’d have gladly taken a nap there, too.
The Mirror Lake Inn has three restaurants, but will soon have two restaurants plus a lounge. By May 2020, renovations to Taste Bistro and The View were completed with The View’s footprint and menu becoming a bit more casual. Taste Bistro’s space turned into a bar and lounge with a more limited menu.
Then there’s The Cottage, across the street from the main building. It’s a lively atmosphere and we’ve made some phenomenal family memories here. One of the new features since our last visit is the addition of two Whiteface gondolas on the patio. They’re heated and dogs are allowed (if they fit alongside your party, that is)! There are no reservations at The Cottage, so expect first-come, first-served seating.
I’ve eaten at all three restaurants and it’s clear that the Mirror Lake Inn prioritizes foodie experiences like I do. Eating is serious business here, and every dish was a winner.
There is a distinct farm-to-table commitment at many Lake Placid restaurants, and the Mirror Lake Inn is no stranger to this. The resort harvests fresh herbs from its own garden and has relationships with about 10 local farms. They were doing farm-to-table before it was trendy.
The Mirror Lake Inn is home to excellent food. Read this post about Lake Placid restaurants for more great food in the area.
We found each restaurant was able to manage substitutions (for both personal preference and allergen prevention) with ease — and some days we really tested the limits of this.
There’s a lot of creativity among the chefs and kitchen staff, and fine dining service is carried out in every dish. That said, I was a bit sad to see that the breakfast menu has become a buffet with a small add-on menu to accompany it — I was really looking forward to the a la carte breakfasts!
The buffet is, however, an excellent one. Most notable on the menu: the roasted potatoes with carmelized onions and the homemade lemon yogurt with a granola so nutty and delicious it must be laced with actual crack.
Mirror Lake Inn Spa
You’d never know there’s a large swimming pool, nature-inspired hot tub, steam room and sauna lurking in the belly of the Mirror Lake Inn. Unless you venture downstairs!
As a hotel guest, you don’t even need to book a spa service to use the water therapies — just ask the ladies at the spa desk for a key and let yourself in. But if you can find the time, pair it with a spa service or two to round out your stay.
Our girlfriend group that visited in February 2020 (sans kids!) raved about the custom facial and deep-tissue massage.
I enjoyed the Pure Placid Cleansing Ritual, which started with a light dusting of organic cornmeal all over my body. Then the aesthetician added scented oil (from local skincare success story Pure Placid) to her hands and it created a body scrub effect. After both my front and back were scrubbed, I was invited to have a hot multi-directional shower to wash it all off before she applied a soothing and hydrating moisturizer with a Swedish massage effect. Having my feet wrapped in hot towels while she performed a light neck massage was a beautiful way to end this 50-minute service.
If I could go back and do it all over again without kids and a dog in tow, I would spend the morning in the pool and hot tub, break it up with a steam bath, read a book in the red Adirondack (cough, cough…Muskoka) chairs that sit alongside the pool and then finish it off with the Pure Placid Cleansing Ritual. Next time…
Every time we come to Lake Placid in the winter (and we’ve only stayed at the Mirror Lake Inn in wintertime), it’s primarily to ski at Whiteface; so, other than the spa, we haven’t really have experience with any of the other activities available around the property. If there was a reading room available onsite that welcomed Duchess, I would have loved to take advantage of her nap time, sat by a fire with a good book.
One thing I have done that’s offered through the hotel is a half-day “Ski with Andrew” guided experience around Whiteface. Exclusively for hotel guests, people can ski with Andrew (the hotel’s Olympic-medalist son) for anywhere from one to seven hours individually or as a group of up to five. Although Andrew is a qualified ski instructor, don’t expect a lesson; this is purely a levelled-up guided ski experience geared toward intermediate skiers and above. Find the most up-to-date Ski with Andrew pricing here.
Part of the draw, of course, is that you get to ride the chair lifts with an Olympian and U.S. Skiing Hall of Famer — and try to keep up as he glides down the runs with more finesse than you’ll ever have. I tried to stay in his tracks a few times, which worked out fine on flatter terrain but as soon as we dipped into the steep stuff, Andrew’s turns are just way too tight for this gal.
We loved getting to know Andrew and found him easy to talk to and open to our many, many questions.
If you didn’t bring your own ski equipment, Andrew and his brother happen to operate a small rental operation at the Mirror Lake Inn and they’ll lend their expertise to get you fitted into high-performance gear without ever having to leave the toasty hotel walls.
While you’ve got skiing on the brain, read about my favourite ski gadgets.
And if you decide that skiing with Olympian Andrew Weibrecht isn’t for you, at least go and get a selfie with his medals, which are in shadow boxes behind the front desk.
All of the other Mirror Lake Inn experiences are listed in a daily newsletter, and include activities like snowshoeing and ice skating. The property is also located near the local Toboggan Chute, loads of other restaurants and shopping.
There’s a large and well-equipped fitness centre at the Mirror Lake Inn and treadmill users get a real treat: views of the lake.
You’ll also find all-day Afternoon Tea amenities in the lobby featuring the kitchen’s famous chocolate chip cookies and coffee/tea with all the trimmings. I’d be embarrassed to report how many cookies my children scoffed!