You want to stay in Banff with a gorgeous, unobstructed mountain view. BUT you’re wondering if you should pay the big bucks for a guaranteed high-end experience or save some money on the room and still get a mighty view from your very own window! Well you’ve come to the right place to make an educated decision before biting the bullet on your Banff stay!
After we had back-to-back stays at these two wonderful hotels at two drastically different price points – did I just join the Buzzfeed Worth It team? – we wanted to share with you our experiences so that you could decide which one is more worth it for you!
The two hotels we stayed at May 28th-30th are:
Both target a different audience but both have a majestic mountain view that you’ll be ogling at your entire stay if you choose either of these accommodations. They’re among only a handful of places in Banff town that have photo-worthy sights from the very spot you’ll be sleeping which is why I chose to compare these two!
Jason and I booked a room at each of these hotels that most resembled each other for an even scale.
And at Banff Springs, we chose the Fairmont Mountain View King Room.
Pretty nice hey?
So there are five items we’ll go through – pricing, room amenities, view, service and site features – which we’ll rate for each room and hotel. And at the end of this post, you might have your answer to the question: Affordable or Luxury?
As you can imagine, the Fairmont Banff Springs – a big name like that – will always come with a hefty price tag. Thankfully, the Fairmont hotels in the Rockies had a Friends & Family discount this spring we were blessed to receive from a friend! But checking out different dates for the Fairmont View Room on weekends in May/June, we’re looking at a price range around $499-$599. Yikes!
The Juniper Hotel doesn’t have the same kind of brand rep, location, or 4-star luxury power ups that the Fairmont has, and thankfully, for this Deluxe View Room, was found to be around $140-$210 for May/June weekends. Quite a steal for a place like this! We were glad to not even pay a penny on the property either as we had reward points to spare.
So you’re looking at THREE TIMES the cost for the Fairmont! Just an FYI. Not to mention there’s a $30 Resort Experience fee and a $29 self-parking fee (valet parking is $40) per night. Big yikes!
Both hotel prices are subject to room GST, tourism levy and improvement fees.
The Juniper Hotel: 9/10
Fairmont Banff Springs: 4/10
Both rooms were near identical in what they provided. The King rooms had enough space for a couch by the window and a work desk. The TV’s sat on tall and wide dressers in which the mini-fridges were also found. Coffee and tea were provided, the bathrooms were spacious enough and the closets were situated at the entrance of the rooms.
The differences were really in the details! Paper cups vs. glasses, bathrobes vs. none, simple coffee maker vs. Keurig, marble vs. laminate. You can tell the difference in star rating between the two rooms. There were visible wear and tear markings in the furniture and on the walls in the Juniper room, whereas the Fairmont room felt like no one had made it their home before us.
But the Juniper really has a way of trying the elevate the experience. After all, it is a place for retreats. One thing we loved about our room, though it was tighter than the Fairmont View King (which sits at 175 sqft), was the big private balcony! What they didn’t have in luxury, they made up in the view.
Room Amenities Rating
The Juniper Hotel: 7/10
Fairmont Banff Springs 9/10
For this one, the pictures will mostly speak for themselves. But I do want to say this: though the Juniper had a vast and completely unobstructed view of the mountains and valley, the Fairmont definitely had that je ne sais quoi with the Instagrammable shot at the windowsill. There’s a reason why I chose the featured photo that I did for this article!
Being able to peer out onto the beautiful, timeless terrace of the hotel with an incredible views of the closeup surrounding mountains, Banff Springs Golf Club and Bow River, was spectacular at the Fairmont.
BUT it’s incredibly hard to beat that balcony view at the Juniper, there’s no denying it. With no window blocking our way, we were able to capture amazing footage of Mount Rundle and the valley where Banff town lies.
You also can’t capture the beautiful castlesque Fairmont Banff Springs from, well, the Fairmont! Whereas you certainly could from the Juniper. Here’s what we snapped from our Juniper balcony!
The Juniper Hotel: 9.5/10
Fairmont Banff Springs: 8.5/10
This one is really reflected by “you get what you pay for”. At the Juniper, the checking-in process was definitely not very memorable. When we first came in, there was no one attending the front desk so we had to wait a moment. They gave us the same spiel they do for everyone and set us off on our way.
The Fairmont was COMPLETELY different. Of course, you come in your car and they offer to take your bags in for you or do valet. The men at the door are incredibly welcoming, and as soon as you enter you are greeted by reception as there are always one or two people at the front desk. They’re incredible patient and polite as they describe the way to our room and give you further info on the hotel – “Is this your first time staying with us?” they’ll ask, before they get excited to tell you what you have yet to know. Again, they offer for someone to take your bags and if you need any further assistance. “Ms. Neves,” they kept addressing me throughout our stay – so cute!
One thing we did enjoy about both hotels – and this is mostly attributed to the fact that they weren’t busy during our stays – was the fact that they were willing to extend us to a later checkout. Not all hotels are open to doing this at no charge so we definitely appreciated it.
But what really takes the cake was the luxurious in-room breakfast experience we had at the Fairmont! For $46 by booking early, Jason and I were able to get the breakfast package which included for two people: one main (usually around $30 each), juice and a pot of fresh coffee. The server rode our table convertible on wheels all the way to our room with a thermal compartment under it for our food to stay warm! For $46 (no gratuity or delivery fee on top), this was DEFINITELY worth it.
The service was impeccable at the Fairmont Banff Springs. They do thrive on this so you can understand where your money goes when you stay at a place like this.
The Juniper Hotel: 6.5/10
Fairmont Banff Springs: 9.5/10
Finally, the hotel features. This one may be a little unfair but a huge factor in making your money-spending decision.
One hotel is iconic, one is an up-and-comer but just not there yet. The Fairmont Banff Springs is THE place – apart from Chateau Lake Louise – to host a high-end wedding amidst the mountains. The medieval art and architectural features, the gorgeous outdoor terraces, atrium, ballrooms and halls are a gravitational attraction to many who come to Banff Springs. There’s history and reputation built into this place.
The Juniper had a lovely picnic area beside their restaurant patio where we enjoyed our dinner the first night. A few deer came to dine with us as well! But while we face the mountains and Banff town, we also directly see and hear Highway 1 right in front of us. That was one thing we enjoyed a lot more at the Fairmont: the peace and isolated sounds of nature.
When the pool at the Fairmont finally opens up as Alberta eases restrictions, it’ll make another reason to want to book a night here. While the “resort experiences” were unavailable, we were compensated by not being charged the $30 resort fee which we were grateful for!
Site Features Rating
The Juniper Hotel: 5/10
Fairmont Banff Springs: 8/10
Now that we’ve gone over these two wonderful options to stay with at the heart of the Rockies, would the affordable be worth it over the luxury? Or would you stay at both like we did (also a fantastic choice!)? Let me know in the comments below what you think!