Best Canadian Rockies Lodges
Finding a place to stay in the Canadian Rockies is relatively easy, but finding a memorable lodge takes a little more effort. Every traveler has different tastes and different needs, so the hotel that the friend of your neighbour recommended, or the high-ranking Tripadvisor lodging you’ve been researching, may not be what you are looking for. We don’t pretend to know your tastes either, but having researched and stayed at most Canadian Rockies lodges, we offer up this list of options that will help make your time in the Canadian Rockies more enjoyable than being holed up in a regular motel room.
Banff National Park
Constructed by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1922, Storm Mountain Lodge (Hwy. 93, 403/762-4155, www.stormmountainlodge.com, $199 to $239 s or d), a 25-minute drive from downtown Banff, features historic cabins restored to their former rustic glory. Each has its original log walls, along with a log bed, covered deck, a wood-burning fireplace, and bathroom with claw-foot tub. They don’t have phones or TVs, so there’s little to distract you from the past.
If you really must stay in downtown Banff, make reservations at stylish Brewster’s Mountain Lodge (208 Caribou St., 403/762-2900 or 888/762-2900, www.brewstermountainlodge.com, $235 to $295 s or d). The building features an eye-catching log exterior with an equally impressive lobby. The Western theme is continued in the 77 upstairs rooms. Standard rooms feature two queen-size beds, deluxe rooms offer a jetted tub and sitting area, and loft suites are designed for families.
For families or those looking for self-contained units, Hidden Ridge Resort (Hidden Ridge Way, 403/762-3544 or 800/661-1372, www.bestofbanff.com, $245 to $450 s or d) is a good choice. Located on a forested hillside away from the main buzz of downtown Banff traffic, you can choose from modern condo-style units to much larger Premier King Jacuzzi Suites. All units have wood-burning fireplaces, wireless Internet, and balconies or patios, and the condos have washer/dryer combos. In the center of the complex is a barbecue area and 30-person outdoor hot tub overlooking the valley.
The 770-room Fairmont Banff Springs (Spray Ave., 403/762-2211 or 800/257-7544, www.fairmont.com, from $469 s or d) is Canadian Rockies’ best known accommodation. We often hear visitors bemoan that rates are too high or that that the guest rooms are on the small side, but you’re paying for the experience of staying in one of the world’s great mountain resorts. With 12 eateries, four lounges, a luxurious spa facility, a huge indoor pool, elegant public spaces, a 27-hole golf course, tennis courts, horseback riding, and enough twisting, turning hallways, towers, and shops to warrant a detailed map, you’ll not be wanting to spend much time in your room.
Jasper National Park
South of town, Becker’s Chalets (Icefields Parkway, 6 km/3.7 miles south of Jasper, 780/852-3779, www.beckerschalets.com, May to mid-Oct., $165 to $255 s or d) is spread along a picturesque bend on the Athabasca River, six kilometers (3.7 miles) south of town. This historic lodging took its first guests more than 50 years ago and continues to be a park favorite for many guests who make staying here an annual ritual. Becker’s also boasts one of the best Jasper restaurants.
Along the shore of Lac Beauvert across the Athabasca River from downtown, The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (1 Old Lodge Rd., 780/852-3301 or 800/257-7544, www.fairmont.com, from $385 s or d) is Jasper’s original resort and its most famous. It’s a sprawling property, with plenty of activities. The best known of these is the golf course, but guests also enjoy walking trails, horseback riding, canoeing, tennis, and swimming in an outdoor heated pool that remains open year-round. The main lodge features stone floors, carved wooden pillars, and a high ceiling while the 441 rooms vary in configuration and are linked by paths and greenspace. The various historic cabins provide The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge’s premier accommodations. Starting from $1,100 per night, they are priced beyond the reach of most travelers but are mentioned here simply because they are among the most exclusive guest rooms in all of Canada. They have hosted true royalty (Queen Elizabeth) and movie royalty (Marilyn Monroe, during the filming of River of No Return). My favorite is the historically charming Point Cabin. Built in 1928, this cabin features five en suite bedrooms, a kitchen with outdoor barbecue, lake views, and a massive living area anchored by a stone fireplace.
Along a strip of nondescript motels, the Georgetown Inn (1101 Bow Valley Trail, 403/678-3439 or 866/695-5955, www.georgetowninn.ca, $129 to $219 s or d) stands out as a country inn of times gone by, complete with a pub-style dining room open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each of the 20 guest rooms has its own individual charm, with a modern twist on decor that features lots of English antiques. The best value are the Victoria Rooms, each with a separate sitting area and electric fireplace.
Paintbox Lodge (629 10th St., 403/609-0482 or 888/678-6100, www.paintboxlodge.com, $210 to $260 s or d) has a distinctive upscale charm and enjoys a central location, just one block from Canmore’s main street. The lobby itself–exposed hand-hewn timbers, slate tiles, and unique pieces of mountain-themed art–is an eye-catching gem. The upscale mountain decor continues through the 10 large guest rooms, each lavishly decorated with muted natural colors and a tasteful selection of heritage artifacts. Rooms also boast beds draped with the finest linens, bathrooms anchored by a deep soaking tub, and wireless Internet. The more-expensive rooms have fireplaces and balconies.
Although a number of backcountry lodges are scattered through the Canadian Rockies, Mount Engadine Lodge (Spray Lakes Rd., 403/678-4080, www.mountengadine.com, late June to mid-Oct., late Dec. to March, from $200 s, $420 to 450 d including meals) is the only one accessible by public road. Technically, this means it’s not a true “backcountry” lodge, but it has the feel of one, and, besides, most people don’t even know it’s there as they speed past on unpaved Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail. It comprises luxurious rooms in the main lodge and two cabins set on a ridge overlooking an open meadow and small creek. The main lodge has a dining room, a comfortable lounge area with two stone fireplaces, and a beautiful sundeck holding a hot tub.
Yoho National Park
Comprising upscale cabins set alongside the Kicking Horse River, Cathedral Mountain Lodge (Yoho Valley Rd., 250/343-6442 or 866/619-6442, www.cathedralmountain.com, mid-May to Sept., $289 to $389 s or d) is centered on a magnificent timber-frame building which holds a stylish restaurant and lounge. Each log chalet has a log bed topped by a down duvet, stone fireplace, bathroom with soaker tub and bathrobes, and private deck.
Emerald Lake Lodge (Emerald Lake Rd., 250/343-6321 or 800/663-6336, www.crmr.com, from $345 s or d) is a gracious, luxury-class accommodation along the southern shore of one of the Canadian Rockies’ most magnificent lakes. No original buildings remain (although the original framework is used in the main building); instead guests lap up the luxury of richly decorated duplex-style units and freestanding cabins. Each spacious unit is outfitted in a heritage theme and has a wood-burning fireplace, private balcony, luxurious bathroom, comfortable bed topped by a plush duvet, and in-room coffee. Other lodge amenities include a hot tub and sauna, swimming pool, restaurant, lounge, and cafe.