Staying at the Fairmont Banff Springs, Château Lake Louise and Jasper Park Lodge
The Canadian Rocky Mountains are a very popular destination, and their most renown locations are basically monopolized by a select few resort brands. The Fairmont in particular has their fingers in many pots. One of their most beloved and highly rated hotels is the Château Lake Louise, the only hotel allowed to hold property on the waterfront of the best ranked lake in all of Canada. Their other historical hotel in Banff National Park is Banff Springs which, much like the Château, stands like a castle with a magnetizing view. Their third acquired resort in the mountains of Alberta is the Jasper Park Lodge, and though its appearance is unlike its sisters, is a highly sought out destination and has its own private lakefront.
This summer, I was FINALLY able to stay at all three luxury Fairmont resorts, merely weeks apart from each other. If you’re currently contemplating cozying up at any one of these Fairmonts – or all three – you’ve definitely come to the right place! Keep reading for an insider’s review and experience (and photos) of the three most luxurious hotels in Alberta’s Canadian Rockies!
Fairmont Banff Springs
Opened to the public in 1888, the Fairmont Banff Springs is now pronounced a Canadian national historic site. It features Scottish Baronial decor throughout the hotel and is deemed to be a “castle in the Rockies” for good reason! The Banff Springs hotel has a unique location, not only by being in walking distance from Banff town but also from the iconic Bow Falls.
The hotel is home to the sixth best golf course in the country: the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course, which you can see can spot from the the hotel’s different terraces or from your Mountain View room.
The Fairmont Banff Springs offers an extensive amount of outdoor stone terrace space, with upper and lower sections to enjoy the captivating view of the Bow River flowing between Mount Rundle and Cascade Mountain, with Mounts Girouard and Inglismaldie in the back.
The terraces feature space for their outdoor lounges, fire pits, barbecues and more. On their lower terrace, you’ll find their outdoor pool with the gorgeous mountain views and walking back into the hotel on the same level, you’ll be welcomed by their beautiful and larger indoor pool and hot tub, situated under palatial arches and open to the same mountain view.
The entire hotel is a pleasant maze of shops, ballrooms and eleven different dining spots and lounges, including 1888 Chop House, Castello Italiana, Rundle Bar, The Vermillion Room, and you can even enjoy Afternoon Tea with that jaw-dropping view! Before enjoying your upscale lunch or dinner, be sure to check out their tennis courts or bike rentals, to take advantage of all the included amenities the hotel has to offer as part of the Resort Experience Fee.
The Fairmont Mountain View Room (a tier up from the standard Fairmont Room option) is nothing short of spectacular. A little small at 220 sqft, but the luxurious notes in the bathroom, furniture, choice of linen and of course the window view are very much accentuated. It’s quite frankly one of the best hotel views you can ask for.
Though we managed to visit Fairmont Banff Springs on one of the least busy weekends, I still have to point out that the service was indeed 5-star – as to be expected from the Fairmont, but always a pleasure to have nonetheless. Our in-room brunch experience was elevated when they brought in a convertible cart with our dishes placed in a heated compartment, a full pot of coffee and everything we needed to feel like we were dining in a classy restaurant yet in the privacy in our own room.
The hotel staff were always highly responsive, and any concerns or questions we had were addressed immediately with utmost courtesy.
Fairmont Château Lake Louise
In spite of the price point, the Fairmont Château Lake Louise is hands down my favourite luxury resort in the mountains. The question is, is it all thanks to the location or can the hotel also stand on its own as a veritably top rank accommodation?
Similar to Banff Springs, the Château was built in 1890 on the shore of the iconic Lake Louise and presents castle-worthy baronial decor with royal blue interiors and high ceilings. The hotel is stunning both in its exterior and interior, which you’ll discover as you come into the grand hotel driveway and enter the impressive lobby.
The emphasis of the hotel will evidently be on the beautiful lake, and you’ll notice that the restaurants and lounges, patios and terrace are all placed to maximize the lake view for guests. The only thing that the Fairmont Lake Louise lacks that the Fairmont Banff Springs doesn’t is the pool view. There is only one pool and it’s indoors with… no view. Though it’s still a pleasant place to leisurely dip in the water, it’s not as outstanding as having large indoor and outdoor pools facing grand mountains with few obstructions.
The Fairmont Lake Louise does have a beautifully large outdoor pool – which hasn’t been in use in decades – that is being demolished and reconstructed. We’re definitely looking forward to that part of the hotel reopening but there is so far no news on when that will be. It’s all very secretive. After all, the water people really seek when they’re here is the lake itself!
