WHERE TO STAY IN BANFF
If you’ve been following my IG for a while, you might remember that my husband and I…along with two of our friends…traveled to Banff Canada for a few days in June. I’m not an expert on traveling, and I’m definitely not an expert on traveling to Banff, but here’s just a little rundown of the lodging and food after several people have asked for trip details.
We reserved our lodging only about a week and a half prior to our trip due to poor planning on our part. By the time we were ready to reserve our stay, most lodging in Banff was completely sold out. We ended up having to split our stay between Banff and Lake Louise. We considered staying all four days in Canmore (only a 20 minute drive from Banff), but we really wanted to be “in the mix” and opted to take what we could get in Banff instead.
Canmore has a large selection of lodging and is seemingly less pricey as well. Views are excellent and Banff is only a quick car ride away. If you’re okay with driving a little bit and want to save some money, I’d highly recommend Canmore for lodging.
THE FOX HOTEL & SUITES
Our first two nights were spent at The Fox Hotel and Suites in Banff and we couldn’t have been more pleased. This was the perfect place to stay. When driving into Banff via the Trans Canada Highway, this particular lodge is one of the first few you’ll see as the lodging comes into view. The Fox Hotel & Suites is about a 15 minute walk from the “heart” of the downtown Banff area and we honestly felt like it was a perfect location. We did comment that we were about as far away from the main hub as we would’ve wanted to be without being too far out.
We ended up reserving a loft suite with a balcony and absolutely LOVED our room. Perfect for one couple staying alone or with 1-2 small children. Living area downstairs with a really small kitchenette, sofa, table, TV, and private balcony access and upstairs featured a bed, bathroom, and another TV. It was the perfect space with a very lodg(y) type feel and we honestly couldn’t have picked it better if we tried.
The Fox Inn & Suites offers complimentary underground parking, wifi, access to public transportation, and breakfast vouchers as well. A continental breakfast is offered at Chili’s (their in-house restaurant) and we took advantage of that before our first big hike. We also loved their Cave & Basin themed hot pool/sauna area and made sure to take advantage of that before leaving as well.
The grounds were kept immaculately clean, service was on point, and the entire staff was as friendly as could be. Although we were only there for two short nights, we would definitely recommend this location to anyone traveling to the area. When we make our way back to Canada, this is where we’ll stay! Five out of five stars for us!
FAIRMONT CHATEAU LAKE LOUISE
The last two nights of our trip were spent at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. This historic hotel is located directly beside Lake Louise and features some of the most scenic views at almost every turn. We shared a room with our friends for the two nights we stayed here and have nothing but great things to say about our experience.
The service and accommodations were excellent. That to be said, I personally felt like everything was really overpriced. There was nothing extraordinary about our room (other than a partial view of Lake Louise) that warranted the price tag, IMO. I mean, it was really nice, but not anything that knocked our socks off. The rooms at The Venetian in Las Vegas blow these out of the water and they are a lot more affordable, too. However, if you’re wanting the full-on Lake Louise experience, I would definitely recommend lodging here.
The hotel is expansive. Several gift shops located in the lower lobby area as well as a 24-hour deli. The oversized windows adorning the walls were one of my personal favorite features and the views were truly incomparable. There are several different restaurants/bars located onsite, but if you’re a night owl, don’t expect them to stay open past 11. We were trying to get as much out of our stay as possible and would’ve loved a late-night option. Alpine Social and the Lakeview Lounge have patio seating available, but unfortunately we visited during monsoon season (mid-June) and the patios weren’t open for dining/drinking during our stay.
I’m sure there were amenities we provided here that we didn’t get to experience, but canoeing on Lake Louise (we received free 1-hour canoe rentals upon arrival) was definitely a highlight for us. There are several different trails to hike that can be accessed directly behind the hotel and walking around the perimeter of Lake Louise seemed to be a favorite among most tourists. One thing to note is that this is a definite tourist destination. TONS of people all over the place…inside the hotel, around the lake, in the canoes, along the trails, in the restaurants…people absolutely everywhere. It definitely didn’t take away from our stay…we expected the crowds…but just something to keep in mind.
While we truly loved our experience at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, I don’t think I’d want to stay there again in the future. NOT because it wasn’t an amazing hotel or because the service was anything other than excellent, but rather we’d prefer to stay IN the actual town of Banff where we felt like there was a wider variety of things to do at night.
