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“Another Summer and Another Visit.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Izaak Walton Inn

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Izaak Walton Inn
290 Izaak Walton Inn Rd, Essex, MT 59916   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Essex
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Another Summer and Another Visit.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2013

Its been a while since I last stayed here, but I stayed earlier in July. It seems that it has only gotten better. Front Desk staff was great and very helpful. The helped guide to me to some new hikes the area that I didn't know about (swinging bridge) and always asked about my day when I returned. They set me up with horseback riding. My room was clean and in good order.

I ate 4 meals there over my two night stay and loved every one of them. The waitstaff was great. The had staff from other countries again. There English was excellent and they were attentive. The pancakes were huge and fluffy, I loved them.

The price is pretty much the same as rest of the Historic Lodges in the area and after staying at there properties I still like the Izaak the most. Overall this is a great place too see Glacier National Park from.

Room Tip: Ask for a corner room was its warm. You get two windows!
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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343 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (119)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Missoula, Montana
Top Contributor
84 reviews 84 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
71 helpful votes 71 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2013

The idea of staying in a caboose that has been turned into a cabin was exciting. HOWEVER, there were things we were not exactly made aware of, and took some time to work around.

First, we found that to stay in the most desired cabooses or cabins, you are required to book two nights together for the same unit. Now, it isn't unlikely that you will want to stay in the Glacier Park area more than one night, so at first we didn't think this would be a problem. But yes, there was a problem. Most of the cabooses did not have two nights in a row available for the weekend we wanted to stay. We asked if we could book the only available weekend night at one caboose, then switch the next night to the only other available caboose, and we were told NO, both nights had to be consecutive in the same caboose/cabin.

That made things difficult... and we almost decided not to book any room there, but had some gift certificates we wanted to use. So we finally picked another weekend and booked the orange caboose. I had no idea, however, that the trains run all night long. And I do mean ALL NIGHT LONG. I am a very light sleeper, so after listening to the fifth train speed by and blow it's horn by midnight, I realized I was going to have a long sleepless night. This is probably something they should at least mention to you when booking.

We found earplugs the next day and the second night was better. I do have to say the caboose was very comfortable, great bed, and great water pressure in the shower. It has a nice little kitchenette with everything you could need... although you would need to probably plan on coming back to the caboose for all your meals to really take advantage of it, and that just was not feasible when touring Glacier National Park.

The breakfasts in the restaurants were good, but more importantly they were really fast with service. The only bad thing was they had really weak coffee. It was a fun experience, although a bit sleepless.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
New York City, New York
Top Contributor
83 reviews 83 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
70 helpful votes 70 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2013

Izaak Walton was a 16th C writer known as patron saint of fly fishermen The Izaak Walton Inn, however, began life as staff housing for the Great Northern railroad. Located in the western side of Glacier National Park, it is perfect for visiting the park and for cross-country skiing during the winter.

Founded in 1930, it has 33 rooms and 8 restored cabooses that can seep 2-4 each. On the Register of National Historic Places, it transitioned from staff housing to motel, was owned by the same family for many years, and then changed hands again eight or so years ago. Today, it wears its railroad heritage on its sleeve - posters, signs, calendars, and other railroad memorabilia are on the walls everywhere you look. We were especially taken by its wonderful collection of portraits prints of Blackfeet Indians painted by Winold Reiss in the late 1920-30’s. A German painter, Reiss had become famous painting African Americans and Harlem residents in the 1920’s. The Great Northern hired him and housed at the Glacier National Park Hotel to paint the native Americans.

The Inn’s current owners have invested in the property and it shows. The main lodge and rooms are described as “laid-back Montana style,” quaint and lovely with lots of wood paneling, a stone fireplace in the lobby entrance, a veranda with porch swings overlooking the rail yard, a pub downstairs with pool table and free WiFi. It doesn’t have an elevator so guests who have difficulty navigating stairs should request rooms on the lower floor. The eight renovated historic caboose cars are scattered throughout the property. The most recently renovated one looks like a high-end RV inside. It has a bedroom with a queen-sized bed, a sleeping loft, skylights, a granite counter/stainless steel open kitchenette. Its hilly, wooded property is laced with trails, making it perfect for cross-country skiing during the winter. Unfortunately, not all the cabooses look like that. Some further up the trail actually looked dated and a bit run down.

We stayed for two nights as part of a bus tour of 13 couples visiting the Yellowstone National Parks together. Our room was comfortable, quiet, and cozy. It had a sink with mirror inside the room as well as a private, old-fashioned bathroom. It was on the first floor, facing the driveway. Rooms facing the railroad tracks can be extremely noisy. On our second night there, a train was worked on in the yard. Its airbrakes blew off steam continuously through the night, hissing and squealing.

