Whitefish, Montana is a great destination throughout the year, near a lake, the Whitefish ski mountain, and Glacier National Park. For a sophisticated stay, the Firebrand Hotel is a great choice right in the action.
Located a few blocks from the shopping, dining, and drinking area of this attractive town, the Firebrand Hotel does an excellent job of paying homage to Montana and the wild west, while also packaging it in a contemporary, hip design ethos that makes it appeal to many upscale guests coming from the big cities beyond like Seattle and San Francisco.
The multi-functional lobby, bar, coffee, and restaurant area is an inviting space. Dominated by a big two-sided gas fireplace in the center and large windows on two sides, it’s filled with natural light in the daytime and when the weather gets cold, it’s a nice place to warm up. With a mix of stone and steel, mounted bull skulls and and modern light fixtures, it shows both sides of today’s Montana.
The counter area is a coffee shop with breakfast goodies and locally roasted coffee in the morning for grab-and-go, then turns into a bar at night with a dozen Montana craft beers and plenty of interesting cocktails. There’s a daily happy hour from 4:00 to 6:00 to kick things off.
The restaurant menu mostly features small plates meant to be shared, such as flatbreads, potstickers, and bison sliders. The breakfast menu features hearty items meant to get you geared up for adventure. There’s the Hiker’s Breakfast, the Firebrand Burrito, and Huckleberry French Toast. (It’ apparently an unwritten Montana eatery requirement to have something made from huckleberries on the menu.) We also walked over to Fleur Bake Shop one day for breakfast, a delicious place owned by a talented pastry chef.
The Firebrand Hotel has bikes for rent to explore the area, though they require an extra charge. There’s a well-equipped gym to use though, with aerobic machines and weights.
You can also get your muscles loosened up at the Firebrand Spa, where massages run from $100 (Signature Massage, 50 minutes) to $175 (Riverstone Therapy, 110 minutes). They also offer facials, enhancements, and spa packages with multiple items.
Be sure to stay here for long enough to enjoy the roof, with its patio space and big group hot tub that’s a nice gathering spot, with food and cocktail service from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the summer months. Weather permitting, there are yoga classes with a view up top as well.
The rooms are more plainly decorated than the public areas, but are well-equipped. They have padded headboards, carpeting, a few pieces of furniture, and windows you can actually open. Since this hotel is only a few years old, you’ll find plenty of electrical outlets in convenient places for recharging your gadgets.
All rooms feature small fridge, coffee maker, a built-in desk, large TV with cable and an HDMI connection. They also have a safe big enough for a laptop and ample storage space. The bathrooms have love-it-or-hate-it glass showers cubes where you’re fully exposed, with some nice toiletries and a stone and tile decor.
For an upgrade, get a King Skyline with Balcony room for some outdoor space and a double vanity in a roomier bathroom. There are also a few suites, though you’ll probably have to call to book one of those; they don’t show up in the online booking systems. Top-floor Skyline rooms have a gas fireplace.
For an extra charge, you can bring a dog, but only for designated first-floor rooms.
This property deserves kudos for its environmental efforts. If you decline housekeeping services for the day, you get a $5 voucher for the lounge. They also use paper straws and have a place by the elevator where you can refill your water bottle instead of adding more plastic waste to our landfills.
With its own parking on site, this hotel is a great place to use as a base for exploring the region. It’s only a 15 to 20-minute drive to Whitefish skiing or hiking trails, to white water rafting, or to the entrance of Glacier National Park at West Glacier.
Staffers can help set up local adventures any time of year, including snowmobiling and ice fishing in the winter, mountain biking and horseback riding in the summer.
Review by editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted at Firebrand Hotel while researching Glacier Country, Montana travel articles for another publication. All photos by Leffel except the roof patio shot, courtesy of the hotel.