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Castle Mountain Chalets 3.5

Banff, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Gorgeous, nature-filled and secluded location between Banff and Lake Louise
  • No neighbors for miles, plus frequent visits from wildlife (con for some)
  • Rustic and clean cabin-style chalets with full kitchens and fireplaces
  • Some rooms have jetted tubs and private outdoor spaces
  • Communal lodge with games, a TV, kitchen, computer, and gym
  • Outdoor hot tub 
  • Impressively stocked general store with booze, food, and necessities
  • Gas station and laundry room on-site
  • Free (if unreliable) Wi-Fi 

Cons

  • Proximity to train tracks can be too noisy for some people
  • Wi-Fi is notoriously slow and spotty (due to the secluded location)
  • No restaurant on-site
  • No AC

Bottom Line

The upper-middle-range Castle Mountain Chalets are ideal for anyone who is looking for a nature retreat in the park without having to camp. Located between Banff and Lake Louise, this secluded spot is just a few minutes' drive from the freeway, yet it feels miles away. Roaming wildlife (particularly chipmunks) and noise from speeding trains are a common occurrence, but the 21 well-spaced out, rustic chalets still breed enough privacy if needed. Plenty of on-site features help guests feel connected, like a well-stocked general store, gas station, fire pit, and communal lodge with game room, TV, hot tub, and gym. There are free, if unpredictable, Wi-Fi and a few cross-country ski trails. Travelers looking for a similar property with a restaurant should check out the Baker Creek Mountain Resort up the road. 

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Scene

Relaxing, romantic, and removed spot especially popular with couples

The history of this hotel stretches back to 1939 when a traveling family built Castle Mountain Bungalows. Originally, the property had nine cabins, a bathhouse, tea room, gas station, and communal lodge. On the whole, not much has changed since -- the property still has a communal lodge area, gas station, and several cabins. The current owners took over in 1997 and gave the village a much-needed upgrade, though the lodge was rebuilt in 2013 after a fire. Currently, the property is trying to step up the amenities so it can better compete with nearby cabin properties, like Baker Creek Mountain Resort with an on-site restaurant. 

There's a lot of space between cabins here, giving everyone a real sense of privacy. Dots of Christmas lights guide the way at night, and all guests are given hard keys for safety reasons. There is frequent wildlife on the property, including bears, so it's best not to have a malfunction. This spot is almost booked 100 percent by couples on vacation, looking for a nature-soaked retreat a little out of the way, but with enough amenities nearby to feel comfortable. 

Location

Secluded location in a park clearing with no neighbors, but close to the freeway

Castle Mountain Chalets is nestled in a secluded location off the highway between Banff and Lake Louise. There’s not much else around, save a hostel and hotel that are both a 15-minute drive away in opposite directions. To the back of the hotel, there are a few cross-country ski trails that the hotel is responsible for maintaining, and the hotel hands out earplugs to help muffle noise from nearby train tracks. It goes without saying that this secluded location means beautiful views and frequent visits from all kinds of wildlife. Banff is a 25-minute drive east, Lake Louise is an 18-minute drive northwest, and Calagary Airport is about an hour-and-45 minutes’ drive. 

Rooms

Cabin-style chalets that range from snug and rustic, to spacious with jetted tubs

Castle Mountain Chalets has 21 clean but rustic rooms, each with their own individual vibe and selling points. There’s no AC in any of the rooms, and the smaller rooms can easily get stuffy in the summer since there’s little ventilation. For the most part, the secluded location is peaceful, but expect a handful of noisy trains to speed by on the nearby tracks. 

Pine Chalets are cabin-style units with wood walls, tile and hard carpet floors, and classic but dated furniture. Set up similar to a studio apartment, each of these stand-alone chalets has a full kitchen with the basics like an old stove (either gas or electric), toaster, microwave, and dishwasher; a king-size bed, and a queen pullout sofa. The interiors are fresh, and bathrooms have a full range of toiletries, plus jetted tubs with bath salts. The 42-inch flat-screen TVs come with limited cable and DVD players. 

Cedar Chalets are more rustic and feel a little older. These have low, A-frame ceilings and a trundle bed for a queen or two doubles. Extra rustic touches include a wood-burning stove fireplace set up against a red brick wall and ultra-dated appliances in the small corner kitchen. With a mini-fridge and small table, this space is pretty snug and is most ideal for one person. 

One Bedroom Deluxe Chalets are decidedly more comfortable, though still feel rustic with their log walls. These sleep up to four, with a queen bed in the small master bedroom and a pullout sofa through the French doors in the living room. Memorable features include a stone wood-burning fireplace, jetted tubs with skylight stars, and the dated plastic showers. Expect a full kitchen, soft terrycloth robes, and front porch outdoor space. Two Bedroom Deluxe Chalets lose the log cabin look, and feel more rustic with lower ceilings and slightly darker wood. These can sleep up to six people, or 12 in a connecting configuration. There are also a shared deck with picnic tables and bench seats, and a gas fireplace instead of wood-burning.

Rooms are dog-friendly, for a fee.

Features

An impressive selection of amenities that don't distract too much from the secluded experience

For a relatively small property that’s miles from any town, Castle Mountain Chalets manages to offer a good amount of features that balances the feeling of being secluded with being safe and comfortable. For example, there are a gas station and village store with a counter that doubles as the hotel’s front desk. The gas station is a simple, vintage one-pump affair, while the store is surprisingly well-stocked with food, toiletries, toys, and booze. Two sets of coin-operated laundry machines (detergent for purchase in the store) are here. 

The lodge building houses most of the activities, including a main room with ping-pong and foosball tables, several old couches, and a small flat-screen TV. A large stonework fireplace takes center stage, or guests can wander into adjacent rooms for the public kitchen, computer station, or tiny pinewood-walled gym. The main room feels both empty and cozy at the same time, due to the sheer size of it and the log cabin design. Outside, there’s a wraparound deck with a hot tub in one corner and a sitting area with Adirondack and cushioned wicker chairs. The lawn is frequented by wildlife, so this can be a good place to watch the action. Staff-accessed ski storage is located in the lodge building.

On the grounds, there’s a popular wood-burning fire pit surrounded by Adirondack chairs where guests frequently convene in the evenings to swap stories or get warm in winter. 

Free Wi-Fi is spotty and unreliable. DVDs, board games, and bear spray are also free, but mountain bikes and snowshoe rentals come with an extra fee. This is a pet-friendly property with a per-night fee that includes doggy beds and treats. Packages for pets or kids (think milk and cookies) are available. 

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Address

Castle Junction1A & Hwy 93 South, Banff, Canadian Rockies T1L 1B5, Canada

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