Castle-like hotel that is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site
Contemporary rooms with flat-screen TVs, views, and coffeemakers
Large spa with natural mineral pools, saunas, and treatment rooms
Three regular pools (including a heated outdoor pool), and two hot tubs
13 food and drink venues, from a casual cafe to sushi spot
Exhibit showcasing the hotel's story and artifacts
State-of-the-art 24-hour gym with Technogym equipment
Nine- and 18-hole golf course, plus a bowling alley
Free kids' club (some activities may cost extra)
Pet-friendly hotel and a hotel dog that's available for walks and hikes
Bikes and ice skates available to rent (fee)
High-end luxury shops on-site
Free property-wide Wi-Fi
Rooms lack character found in the rest of the hotel
Not all rooms have air-conditioning
Semi-secluded location on the outskirts of town (pro for some)
The upscale Fairmont Banff Springs is an iconic 764-room hotel in a semi-secluded location on the edge of Banff. Its rich history makes it a town landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site and it's popular for its large castle-like appearance. Rooms are contemporary and modest, outfitted with attractive, albeit generic, decor and less features than expected. All rooms come with flat-screen TVs, shower/tub combos, and floor-to-ceiling windows, though AC is not guaranteed. Guests can eat and drink their way through 13 food and drink venues, soak in the spa's mineral pools, lounge by one of the three pools, or get sweaty in the state-of-the-art gym. Wi-Fi and a basic kids' club are free, but fees apply for pets, and rentals for bikes or ice skates. There's really no comparison, but the elegant Rimrock Resort Hotel has cheaper rates.
Famous castle-like property with a mix of modern and Medieval touches
Nicknamed "The Castle in the Rockies," the Fairmont Banff Springs is the most famous hotel in town and often ranks as a top must-see for tourists. In fact, this property is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in 1888 as a way to access the area, this castle-like property was the first hotel in the region. In 1926, one wing of the hotel burned down and was rebuilt using steel and stone. The iron chandelier lights, gray stone walls, arched stone entryways, and curved ceilings add a Medieval feel, while contemporary touches like skylights, dark oak or red pine window frames, and polished stone banisters lend to its overall grandeur. In 2016, Accor Hotels took over, and the property continues to draw business and conference guests, large tour groups, and couples and families on once-in-a-lifetime trips.
Gorgeous, slightly secluded location within an eight-minute drive to the center of town
The Fairmont Banff Springs is located in a small cul-de-sac at the far end of Banff. Guests will have to travel through the entire town, cross the bridge, and wind around a short road to reach the hotel's busy entrance. The immediate area is mostly natural, allowing for great views, though it puts the hotel just under a 30-minute walk to the center of town. The Bow River flows to the back of the hotel, and a handful of smaller lodges and restaurants dot the roadway. Public buses stop at the hotel and shuttle guests to and from town. Canmore is a half-our drive south, while the nearest airport, Calgary International Airport, is about a 90-minute drive away.
Contemporary rooms with generic decor; some with AC and/or spectacular mountain views
The 764 rooms here are almost always at full capacity, and guests will likely need to book between six months to a year in advance. The carpet floors, big beds, and dark varnished furniture are contemporary but modest, with the look and feel of a standard chain hotel. All rooms come with windows that open, ironing facilities, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and flat-screen TVs with cable channels. The most popular rooms are the Fairmont Mountain View Rooms, which have gorgeous mountain views from nearly everywhere in the room. Deluxe-level upgrades have slightly (though noticeably) more space, while bumping up to Gatehouse Rooms adds even more space, larger bathrooms, and extra perks like sitting areas with electric fireplaces.
Studio Rooms feel a bit more regal with crown molding, upgraded artwork, and slightly geometric wall curves. Suites are considerable larger and feature semi-separated living room spaces, forest and/or mountain views, and outdoor spaces. Be aware that AC is not a standard feature in all rooms, but guests can put in a request. Bathrooms are snug and sport a classic look with white and gray swirled marble, shower/tub combos, hairdryers, and upmarket toiletries. Fairmont Gold level rooms have access to a fifth-floor lounge stocked with cookies, an honor bar, a separate breakfast spread, and daily appetizers.
Spa with mineral pools, three regular pools, golf course, and 13 different restaurants and bars
Truth be told, the hotel's biggest feature is itself. Guests are drawn to this large, fairy tale-like property for its size, design, and history. Luckily, there are hotel tours, and the exhibition-like Heritage Hall does a great job of showing and telling the hotel's history with artifacts, vintage furniture and photographs, and blurbs. Access to the spa is separate, and once inside, guests have access to three different mineral pools with varying temperatures, a hot tub, co-ed relaxation lounge, and male- and female-designated locker rooms with saunas.
The pool area is open to all guests and boasts an indoor lap pool, a stone-set nook with a hot tub, and a kiddy pool. Guests can relax on contemporary wicker loungers with skylight views of the mountains. There's also an outdoor heated pool with fantastic mountain views.
There are 13 different food and drink options at the hotel, from the cafe-style Stock Food & Drink off reception to the 1888 chophouse featuring local Alberta beef and cuisine. Other food options include Samurai Sushi and a weekend brunch buffet. No matter the venue, the focus hovers over local products and dishes. Popular places to grab a drink include the Grapes Wine Bar (part of the historic writing room) and the Rundle Lounge Terrace.
In addition to the kids' pool, there's a free kids' club, though some activities may cost extra, and a small bowling alley. Guests have free, 24-hour access to the fitness room's state-of-the-art Technogym machines, free weights, and mountain views. There are also towels, water, and disposable headphones up for grabs. For outdoor exercise, there are a nine- and 18-hole golf courses.
Pets are allowed for a nightly fee, and special amenities for dogs are available. The hotel also has its own pet, Bear, a Labrador that guests can sign up to take on a walk or hike. Wi-Fi is free, and guests can either valet or self-park. Ice skates and bikes are available to rent. There are also a handful of luxury shops on-site.
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