Back in its day, the Hotel Alex Johnson was the place to see and be seen in Rapid City. This would have been in the 1930's. My mother recalls coming here as a young teenager for a formal dinner. The architecture and lobby still retain the old world charm, with its open timber construction and large river rock fireplace. This is clearly the "grand old hotel" of Rapid City. But in order for it to compete, a lot more needs to be done. I get the sense that a good effort was made toward it, but then the owner ran out of interest or money (or both). The rooms need to be renovated up to 21st century standards. The good news is that the wifi worked great. But the bathroom floors were stone cold, and it took the water a good 4 minutes to warm up. The fixtures were old, and the towels worn. The small walk-in closet had no light, so it was difficult to use. Some of our pillows were lumpy. The TV programming is obviously aimed at pushing pay-per-view, as it's difficult to navigate through the menu in order to get into the free, local stations, and this navigation is necessary every time we turned on the TV. And a bit quirky, someone decided it was more important to have a little miniature refrigerator and microwave sitting in the corner, than to be able to close the doors of the armoir (these little Sam's Club appliances block the ability to close the doors!). The most beautiful part of the hotel is the lobby. Our visit was at Christmas, so there was a large (fake) Christmas tree, that maybe someone was given a total budget of $10 to decorate. It donned a large bow at the top, with ribbons streaming down from there, and a few bows hapharzardly placed through the tree. And lights. Period. The hotel staff need a little training as well. Our room was regularly not cleaned up until late in the afternoon. Being in Rapid over the Christmas holiday, we had questions about what places might be open to serving meals. There is no concierge service at the front desk, and the ladies there are not interested in being helpful beyond their jobs. They didn't seem to know whether the street parking on the street would be free on Christmas Eve, or if we would have to continue to have to walk the two blocks to the city garage over the holiday. And they had no idea what restaurants might be open on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, nor did they care to help us find out. But they did recommend the restaurant/private club up in the 10th floor of the hotel, "Vertex". So, we had an early Christmas dinner up there. Again, a good stab was taken at making this unique space a great club, but it fell short. The decorating is an upscale version of a 1930's club, but the lighting in our room glared in our eyes. Our waiter was very friendly, but we basically needed to hold his hand to get the place running. We were the first customers, and I needed to ask him to light the candles and clean the tables; my husband asked him to turn down the music so we could talk. A special Christmas menu had been prepared by the chef, but throughout the meal when we had questions about it, the waiter had no knowledge of it - he kept going back to ask. The kitchen is down on the 2nd floor, so the food is slow in coming, and the water is lukewarm, as it's held in thermoses on the 10th floor. The food was very disappointing as well... and by Rapid City standards was very expensive. The soup was too salty, presentation unkempt, veal tough, desserts sickeningly sweet. I rarely give a negative review, but the Alex Johnson needs help, and I really hope that it will get it, because it's a beloved institution to the Black Hills area.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Since 1928, the historic Hotel Alex Johnson has welcomed visitors from around the globe. Located at the heart of Downtown Rapid City, the Hotel Alex Johnson is an easy 25-minute drive from Mount Rushmore and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Hotel Alex Johnson includes 143 rooms and suites and houses the Vertex Sky Bar, Paddy O'Neills Irish Pub, Seattle's Best Coffee, Chubby Chipmunk Hand-Dipped Chocolates, AJ's Wicked Salon and the Alex Johnson Mercantile. The Hotel Alex Johnson Rapid City is now a part of the Curio Collection by Hilton and welcomes Hilton HHonors guests. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Alex Johnson Hotel
- Alex Johnson Rapid City