I went around and around trying to decide on a hotel for this stay and finally went with the Best Western Mammoth Hot Springs based on accommodations (2 Queens + private bath, free wifi, updated rooms), location (walking distance to meals, bars and easy access to the park entrance) and availability of a River View room.
I will say that the River View is worth it, for three reasons:
1. You will have a view of the Yellowstone River rather than a view of the motor inn next door. Which is nice for a number of reasons I'll let you come up with.
2. These rooms have been updated with Damask(esque) linens and more modern furnishings, so none of the polyester floral bedspread business you'll likely find in the other rooms on this property, and elsewhere in Gardiner, I imagine.
3. The rushing river noise at bedtime is especially relaxing and lovely.
The room itself (2 Queens) was adequate for us three gals for the weekend. The toi and shower are together in a closed bathroom, while the vanity is just outside - convenient for more than one person trying to get ready before a day at the park, etc.
The view from the room was incredible, see the photos. Unfortunately, there's not a balcony on the 2nd floor where we stayed, so we just opened the windows and enjoyed the breeze/view/rushing water noise from the lounge chairs in the room. I think if you stay on the first floor, you have more of a balcony, but I didn't go down there to check it out. I didn't see any chairs, so I'm not sure you're encouraged to, like, hang out in front of your room.
The bathroom was clean and tiny, with a full size shower over tub. Nothing much more to say than that.
They provided in-room coffee/tea/etc, but we didn't make use of it, and frankly could have used that space for other stuff, but whatever, no biggie.
The other room amenities were adequate. Cable TV was fine - no trouble there. But the wifi was a little spotty and when we called the front desk one morning because it was down, they said, "Uh. OK. I"ll, go, reset it or something." After which, they did exactly nothing. We were going into the park at that point anyway, so whatever. Just don't expect Tech Help from the front desk staff.
A nice amenity is the good sized fridge in the armoire. They don't prestuff it with useless and expensive snacks, so you're free to load it up with your daily rations and/or bottles of gin and wine. Just saying.
The location of this place was pretty decent and we did walk to breakfast/dinner/drinks every day. Of the places we visited, Tumbleweed Cafe and Bookstore was definitely the high point. We had breakfast (bagels, eggs, great coffee, teas) and lunch (amazing wraps and panini) there on multiple days and found it to be an excellent option - very fresh and homemade. I recommend the Hazel wrap - delish. The dude at the counter was very friendly and talked us through their little bookstore offerings, too. We sat outside and enjoyed the weather, lunch and free wifi on more than one occasion. Two thumbs up.
We went to Outlaw Pizza on our first night there. I wouldn't go back, mostly because it's just marginal pizza, but I didn't expect much from it to begin with. The waitress was very nice though, and they have Fat Tire on draught, which is excellent.
We did visit the Yellowstone Mine with attached Rusty Rail cocktail lounge, and while our dinner was fairly decent (steaks, baked potatoes, buffalo burgers, etc), the wait staff was pretty awful. They acted like they'd never seen a rush before and were, well, just rude. They pretty much just acted like we were bothering them with our pesky questions about, "May we have a table for three?" and other such ridiculousness, while they raced around clearly hating their lives. The woman behind the counter yelled at my friend when she offered her credit card because, "Hello, Missy, can't you see I'm counting out the drawer right now?! Give me a minute!" Awesome. The redeeming quality here was the lounge which, while definitely full of similar rude freaks, had a bar stocked with Bombay Sapphire and bar stools shaped like horse rear ends, which makes me happy. I think my cocktail was like, $4, too - which is not bad coming from CA.
We went to K Bar one night for their allegedly "amazing" pizza and enjoyed another marginal pie. Not that it was bad, necessarily, because when is pizza really *bad*, but nothing to get excited about. Fat Tire in the bottle here. Just so you know.
We tried the Town Cafe on our first day there, since the ever-popular Sawtooth Deli was perpetually closed, and actually found it to be a decent stop with good breakfast (no wobbly bacon or lead pancakes here) and fun wait staff. Menu's not half bad, so we went back again during our stay.
As for the "Hot Springs" part in the name, there, just pay that no mind. This is not any closer to Mammoth Hot Springs, or any hot springs, than any other hotel in Gardiner. It's just called that because the first major sight inside the park from this entrance (the North one, just to be clear) is Mammoth Hot Springs, a cool 5+/- miles away. The hot springs at Boiling River, however, are a bit closer, just after you enter the park.
If you're looking for hot springs and don't want to shimmy into the river but would rather dip in a spring-fed pool - you could try out Chico Hot Springs in Pray, MT - about a 45 minute drive from Gardiner. We shot up there one afternoon around 4pm or so, and found the poolside bar and soak in the pools to be a nice way to end the afternoon. A few margaritas go down real nice in a natural hot spring soak. The pools are open late (until 10, I want to say), so you can go after a long day at the park and just soak. Call ahead for dinner reservations, though, as they book fast. They have a locker room with showers onsite, if you want to freshen up. It was about $6.50pp for a day pass to soak in the pools. Nothing fancy, but we met some interesting folk.
As for Yellowstone itself, this hotel and town (Gardiner) provide a good jumping off point for entering the park and a decent place to land at the end of the day. Just remember to request a River View room so you don't end up with a skanky bedspread and a view of the motor lodge next door. OH! Almost forgot, if you want to stock your fridge with, uh, the necessaries, there's a little grocery store within walking distance that is pretty well stocked and carries a nice selection of liquor.
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- Also Known As:
- Best Western Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel Gardiner
- Best Western Hotel Gardiner
- Best Western Gardiner
- Gardiner Best Western