LAKE PLACID, N.Y. - Luxury isn't supposed to live in a place like this.
Lake Placid is a hearty, outdoorsy family-vacation spot. You can go to dinner in a T-shirt, in a flannel shirt - heck, even a near-muscle shirt - and not feel too out of place.
But one hotel here challenges all those preconceived notions. Welcome to Mirror Lake Inn, an enclave of pampering in an environment of rugged individualism.
Low-key Lake Placid pampering, that is. If it's afternoon when you pull up the skinny main drive to the white clapboard building there might be a basket of warm chocolate-chip cookies on the front desk, but no gorgeous blonde in a rumor of a skirt behind it.
This isn't Las Vegas' idea of luxury. It just turns up the comfort level several notches.
Stepping into your room is a step back in time - or what back in time would be like if it was peppered with modern luxuries. The ceilings are delightfully high, harking to a day when folks knew folks needed some room over their heads to truly relax. The beds are plush, with high-thread-count sheets and pillows a plenty.
Even the older-looking desk turns out to be more comfortable for doing some laptop work than many new hotels' reputedly ergonomic numbers. And when was the last time you saw hardwood floors in a hotel room? The only thing that seems just plain old is the too-small-for-soaking bathtub.
Another coolly old-fashioned touch is a downstairs common area - you might even call it a parlor - you'd actually want to hang out in. This cozy room off the lobby is like everyone's idea of a millionaire's library - all nicely accented wood, bookshelves stocked with editions you won't find at Barnes & Noble and old-school games.
Not Donkey Kong old-school, checkers and backgammon old-school. Families and couples alike seem to delight in playing something without a computer screen.
"This is the first time I ever played this," one lad who looked to be about 10 enthused. "When did they come out with this checkers, Dad?"
Even with all the low-tech fun, the best part of a stay here is the location.
Sure, it's a couple of minutes on foot to Main Street and its shops and restaurants. And it's convenient to a good half-dozen of Lake Placid's historic golf courses (the reasonable prices of which make it easier to afford the inn's $280-$400 room rates).
But what really makes Mirror Lake Inn's location is Mirror Lake.
Its name notwithstanding, the town of Lake Placid actually overlooks Mirror Lake. (Lake Placid, the lake, is outside the city. Confusing, but that's upstate New York.) And Mirror Lake Inn boasts some of the best lake views anywhere, particularly if you can get a room on the fourth floor.
Along with the view, you get the View - the best restaurant in Lake Placid. Get a table on the underappreciated screened outdoor patio and you'll be looking over the lake with a gurgling creek practically right underneath your feet.
"Not many restaurants have their own creek," the View hostess said, smiling.
Just one. In the place where luxury meets Lake Placid. Might want to put a throw pillow in the pickup truck.
A stay at the Mirror Lake Inn was once a Wheel Of Fortune wheel prize contestants could win by landing on its space and picking the right letter.
October 16, 2006