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“The Perfect Thanksgiving Weekend at a Reasonable Cost”

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Highland Center Lodge at Crawford Notch
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Reviewed December 3, 2009

At the last minute we decided to book our Thanksgiving at the Highland Center. It was filled so they put us out in the bunkhouse for the first night. Very clean and nice out there, but one person snoring in the open concept made for a tough night's sleep. Not really a fault of the Highland Center but rather anytime you sleep in an open concept. They found space for the 4 of us in the lodge for the next two days. The staff of employees and volunteers went out of there way to be sure we got everything we needed. (me/wife and 10 and 11 year old) I took off for a day to work and my wife and kids stayed. The electricity went off for 24 hours and a foot of snow came down. The building generator keep enough lights on for games and crafts in the hallways and meals were still prepared perfectly during that time period. In fact my wife thought it made the experience all the more fun. We were encouraged to take advantage of the short hikes offered and the staff took us down to the LL Bean room and fit the whole family with hiking boots/snow shoes and all the other cold weather "stuff". They "fit us" as if we were buying everything, but of course it is a loaner room and there is no charge for the use of all this equipment while you are staying there.....and they have lots and lots of loaner LL Bean equipment. Thank you LL Bean.
I took one of the guided hikes on Sunday and the guide (Jed) went out of his way to be sure he made it fun. He even went first and shook some of the snow off the trees that were leaning over the path.
Mind you this is not a full service family lodge. It has shared bathrooms and you need to keep an open mind to keep the famliy busy. Going for a special weekend like Thanksgiving was a positive as there were less "hard core" hikers and more famlies so board games and building snowmen where fun group activities.
We'll do this again next year!

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled with family
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1  Thank hubbingtons
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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147 - 153 of 161 reviews

Reviewed December 2, 2009

We had a very nice stay at Highland Center for our Thanksgiving holiday. What made the trip amazing was location and weather. We were treated to a sunny warm day on Thursday followed by an amazing snow storm on Friday, so we were able to hike, ski and snowshoe all in one trip. As for the Center itself, we stayed in the main lodge and it had more of a hotel-like atmosphere than we've come to expect from AMC. The L.L. Bean equipment room was a nice advantage as we were able to borrow snowshoes that we don’t own. There is no roughing it at all here unless you consider shared bath roughing it. The only rough part for me was the amount of kids. I'm not sure if it was because it was a holiday week, but it was filled with a lot of families with young kids. So it was incredibly noisy and spaces that were kid-free were hard to come by. My take on this place is that this is AMC's attempt to get families enthusiastic about the outdoors, weaning them into it gently by offering this type of accommodation. And that’s great, but I think it should probably be marketed that way so people don’t expect the typical AMC experience. The food was fair to good and there was enough of it, however the set meal time could be a negative especially in the summer when daylight hours are longer. Making it back by 6pm for dinner would be a drag. And what’s up with the liquor license? I’d rather bring my own than pay $6 for a glass of wine. You CAN bring your own, with the caveat you only drink it in your room. We ventured into a sitting area with it and weren’t bothered, but we couldn’t bring our own to dinner. Small inconvenience. The staff and the volunteers were all very nice and helpful. All in all the place is great if you are aware of what you are getting. We’ll probably go back this summer due to its location; it’s the perfect place to start our hike to Mt. Washington.

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank pedlfastr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 21, 2009

I stayed at the Highland Center for 2 nights, at the Greenleaf hut and the Zealand Falls hut for one night each, through an REI trip. Facilities, decor & atmosphere, staff, and food at the Highland center were outstanding! REI guides were super! Huts were fun, with great food and fun crews working. Wish it was possible for the huts to have heat, hot water, and flush toilets, but it was still fun to stay at them. Pre-trip literature from REI needs to emphasize more that temps do get really cold at night in October. I wish I had brought a sleeping bag and down booties, instead of using the wool blankets the huts provide. You need at least 2 under you to block the cold from the plastic mattress, plus 2 on top of you to be warm enough. But other than that, an overall great experience!

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled solo
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1  Thank fsujeanniek
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 30, 2009

Room was very nice. Well appointed and comfortable. Loved the pillows. Food was plentiful, but that did not prevent it form being disappointing along with the service. We had just come from four days of hiking via the huts and found the service and food there far superior.

Glad to see the AMC championing green practices throughout the building.

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank timmangini
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 23, 2009

Love to stay there for the location, love to support my club, have only basic needs with matching expectations, but, every time i come away from there with one smiling and one crying eye !!
The center feels weirdly unsynchronized with what one would expect from the AMC spirit!
More like a hotel in idendity crisis and struggling to match hotel issues to the specific purpose it has there in the notch.
It's a balancing act with some crashes.
Mountain drama lets me forget a lot of stuff i might otherwise experience as a pain in the neck and let-down, though, so, i'm fine!
Besides, it's sooo unpopular to criticize an icon .
But, I felt somewhat unwelcome, out of step with the place, a bit like a dog in a kennel where they tolerate dogs, but aren’t too crazy about them.
Does the location and surroundings, (my "smiling eye"), make up for it?
It's a YES for me, but...............
give it a try and judge for yourself. You might get in when there are no crashes and get out with two smiling eyes and swear it's the best place to stay.
Perhaps even rested and well-fed!!!
Here are a couple of things keeping my own balance off center and suggestions from my personal wish list:
For AMC taste it's overpriced.........
Large groups rule in many ways, detracting from the solo experience in many, not so negligable ways .......
Family style ( who came up with that name) dinner seating .........i go into the mountains NOT to have to gab with strangers!!!!!
Lots of merriment and door slamming ........
Why not have a "room and breakfast" option , or room only............?
Or a "solo hiker package" ....................
Hardly any serious hiker will be in the center to it's set chow times and nobody wants to pay for food they are not able to get to.
Groups and inividuals participating in center activities have no problem with that ... everything works much smoother for them, i , however, feel like an intruder who wants to be accomodated ........ ( what nerve! ha?)
If the 3meals deal must be enforced, let hikers pack a lunch before they set out....................
Pls have more than left-overs on the buffet for the last assigned dinner seating...........
I don,t like sleeping in Khumbu Valley undies; gadda make the thermostats work .....
( this one i am peed about ..... the long day on the icey ridge was just too cold to be followed by a cold room)
Why not have a notable room rate reduction for members...............?
What's with the huge rate difference of weekends vs weekdays.......?
Does not feel AMCish to squeeze the heck out of our wallets just because the weekend is the only time we have to hike in NH.

The "hut" is my refuge in the hills.
It has to "welcome" me; i want to feel sheltered and comfortable there.
My expectations are so low, it's easy to exceed them.
The center can't quite manage that.
Why, oh why, not?!?!?!?

Have a good time in the hills!
Greets
mik

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled solo
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3  Thank satinpaw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 16, 2009

We'd done 3 nights in AMC huts so were most glad to have a private room with shower and comfortable beds. Room was pleasant, modern and clean. Same is true of the entire lodge.
The dinner B&B package is convenient since our car was left at a trailhead elsewhere. But the dinner was really quite mediocre - much less appealing than most we had at the huts under more difficult kitchen conditions. For over $100 per person sharing a room, it seems unreasonable not to provide better dinners.
The location is of course hard to beat for hikers, so one has to recommend it.

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled with friends
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1  Thank jmaxwellb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 8, 2009

Stayed at the Highland Center last week. Beautiful location and great for hiking White Mountains.

They have private suites now which we got 2 of (1 for my wife and I and 1 for 2 daughters 16 and 18). They set us up with adjoining rooms which was good. Rooms were quite large and both had a queen bed and a single bed. Bathroom had sink and mirror inside bedroom with shower and toilet in separate bathroom. They also have cheaper, traditional hostel style bunk rooms that we did not see.

All in all, we were pleased with the room. I could nitpick and talk about the towels being a bit worn and the shower having shampoo and soap from a discpenser, but all in all, we were very pleased. Price was a bit on the expensive side, but included convenience of meals there and access to LL Bean equipment room. LL Bean was very well stocked. My daughters both got hiking boots which worked well for them. We also got good quality backpacks and hiking poles, so use of equip also helped offset some costs. All was free and just returned on last day. Definitely worth staying a day here before mountain hiking if you do not have equipment.

Staff was good here and helpful. Food in restaurant was good for both sitdown dinner and buffet breakfast. Wife was not too keen on sharing table with strangers, but had good conversation about the mountains.

If you want more of a traditional hotel, there are many within a half hour drive or so that you can stay at and drive to the mountains for hiking, etc. For example, there is a Hampton Inn in Littleton, but if you consider that you will also go out for dinner there, costs will likely be higher

From Highland Center, hiked up to Lake of the Clouds Hut and then the peak of Mount Washington. Lake of the Clouds was the more traditional multiple bunk rooms, with composting toilets and electricity only till 9:30. Staff there was not as helpful, but food was fine and if you are staying up there, you really want to be out in the mountains as much as possible.

All in all, very happy with Highland Center and would go back. Just remember it is a hiking lodge, not an upscale hotel and you will be pleased.

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled with family
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1  Thank brent57
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Highland Center Lodge at Crawford Notch

Address: Route 302, Crawford Notch, Bretton Woods, NH 03574
Location: United States > New Hampshire > White Mountains > Bretton Woods
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Ski-In / Ski-Out Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Specialty Lodging in Bretton Woods
Price Range: $51 - $143 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 34
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
AMC's Highland Center at Crawford Notch, our newest four-season lodge and outdoor education center, offers a broad range of accommodations and walk-on programs, along with backdoor access to a variety of outdoor activities. The Highland Center is an ideal starting point for day hikes, paddling, snowshoe treks, and longer back country trips in the White Mountains. All-inclusive lodging packages are offered year-round and include meals, free walk-on nature programs, and free use of the L.L. Bean gear room. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Highland Center Lodge At Crawford Notch Hotel Bretton Woods

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