Finding a room in Banff National Park in summer is nearly as hard as trying to justify its price. By late afternoon just about every room and campsite in the park will be occupied, and basic hotel rooms start at $120. Fortunately, many alternatives are available. Rooms in private homes begin at around $50 s, $60 d. HI—Banff Alpine Centre has dormitory-style accommodations for under $40 per person per night. Bungalows or cabins can be rented, which can be cost-effective for families or small groups. Wherever you decide to stay, it is vital to book well ahead during summer and the Christmas holidays. The park’s off-season is October to May, and hotels offer huge rate reductions during this period. Shop around, and you’ll find many bargains.
All rates quoted are for a standard room in the high season (June to September).
To make choosing a hotel easier, we’ve also created the following pages:
The only beds in town less than $50 are in dormitories, and therefore, although rates are well less than $50, this is a per-person rate.
HI—Banff Alpine CentreAddress: 801 Hidden Ridge Way Phone: 403/762-4123 or 866/762-4122 Website: www.hihostels.ca Prices: dorm bed $31 (nonmembers $35), private rooms $84 s or d (nonmembers $92)
HI—Banff Alpine Centre is just off Tunnel Mountain Road, three kilometers (1.9 miles) from downtown. This large, modern hostel sleeps 216 in small two-, four-, and six-bed dormitory rooms as well as four-bed cabins. The large lounge area has a fireplace, and other facilities include a recreation room, public Internet access, bike and ski/snowboard workshop, large kitchen, self-service cafe/bar, and laundry. In summer, members of Hostelling International pay $35 per person per night (nonmembers $39) for a dorm bed or $88 s or d ($96 for nonmembers) in a private room. The rest of the year, dorm beds are $31 (nonmembers $35) and private rooms $84 s or d (nonmembers $92). During July and August, reserve at least one month in advance to be assured of a bed. The hostel is open all day, but check-in isn’t until midday. To get there from town, ride the Banff Transit bus ($2), which passes the hostel twice an hour during summer. The rest of the year the only transportation is by cab, about $8 from the bus depot.
Banff Y Mountain LodgeAddress: 102 Spray Avenue Phone: 403/762-3560 or 800/813-4138 Website: www.ymountainlodge.com Prices: dorm bed $33, private rooms from $88 s, $99 d
A one-time hospital, Banff Y Mountain Lodge has undergone massive renovations to create an excellent, centrally located choice for budget travelers. Facilities include the casual Sundance Bistro (7 a.m. to 10 p.m.), a laundry facility, wireless Internet, and the Great Room—a huge living area where the centerpiece is a massive stone fireplace, with writing desks and shelves stocked with books scattered throughout. Some private rooms have en suites, while family rooms are $135.
Samesun BanffAddress: 433 Banff Avenue Phone: 403/762-4499 or 877/972-6378 Website: www.samesun.com Prices: dorm bed $39 to $41, private room $120 s or d
Along the main strip of accommodations and a five-minute walk to downtown is Samesun Banff. As converted motel rooms, each small dormitory has its own bathroom. Guest amenities include a lounge, wireless Internet, free continental breakfast, a cafe, and underground parking.
Bed and Breakfasts
Mountain View B&BAddress: 347 Grizzly Street Phone: 403/760-9353 Website: www.mountainviewbanff.ca Open: May to September Prices: $95 to 130 s or d
The best value bed and breakfast is Mountain View B&B, on a quiet residential street three blocks from the heart of downtown. The two guest rooms are simply furnished, each with a double bed, TV, sink, and bar fridge. They share a bathroom and a common area that includes basic cooking facilities (microwave, toaster, kettle) and opens to a private deck. Off-street parking and a light breakfast round out this excellent choice.
Blue Mountain LodgeAddress: 137 Muskrat Street Phone: 403/762-5134 Website: www.bluemtnlodge.com Prices: $105 to $109 s, $129 to $179 d
Blue Mountain Lodge is a rambling, older-style lodge with 10 guest rooms, each with a private bath, TV, and telephone. The Trapper’s Cabin room is the most expensive, but the gabled ceiling, walls decorated with snowshoes and bearskin, and an electric fireplace create a funky, mountain feel. All guests have use of shared kitchen facilities, a lounge, and Internet access while enjoying an expansive cold buffet breakfast to set you up for a day of hiking.
Buffaloberry B&BAddress: 417 Marten Street Phone: 403/762-3750 Website: www.buffaloberry.com Prices: $335 s or d
Bed-and-breakfast connoisseurs will fall in love with Buffaloberry B&B, a purpose-built lodging within walking distance of downtown. The home itself is a beautiful timber and stone structure, while inside, guests soak up mountain-style luxury in the vaulted living area, which comes complete with a stone fireplace, super comfortable couches, and a library of local books. The spacious rooms come with niceties such as pillow-top mattresses, TV/DVD combos, heated bathroom floors, and bathrobes. Buffaloberry is also the only Banff bed-and-breakfast with heated underground parking.
