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    Glacier’s Belton Chalet: Should you stay here? An honest review

    Belton Chalet in Glacier National Park

    West Glacier is the most popular section of Glacier National Park. This puts lodging in high demand.

    The Swiss-style Belton Chalet is both rustic and comfortable with great access to the Amtrak railway. It is located just 5 minutes outside of West Glacier.  Although lacking the views and impressive lobby of the other lodges in Glacier National Park, the Belton Chalet is a good choice if you aren’t able to secure lodging at Lake McDonald.

    Belton Chalet at night

    I’m Cheryl and have lived in the West my whole life. I’ve been a special educator for 24 years and love to travel with my family whenever we have school breaks.  Glacier is one of my favorite national parks and I’ve been lucky enough to stay in all the lodges.  

    So if you’re thinking about staying at the Belton Chalet, keep on reading for my full review!

    Pros and Cons

    ProsCons
    You feel like you are in the woodsNo AC/TV
    Across the street to the Amtrak stationSmall/Cramped lobby
    One of the first lodges built by the Northern RailwayCreaky floors
    Rooms are rustically delightful25 minutes from the best sites of West Glacier
    Free continental breakfast and cookiesLocated on a busy road
    Fine diningMy least favorite of the lodges
    Large recreation room

    Location

    On a map, the Belton Chalet is less than 5 minutes from West Glacier.  However, you will drive at least another 25-minutes before you get to the sites in the park. Lake McDonald Lodge is a much better option if you are looking to be close to the action.

    Map showing the different lodges in Glacier

    Located on a busy road

    Unlike the other lodges that are placed more remotely in the mountains, the Belton Chalet lacks the feeling of “taking you away.” It is located on Highway 2, the only road through West Glacier, so it gets a fair amount of speedy traffic.

    To be fair, the grounds of the Belton Chalet are forested and the pine trees smell great and you feel like you are in the woods.

    Amtrak Train Station

    Right across the street is the Amtrak station.  If you’re not aware, the Amtrak is a train that you can take across the country! Old-time train travel is still possible and is absolutely on my bucket list.

    The proximity to the train station is a real bonus because it’s just a short walk across the street to the Belton Chalet.  Some guests may find the sound of the train annoying (our room came equipped with earplugs) but the train only comes twice a day and I thought it was part of the fun. 

    It’s tradition for the guests to wave goodbye from the balcony as the train departs.

    Checking In

    Belton Chalet registration desk

    This was the first lodge we stayed at on our most recent trip to Glacier National Park. Although it would soon be outdone by some others, our one night at the Belton was really delightful!

    cookie out on deck of Belton Chalet

    When we checked in they gave us a cookie. It may sound like a small thing, but it was really nice to go out on the deck and eat our cookies as the sun was setting!

    Our Room

    room at Benton

    Our room was “cozy” which sometimes means “cramped.”  Both are true about our room at the Belton Chalet.

    The Belton Chalet offers a variety of rooms, including small rooms for 2 people, to cabins that fit as many as 6.  Our room was really cute and had an old-fashioned feel.  Our bed had a metal headboard and a soft, comfy mattress, and high-quality linens. Perfect for crashing after a day of visiting Glacier.

    Belton Chalet welcome note
    A nice little welcome note

    The furnishings were basic with a wooden desk, a rack to hang your clothes, and a wooden stand to hold your fan.

    Although Glacier stays pretty cool most of the year, July and August can get a little toasty and a fan doesn’t always cut it.  I missed the AC.  However, most national park lodges don’t have AC so the Belton Chalet is no different than its counterparts.

    Bathroom

    Bwereathroom sink at Belton Chalet

    The bathroom had some nice modern touches.  The pedestal sink and mirror were right outside the bathroom. There isn’t much space to store your toiletries but I love that one person can get ready while the other showers.

    Shower and toilet at Belton Chalet

    The shower had great water pressure and the towels were soft.  

    No complaints about the bathroom.

    Amenities

    Of the 6 lodges in Glacier National Park that I have stayed, the Belton Chalet was my least favorite.  The amenities were a big part of that. 

    The Good

    One thing this lodge had that none of the others did was a complimentary breakfast.  It was just coffee and pastries but we sure appreciated not having to track down something to eat. 

    recreation room
    Downstairs recreation room

    Another nice feature was that there was a big recreation room downstairs.  It contained a fireplace, several tables and chairs, and lots of books and games to play.

    Although I did not have a chance to try out the Belton Grill, people love it. It had some of the best reviews I’ve ever seen.  Matt and I dined at Josephine’s Speakeasy at the recommendation of a local.

    Belton Chalet restaurant
    Belton Grill Dining Room is a separate building

    The Amtrak is not an amenity, but there is no closer place to the train station than the Belton Chalet.

