Want to see a castle hotel or hike Castle Mountain? Base yourself near Lake Louise and you can do both, as well as enjoy Canada’s most famous lake.
Lake Louise is the name of the lake, a ski hill and a village, all within Canada’s first – and flagship – national park, Banff National Park. Ringed by forests and mountains, the glacier-fed lake often looks Caribbean-turquoise (trail your fingers to confirm its lack of Caribbean temperatures). Come for skiing, hiking and mountain views from indoors or out. If you want a digital detox, several hotels are outside the cellular zone and rely on intermittent satellite wifi. Where do you start? With our guide to the best places to stay in the area – all bookable on Culture Trip.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Courtesy of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise / Booking.com
What began as a log cabin in the 1890s is now a 539-room, copper-turreted castle hotel at the foot of Lake Louise. It has elegant rooms and spectacular views of its namesake blue-green lake, the Victoria Glacier and the surrounding forests and mountains. Paddle the lake in a red canoe in summer, skate and snowshoe in winter, get a signature lavender spa treatment, or just enjoy the views through the picture windows during traditional afternoon tea. Bring home the golden hour glow over the glacier with the new bottled cocktail created by Chateau Lake Louise’s head bartender: called the Iconic Peak, the sunshine orange tipple has tawny port, Campari, whisky, lemon juice, honey water and Fairview bitters.
Originally handbuilt in 1942, this Lake Louise village hotel has expanded over the years, with the addition of an indoor saltwater pool, a massive wine cellar, destination spa, luxurious suites, and public spaces including the post-and-beam library with its antler chandelier. Now Swiss-run, The Post became a Relais & Château property in 1990, doling out all the hospitality and fine dining the brand is known for. Choose lodge rooms and suites for their jetted tubs and, often, wood-burning stone fireplaces; or one- to four-bedroom creekside cabins.
Lake Louise Inn is in the village, just a short walk from The Post Hotel. It has 247 keys for a range of budgets. Higher-priced rooms and condos have more soothing decor and amenities including full kitchens. Lower-priced rooms are comfortable and colourful. The $10-per-day resort fee gives you access to the stunning high-ceilinged pool and hot tub, mini-golf and use of bikes and snowshoes – both of them great ways to explore the area. The inn’s Great Canadian Gazebo hosts bonfires and après-ski s’mores and hot chocolate – classic Lake Louise indulgence.
In the village of Lake Louise, with awe-inspiring views of the mountains above, is this mid-range 80-room favourite. Decor in the Main Lodge is “mountain chic” – see if you can name the different antlers mounted on the lobby walls while you sip your complimentary coffee. Rooms in the motel-layout Timber Building are more contemporary – you’ll be further from the hot tub and steam room but closer to the ski lockers and breakfast room. Grab-n-go breakfast is included, a welcome rarity in the region.
A 15-minute walk from Lake Louise itself, Paradise Lodge has been owned by the Pederson family for 50 years. Dating from the 1930s, the painted log cabins are rustic on the outside and renovated inside with wood-clad walls and ceilings as well as cast-iron gas fireplaces. For claw-footed soaker tubs, choose the Cooper and Peyto cabins. For more space plus cathedral ceilings, opt for a lodge suite. There’s no restaurant on-site, so come supplied (all rooms have a full kitchen or microwave and mini-fridge). Note there’s free wifi for only one device per person.
Opening again in summer 2022, this luxe lodge is on the shore of blue-green Moraine Lake, an expanse arguably more beautiful than Lake Louise itself. It’s a 20-minute drive from Lake Louise village and a few kilometres outside the cell zone, but you get free limited wifi. It’s open only during the summer – anticipate relaxing days on handcrafted wooden furniture and in deep soaker tubs. The decor has calming taupes and greys that nod to the surrounding mountains, and old-fashioned snowshoes and skis hang on the walls. Breakfast, afternoon cookies, and canoeing are included. Top tip: the elegant Walter Wilcox Dining Room has spectacular views of the lake.
Baker Creek Mountain Resort
Resort, Lodge, Cabin
Courtesy of Baker Creek Mountain Resort / Booking.com
This forested property is 20 minutes down the highway toward Banff from the village of Lake Louise. You’ll stay in lodge suites with gas fireplaces (and, often, whirlpool tubs) or cozy timber cabins with wood-burning fireplaces. The creek and the Bow River are a short walk (borrow a fishing rod to take with you) or use the resort’s bikes or snowshoes to venture further afield. Bring your skates for the outdoor rink and your bathing suit for the steam room and sauna. The resort is sans cell reception and TV, but there’s free, if somewhat inconsistent, satellite wifi.
Hidden beneath trees on the shore of Yoho National Park’s aptly named Emerald Lake, this hand-honed timber lodge and its 24 cabins are a 25-minute drive across the provincial border into British Columbia from Lake Louise. You’re almost off the grid here, with no TVs or cell service and wifi only in the main lodge. But that’s no hardship when you can curl up with a good book in front of a wood-burning stone fireplace, and gaze at the green lake and surrounding mountains from the outdoor hot tub or your balcony. After dark, hang out at the bar made of oak recycled from a 19th-century saloon in Yukon – you’ll imbibe history with your ales and wine.