Hotels and Lodges
Banff InnAddress: 501 Banff Avenue Phone: 403/762-8844 Website: www.banffinn.com Prices: $179 to $279 s or d
The rooms at the Banff Inn are no-frills modern in appearance. Each of the 99 rooms has a small log-trimmed balcony, and the facade is Rundlestone (quarried locally and named for Mount Rundle). Pluses include underground heated parking, a day spa, a guest lounge with fireplace and plasma TV, and free continental breakfast.
High Country InnAddress: 419 Banff Avenue Phone: 403/762-2236 or 800/293-5142 Website: www.banffhighcountryinn.com Prices: from $195 s or d
Toward downtown from the Banff Inn is the High Country Inn, which has a heated indoor pool, spacious hot tubs, a cedar-lined sauna, and the ever-popular Ticino Swiss/Italian restaurant. All rooms are adequately furnished with comfortable beds and an earthy color scheme. The High Country’s Honeymoon Suite ($285) is an excellent value; it features a king-size bed, fireplace, jetted tub, and a large balcony with views to Cascade Mountain.
Rundlestone LodgeAddress: 537 Banff Avenue Phone: 403/762-2201 or 800/661-8630 Website: www.rundlestone.com Prices: $195 to $230 s or d
Rundlestone Lodge features mountain-style architecture with an abundance of raw stonework and exposed timber inside and out. At street level is a comfortable sitting area centered on a fireplace, as well as an indoor pool, a lounge-style bar, and a restaurant. Furniture and fittings in the 96 rooms are elegant, and all come with high-speed Internet access and a TV/DVD combo. Many rooms have small balconies and gas fireplaces; some are wheelchair accessible.
Brewster’s Mountain LodgeAddress: 208 Caribou Street Phone: 403/762-2900 or 888/762-2900 Website: www.brewstermountainlodge.com Prices: $235 to $295 s or d
More than 100 years since Jim and Bill Brewster guided their first guests through the park, their descendants are still actively involved in the tourist industry, operating the central and very stylish Brewster’s Mountain Lodge. 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. Packages provide good value here, while off-season rates are slashed up to 40 percent.
Banff Ptarmigan InnAddress: 337 Banff Avenue Phone: 403/762-2207 or 800/661-8310 Website: www.bestofbanff.com Prices: $245 s or d
The 134-room Banff Ptarmigan Inn is a slick, full-service hotel with tastefully decorated rooms, down comforters on all beds, the Meatball Italian restaurant, heated underground parking, wireless Internet, and a variety of facilities to soothe sore muscles, including a spa, a whirlpool, and a sauna.
Hidden Ridge ResortAddress: Hidden Ridge Way Phone: 403/762-3544 or 800/661-1372 Website: www.bestofbanff.com Prices: $245 to $450 s or d
Hidden Ridge Resort sits on a forested hillside away from the main buzz of traffic. 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.
Mount Royal HotelAddress: 138 Banff Avenue Phone: 403/762-3331 or 877/442-2623 Website: www.mountroyalhotel.com Prices: $260 s or d
Since opening in 1908, the downtown Mount Royal Hotel has seen various expansions and a disastrous fire in 1967, which destroyed the original wing. Today guests are offered 135 tastefully decorated rooms and the use of a large health club with hot tub. Also on the premises are a restaurant and small lounge. For a splurge, you won’t find better than the one-bedroom suites ($299 to 429).
Buffalo Mountain LodgeAddress: Tunnel Mountain Drive Phone: 403/762-2400 or 800/661-1367 Website: www.crmr.com Prices: from $339 s or d
At Buffalo Mountain Lodge, a 15-minute walk from town on Tunnel Mountain Road you’ll notice the impressive timber-frame construction, as well as the hand-hewn construction of the lobby, with its vaulted ceiling and eye-catching fieldstone fireplace. The 108 rooms, chalets, and bungalows all have fireplaces, balconies, large bathrooms, and comfortable beds topped by feather-filled duvets; many have kitchens. And you won’t need to go to town to eat–one of Banff’s best restaurants, Cilantro Mountain Cafe (summer only), is on the grounds. Although rack rates start over $300, book in advance and online to pick up summer rates around $250. (The lodge takes its name from Tunnel Mountain, which early park visitors called Buffalo Mountain, for its shape.)