We were there at the start of the season. Our service was good overall and we enjoyed a special, catered dinner on our second night there (the huckleberry glazed chicken and berry parfaits were delicious). But the front desk got a bit short at times and some in our group were upset that their request to be on the first floor had not been honored. I was also told to email the General Manager if I wanted the recipe for a dish I liked. I did so but never even got the courtesy of a reply.

Room Tip: Rooms facing the front are quieter. On the other hand, if you love trains, you may want to in the ba...
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2013 via mobile

Overall, the hotel is fine. We stayed in the JJ Luxery Caboose for a week. Might have been better for a weekend. The room was dirty in the little ways that tell you they don't truly care. The curtains were caked in dust and dead flies like try hadn't been washed in months. When we remarked to the front desk they sent over a guy with a quiet bottle who dampened one and left. The housekeeping overall was sloppy with trash cans being left on the couch from the bathroom and dripping plates left on the countertop each day.
The overall atmosphere is, we'll we're the only game in town, so too bad. The restaurant is trying to be fancy and pretentious as if I want to pay $30 for buffalo drenched in over-sweet sugar sauce after a long day of rafting and hiking. Yet.. There's paper on the tables for tablecloths and cheap jelly on the table. Its the little things that give you the feeling of cheap. No coffee or tea available in the main lobby, being nickel and dimed for pool balls in the downstairs bar area. Why isn't their a jar of fresh huckleberry jelly on the table for the overpriced breakfast meals? Why isn't there a night with a fire and s'mores for the guests or coffee and huckleberry pie served on the porch one evening a week. Why are the BBQ grills so filthy that you shudder at the thought of cooking the food you bought on them to avoid the over priced restaurant? I hope the owners take note that when people are paying almost $300 a night for a room that these things are maybe not expected, but would have turned this one time customer into a repeat.
So why the higher rating overall? Because the area was so beautiful and the room was fine (just more like $150 a night fine). Loved the location and the character, loved the trains coming through all day and night. Didnt mind the no TV at all. Although info suggest putting Internet in the cabooses. I don't mind getting away from it all but it's hard to plan your activities with no Internet access and front desk people who are very confused by questions about the area. Won't be back to this place unless the owners show more care for their guests. Will certainly be back to glacier park someday!

  • Stayed July 2013
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Jersey
18 reviews 18 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 18, 2013

When the front desk staff is rude and the bathroom is not clean, you know it is going to be a bad experience.

This hotel is considered “rustic”, meaning it is old (built in the 1930s), has small rooms with no air conditioning, no elevator, and is in the middle of nowhere, but it is on the Amtrak/BNSF railroad line and is decorated with railroad memorabilia throughout. We knew all this when we made a last minute reservation when we could not get to Banff National Park due to the Alberta floods in June 2013, but being interested in railroads, we did not think the above would be a problem.

When we checked in, the young man at the front desk gave us two keys and made it a big point to tell us if we lost the room key (an actual key, not a key card) if would cost us $50 to replace each, implying that people would steal the keys otherwise. Then he immediately turned around to talk on the phone without telling us how to get to our room or even which floor the room was in. We had to ask 4 times before someone answered our question as to where the room was, without any apologies from them, of course. Our room was far smaller than the website photos would lead you to believe.

A heat wave had just arrived in the area (late June, 2013) and the room was incredibly hot (over 100F / 38C degrees) even though the wood frame window was open and the ceiling fan with 12 inch (30 cm) blades was circulating the room’s hot air. We went to the front desk to ask for a window fan to air out the room and we were told they did not have any, so we asked about the unused fan at the end of the hallway outside our room, and they said we could NOT use it, even though they would not need it until the weather cooled off after 9 PM. No apologies again, of course. It was exactly 6 PM at the time.

We thought we would go out to dinner and come back after the room had cooled off, but we found out there are NO restaurants within 30 miles of this hotel, so we ate in their dining room. The food was good and the service there adequate. The dining room staff and the European students working there for the summer were all pleasant, in sharp contrast to the front desk staff.

When we returned to the room it was still as hot as before, so we left the door open but there was no air coming through the window. Only then did we realize that the window had an external 1950s style triple-track storm window that was completely closed. Since it looked old and frail, we went to the front desk again to have them open it and they told us that the maintenance man “must have forgotten to do your room” and we should open it ourselves. But the old plastic latches were brittle and the lower glass would not latch in any position except fully down, so we removed the glass and put it behind some furniture.

