Opened in 1915, the historic Many Glacier Hotel should be on any design-lover’s list of must-see destinations. The Swiss Chalet inspired lodge in Glacier National Park features beautiful architecture set amongst ominous mountains and turquoise lakes.
Visiting historic hotels is the perfect blend of so many things that inspire me: travel, exterior design, interior decor, and creative theming. Our recent trip to Glacier National Park’s iconic Many Glacier Hotel was no exception; and today I’ll be sharing my favorite photos of the beautiful Swiss Chalet inspired lodge.
Operating exclusively from late May to September due to harsh winter conditions, the Many Glacier Hotel is a secluded retreat nestled amongst mountains. Positioned alongside a glacial lake with views of the surrounding peaks, this lodge possesses a breathtaking allure, making it a must-visit destination for enthusiasts of history and design alike.
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Nicknamed the “Crown of the Continent” by George Bird Grinnell, Glacier National Park boasts a majestic landscape with glaciers, mountains and glacial lakes, reminiscent of the picturesque Swiss Alps. Therefore, it is fitting, to design the park’s most iconic hotel in the style of a Swiss Chalet.
What is Swiss Chalet style Architecture
Originating in the late 1700s – early 1800s, Swiss Chalet style was inspired by rural chalets that were nestled in Switzerland and the Alps. As the style became more popular due to tourism, it spread across Europe and eventually to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Characteristics of Swiss Chalet Style
The most common characteristics of Swiss Chalet style are:
- gabled roofs
- wide eaves supported with large decorative wood brackets
- exposed, and often carved, construction beams
- decorative mouldings, window trim, and railings
- large, multi-pane, casement windows
- bay windows
- shiplap, weatherboard, and board-and-batten exteriors (often paired with stucco exterior, also)
- turned posts and spindles
Many Glacier Hotel’s exterior features many of these characteristics; but it can’t be ignored that the Swiss feel is amplified by the location of the hotel. Set along Swiftcurrent Lake and amongst the Rocky Mountains, you might think you are actually visiting the Alps.
Photos of Many Glacier Hotel – Swiss Style Architecture
Hotel Exterior – Entrance & Parkside
As you pull up to Many Glacier Hotel, you are welcomed by rows of beautifully trimmed windows surrounding a large stone chimney any set against a dark weatherboard exterior. Large eaves overhang the many balconies, supported by massive, ornate wood brackets.
Landscaped for the mild climate, the flowers are blooming colorfully even into late August (most of my annuals are fried by this time of year in Kentucky). Especially stunning are the rows of geraniums along the sidewalk at the front of the hotel. The red pops against the dark wood exterior.
Many of the first floor windows are flanked with overflowing window boxes featuring a combination of red, purple, yellow, and white flowers. The windows are framed with curvy trim and ornate moulding.
The layout of the building is neither boxy or boring, unlike so many modern hotels. It winds along the bank of Swiftcurrent Lake, with the lobby located in the center and guest rooms on each end.
Like the exterior balconies, the railings viewable from the lobby are also intricately carved wood. Highlighted by massive timber columns and a floor to ceiling wood-burning fireplace, the lobby feels instantly cozy as you step inside.
Brightly lit by ceiling skylights and hanging lanterns, yet framed in solid log beams, the space is both elegant and rustic.
Warm and cozy was a welcome change, compared to the cool fall temperatures and drizzle on the late-August afternoon that we visited. After hiking the Grinnell Lake Trail and riding boats across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine, we were happy to grab a snack at the cafe downstairs and warm up by the fire to eat.
Long hallways wind through the five-story hotel, featuring board and batten, trim-work, and ceiling trim. The interior trim is a combination of painted and stained wood trim, all in a neutral color palette.
Hotel Exterior – Lakeside
No trip to Many Glacier Hotel is complete without enjoying the massive deck or balconies along the back of the lodge. Adirondack chairs provide the perfect spot to relax and take in the breathtaking views. It’s along the back of the hotel where the exterior really shines as a Swiss Chalet: rows of windows and balconies under long eaves, stretching along the shore of the lake.
Historic National Park Lodges
Many Glacier isn’t the only historic lodge in a National Park (in fact, there are several more in Glacier National Park, alone). If you love when history meets architecture and design, like me, grab one of these books for further reading on historic lodging, Swiss architecture, and park history:
- LODGE: An Indoorsy Tour of America’s National Parks
- Historic Glacier National Park
- Great Escapes Alps: The Hotel Book
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