Midwest Living Review
There's no doubt about it: The Burntside Lodge is a wonderful place. The crowded parking lot and the bustling restaurant lobby make it clear that it's no longer a hidden gem. It's been written up in most major magazines, and the guest books are filled with page after page of admiration. The historic, classy cabins offer everything you could want -- beautiful knotty pine walls, views of the lake or pine forest, and clean, comfortable furniture. Even small details, like the handcrafted cast-iron toilet paper hooks in at least one of the cabins, show the place's history. It's the oldest remaining guest lodge in the Ely area, and some cabins were built in the early 1900s. The surroundings, of course, are spectacular -- Boundary Waters-esque pine trees; a cool, clear lake; rugged, mossy shores; and fiery sunsets at night. The lodge, too, is topnotch. The resort's been in the LaMontagne family for more than 67 years, and Lou and Lonnie are consummate hosts. You'll find Lonnie behind the counter, mixing coffee drinks at the full coffee bar or bringing out homemade scones while chatting with well-heeled guests from around the world. The lodge has an enchanting feel in the evenings, and both the upscale restaurant and bar are beautiful places to relax. A gift shop offers beautiful local artwork and delicacies like Tasmanian Leatherwood honey. The one downside is the price. Low season rates run $156-$389 per night; high season rates run $195-$487 per night. Many Minnesota resorts offer similarly beautiful, well-equipped cabins, in similar surroundings, for significantly less money. Undoubtedly some of the extra money goes toward upkeep for the restaurant, but that can't explain the entire discrepancy -- after all, other resorts offer other programs (like full-day children's activities) that Burntside doesn't have. It truly is an excellent resort, and it's worth a visit, but you could pay 30 percent less elsewhere.