WHERE TO EAT IN BANFF & LAKE LOUISE
One of the best things about traveling for me is always the local fare. There’s not much more I love than a great meal and Banff had plenty to offer. While our stay was incredibly short, we were able to sample some of the most delicious appetizers, small bites, and big meals. In case you have a trip to Banff planned, I thought this little review would be helpful!
We loved this little restaurant featuring a great little patio area outside. This was the first place we stopped in Banff and we did so because they had an open table on the patio and we were anxious to sit outside and enjoy food and drinks. We only sampled the appetizers and cocktails here so that we could try multiple restaurants in one night.
Our foursome recommends the Rhino Fries (delish! Get extra!) and if you like bourbon, we recommend their take on an Old Fashioned (also delish).
PARK DISTILLERY RESTAURANT AND BAR
This location has a very small patio (about four picnic tables total), but we were lucky enough to walk up as one was leaving so we scored a great spot to sit and sample an appetizer and cocktail. Again, we only sampled apps and drinks so that we could try multiple restaurants in one night.
We recommend the Park Poutine (another fry dish…we didn’t have a clue what Poutine was, but it sounded great…and it was!). This was probably one of my favorite appetizers of the entire trip. I tried the Parkway Caesar cocktail which is (what I think) is the Canadian equivalent of a Bloody Mary. Not bad, but definitely not my favorite.
ROSE & CROWN PUB
This was our favorite food spot in town. This location recently opened up a rooftop bar/eating area and ohmiword. Views for days. It was pretty crowded up top, but we somehow managed to score a high-top after another couple finished their drinks and we were so grateful. Such a charming spot! 360 views and it couldn’t have been more stunning.
We opted to try out their Button Bones (bone in pork bites) and weren’t overly impressed. They were okay, but not our favorite. We kept our drinks simple so we don’t really have anything to recommend by way of spirits, but I can tell you that the vibe was spot on. The atmosphere was extremely laid back and chill. The only disappointment on the rooftop was the music. Womp, womp. Kind of techno(ish), but more along the lines of Ross Gellar playing his keyboard on Friends “electrifying” style. It didn’t ruin the mood, it just didn’t amp it up, either. LOL. Also, we’re old. So there’s that.
Before we left we ended up walking downstairs and listening to the band. We absolutely loved this place and will definitely go back when we visit again, only next time we’ll order a full-on meal!
I’m pretty sure this is a chain in Canada…although I could be wrong…but we ended up here after a long day of walking and the only reason we stopped in was because it was the last place we could eat along our stop. It was getting late and we were really tired and HANGRY. While this wasn’t our first choice, we couldn’t have been happier with it. Located in the Moose Hotel, Pacini was a perfect place to carb load with the most delicious Italian fare.
The guys recommend the calzone (amazing!!!), Ash recommends the Linguine Carbonara, and I devoured their Spaghetti Napoletana. The make-your-own bread bar was amazing as well. As for cocktails, I sampled the Signature Caesar and loved it!
If you go nowhere else in Banff, be sure to make it to TooLouLou’s. This was recommended to us over and over again. When we arrived for breakfast there was a line out the door and we almost didn’t stay. HOWEVER, we didn’t feel like searching for another place and we’re so thankful we didn’t try because this was, hands down, the best meal of the trip.
The line went relatively quickly and I can honestly say we’d wait in a line again and again. TooLouLou’s is a New Orleans inspired restaurant with one of the biggest menus I’ve ever seen. Our server was super candid with us and gave us her recommendations and all four of us went with her selections.
I ended up with the Apple Cinnamon French Toast and couldn’t have made a better choice. They slow cook their cinnamon apples in house and they were simply perfection. The rest of the table selected savory meals and here’s what they chose…
Eggs Bayou, Bourbon Street Eggs, and a sizzling rivalry. We’re all convinced that there’s not a bad meal on the menu. AND, all four of us recommend the Toffee Nut Coffee. To die for!!!!
IN CANMORE (20 MINUTES FROM BANFF)
GRIZZLY PAW BREWERY
We wanted to check out Canmore and opted for lunch after our first hike at the Grizzly Paw Brewery because it’s sister location, Tank 310, was closed on Wednesdays. This was the second best meal of the trip for me and I’m so happy we ended up here after all! If you can swing it, wait to be seated on the patio. I swear it makes the food taste that much better.
Drinks: The guys recommend the Beavertail Raspberry Ale and the ladies recommend the Powder Hound Blonde Ale.
