We make a point of trying out a new ski resort every year, and this year we decided to try Big Mountain in Whitefish, Montana. Whitefish is about 30 miles north of Kalispell, Montana. Kalispell airport (FCA) has gotten more and more flights in recent years, and part of the reason we were able to make an easy trip to Montana was because United started flying a non-stop flight from our hometown airport, SFO. Kalispell has plenty of mid-range chain hotels, but we wanted to stay in Whitefish, a much cuter town which also happens to be closer to the mountain.
Options for lodging in Whitefish are a bit more sparse. If you want to stay at any sort of chain, you’re mostly out of luck. We were traveling with our 15 month old son so staying walking distance to the restaurants and walking distance to the Snow Bus were important to us. After doing some searching, we finally decided on the Firebrand Hotel. We paid cash for our stay there, and we didn’t earn any points. Sigh… A little part of me dies every time I have to recite that line, but sometimes avoiding a chain is the best option.
The Firebrand is a brand new hotel. It was finished in August 2016, and it has a classy western theme to it. The hotel isn’t huge, but they have a great lobby bar and restaurant. We asked to have a room on the ground floor so we had the ability to put our son down to bed at night and then bring the baby monitor into the bar so we could relax there in the evenings. This worked out great every night. Actually, we only had one snag, and that was when we booked the room. The Firebrand claims to have a couple “King Suites.” I called and asked about the suites, and the person I spoke to seemed to indicate that they included a lot more space than a standard room, but when we arrived there, we found that the King Suite is basically the exact same thing as a regular King Room, but with a fireplace and a balcony. We switched to a standard room, and the Firebrand was great about adjusting our rate back down.
The lobby of the Firebrand has a beautiful, rustic Western look to it. Both a bar and restaurant are built into the lobby. We had dinner at the restaurant our first night there, and we found the menu to be eclectic, varied, and delicious. For example, you could get dishes like sliders with quail eggs, pot stickers, or a beet salad. Here are a few food samples.
While we only had a full dinner there once, I certainly recommend hitting up the bar for some local beers. As much as I don’t typically like the fruit flavored beers, I found the huckleberry beer to be delicious. Zachary often joined us for happy hour, and we made sure to bring those disposable place-mats along!
The rooms themselves are pretty standard hotel rooms. There’s nothing remarkable about them, other than they are all brand new so everything was very pristine.
It turns out that I forgot to take pictures of the bathroom! The best I can give you is of my 16 month old son about to take his first ever shower. As you can see from the picture, the shower is tile with glass doors. While the bathroom isn’t huge, it’s very modern and clean. I have no complaints about it at all.
I was pleasantly surprised by the gym. I typically find that small boutique hotels will often skip the gym or just toss a treadmill into a room and call it a gym.
Thankfully, the Firebrand actually built out a real gym. In terms of cardio, it had two treadmills, a stationary bike, and an elliptical machine. There were free weights, a multi-purpose machine, a bench, and more. Considering the limited size of the hotel, this gym was more than fine.
There’s a rooftop deck on the hotel as well, and I bet it’s going to be awesome in the summer. In the winter it’s just a spot to build a snowman and catch a view of downtown. I talked to the staff about their plans for the roof deck. They said they would likely build a bar up there, host private events, and cater dinners up there. It sounds like it’s going to be a great spot. As much as we enjoyed Whitefish in the winter, it sounds magnificent in the summer.
The Firebrand Hotel is a great boutique hotel in Whitefish, Montana. If we were planning another trip there, I would make sure to stay there again. I do wish they had a few actual suites with extra bedrooms for families, though. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer!