A First-Hand Review of What It’s Like to Stay at Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park
I knew my daughters and I were in for a treat staying at the historic Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park as soon as we got there. We hadn’t even entered the hotel yet to check in when we saw the famous geyser erupt right before stepping through the doors.
It was great getting to see the Old Faithful geyser without feeling like we were scrambling to watch it or having that “oh shoot we just missed it and now will have to wait for the next one to get a proper view” annoyance.
Instead, we appreciated the unexpected show, checked in, dropped off our bags in our room and freshened up, and then had a leisurely exploration of the hotel. All this before taking a seat on the Inn’s second-floor terrace to watch Old Faithful erupt again.
More on that viewing spot in a minute. First, let’s cover some history of Old Faithful Inn.
Old Faithful Inn’s Epic History and Architecture
Old Faithful Inn was built in 1904 with a stunning architectural plan that features a large central foyer area that stretches up for several stories.
Old Faithful Inn is a National Historic Site and considered to be the largest log structure in the world. Most of its original structure was made from locally sourced materials.
In the middle of that foyer is a massive stone fireplace. It is adorned with a large clock made of copper, wrought iron, and wood.
It may be the biggest one you’ve ever seen. I think it very well might be the biggest fireplace I’ve ever seen!
The original design for the lodge called for a staircase to zigzag around the central open area and extend to all the levels. This was called the Crow’s Nest.
You can still see the Crow’s Nest, but unfortunately after the 1959 earthquake this central staircase has been deemed not sturdy and safe to use. So you can’t go all the way up the inner staircase anymore, but it’s still quite a sight to see.
Spreading out from the lobby to the east and west are the accommodations for the hotel.
When Old Faithful Inn was built it included a number of rooms right next to the lobby that are now referred to as the “Old House” rooms.
In 1919 and 1927, two large additions were added to Old Faithful Inn: the east wing and the west wing respectively. Today, these sections of the hotel have what most would think of as standard hotel rooms.
You can get to the east and west wings from the lobby by walking through the Old House sections. The west wing even has a foyer that adjoins the two sections with a seating area. You can also enter this foyer from the parking lot without having to go through the main lobby and Old House.
The east and west wings also have elevators so that is where you’ll want to head if you want to avoid stairs to get to your room. (With the exception of the first floor of the west wing, which still requires some stairs to get to.)
What are the differences between the Old House and the West and East Wings?
Well, for starters, just the look of them is different. The Old House has hallways and rooms with log walls that give you the feeling of staying in a rustic cabin.
The newer wing is more of your standard hotel room with drywall and not too much character. It has some newer amenities and is more expensive than the Old House.
This might make it seem like you would of course want to stay in the Old House since it’s more historic and affordable, right? Well, not so fast.
The Old House mostly only has rooms with a shared bath. That means you’ll have your own private room to sleep or hang out in, but when it comes time to use the toilet or take a shower and brush your teeth you’ll be using that shared bathroom down the hallway.
Now, knowing I would be writing this article I did poke my head into the bathrooms and I can attest that they are beautifully updated and much larger than I was expecting.
Upon entering the bathroom there’s a long row of sinks in front of a row of toilet stalls. Behind that are the shower stalls, which have private seating and changing areas right next to the shower. The bathroom seemed very clean and had an ornate turn of the century vibe.
Now, there are a small number of Old House rooms with an ensuite bath, but they only have one queen bed and — as you might guess — book up quickly. (Side note: The Old House rooms with shared bath have 1,2, or 3 queen beds in them. The 3 queen bed ones book up super fast as well sine they’re especially popular with families.)
But luckily, if you’d like to have your own bathroom space and the Old House ensuites are all booked up, then you can book one of the west or east wing rooms, all of which have an ensuite bath whether you’re staying in the east wing or west wing.
I stayed in one of the newer wings with my two young kiddos and so appreciated the easy bathroom access!
How Much Does It Cost to Stay at Old Faithful Inn?
Our room cost $409 + tax at the end of June. This was A LOT for a hotel room that is, honestly, fairly basic. But I wasn’t paying for luxurious amenities; I was paying for the luxury of staying in one of the most famous hotels in the world and having easy, convenient access to the wonders of the Old Faithful area after most day trippers left.
If you book early, those Old House rooms with shared bath are more affordable, costing between $200-$350 depending on the room.
Can You See Old Faithful Erupt From Your Room at Old Faithful Inn?
Mostly, no. BUT there are a few suites with a partial view of Old Faithful. These will cost you around $1,000 a night.
