Nestled in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff is known for its world-class ski resort and wilderness surroundings. A traditional ski town, you’ll find luxury lodges alongside backpacker hostels and raucous ski bars. You might even spot a pair of antlers in the morning mist – elk are common, as are osprey, plus there are around 65 grizzly bears that call the Banff National Park home. Whether you want roaring open fires, curtained reading nooks or plush hotel suites, this is our guide to where to stay in Banff.
Offering the atmosphere and warmth of a cozy cottage, this inviting hotel is located on a secluded hillside and offers jaw-dropping views, as well as plentiful sightings of local wildlife. The somewhat remote location is still less than a 10 minutes by car from downtown Banff. Tuck into dinner at the on-site restaurant, which serves local specialties like game meats. Head out snowshoeing or cross-country skiing with Banff Adventures, which can be organized through the front desk.
Located in Banff National Park, one of Canada’s most scenic national parks, this approachable property offers some of the region’s best views of the majestic Rocky Mountains. Less than a 2mi (3km) drive to Banff, the resort has a secluded feel, surrounded by thick forest. The property has storage for skis and also rents bikes. There is an indoor pool and an outdoor hot tub, as well a small fitness center and sauna.
Located a 20-minute drive outside Banff, this property is in the charming mountain town of Canmore. Ideal for outdoor adventurers, you are close to many hiking and biking trails, as well as several ski resorts. Designed with families in mind, suites all come with fully equipped kitchens, a washer and dryer, living room and dining area. There is also a shared rooftop hot tub and BBQ area.
This refined, chalet-like resort, also located in Canmore, has a welcoming, cozy vibe. Sophisticated rooms offer a variety of amenities and some include kitchens, fireplaces and balconies. There’s also an indoor swimming pool, indoor/outdoor hot tub and a kids’ pool with a waterslide. Outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of the access to fat-tire bikes, snowshoes, paddle boards and binoculars.
Less than a five-minute drive from downtown Banff, the Douglas Fir Resort & Chalets is a wonderful base from which to explore the Banff National Park and nearby Lake Louise. This laid-back property offers rooms with kitchenettes, fireplaces and balconies. There’s also a small fitness center, complete with steam room and saunas, as well as an indoor pool. Those traveling with children will appreciate the waterslides and two playgrounds on offer.
Despite welcoming guests for more than 130 years, Fairmont Banff Springs is far from dated. Cozy guest rooms and suites – decked out with rich fabrics, Bose stereo systems and bathrooms with European-style body-spray showers – are tucked away in quiet corners of the castle. In keeping with Canadian tradition, marshmallows are shared around a roaring campfire during the winter season; after hiking, consider it the best way to enjoy Banff National Park.
With horseback trail rides, a floor-to-ceiling wine library and bedroom views of the hotel’s namesake lake, a stay at Fairmont Château Lake Louise is about as romantic as it gets. Just 40 minutes from Banff, it has welcomed everyone from mountaineers and outdoor adventurers to sightseers and royalty since opening in 1890. Follow in their footsteps with a guided hike or voyageur canoe experience out on the lake. The Hiker’s Foot Therapy is a must-book treatment in the hotel spa after walking hours on the trails.
The Sunshine Mountain Lodge has become quite an institution for seasoned skiers, thanks to its status as the only ski-in, ski-out hotel in Banff National Park. At Banff Sunshine Ski School, world-class instructors will help you master the slopes in no time. When summer comes, take advantage of its location 7,218ft (2,200m) above sea level and look out over the peaks as you wander through the area’s high-alpine meadows.
Surrounded by the untamed landscape of Banff National Park, this in-demand mountain retreat offers respite after a busy day of activities. Upgrade to a loft suite for a two-person whirlpool tub and mountain views, and enjoy juicy steaks from its on-site restaurant, the Keg, which is also open for breakfast. For a change of scenery, stroll along Banff Avenue and discover the town’s restaurants and shops.