The Château has six dining spots to enjoy, but the two most noticeable will be the Fairview Bar & Restaurant and Lakeview Lounge. As their names suggest, they have the best seats in the building to enjoy a classy meal and classy view. The Fairview also hosts Afternoon Tea!
The Fairmont Lakeview Room (a tier up from the Mountain View Room, which is in turn a tier up from the standard Fairmont Room) exceeds all guests’ expectations. It sits sat 230 sqft – 20 sqft less than the Mountain View Room, but the view is pretty unbeatable. When available, the hotel will upgrade you to a lake view room. It doesn’t hurt to ask them if they don’t immediately offer it! Fair warning, if you do get this room, you might end up being glued to the window the entire stay, just letting you know.
Again, the service is spectacular here at the Fairmont Lake Louise. A free upgrade without asking doesn’t take much out of the staff, but it definitely sets the hotel apart from others. We’ve stayed here before in the busy winter on December 23rd and had a similar experience, so it goes to show that the resort knows what it’s doing.
Just like at the Fairmont Banff Springs, guests do get perks here as well. There are seasonal activities throughout the year, daily schedules to enjoy different fitness classes or activities, discounts on rental equipment (including priority queue) as well as special events that only guests can access – namely, their Sunrise Canoe Experience.
At $145 for 5:30-7am, it is a pricey activity to do, but regular 1-hour canoe rentals at Lake Louise aren’t far below that cost. AND this one allows you the ability to almost have the entire lake to yourself at the most optimal time for photos! I found it to be a valuable experience.
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
The Jasper Park Lodge stands out from its Albertan sisters in that it was built later in 1922 and is composed of cabins and lodges versus a single hotel building. It offers private access to one of the most beautiful lakes in Jasper, the Lac Beauvert, a name that means “beautiful green”.
The history and landmark location of the Jasper Park Lodge don’t quite compare to the Fairmonts in Banff and Lake Louise, but it is unique in its exclusivity. When you walk around the property, you don’t run into people who aren’t guests or staff of the resort. This may allow to enjoy the place and its amenities more.
Driving into the Jasper Park Lodge, you’re greeted at the gate with attendants who check you in and give you all the parking necessities, maps and information you’ll need for the duration of your stay. You can then drive directly to your cabin, self-park and unload.
What I love about this property is how much you can walk around to enjoy Lac Beauvert in the quiet. In order to get around the property to dine and do other activities, you can also call for shuttle service to come pick you up and take you where you need to go.
Jasper Park Lodge has one notable thing in common with each of the aforementioned resorts:
- It is home to the fifth best golf course in the country: the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf Course.
- It provides its guests exclusive canoe and kayak rentals at The Boathouse.
The Jasper resort also offers a beautiful location for the outdoor pool, which faces Lac Beauvert and is only steps away from the dining area. Orso Trattoria and The Great Hall Gastropub are among their eight various dining options on the property. The Great Hall is definitely the place to be to enjoy the fantastic blue and green of the lake and mountains.
There’s no denying that Jasper Park Lodge can compete with Château Lake Louise and Banff Springs Hotel, but there are some key factors to consider in which the Jasper Fairmont just doesn’t match the caliber of the others.
Though the room bathrooms have been beautifully renovated, the room itself lacks a little in the luxury and contemporary departments. It certainly gives off an accurate cabin-in-the-woods vibe, and has a spacial outdoor patio or balcony, but the Jasper rooms just aren’t on the same level as those of the other two. Our biggest concern, and this is highly contributed to the fact that there was a heatwave coming through in the Pacific North West, was how hot it got in our room and how we could do nothing about it despite the ceiling fan, the added standup fan and the ice the hotel gave us. It was a whopping 30+ degrees Celsius our entire stay and throughout the night. This was definitely something that put us off, i.e. the fact that the resort didn’t have AC in most of the standard rooms.
We did expect the service to be optimal given the heat situation. But they seemed to want to nickle-and-dime us on what was originally said to be complimentary water – the least the resort could do. At checkout, we explained our dissatisfaction and Emily at the front desk happily took off a decent chunk off our bill which we are super grateful for. Nevertheless, the whole situation did put a damper on our experience and I really hope you come back after your trip here with just the opposite!
I hope that this post gives you some insight on what it’s like to stay at the three mountain Fairmont resorts in Alberta in the summer! As always, my opinions are my own and your experience may not be identical to mine. Let me know below which of the three – Banff Springs Hotel, Château Lake Louise and Jasper Park Lodge – you plan on staying at next!