Rimrock Resort HotelAddress: Mountain Avenue Phone: 403/762-3356 or 888/746-7625 Website: www.rimrockresort.com Prices: $355 to $455 s or d
On Mountain Avenue, a short walk from the Upper Hot Springs, is Rimrock Resort Hotel. The original hotel was constructed in 1903 but was fully rebuilt and opened as a full-service luxury resort in the mid-1990s. Guest amenities include two restaurants, two lounges, a health club, an outdoor patio, and a multistory parking garage. Each of 345 well-appointed rooms is decorated with earthy tones offset by brightly colored fabrics. They also feature picture windows, a king-size bed, a comfortable armchair, a writing desk, two phones, a minibar, and a hair dryer. Since it’s set high above the Bow Valley, views for the most part are excellent.
Fairmont Banff SpringsAddress: Spray Avenue Phone: 403/762-2211 or 800/257-7544 Website: www.fairmont.com Prices: from $469 s or d
The 770-room Fairmont Banff Springs is Banff’s best-known accommodation. Earlier this century, the hotel came under the ownership of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, losing its century-old tag as a Canadian Pacific hotel and in the process its ties to the historic railway company that constructed the original hotel back in 1888. Even though the rooms have been modernized, many date to the 1920s, and as is common in older establishments, these accommodations are small (Fairmont Rooms are 14.4 square meters/155 square feet). But room size is only a minor consideration when staying in this historic gem. 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. Unless, of course, you are in the eight-room presidential suite. During summer, rack rates for a regular Fairmont room are $469 (s or d), discounted to around $280 the rest of the year. Many visitors stay as part of a package—the place to find these is on the website www.fairmont.com. Packages may simply include breakfast, while others will have you golfing, horseback riding, or relaxing in the spa.
Lodges Toward Lake Louise
The Bow Valley Parkway is the original route between Banff and Lake Louise. It is a beautiful drive in all seasons, and along its length are several accommodations, each a viable alternative to staying in Banff.
Johnston Canyon ResortAddress: Bow Valley Parkway Phone: 403/762-2971 or 888/378-1720 Website: www.johnstoncanyon.com Open: mid-May to early October Prices: $149 to $314 s or d
Johnston Canyon Resort is 26 kilometers (16 miles) west of Banff at the beginning of a short trail that leads to the famous canyon. The rustic cabins are older, and some have kitchenettes. On the grounds are tennis courts, a barbecue area, and a general store. Resort dining options are as varied as munching on a burger and fries at the counter of an old-time cafeteria to enjoying pan-fried rainbow trout in a dining room that oozes alpine charm. Basic two-person duplex cabins are $149, two-person cabins with a gas fireplace and sitting area are $189, and they go up in price all the way to $314 for a classic bungalow complete with two bedrooms, cooking facilities, and heritage-style furnishings.
Storm Mountain LodgeAddress: Highway 93 Phone: 403/762-4155 Website: www.stormmountainlodge.com Prices: $199 to $239 s or d
Constructed by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1922, Storm Mountain Lodge features 14 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. Off-season deals include a breakfast and dinner package (mid-April to mid-June) for $250 d. Outside, the wilderness beckons, with Storm Mountain as a backdrop. The lodge is at Vermilion Pass, a 25-minute drive from Banff or Lake Louise (head west from the Castle Mountain interchange). The lodge restaurant (daily 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.) is one of my favorite Banff restaurants.
Castle Mountain ChaletsAddress: junction Bow Valley Parkway and Highway 93 Phone: 403/762-3868 or 877/762-2281 Website: www.castlemountain.com Prices: $255 to $335 s or d
At Castle Junction, 32 kilometers (20 miles) northwest of Banff, is Castle Mountain Chalets. Set on 1.5 hectares (four acres), this resort is home to a collection of magnificent log chalets. Each has high ceilings, beautifully handcrafted log interiors, at least two beds, a stone fireplace, a full kitchen with dishwasher, a bathroom with hot tub, and satellite TV. Part of the complex is a grocery store, barbecue area, and the only gas between Banff and Lake Louise. The nearest restaurants are at Baker Creek Mountain Resort, Johnston Canyon Resort, and Storm Mountain Lodge.
Brewster’s Shadow Lake LodgeAddress: Shadow Lake Phone: 403/762-0116 or 866/762-0114 Website: www.shadowlakelodge.com Open: mid-June to September Prices: from $200 pp inclusive of meals
Shadow Lake Lodge is 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) from the nearest road. Access is on foot or, in winter, on skis. The lodge is near picturesque Shadow Lake, and many hiking trails are nearby. Dating to 1928, the oldest structure has been restored as a rustic yet welcoming dining area, with a woodstove in the kitchen. Guests overnight in 12 newer, comfortable cabins, while in a separate building you find washrooms with showers. The daily rate, including three meals served buffet-style and afternoon tea, is from $200 per person per day. The trailhead is along the TransCanada Highway, 19 kilometers (12 miles) from Banff, at the Redearth Creek parking area. In February and March, when access is on cross-country skis, the lodge is open Thursday to Sunday and rates are $140 per person.