By Sara Samson, Afton Aikens and Jack Wennot
Historic Fairmont Hotels
Banff and Jasper offer accommodation for every traveller, including luxury hotels, budget motels, rustic lodges, B&Bs, condos and hostels. But the grandest are the original Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and Canadian National Railway (CN) hotels.
Now operated as Fairmont hotels, the Banff Springs, Chateau Lake Louise and Jasper Park Lodge offer historical significance, luxury, resort amenities and alpine adventure — plus prime mountain locations with extraordinary views. These are amongst Canada’s best and most iconic hotels.
Fairmont Banff Springs: Alberta’s “Castle in the Rockies” is the birthplace of Canadian Rockies tourism. This Scottish baronial hotel by the Bow River is a 10-minute walk from downtown Banff. Guests access a $30-million spa, renowned golf course, bowling, tennis, horse stables, shopping and 12 restaurants. Guests have included King George VI, Marilyn Monroe and Bill Gates.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: Situated on the majestic shore of its namesake, the Chateau Lake Louise was built “for outdoor adventure and alpinists.” The hotel still offers its signature Mountain Adventure Program, and walking, snowshoeing and cross-country ski trails are just outside the font door. Hike to remote teahouses, horseback ride, canoe, skate and enjoy horse-drawn sleigh rides. The Chateau has shops, a spa and restaurants ranging from an elegant lounge with glacier view to a Swiss stube.
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge: Rustic yet elegant lakeside bungalows surround a striking log and rock lodge with Jasper’s largest fireplace. Ask to stay at the “The Celebrity Cottage,” home to Marilyn Monroe during the filming of River of No Return. JPL has an award-winning golf course, spa, horseback riding and toboggan park. Lake Mildred is groomed for skating and hockey, while Lac Beauvert is prime for canoeing and kayaking.
Other Top Accommodation Picks
Make a hotel room headquarters for your Banff, Jasper and area vacation, or book more exotic lodging.
Backcountry Lodges: For a rustic, authentic stay far from town amenities, book a lodge that’s only accessible by hike, horseback ride, cross-country ski or (in a few cases) helicopter. Get a comfortable bed, meals three times daily and sublime solitude amidst rugged mountains.
Ski Resort Lodging: The only ski-in/ski-out accommodation in Canada’s mountain parks is Sunshine Mountain Lodge at Sunshine Village Ski Area. Book a mountain-themed room with jetted tub in the new west wing. Enjoy the huge hot tub, pub and fine dining, and first tracks each morning. BC ski resorts west of Banff National Park that boast walk-to-the-lifts villages include Kicking Horse, Panorama, Kimberley, Fernie and Revelstoke.
Luxury Hotels: High end hotels include the Fairmont resorts noted above. Near the Banff Hot Springs and Gondola, the Rimrock Resort Hotel offers luxury with a top-notch spa and fitness facility, and exquisite dining (including 17,000 bottle wine cellar) at five-diamond rated Eden.
Rustic Cabins: Away from town and a step back in time are road accessible log-built lodges and cabins. Options with rustically elegant dining rooms are Storm Mountain Lodge in Banff National Park, Num-Ti-Jah Lodge on the Icefields Parkway, Becker’s Chalets in Jasper and Overlander Mountain Lodge near Hinton.
Modern Condos: For spacious digs with a kitchen and living room, Banff’s Tunnel Mountain area offers Hidden Ridge Resort with huge outdoor hot tub and Douglas Fir Resort, a family favourite with waterside complex. Canmore’s Windtower Lodge is a lovely condo hotel with great off-season rates, while the Summit at Grande Rockies Resort includes stylish two-storey Grande Penthouses that sleep eight. Best Western Jasper Inn boasts some surprising large and luxurious condos.
Hostels and B&Bs: For the best price (and meeting new friends), book a bed or room with HI Hostelling International Canada. Choices include modern hostels in Banff and Lake Louise (dine at Bill Peyto’s Café), and rustic lodges away from towns but close to trails. B&Bs range from basic to elegant; Jasper Home Accommodation Association lists options in their town.
Whether you stay at a grand resort, backcountry lodge or standard room in Banff, Canmore or Jasper, the Rockies inspire awe. Consult our Banff and Jasper activities guides to make the most of your visit.
>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.