My Favorite Viewing Spot for Old Faithful
I got this hot tip from my mom who has visited the lodge numerous times: watch from the second floor terrace on the front of the inn.
The terrace is right next to a bar area. I got a glass of wine to enjoy while we waited for the geyser to erupt, which was quite appreciated after the long day of driving and exploring Yellowstone!
The terrace has some tables under a covered area and rows of viewing benches in the uncovered area facing the geyser. We got a spot at a table and my kids enjoyed some snacks and chocolate milk that we got from the cafe on the first floor before heading up to the terrace.
Then we relaxed and read a book about Yellowstone National Park that we got in Old Faithful Inn’s gift shop.
Old Faithful took longer to erupt than the time said (the predictions are not always 100% accurate) so I was glad we had a relaxing place to wait instead of on the crowded seating platform right by Old Faithful. I saw others passing the time playing cards and board games.
When it started to erupt we moved to the uncovered area to watch and it was a spectacular view!
Best of all for this mom, when it was done, it took two minutes to walk back to our room where my exhausted kids fell immediately asleep.
I will say I think it’s still worth it to see it up erupt up close from the viewing platform at least once so you can watch it erupt literally right in front of you. But I’ve been there, done that and the terrace was so, so much more relaxing for this trip.
Plus, staying at Old Faithful Inn means you can watch while enjoying a cocktail int he evening from the terrace and then easily get up to watch the sunrise eruption, which is also breathtaking (another hot tip from my mom!).
10 Other Things to Know Before You Book Your Room at Old Faithful Inn
- There is no air conditioning. The elevation is high enough that this isn’t a big deal at night since you can usually get a cool breeze through the window after the sun goes down. But we found the room to be pretty stuffy in the early evening. We just went out and explored anyway though so it wasn’t that big of a deal.
- There is an in-room coffee machine in the east and west wing rooms! In-room coffee makers can be hard to find in national park lodges so I was quite happy about it. Gotta have my coffee before a day of hiking and sightseeing!
- The common areas get really crowded, especially when the tour buses arrive. It was crazy how much longer the lines for food and even the gift shop got when a new bus first arrived. Eventually, the crowds would disperse, but it was still a busy place.
- Most of the day trippers disperse in the evening and early morning. It was so much more peaceful in the inn during these times. This is yet another reason I loved staying here.
- Indoor Viewing Tip: There are window benches on the upper floor from which you can see the geyser. This isn’t a perfect view, but it’s a good place to watch if the weather isn’t so great.
- Old Faithful Inn books up pretty much the second the rooms become available, which is on the 5th of each month for the same entire month of the following year. So, if you’re planning to travel in July 2024 you should be ready to book on July 5, 2023 at 12am MST online or at 7am MST to book by phone. If you miss out, don’t lose hope. Cancellations are constantly occurring, especially in the weeks leading up to your travel date. I recommend booking somewhere else in West Yellowstone that has a 72-hour or shorter cancellation policy. Then check the reservation system multiple times a day for Old Faithful Inn to see if anything comes up — and be prepared to book immediately. Cancellations are usually snapped up within minutes of being released.
- The dining room is only open for dinner reservations to guests staying at the inn. The Old Faithful Dining Room is famous for its history and rustic beauty and evening menu, so if dining there is important to you, then you’ll want to spend a night or two at Old Faithful Inn. The Dining Room is also open for breakfast and lunch and is first-come, first-serve. Expect a wait unless you’re there early.
- Old Faithful Inn is not the same thing as the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. So be aware if you’re booking in the winter that you’re not going to be staying in this Inn.
- There is no dedicated parking for Old Faithful Inn guests. However, if you arrive around check-in time, you should be able to park fairly close since most day visitors have left. Though it’s still a walk up some stairs or hill. If you’re there and it’s busy, you can park along the reception drive to drop off your bags and your travel buddy before parking. It’s a large parking lot with stairs or a fairly steep hill to climb, so you don’t want to have to lug your suitcases too far. Arriving right at check-in time may result in more people in line to check in so maybe get there a bit after.
- Old Faithful Inn has more to offer than just seeing Old Faithful erupt. While seeing the famous geyser is of course a big allure of staying here, there are more natural wonders to behold. Behind the parking lot are trails leading to even more geysers and mud pots. You’ll also likely see bison just lounging around the property (remember to keep your distance!).
So Is It Worth Staying at Old Faithful Inn?
Bottom line: Yes! As long as you manage your expectations and understand you’re paying for the experience and not the room amenities, then I think it’s hard to have any regrets about staying at Old Faithful Inn. I thought it was well worth it. Now I want to stay there again someday — but in one of the Old House rooms!