My husband and I took a much-needed short getaway this weekend to Estes Park, CO. Estes Park is one of our favorite places to go, as it’s only an hour from where we live and firmly planted in the Rocky Mountains at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. We have stayed at a few different lodges and hotels, but this time we took advantage of a Living Social deal and stayed at the Elkhorn Lodge and Guest Ranch.
Here is where I send a warning to everyone who is thinking about purchasing a travel deal on a discount site: Read reviews before you purchase your deal. Even if you save a LOT of money, it may not be worth it.
As you drive on to the property, you can tell that many of the buildings look rundown. There is a main lodge, where we stayed, and numerous small cabins on the property. The shingles on many of the roofs have come loose or are missing, and the buildings in general look disheveled. You can see evidence of that in one of the photos that the lodge itself posted on Facebook:
We thought it was pretty cool that it was decorated for Halloween and they hosted haunted hayrides and were having a costume party closer to Halloween. We also found out that the room we were staying in (room 7 in the main lodge) is purported to be haunted. A woman named Eleanor lived in the room during WWI and the bed frame is still original to when she lived there (the mattress probably is, too – but more on that later). She is known to only bother men. She tugs on their clothing and blows in their faces.
But really… that’s about where the cool factor stopped and the ick factor started. Our room had wallpaper that seemed very aged and had mis-matched patches. There was only one outlet in the entire bedroom but they had an extension cord running from one of them. The TV was 19″ and a tube model without a remote (however there was full cable available). The windows likely are the originals. They wouldn’t stay up, so we had to prop some of our belongings. I suppose we could have plugged in the box fan we found in the closet, but we wouldn’t have been able to charge our phones or computers. The bed was a double bed, which theoretically is ok. We made do as far as space went in the bed, I guess. But the mattress and box spring were VERY aged and less than firm, bordering on flat. There were stains all over the carpet. They offer free WiFi, however it didn’t work more than it did work for me.
As you can see in the above photo, the rooms are very basic.
The bathroom was actually pretty adequate aside from the fact that they are carpeted. I am always skeptical of carpet in bathrooms, whether it’s in a home or a hotel. The first day, I took a completely cold shower with the exception of the last minute when the water turned warm. My husband got lucky and had hot water for his whole shower. The second morning I did have warm water. However, the water pressure really was lacking.
The lodge itself was quiet at night. We had no issues sleeping due to noise in the halls or from the great area beneath us. The staff was friendly. There was free hot chocolate and scary movies in the evening, and as I stated earlier they also offered haunted hay rides.
Our main noise problem was a wedding in the Coach House that lasted past 3 am on Saturday night. Even after we closed our windows, we could still hear LOUD music coming from the building 100 yards away, and people hooting and hollering. We didn’t exactly wake rested in the morning.
Elkhorn Lodge and Guest Ranch also offers horseback riding. I can’t tell you much about that because we didn’t do more than walk back and look at the stables and the horses. I do know that they run from $35 for an hour to $220 for all day. The also offer meals in their dining room including Chuck Wagon dinners.
I really think the Elkhorn Lodge could be a GREAT vacation destination with a little TLC given to the rooms. I realize it is not supposed to be a 5 star resort, and I do appreciate the rustic feel, but with some updated carpet, bedding, and actual beds it could still achieve the same purpose and might encourage more return visitors. We loved seeing elk on the property when we walked around, and love the idea of horseback riding, but we did not have a comfortable night’s sleep or a warm shower with decent water pressure.
Disclaimer – we paid for our stay ourselves and did not receive anything in exchange for this review.