    Lastly, unlike the Lake McDonald Lodge, the Belton Chalet has its own parking lot so you can park close to the building

    The Bad

    My biggest complaint is the lobby.  Although it had a cozy fireplace, piano, and board games, it was very small and cramped. It did not have a window view from the lobby either, though the deck – only a few feet away from the lobby – did provide mountain views.   

    lobby at Belton Chalet
    The Belton Chalet Lobby

    I rarely spend time in hotel lobbies. However, I do spend time in national park lobbies. There are no TVs in the rooms so hanging out and meeting other guests is part of the fun. I never saw any guests lounging in this lobby.

    Belton Chalet shirt
    Shirt sold in the Belton Chalet lobby

    The Belton Chalet is one of the smaller hotels in Glacier and didn’t have many services.  I didn’t see any bellhops or an information desk. I didn’t mind having to carry my own gear but I love having someone available to answer my questions.

    Ambiance

    Belton Chalet entry
    The deck and entry to the Belton Chalet

    What I didn’t like

    The Belton Chalet has three factors working against it as far as ambiance is concerned.  

    First, it’s located on the main road.  You definitely feel more secluded than you would by staying in a city, but you initially miss the mountain feel many guests are hoping for.

    Second, the views of the mountains are not as nice as the lodges inside the park, for obvious reasons. Like Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier, the Belton Chalet is located outside of the park boundaries. At both locations you can see mountains in the distance, but it’s not the same as Lake McDonald Lodge or Many Glacier Lodge.

    Third, there is no social life in the lobby.  It’s not a comfortable place to hang out.  The restaurant may be where all the action is, but we didn’t get to experience it. Maybe next time.

    What I liked

    With all that being said, there are some charming and unique features that only the Belton Chalet has. 

    First, the Northern Railway built several lodges in Glacier National Park and the Belton Chalet was one of the first.  It wasn’t as popular as some of the other lodges and ended up being vacant for about 50 years.  

    In 1997, it was sold and restored.  The update went well and I’m impressed that so much of the Swiss Chalet style remains. It feels like you stepped back in time. They did a really nice job keeping its original architecture. 

    Belton Chalet exterior
    The Belton Chalet’s deck and private balconies

    Second, there are several balconies out front where guests can enjoy a drink and look out at the mountains in the distance. The road and the train station are below the balcony, but the restaurant and trees provide a buffer.

    We watched a lovely sunset. There’s a nice vibe out there and the air has an amazing pine scent.

    Third, some of the rooms have their own private balconies.  This can be a great romantic moment for you and your sweetheart.

    Plus, how many places can you go and watch passenger trains arrive and depart?

    Know before you go

    downstairs fireplace
    Downstairs

    Reservations

    It was easy for us to secure our reservation at the Belton Chalet.  Reservations are available up to a year in advance but we didn’t get ours until a few months before.

    Belton Chalet is outside of Glacier National Park. It is owned by Pursuit, unlike the lodges inside the park, which are owned by the National Park Service and administered by Xanterra.

    To book a room here, go directly to the Belton Chalet website.

    Room sizes

    Cabins that fit up to 6 people are available if you are traveling with a larger group.

    Open Year-Round

    The Belton Chalet is also open year-round, unlike some of the other lodges that are located within the park that close during the off-season.

    Rates

    The best rate I’ve seen for a 2-person room at this hotel is $177 but you can expect to pay over $200 during the summer.

    Belton Chalet poster
    Poster in the lobby

    Should you stay here?

    Maybe

    My first choice for staying in the West Glacier area is the Lake McDonald Lodge. It has amazing views, a great ambiance, and is closest to the things Glacier is famous for like the Going to the Sun Road, Trail of the Cedars, and many more.

    If you are riding the Amtrak or aren’t able to get a reservation at Lake McDonald, the Belton Chalet is a great second choice.  It is also a more affordable option.

    Although I said the Belton Chalet is my least favorite of all the lodges I’ve stayed at Glacier National Park, that doesn’t mean it’s not wonderful. 

    I enjoyed my stay there and would love to go back and try their restaurant.

    Alternative Lodging in West Glacier

    Since West Glacier is the main entrance to Glacier National Park, there are many lodging options on the west side.

    Lake McDonald is the only lodge inside the park on the West Side. We prefer this over the Belton Chalet. See our full Lake McDonald Lodge review.

    There are many hotels, VRBOs, and Airbnbs in West Glacier, Kalispell, and Whitefish. We recommend using booking.com to find the best deals for lodging in these areas that are outside of the park.

    Is there anything else I should know?

    Yes! Planning a trip to a national park can take days. It can be overwhelming and stressful. Let us lighten the load. Check out our must-have Travel Itinerary to Glacier National Park 

    Our itinerary provides you with a daily (yet flexible) plan to help you efficiently see the park. It will get you to the most important places, at the right time to avoid the crowds, by telling you exactly how to do it. You can’t go wrong.

    Resources

    ABOUT US

    We’re Matt and Cheryl, and we’re in the Rockies. :) We are both teachers. Cheryl teaches special ed, and Matt teaches American history. We love the American West and the national parks. We want to help you have a great vacation on your next trip to the Rockies.

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