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“Great for families” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Starved Rock Lodge & Conference Center

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Starved Rock Lodge & Conference Center
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Route 178 & 71, Utica, IL 61373   |  
Hotel amenities
Moline, Illinois
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
60 helpful votes 60 helpful votes
“Great for families”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2012

We had a family reunion at Starved Rock State Park and had a great time. The lodge is really great for families and there are lots of them there. After our group left, we stayed on for a day of rest. NO WAY! too many kids running around. Well, we did just that the day before. It did get quiet at night; I guess the kids went to sleep. When checking out I asked about quieter rooms and got some good advice on quieter parts of the lodge. Don't stay on the first floor in the lodge rooms; they are on the main hallway and have constant traffic. We will try a cabin next time. The building has 3 types of rooms: lodge, hotel, and cabin. The hotel rooms are larger and newer, a few had windows that look on the pool instead of outside. Reserve by phone to find out about specials. The dining room is good, and you can eat outside on the terrace. Prices were reasonable, especially the kids' menu. The best part of the lodge is that it's in the middle of the woods with trails and nature abounding.

Room Tip: Pay close attention to get a room that matches your purpose: family fun or rest and relaxation.
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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172 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (59)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Top Contributor
63 reviews 63 reviews
48 hotel reviews
Reviews in 51 cities Reviews in 51 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2012

This lodge is located within the limits of the Starved Rock State Park and it's within walking distance from the river and the numerous mini-canyons that the park is famous for. It is surrounded by a forested area marked with numerous trails. We walked along one of these trails to find out that the place is full of wildlife. At one point we saw two deer grazing no more than 10 feet from where we were standing. You can also see eagles flying over the river hunting for pray. The lodge is quite nice too. The rooms are somewhat dated but of decent size. The walls however were rather thin so we could hear our neighbors chatting quite clearly. The staff was really friendly which was nice. If you are coming here by car (which is the most likely) there is a ton of free parking. All in all, this is a decent place to stay if you want to explore the park.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 23, 2012

My husband and I stayed in a King sized room in the older part of the hotel. The room was dark - very small windows - but comfortable. It was nice to wake up in the park and go for an early morning hike. The sink in the bathroom was one of those tiny sinks were you can't put a lot of toiletries on, a pet peeve of mine! We slept very well, it was in the high 90s outside and the room was cool. Bed was comfortable. We had a nice table and chairs and ate our breakfast there that we brought with us. I liked the historical furnishings but feel that the bathroom could use updating. The indoor pool and hot tub were both a very good size for a hotel. However they had kind of an institutional feel to them. Kind of like a rehab feel.

Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago
Top Contributor
70 reviews 70 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
69 helpful votes 69 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 23, 2012

Stayed here for a weekend getaway. We stayed Friday and Saturday night (they do have a 2 night minimum on weekends). This place is really the only lodging option in the area, there is a more kid-friendly place down the street. With that being said, I don't feel that our room was worth $130 + tax a night. The room was nice and clean but seemed to be more in the $80/night range. Also, nothing is included in the room fee (i.e. free continental breakfast). There is free wifi, which is spotty and there is an indoor pool and hot tub. I did not use the pool/hot tub because it was always so crowded. It seemed once the sun went down, everyone went swimming. There really isn't anything else to do in the area...no joke.

We had a room with a king bed (lodge wing king) which was nice and comfortable for the most part. The rooms have also had makeovers with new wood furniture. If you are planning to stay soon, you might still catch the wood smell in your room. The bathroom is super tiny though. The shower is a decent size but the toilet placement was weird. The toilet paper roll was almost in your lap so maneuvering was a bit tricky. Our room also had a newer flat panel tv (no cable channels, just basic stations) and a DVD player (which we did not use...wondering if the hotel had DVDs available for rental??). You can also open the windows in your room which was really nice. Most places don't let you do that. It was nice to let the fresh air in.

