Hershey Lodge is one of 3 official resorts belonging to Hersheypark. Hershey Hotel and Hersheypark Camping Resort round out the other two. The Lodge, with its woodsy motif and decor, is furthest from the theme park but makes up for the distance as much more than just a ‘lodge’. It’s actually a full-fledged resort, equipped with an abundance of recreational facilities and activities, restaurants, a spa, an 18-hole golf course, and other amenities, including a convenient shuttle service that runs approximately every 15-20 minutes to and from Hersheypark and Hershey’s Chocolate World.
Despite that nightly rates at Hershey Lodge are slightly more affordable than at Hershey Hotel and include free access to the fitness centre, mini golf, shuffleboard, and games rooms, etc., they are still quite high during peak season at approximately $325US per night for a standard double room – your choice of 2 queen beds or a king. With fees and taxes, expect to drop almost $800US on a 2-night stay excluding attractions and meals.
However, when taking into account that some of the chain hotels in the immediate area run with rates close or equal to Hershey Lodge (such as the Hilton, Hampton Inn, and SpringHill by Marriott), it makes more sense to stay at a property owned by the park given the perks that are included (early access to the park and rides, discounted park tickets, free admission to the Museum, Hershey Gardens and the Butterfly Conservatory, and convenient shuttle service that eliminates the need to drive and pay for parking, etc).
Aesthetics begin at the entrance with well-manicured grounds featuring gardens, a large pond with a gazebo, and a signature Hershey’s Kiss on the sign. There’s no doubt the lodge is well kept and pretty but, to be honest, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about it. Plenty of parking has been made available near the lobby entrance with 2 rows of spots conveniently marked for “10-minute check-in”. However, during peak season, chances are high that you’ll be waiting much longer to check in than 10 minutes…. much longer.
Most travelers know that hotels have official check-in times (2:00pm is standard), so visitors run the risk of waiting if attempting to check in sooner. Hershey Lodge sets their check-in as 4:00pm; however, will not guarantee a room until between 6:00pm-7:00pm. Such a scenario can cause issues, particularly for travelers with young children. Not to mention that it can take a large chunk of out the day… and out of the paid rate. Guests can periodically return to the lineup to inquire about their room status or opt to receive an informational text on their mobile phone when their room is finally ready. Although the option is given to leave luggage with the bellhop so travelers can immediately embark on their Hershey plans for the day and return to the lodge later for their room assignment, they must be available to accept the luggage in their room when it’s delivered. This means hightailing it back to the lodge upon receiving the text. However, for our experience, the promised text never came causing us to wait unnecessarily despite that the room was indeed ready.
Thankfully, if waiting for a room, there is plenty of seating in the expansive lobby, where guests can plug in and recharge electronics, visit the gift shop, or grab something to eat at one of the restaurants.
Hershey Lodge includes 6 diverse restaurants and snack bars including Hershey Grill (comparable to Denny’s or Perkins); Fire and Grain boasting “remastered” comfort foods; The Forebay, which is an upscale steak and seafood restaurant; Cocoa Beanery, essentially a coffee house with sandwiches and baked goods; Cocoa Cabana, which is a snack bar located at the waterpark; and The Bear’s Den – a sports-themed restaurant and bar with an extensive menu and extremely fast and friendly service. To be frank, we received far quicker, better and more friendly service at The Bear’s Den than anywhere else in the lodge.
Accommodations are attractive and quite clean with chocolate-inspired colors and decor, such as white bedspreads patterned with white Hershey Kisses and a long round pillow boasting the initials HL for Hershey Lodge. That said, there is nothing particularly special about the rooms, they’re basically standard hotel rooms with standard amenities. As for the mattresses, they are quite hard and have clearly seen better days.
Free wi-fi is available in-room, as is a flat screen TV, keypad safe, hair dryer, iron and ironing board, iPod alarm clock, coffee maker, and signature eco-friendly bath products made with infused cocoa. They look and smell inviting. Still, given that Hershey chocolate bars or handfuls of Kisses are handed out upon check-in and with every meal, activity, and tour, chances are that you might be quite over the smell of cocoa by the time you have a shower.
The lodge sits on varying elevations, with a single-floor motor lodge-like section that offers rooms at parking lot level accessible from outside, and a 5-floor hotel section with room access from inside the building. With several twists and turns to the lodge, seemingly as new sections have been added over the years, hallways have are now long and, depending on where your room is located, you might experience a notable walk to the elevator. Also, given the multi-level building with its multi-directions, views are different depending on where your room is located within the complex.
With gardens, pools, mini golf, and a waterpark on the grounds, and MUCH in the way of the parking lot, it’s difficult to predict what your room will overlook until you are actually in it. For our experience, we overlooked one of the many parking areas with the waterpark and outdoor pool just beyond.
The biggest surprise about Hershey Lodge is likely that, from the roadway, it looks like a nondescript hotel in a neatly mowed field as opposed to being a theme park resort. Granted, the grounds are very well kept and the lodge is certainly attractive and well equipped, but much like the rooms, there is nothing particularly unique or outstanding about it. The fact that office buildings, apartments and gas stations are all around, and the Hershey attractions are at a distance, further takes away from the concept of being a ‘theme park lodge’.
PROS: Lodge perks include early access to the park and rides, plus complimentary access to the museum, gardens, and butterfly exhibit. Access to the waterpark, arcade and several on-site activities are included with nightly rates. Complimentary shuttle service is very convenient. Handy valet parking is available if you wish to pay the daily rate. Suites are available for guests seeking larger accommodations. The lodge contains much in the way of restaurants, activities, and amenities so there is little reason to have to search the town of Hershey for places to eat or things to do. Lodge and accommodations are modern and clean.
CONS: For starters, the rooms are overpriced for what they are. The front desk appears understaffed considering the sheer number of guests at the lodge so check-in (or any other reason you might need to visit the front desk) is time-consuming. Room assignments are chaotic because requests for early check-in are not acknowledged, texts are not sent as promised, and opting to leave luggage with the bellhop results in having to return to the lodge immediately upon room assignment in order to accept the luggage in-room. Rooms promise certain amenities but, as we discovered, some rooms are missing items. Housekeeping is understaffed and overworked and it shows in the way they interact with guests. Check-out was considerably quicker than check-in but partially because we were told that final invoices are automatically sent via email. Our advice – insist on a printed copy regardless of the promise of an email because, as was our case, the email was never sent.