The Lark Hotel: A Fresh Eye on Big Sky Country
The 1960s-era motel on Main Street had been a bit of an eyesore for travelers entering downtown Bozeman from points west. But thanks to the dedicated efforts of local boosters, businesspeople and architects—including Erik Nelson and Brian Caldwell of Thinktank Design Group and Jon Evans of North Fork Builders—the vintage 38-room motor lodge has been meticulously remodeled into a comfortable and stylish 21st-century basecamp called The Lark.
In true local spirit, the transformation began with a dedication to sustainability. “They kept as much of the existing building as possible,” says Keith Comiso, general manager of the hotel, which opened in April. Stripping the structure down to its 2-by-4s and cinderblocks, a team of local builders and craftspeople gutted and reconfigured the lobby, transformed the once-constricted walkways and created covered outdoor gathering spaces.
Inside, guest rooms have been dramatically refreshed and infused with local flavor. New amenities include Wi-Fi, luxurious bathrooms, flat-screen televisions and built-in platform beds with pillow-top mattresses. Room dividers made of boards reclaimed from an old barn in White Sulphur Springs, about 100 miles north, and wall “infographics,” created by a team of area artists, depict Bozeman’s geography, wildlife and history.
But perhaps the greatest metamorphosis is the one guests experience when they check in. Casually clad staffers deliver personalized, passport-sized “field journals” containing handwritten suggestions tailored to each guest’s interests or needs, gleaned through pre-arrival phone calls or email exchanges. That kind of attention to detail and personalized service continues throughout a stay at The Lark. “We want to make your visit comfortable,” concludes Comiso, “but just as importantly, we want to inspire you to explore everything that Bozeman has to offer.”
In every guest room at The Lark, custom-created wall art—each with its own explanatory written key—provides guests with “a really nice way to interact” with Bozeman and its surroundings, says general manager Keith Comiso. Patrick Hoffman, a ceramist and art teacher at Bozeman High, coordinated and led a group of 10 local artists who created a series of eye-catching and engaging “infographics” for guests.
Among the works are a chronicle of key events in Bozeman’s history presented in the form of a tree’s annual rings ; a life-sized image of a moose, standing 7 feet 6 inches tall at its shoulders; a fictitious mountain range made up of the tallest peaks in the area; and a comparison of the superimposed wingspans of seven different Montana birds, from the lark to the bald eagle.
Guest bathrooms include walk-in showers and large porcelain sinks.
The lobby was redesigned with casual seating to encourage informative interactions between guests and the hotel’s locally based staffers. In the Map Room, visitors can pick up guides to area activities based on their interests. Locally roasted coffee from Little Red Wagon, tea from Townshend’s Tea House and trail mix from Elliotts of Montana are always available to guests in need of a quick pick-me-up.
Also in the lobby, a work area features such essentials as a computer, printer, copier and phone.
Walkways on each of the hotel’s two floors have been expanded, with broad overhanging roof extensions that shelter them from the sun and rain, and jutting angled walls that buffer the sights and sounds of the parking area while creating sightlines toward a green space planted with trees, tall grasses and flowers.
The hotel’s fresh look extends to the smallest details, including boldly graphic room numbers.
Victory Taco, a “truck” selling handcrafted creations on freshly made tortillas, is permanently parked outside, and open for both lunch and dinner.
An outdoor fireplace makes the covered patio off the lobby a welcoming gathering spot even in inclement weather.
IF YOU GO
The Lark, 122 W. Main Street, Bozeman, MT 59715
Room rates start at $149, going higher during summer and special events and on weekends and holidays. Options among the 38 rooms include the Lark King, with one king-sized bed; the Main Street King, which includes a private deck overlooking Main Street; the Queen + Bunk, perfect for families with children; the Double Double, good for groups and families; and the Grand Avenue King, featuring both a king-sized bed and a separate sitting area with sleeper sofa.