When looking for a hotel in Bozeman, Montana, the time of year you visit and the time of year you book makes a huge difference in the price you pay. I happened to be visiting in June, which full on tourist season.
The problem is that I’m frugal but also a hotel snob. I like to stay at really nice places but I don’t like to pay a lot. This probably comes from my travel agent days when I could stay at the nicest places for an industry rate. (Think Willard Intercontinental in Washington, DC for only $50 per night!).
When I started planning our family vacation to Yellowstone National Park in March, I had just three months to pull off all my research, get halfway decent flights, and find some hotels that would meet my requirements. We found the best way for us to travel was to fly in and out of Bozeman, Montana, stay at the Springhill Suites in Island Park, Idaho for a few nights, and fill in the gaps elsewhere. (We ended up discovering so much surrounding Yellowstone!)
Is It Worth Staying in Bozeman?
We decided to stay the last two nights of our trip in Bozeman at the RSVP Hotel. This gave us time to acclimate to the populated world again after spending a few days in Yellowstone! But we also wanted time to explore the downtown area, full of shops and restaurants.
We loved eating at Montana Ale Works (recommended by the RSVP Hotel) which is good for adults and family. And my favorite shop was the Montana Shirt Co. just across the street from Blackbird.
You’ll also want to check out the amazing Museum of the Rockies, especially if you’re a dinosaur or astronomy fan (we loved the planetarium). That’s a good “day of departure” activity and it’s convenient because you’re still close to the airport.
The challenge is in finding a hotel in Bozeman that doesn’t cost $1000 per night (seriously, that’s what the Kimpton was running when I looked!). And to make sure it was in an area that allowed us to easily explore downtown Bozeman.
Is the RSVP Hotel in the Downtown Bozeman Area?
If you’ve never been to Bozeman, it helps to get the lay of the land. Downtown is a small area that runs along Main Street (the thick yellow line running from east to west). Many shops and restaurants are clustered around Main Street and there are a few hotels in that vicinity but you will pay a price for the proximity.
We went a touch further out to stay at the RSVP Hotel (sometimes listed at the RSVP Motel – more on that below). It’s a 14 minute walk to the main downtown area and a 3 minute drive. Don’t think of Bozeman like other cities. There’s plenty of parking throughout.
Is RSVP a Hotel or Motel?
When searching online, you may see this property listed as the RSVP Hotel and as the RSVP Motel. So which is it? My family was a little nervous when I told them where we were staying. But they should have known to trust me! (I research my hotels thoroughly!)
This property was once known as the Rainbow Motel, a clean, budget-friendly motor lodge in the heart of Bozeman. It was a true motel. It has since been purchased and remodeled into a very hip and retro motel with all the amenities of a hotel.
Just to be clear, the door to each room does open to the outside. But that’s where the motel comparisons end. Everything is upscale, from the silk robes in the room to the glass of champagne when you check in. They embrace the motel roots while creating a vintage-inspired hotel experience.
What Makes RSVP Hotel Different
The decor is funky, retro, and welcoming at the same time. Although the rooms are a touch on the small side for families, the bathroom is large and well-equipped. But the real difference is in the little touches.
Every room has a phonograph (it’s neat to show your kids a real live record played) and a record for the room. And of Johnny Cash singing gospel isn’t your vibe, just take your record to the front desk and exchange for something else (ranging from Barbra Streisand to modern tunes).
Our room also had a small crystal that guests can take advantage of – whether to help cleanse the space or give you a zen like feeling as you relax into your bed. I actually took my crystal home with me and it resides in my bedroom.
In the evening, after a good meal downtown, head to the center courtyard to relax. There are couches and a fire pit or you get enjoy the water. The pool and hot tub have been redone to give a spa-like feeling. We spent a few evenings in the hot tub getting to know some of the other guests.
Stay AND Eat
Finally, you have to EAT while you’re staying there. Or you can eat even if you’re not staying there. On the premises is a cafe called The Farmer’s Daughters. If you’re looking for breakfast sandwiches, muffins, coffee, or tea, their healthy and gourmet options will surprise you. And the pricing was very reasonable as well!
If you’re looking for a higher end hotel with prices closer to a motel, check out the RSVP Hotel and you’ll see why TripAdvisor has rated it the #2 best value of places to stay in Bozeman!