Staying at the Many Glacier Hotel, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA
The Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park in Montana is a stunning hotel whose size and setting could rival a hotel in Switzerland. (Or how I imagine Switzerland to be in my mind, anyway!) The hotel lies facing both the Swiftcurrent and Grinnell valleys. The location is a spectacular spot for some of the best hiking you will find in Glacier National Park.
I give this hotel an extremely high rating, for the hospitality, the setting, and the things to do from this location.
While it is less accessible than other areas of Glacier National Park, it is located in my most favorite part of Glacier. Getting to the hotel requires a drive far to the northeast of the Park, just 12 miles east of Babb, Montana.
We stayed two nights at the Many Glacier Hotel, in a waterfront room overlooking Swiftcurrent Lake. We happened to be in a smaller room with two twin beds. There was honestly not a lot of space. I know that they do have waterfront rooms with queen beds that do have more space, but we only got into the hotel on a last-minute cancellation, so we had to take what we could get.
All of the rooms have shared balconies; the number of rooms you share it with are determined by what floor you are. It varies. We had three other rooms we were sharing with, but we hardly even saw anyone else on the balcony. There was a bench just outside of our room for enjoying the view.
If you scroll down and look at my photos, you will see why I love the setting. Surrounded by mountains, you overlook the lake, where you can watch the grizzly bears on the mountainside up above the hotel. You can watch the Glacier Park Boat Co. tours cross the lake to take people toward Lake Josephine. Breathe in the fresh air, have dinner in the dining room, enjoy a cocktail on the large deck. Take advantage of the view while you can!!
The hotel has a wonderful atmosphere. There are no televisions in the rooms. I love this because it makes it so that people spend less time in their rooms and more time in the lobby socializing and relaxing.
The lobby is spectacular. My favorite part of the hotel by far! It is a large room, with a fireplace, and the room is filled with cozy couches all in circles so that you can strike up a conversation with other visitors. We met several wonderful people while we were visiting thanks to this setup. There was a man playing the violin in front of the gift shop. I felt like I was on the Titanic. Seriously, the music and the warm air give the place a wonderful atmosphere. People stay up late talking and enjoying each others company.
One of the best parts of the hotel for me was the bellman named Anders. He was very happy and excited to give advice, and epitomizes customer service. Anders was also very resourceful in catching a bat that got stuck in the lobby after flying in. (I think it was a bat anyway! It looked like one to me!) He chased the bat around the lobby with a clipboard and a garbage can for a considerable amount of time, with everyone applauding and excited. I know these are seasonal employees, so who knows how long he will work at the Many Glacier Hotel. But he definitely helped make our stay more personalized.
There are FREE ranger-led programs every evening downstairs at 8 p.m. near “Heidi’s” — the small snack shop on the lowest level of the hotel. We watched a movie one evening they made on the history of Glacier National Park that the rangers had put together for visitors.
The hotel is actually on a small, rocky slope right on Swiftcurrent Lake. If you want to sit on a beach, you can head around the lake where there are a few small spots to relax. The closest beach is just north of the hotel, right as you turn into the hotel. I don’t know if you will want to swim though — the water is ridiculously cold! Most people I see jump in and jump right back out. Swiftcurrent Lake is popular for canoeing, as no motorized vessels are allowed on this lake.
The hotel room was $189 a night, plus tax. This might be expensive to some, so there is the option of the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn just down the road that is more affordable. I don’t think you can put a value on the view out of the window overlooking Swiftcurrent Lake from the Many Glacier Hotel.
There is internet available for hotel guests, but I would say that it is so incredibly slow I would just plan on not using it. I was told to go downstairs near Heidi’s, but I could not get a signal there at all. I was able to load one webpage from the main lobby, but couldn’t get much farther than that. I heard you could head down to the lounge to get a signal also, but I didn’t try that. Keep in mind that cellphones don’t work here either. You lose service just outside of Babb.
The one thing I do wish is that the parking lot was closer to the hotel. There is a small covered area to park under next to the hotel to unload your bags. But then you have to go park your vehicle up around the corner. If you forget something in your vehicle, you have to walk up a small hill to go get it. There isn’t anything that can be done about this, but it is more of a handful when you have to carry a small child everywhere to be going back and forth from the parking lot to the hotel.
I have heard this hotel called “Many,” so that is what people are referring to if you hear that said around Montana. I don’t personally call it that though. To me, it is the Many Glacier Hotel.
Talk. About. Breathtaking!!
A little piece of history for you about the hotel:
I first heard about this story from the Glacier Park Boat Co. boat tour on Swiftcurrent Lake.
There was a fire in 1936, that started on the slopes of Heaven’s Peak. The fire did not seem to be a threat to Many Glacier, until suddenly one day a high wind blew the fire up Swiftcurrent Pass and down into the Swiftcurrent Valley. The hotel guests were taken out of the valley in buses just in time. It only took an hour for the fire to burn to Swiftcurrent Lake! Employees stood on the decks with fire hoses keeping the fire off of the hotel. The fire burned to Lake Sherburne (just past the hotel) before it abated. Amazingly, the employees saved the hotel!
The best part of this story?
A telegraph was promptly sent to the Great Northern headquarters (the owners of the hotel) in St. Paul, stating: “WE HAVE SAVED THE HOTEL!”
The response telegram: “WHY?” You see, this was during the depression and the hotel was losing massive amounts of money, and they were hoping that the hotel would burn down.
This is my favorite story about the hotel, and I am thankful that they did save the hotel, so that we are still able to enjoy it today.
1. BOOK IN ADVANCE.
If you call the hotel and they say they are full, they are full. As I have said in the past, you must book reservations in advance. If you can, book a year in advance!! There is a chance of a cancellation, but because they have a 72 hour cancellation policy, there are not many last-minute cancellations.
2. THE HOTEL SAVES “WALK-IN” ROOMS FOR GUESTS.
If you happen to be in the vicinity of the hotel and you call and they say they are full, go ahead and drive up to the hotel anyway. They do have a few “walk-in” rooms reserved for people who show up wanting a room. I have not seen these rooms. They are located in a corner basement, if I understand correctly. But the point is, they might have a room available. I wouldn’t drive several hours in the hopes of getting one of these rooms, but there is a chance. So if you happen to be in St. Mary (20 miles away), go ahead and make the drive and try to catch one of these rooms. It will be worth it, trust me!
I really hope that you enjoy your stay at the Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park as much as we did! Many Glacier feels like another world to me, and it is always hard for me to leave.
Warm Wishes from Big Sky Country,
Alex M. Neill
Montana Vacation Blog