Lake Quinault Lodge is a picturesque lodge in a picturesque setting. Set on the southern fringe of Olympic National Park, on the shore of its namesake lake that catches the evening sunsets, the lodge is rustic, with heavy timbers and rock. There's a sprawling yard that runs to the shore, a grassy space perfect for croquet and badminton, for youngsters playing tag. And along the shore itself you can find canoes and rowboats for heading out onto the lake.
KURT: As my wife and I walked through the doors in late August, the first thing that hit us was the smell. It was a mixture of mold and mildew, one that seemed to permeate the lodge. Our room, No. 202 on the second floor, harbored none of the rustic romance the lodge projected. Instead there was a stained carpet, a low-standing, full-size bed with run-of-the-mill linens and a bare box spring, and a cheaply veneered dresser and nightstand.
JEREMY: My room was pretty nice. I stayed back in June, just a couple months before your visit. I was in one of the newer remodeled rooms, which had very nice carpeting, a deck overlooking the lawn and lake, and an in-room fireplace. My room was not in the main lodge, but located in an attached, newer, annex. It was very pleasant. The dresser and nightstand may not have been hand hewn by craftsmen, but I've seen worse in hotels considered more upscale.
KURT: Don't forget the smell.
JEREMY: I really don't recall a smell. You must consider that this is the rainforest, with nearly 12 feet of precip a year, you can bet that things are going to be at least a little mildewy. I'm telling you, everything smells a little moldy here in the great Northwest! It just never gets a chance to dry out. And, honestly, I don't remember any particular smell while I was at the lodge.
KURT: I fully appreciate that this is a rain forest and that there will be some mildew. That said, that's a very good reason why you shouldn't cover the beautiful hardwood floors in the lobby, stairways, and rooms with so much carpeting. That only encourages mildew in such a damp setting. As for Room 202, against one wall ran a steam pipe to an open radiator from an earlier generation; the pipe itself was shedding its paint. The room's walls and ceiling were painted an infirmary white, and where there once was a transom over the door now there was plywood, also painted over.
JEREMY: Chalk it up to historic charm?
KURT: We would have much preferred a room such as those reflected in historic photos elsewhere in the lodge: The photo of Room 201, for instance, depicted a beautiful room with a writing table and armchair to accompany the bed.
JEREMY: Sounds about like the room I had.
KURT: Except your room had a fireplace. Mine didn't. As I later learned, Lake Quinault Lodge is going through a renovation, and it isn't happening overnight. ARAMARK, the concessionaire that operates the lodge, is working with a designer on just how to replace the furniture, carpeting, window treatments, and bedding of the rooms. There also are plans for electrical and plumbing upgrades. So far, of the historic lodge's 30 rooms, 10 are in good condition. The remaining 20 will be addressed in 2008 and 2009. (Including the annexes, the lodge has 90 rooms total.) Additionally, I'm told the carpeting in the lobby of the lodge also will be replaced, which should help address the overall smell of the place.
JEREMY: Okay, okay. Yes, if they removed the carpeting in the lobby perhaps the smell I couldn't smell would be removed as well. I didn't examine a lot of the other rooms in the lodge while I was there. If the remaining rooms are to be as nice as the remodeled room I stayed in, I don't think there would be many complaints. It is an old lodge though, there is only so much remodeling can do, or should do. I enjoyed the tight hallways of the main lodge, the creaking of the floorboards as I roamed around, the grand staircase off the lobby. This is original "parkitecture," with some pretty nice modern amenities in my opinion. For instance, the lodge does have a nice indoor pool, for those really rainy days when stepping outside isn't a fun option.
KURT: My advice? If you plan a visit in the near future, be sure to inquire whether you can be guaranteed one of the renovated rooms. Making the roughly three-hour drive from the Seattle area to the lodge only to land in a room such as Room 202 that I described above will not be the start of a particularly memorable stay.
JEREMY: Agreed. Let me add just one more thing, I thought the restaurant was terrific. While I was there, folks were coming in from other nearby lodges to eat. The menu was more than just steak and chicken, and included some pretty yummy appetizers (I remember something with chanterelle mushrooms that I thought was really good). Breakfast was the typical stuff - eggs, waffles, bacon, etc - but it was fresh, and the coffee was good.
JEREMY: Bottom line - I'd stay there again, and I'd recommend it to my friends traveling in the area, but perhaps with a word of caution based on the experience you had Kurt.