Food: We HIGHLY recommend the Korean Cauliflower (trust us) as an appetizer. For lunch/dinner, we’d go with either the Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich (SO good) or the California Thunder Club (equally delish). And whatever you do, opt for the Yam fries instead of regular! AMAZING.
IN LAKE LOUISE (40 MINUTES FROM BANFF)
CHATEAU DELI – (FAIRMONT CHATEAU)
This is a 24-hour deli that serves up a mean latte and offers a variety of pastries, sandwiches, and other grab-and-go type foods. This location is the least expensive option in the Fairmont Chateau and if you’re not interested in a sit down type meal, I’d recommend stopping in here for a quick bite! The lattes and bagels are delish!
LAKEVIEW LOUNGE -(FAIRMONT CHATEAU)
It’s hard to get a bad view there and we really enjoyed the food as well. Even if you’re just visiting during the day and not staying, I’d highly recommend stopping in for a quick bite or cocktail to take in the stunning views.
We ordered a couple of Oysters Rockefeller to split among the table and they were delish. A personal favorite of mine, for sure! There are only three to a plate, so keep that In mind if your appetite has you famished. Among the four of us, we’d recommend the BLW Burger, Steak Frites, and my personal favorite…the Moules Frites (the mussels were AMAZING!). I can’t say enough about those mussels!!! No drink recommendations here, but I’m sure you’ll be able to find something perfect!
ALPINE SOCIAL – (FAIRMONT CHATEAU)
This was my personal favorite restaurant/bar at the Fairmont thanks to its laid back vibes and incredible waitstaff/bartenders. We found ourselves gravitating toward this location more often than not. We’re pretty low key kind of people and this was definitely our jam. The waitstaff and bartenders were spot on with all of their suggestions and recommendations for both food/drinks and adventures. Again, can’t say enough good things about this place!
Drinks: If you’re looking for something refreshing, the Seeking Shelter is a MUST! We were told this was their most popular drink. Best cocktail of the trip, for sure!
We also loved their Alpine Old Fashioned. Such a great take on the classic.
Food: The Social Nachos (shareable and hard to put down!!), The Taco Flight (soooo good!), and the Smoked Chicken Wings (YUM!).
FAIRVIEW BAR & RESTAURANT – (FAIRMONT CHATEAU)
This location has more of an upscale/boujie vib. When we visited, the restaurant was completely void of other patrons with the exception of a couple of tables who sat down right around the same time as us. And although the food was upscale, we did NOT dress up. We wore our jeans, sweaters, and tennis shoes we wore to Moraine Lake and didn’t feel underdressed in the least. Maybe different times of the year or different times of the day would be more conducive for a dressier attire, but we felt completely comfortable in what we had on. If the restaurant would’ve been a little more crowded, we might have felt underdressed, but even the other diners didn’t “dress up” for dinner so we felt totally comfortable with our choice in attire. I only bring this up because we were so unsure about what to pack and we definitey could’ve packed a little less if we would’ve known this beforehand.
We started with a couple of appetizers before our meal and went with the Elk Carpaccio (AMAZING) and the Waygu Beef Crudo (delish). If we could do it differently, I personally would’ve opted for no beef and taken a second order of the elk instead. Such a great way to start our meal. We each ordered something completely different for our main course and we were all extremely pleased with what we got. I ordered the Deepwater Seabass and BC Spot Prawns and wasn’t overly impressed. Don’t get me wrong…it was a delicious meal…but probably not worth the price tag as it wasn’t anything over-the-top amazing.
My husband got the Bison Ribeye and he’s STILL talking about that meal weeks later. It was a homerun. Our friends ordered the Wild Boar Chop (which he said was fantastic) and the Vulcan Lamb Rack (which she loved).
Let me be completely honest with you and tell you that I’m not a “fancy” food kind of eater. I honestly prefer the simpler meals. That said, if there was a meal we would’ve done differently, I would’ve chosen this one and replaced it with a visit to their Italian restaurant in hotel, Lago. Just a personal preference there. The meal was honestly great, but I probably wouldn’t do it again. My husband says different 🙂
One thing is certain…the Brown Butter Old Fashioned is AMAZING. If you’re a fan of bourbon, do yourself a favor and get this cocktail. One of the best drinks I’ve ever had.
I hope this very limited guide on lodging and food/drinks is somewhat helpful. Do you have a favorite place to stay in Banff or Lake Louise?! Or any great recommendations to eat and drink? We’d love to hear from you! Just drop a comment and let us know!
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