Biggest complaint was the noise. The walls/ceilings/floors are paper thin. You hear EVERYTHING that your neighbors are doing. We had the pleasure of being next to the loudest people in the whole lodge. They loved just hanging out in their room talking at the loudest volume possible at all hours of the night. At one point I yelled "INDOOR VOICE"...I think they heard me :)

The main dining room had really yummy food. We ate there once for lunch (chicken cesar wrap and taco salad) on Saturday and then ordered a plate of nachos (Gorgonzola Nachos) to bring back to our room Saturday night. We wanted to participate in the Easter Brunch but I didn't make reservations in advance and we were told they were all booked up.

There is also a café that sells your typical panini sandwiches, ice cream, coffee, bagels and sodas. They also have a few gift items for purchase as well. Beware though, the service is SUPER slow. Many times there was only one girl working. She worked the cashier and made the food. Right outside the main dining room there is larger gift shop that had a lot of clothing items and tchotchke type stuff.

Overall, the stay was nice. It would have been awesome if the lodge offered activities for adults at night (i.e. bingo, charades, checker tournament...anything!!). Once it is night time, there is not squat to do. The downtown Utica area is all closed up and you can't hike the trails at night.

Oh - I think it is good to know, the rooms do not have a microwave or fridge. Fridge would have been nice since we did have leftovers from a dinner that ended up being tossed out.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Top Contributor
90 reviews 90 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2012

We pulled up to the lodge just as a falconer was beginning a free one-hour tutorial on the art of falconry. We quickly parked and joined about 50 other people sitting in a small outdoor arena for the exhibit. The falconer was interesting and his three trained birds of prey were fascinating to observe up close. We hoped to see them fly but that didn't happen. Unfortunately, the falconer didn't have a microphone and, with all the noise of cars, lawnmowers, etc., it was hard to hear him. The extreme heat and humidity caused a woman sitting next to us to faint. An ambulance was called, the woman was revived and we headed into the lodge to check in.
We'd booked three rooms at $125 each. The rooms were all adjacent to each other with two of them connected via an interior door. Check-in was quick and easy. We were sent to the old, original wing of the hotel. This is the lodge I remember going to as a kid. Long, old hallways with wooden doors and trim. We peeked into open rooms and saw lots of paneling covering the walls. The rooms were fairly small with dated furniture. Pictures from yesteryear hung throughout. As we neared the end of the hall, we noted that our room numbers didn't exist here. A housekeeper informed us that we were in the wrong wing and sent us back down the hall and into the "new" portion of the lodge. Dating to the 1980's, this "new" wing was adjacent to an indoor pool. One of our rooms had a window that looked directly over this enclosed pool area. Interesting. The rooms were very cold when we entered. The air conditioning worked well, which was great as it was 100 degrees in the shade outside. That was about the only positive aspect of the rooms. None of the bathroom doors in any of the rooms closed all the way and the bathrooms were in need of TLC. The exhaust fan in ours was filthy and the tiles were in need of repair. The decor was weary with rectangular shadows above the beds where pictures must have once hung and bedspreads in need of cleaning. There were no blankets on the beds and we cringed at the thought of using the dingy bedspreads for warmth. That said, we all slept well in these rooms and didn't hear any outside noise. Not even from the pool area right below us.
We headed out for a hike to Starved Rock. The trail to Starved Rock is just behind the restaurant. It isn't really a trail but steps that initially go down to an open area. In the open area was an array of emergency vehicles. An injured, bleeding man sat on the back of an ambulance. We hurried our kids past the commotion and headed up a number of flights of stairs to the top of Starved Rock. There is a platform that circles the top of the Rock and we walked around it taking in the scenic views. It was nice. Our journey back down the stairs offered a new dramatic view. Police were handcuffing a young man and escorting several other young adults to various squad cars. Not exactly the kind of activity we wanted our kids to witness while on vacation. We soon learned that a group of highly intoxicated hikers had wandered off-trail. Two individuals had fallen off a cliff, one was critically injured. Welcome to Starved Rock!
This incident did make our children much more cautious on the trails, which was good. But the trails are well marked and you'd have to make an effort to venture off of them. So we felt very safe. In fact, the area where the hikers fell was one of our favorite trails. It's called French Canyon and while the lack of rain meant that no water was cascading down the walls, the canyon was truly amazing to view. The day was extremely hot and that shortened the amount of hiking we did but we enjoyed the trails we did venture on. One disappointment, though, was the amount of garbage left everywhere. Very sad that people are so disrespectful of nature.
We did make use of the pool. The kids enjoyed it though the room was really hot and the water was warm. Not so much fun for the adults in our party who were looking for a refreshing dip.
We took the trolley tour, which was air conditioned and enjoyable. The trolley stops at the visitor's center, which we had fun walking through. Less exciting was the very hot and fairly dull river cruise. Not much to see and, sadly, the shores were littered with garbage.
If you have kids, they'll be able to stay entertained on the trolley but they'll hate the river cruise. It's super slow and boring. Plus, you have to stay seated as there is no room to walk around. This is a senior adventure and even tedious for many in that age group.
We loved the dining experience at the lodge. The rustic main dining room is beautiful and the food is good. The service was attentive and special diets were handled with ease.
Overall, we were really glad we visited Starved Rock. If we went back, we'd go at a cooler time of year and, perhaps, make it a day trip rather than an overnight. The history of this national park is fascinating and deserving of preservation and proper care.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, IL
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 8, 2012

