The Crowne Plaza Lake Placid & the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort
Lake Placid, NY
There are few hotels in Lake Placid that aren’t kid-friendly to at least some extent because the area is a popular destination for families.
But the upscale resorts are not in everyone’s budget and some of the smaller hotels lack amenities like a pool, restaurant or in-town location.
The Golden Arrow and Crowne Plaza hotels have Main-Street addresses and amenities that make them good values for their rates. We recommend them as family friendly hotels for a Lake Placid vacation in summer or winter.
Here’s how they compare
Better Location: The Golden Arrow
The Golden Arrow has probably the best hotel location in Lake Placid. It’s on the lake and has a great view from lobby.
It has a private beach where you can play and swim in summer. In winter you’ll find an outdoor fire ring on the beach. And they sometimes clear part of the frozen lake for hockey.
The hotel is also right on Main Street and an easy walk to outdoor ice skating, the Olympic Center and lots of restaurants and shops. It connects by an indoor corridor to the Alpine Mall, which has a great Mexican spot.
The Crowne Plaza is perched at the top of a hill right off of Main Street in Lake Placid. It’s very convenient to the ice rinks and the Olympic Center, where a lot of special events take place.
It’s also an easy walk to most of the town’s restaurants and shopping—once you make it down the hill.
The hill is long and steep and can be a bit daunting in the winter when parts of the sidewalk are icy or snow or slushy – or all three.
We were fine with it, but if you have older family members traveling with you it’s a factor to keep in mind. You might wind up doing a bit of local driving. There’s a municipal lot at the bottom of the hill, which helps.
Better Vibe: The Crowne Plaza
The Golden Arrow is a busy family hotel. In the winter, when we always visit, it often hosts large groups in town for hockey, ice skating or other competitions.
Even when it doesn’t have groups it books up fast during school breaks and holiday weekends. More than once we found we couldn’t get a reservation.
The groups have never inconvenienced us, though they can make the pool a very busy place in the afternoons. The trade-off is that with a big crowd around no one notices if our kid gets a little boisterous at breakfast or at the pool.
The lobby has a big picture window with a lake view and an inviting fireplace. It’s the sort of lobby that invites lingering and hanging out with a board game in the evening.
The vibe the Crowne Plaza is laidback Alpline ski lodge. Over winter break the hotel was filled to the brim with families. Over Christmas break it was more of a mix of families, couples and other groups.
It’s a bigger hotel than the Golden Arrow so we can usually get a room here even on the busiest weeks.
The first floor has a piney, lodgy feel, especially the great room with its high, timbered ceilings and enormous fireplace. It has a bar and big comfortable couches and chairs. This is absolutely the hotel’s best feature and guests take advantage of it.
Better Rooms: The Golden Arrow
This is where the Golden Arrow absolutely wins out for us.
We had a family room overlooking the lake when we were there and loved it. It had a sitting area with a gas fireplace. We brought in dessert, read or played games by the fire at night.
It had a second small bedroom for our daughter. And there was plenty of room for drying wet bathing suits and ski gear. It was roomy and cozy at the same time.
The standard rooms are bigger than most. King rooms have a sitting area with a pull-out sofa, and some have either a comfortable chair for reading or a table that you could eat at.
Kitchenette rooms have a stove, sink, dishwasher, kitchenware and a small counter for eating and prep. All rooms have a small refrigerator and microwave, which is handy for making morning oatmeal or evening hot cocoa.
The Crowne Plaza’s rates start higher than the Golden Arrow’s, so we’ve only booked standard rooms. These are small.
When we couldn’t get a double queen room we were told our king room could sleep three people. We assumed that meant there would be room for a rollaway bed. But once we moved it in there was absolutely no room to walk around.
Also, the extra bed is $15 a day, which is something to consider when pricing a larger room. (They waived the fee for us when we asked to upgrade to a larger room and they botched the switch).
Next time we would book two queens or make sure the room has a pullout sofa. The lake view room are bit brighter than our rear room, which faced parking and woods.
All the rooms here also have a handy fridge and a microwave.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with our room, aside from the size. But I didn’t love it and I would say they might be do for some updating. Luckily, it’s the type of hotel where you don’t spend a lot of time in your room.
Better Amenities: The Crowne Plaza
The best thing about the Crowne Plaza is the enormous Great Room with its panoramic view of the lake , town and nearby mountains. It’s the major upside to that big hill.
We came to Lake Placid at Christmastime with extended family, and I booked this hotel partly because it seemed this room would be a nice place to hang out and find each other.
One member of the family settled in here to read when the rest of us were out during the day. We’d stop in for hot cocoa or a local beer in the afternoon and have dessert and Irish coffee here at night. It’s a good place to settle in with a game, too.
It has a very good bar, a fireplace (the prime spot when you can grab it) and plenty of oversized chairs arranged in groupings.
The hotel has a good size indoor pool and hot tub. Over winter break the pool was a busy from about 4:00 until well into the evening. Earlier in the day and over Christmas break it wasn’t quite as busy.
The pool feels new and is kept in good shape, even on busy days.
It’s breakfast buffet is a good deal and better than average. It also owns the Boat House restaurant across the lake and runs a shuttle to it. It has lovely views and a menu with something to please everyone. It’s worth doing at least once.
The hotel also has its own Nordic ski trails, which we are curious about, but we haven’t yet had a chance to try them. We’ll bring our own skis and try them on our next visit.
The lakefront is the best Golden Arrow’s best amenity at any time of year.
The pool is smaller than the Crowne Plaza’s and there is a hot tub, sauna and whirlpool. We’ve had visits where these weren’t working or weren’t working well, which was disappointing. And the pool here gets much busier and can feel more heavily used than the Crowne Plaza’s ever did.
The sitting area in the lobby is nice, but small, and doesn’t seem to be used as much as its neighbor’s great room, probably because there isn’t a bar and the rooms are comfortable for hanging out.
The restaurant, Generations is right on Main Street so people walk in off the street and it feels like another town restaurant more than a hotel restaurant, which is good.
The breakfast buffet is good for fueling up for skiing and skating; the egg dishes we ordered off the menue were good, too.
At night, dinner is fine and the desserts are really good. We stopped in after dinner elsewhere a few times to bring a couple of glasses of wine and a tiramisu or cheesecake back to the room.
Both hotels have free parking. The Crowne Plaza has a large outdoor lot. The Golden Arrow has an outdoor lot and an underground garage that can be a little daunting in winter.
The Bottom Line:
On balance our first choice in town is the Golden Arrow because of its roomier rooms and locale right on the lake and Main Street. It’s perfect when we are just three.
But the Crowne Plaza is a better choice for an extended family or small group. It’s also our reliable plan B when there’s no room at the Golden Arrow, especially now that I know how to choose a better room.