The room finally got some ventilation after removing the storm window, but it was still too hot to get to sleep until nearly 3 AM. The next day while at the east side of Glacier National park, we bought a window fan to make sleeping in the room bearable for the rest of our stay.

The only place in the building which was relatively cool was the basement bar, which is also where the WiFi server is located. But WiFi was spotty and slow, even in that area. The first time we went to connect to the internet there was no internet access at all, so we asked other guests if they were having the same problem, and they all said they could not connect either. We requested the front desk to turn it back on, and they eventually did.

On the first morning we realized the bottom of the shower curtain was moldy, so we asked the front desk to change it and they said they would look at it later in the day. We saw no difference. Coffee from a dispenser at the front desk, typically free at any other hotel, costs $2 per cup there! During our stay we overheard several people arguing at the front desk over hotel charges.

We spoke to some other guests about the level of service at the hotel, and they all agreed with the perceptions noted here. One of these, a railroad buff who has been going there every year for over a decade, commented that there has been a steady decline in service since the change of ownership a few years back. There were some additional issues with the front desk, but we think we have made our point.

Finally, if you must stay here, please remember: -there is no refund if you decide to cut your stay short; -there is basically nothing within 30 miles except for a few hiking trails; -the front desk personnel act as if they are doing you a favor by allowing you to stay there; -and if the weather is hot you will be sleeping in an incredibly hot room unless you bring your own window fan. Also, if you arrive by train and do not have a car, you will need to rely on the “red bus” service from Glacier National Park to go anywhere - an interesting way to travel.

In conclusion, stay elsewhere, because the people who now own and operate this hotel still need to figure out the meaning of the words “customer service”. So far they do not seem to have a clue.

Room Tip: The average room is very small, far smaller than what you see on the website! If you choose a track...
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
113 reviews 113 reviews
36 hotel reviews
Reviews in 50 cities Reviews in 50 cities
66 helpful votes 66 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 15, 2013

This is a very nice, older hotel, located right on the railroad line. It is an ideal place to relax, watch trains, and relax again. The hotel is a bit of a drive from both East and West Glacier (30 minutes), though as a jumping off point to get to either side of the park, it works well.The rooms are comfortable and clean. Prices are pretty much in line with similar hotels in the region.

Our meals were ok, though the buttermilk pancakes in the morning should be avoided (heavy, tough on the outside and soggy on the inside). Do try the flight of whiskey from the Glacier Distillery.

Room Tip: Trackside rooms provide a good view of the trains - though they tend to be warmer, and a bit noisier...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 15, 2013

We booked through http://www.nationalparkr… which is an outside agency. the lady said she lived in kalispell and could personally recommend the izaak walton as being really great. she talked me in to a very expensive "river view caboose" and said it was very much a luxury interior with a great river view.

Well, the caboose was probably their worst one. it was far away from the rest of the property, in fact, it was about 1/4 mile away, back at the turn off from the highway. It should've been called the "highway view" caboose. to see the river, you had to go all the way to the end of the car, in the toilet, and bend over and peer out the 12" x 12" window in the exit door. that's the only way you could see the river from inside this caboose. The caboose was very rustic, badly renovated with cheap materials a long time ago. The workmanship was poor. The whole caboose smelled musty/moldy, especially if you opened the closets or under sink kitchen cabinet. probably because they had enclosed the underneath of the car with wood siding that had no vents. the floors were dirty, the table tops were dirty, we had to deal with quite a few bugs/spiders for the first few hours. Since we paid a premium, very high price for this caboose accomodation, we should not have had to deal with all of the above.

The main property, up by the railroad tracks, was pretty cool, and the common areas inside the inn were nice. the caboose we stayed in was sub-par and definitely not worth the price we paid. They should really get rid of this caboose and not offer it, because it is so far off property, its like an outpost. you have to drive to the main inn for everything else, or walk about 20-30 minutes.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Izaak Walton Inn

Address: 290 Izaak Walton Inn Rd, Essex, MT 59916
Location: United States > Montana > Essex
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Essex
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 47
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Welcome to the Izaak Walton Inn & Resort, a family-owned retreat bordering Glacier National Park, in Essex, Montana. Specializing in outdoor adventure and serious relaxation, the Inn hosts activities year round fitting any age, interest and experience level including cross country skiing and guided back country tours, hiking, horse back riding, white water rafting to slow float and larger boat excursions. No matter what time of year you choose to visit, what pace you'll set your journey to, enjoy the nature, the history, and the hospitality found at the Izaak Walton Inn. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Izaak Walton Hotel Essex
Izaak Walton Essex

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