Went for a mini family-reunion with wife and kids to meet up with some of her relatives from Pa. and Montana. Stayed in the newer part of the inn. The rooms were larger than expected, and slept 5 with a pull-out sleeper chair. Our room was clean, the staff was friendly and the old part of the lodge has a huge center room with tables, chairs and long couches for you to use. There is a large center double sided fireplace for when it's cold outside. It was not, being 104 degrees. Instead of hiking the trails in the heat we spent a lot of time in the pool, which was very cold and quite dirty. I was surprised at the amount of dirt and particulate debris floating around in the pool.

The restaurant serves good food, although it's rather pricey and the service is slow. The steaks are great.

There is a gift shop with many touristy items to entrap the vacation shopper, it's also very expensive.

Tuesdays in July a local radio station sets up sound equipment on the large patio for a "Texas singing competition", which comprised of live acts, some karoke style and several with guitars. All of them were too loud for those trying to relax in the great room. Earlier in the day, the park had a Falconer bring several hawks and gave a presentation on hunting with birds.

The grounds were overrun with racoons which were unafraid and somewhat aggressive, climbing in and out of garbage cans which had no lids, only side openings.

There are 13 miles of very nice hiking trails overlooking and running down the the Illinois River and Starved Rock Dam. Fishing on the Illinois River at the park was easy but unproductive. Dead and dying Asian Carp put a damper on our expectations. (Being 104 degrees probably didn't help much). The trails and woods surrounding the inn are heavily laden with poison ivy. The best time to come here is in the fall where the views are spectacular with the changing colors.

Overall, the lodge is beautiful, and I do recommend a visit, at least once. We're going back in January for the Bald Eagle viewing. Currently there are 4 nests close to the inn with several young.

Room Tip: The rooms in the newer part of the inn are much larger than the old rooms. They also have rustic ca...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Crystal Lake, Illinois
Top Contributor
76 reviews 76 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
51 helpful votes 51 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2012

The amenities in this Hotel need updating. Upon entering our room, I was a little apprehensive -- it was so dark! It didn't help that the single window was so very small. We turned on all of the lights, and it still wasn't bright enough. On a positive note, the room itself was very clean. Their restaurants provided tasty food, and the surrounding grounds (the canyons, Starved Rock) are truly a sight to behold. Bring your comfortable walking shoes -- there's plenty to see. We will be returning in the Fall, when it's both cooler (it was over 100 degrees!!) and boasting the Autumn colors.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Starved Rock Lodge & Conference Center

Address: Route 178 & 71, Utica, IL 61373
Location: United States > Illinois > Utica
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( Wi-Fi ) Free Parking Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Specialty Lodging in Utica
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Historic Lodge, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Features 69 guest rooms and 21 cabin rooms, majestic Great Hall with 2-sided fireplace, on-site restaurant and bar, outdoor dining, indoor pool, weddings and meetings. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Starved Rock Utica
Starved Rock Hotel Utica Il

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