2020.10 – Part 2 – Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Are you looking to stay at a hotel that is as impressive as its location? How about a hotel that has a museum as part of its lobby? This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to stay at the “Castle in the Rockies”.
Feel free to check out the Wikipedia page about the Banff Springs Hotel. What’s important was that this hotel was built by the railway company after the transcontinental railway was constructed nearby. Why? Well, you’d need to take the train to visit! It certainly worked. Numerous pictures, located in the museum, up the lobby stairs, since its founding show celebrities and high society who stayed at the hotel during the summer months.
Upon arrival, it felt like we had never been to a luxury hotel (ok, a different kind of luxury from Longitude 131). First, through the revolving doors:
The lobby’s exposed stone made it feel warm and inviting. Check-in is on both sides with the middle being a passage through to the elevators, shopping concourse and spa/pool. Don’t be surprised if you see a couple clad in robes exit the elevator — it’s the only way to get to the spa for couples massage. During our time I think we saw this occur three or four times.
Here’s a picture of the shopping concourse:
The rest of this post will focus on what we saw walking around the hotel, and food we enjoyed at the hotel, available to all guests. The next post will discuss Fairmont Gold as we booked a room in this section of the hotel.
Not all restaurants were open during our visit. We did visit two: Waldhaus Pub, and afternoon tea. I recommend both!
Waldhaus is housed in a separate building down the hillside close to the river and beside the golf course. It’s important to note that there are only 10,000,000 steps (okay maybe 150-200) from the hotel down to Waldhaus. The quantity of steps might require you to adjust your meal or beverage plans while there. Don’t fret though. You can order a taxi to return you to the hotel entrance. In our case we were even luckier as we shared a cab with friends whom with met for dinner that evening.
Waldhaus itself has two sections. A formal restaurant, complete with reservations, and the pub. The pub is first-come, first-served that specializes in German cuisine. As Little Miss didn’t like the restaurant menu, we went to the pub and it was totally worth the trek down the stairs. The food has generous portions, and does German style (meat, potatoes, beer) food well:
During our visit, afternoon tea was available only on weekends. Due to space requirements, tea was served just outside of the regular banquet room in a large hallway. I think the hallway was better as it afforded all patrons unobstructed views. With the recent snow it was picturesque. A pianist was performing in which the set list were pop songs. We turned this into a game of “Name that tune”. I didn’t win. Teas available are from Lot 31, Fairmont’s Tea brand. For any they you like and want to take home, they are available for purchase both in the gift shop and online. The selection of food was tasty and filling, so much so, we took the desserts with us, to enjoy later.
The high tea was comprehensive and even included timers to enable our tea to steep the proper amount of time:
The hotel has expanded over the years. Additional rooms, and meeting space have been added. For us, all of the available space (except Waldhaus) can be accessed via connecting walkways that bridge over loading docks and roads. Navigating this part we did find confusing, mostly because we only walked through these areas once. As we walked around after the weekend, the hotel was definitely no where near capacity, and portions of our walk felt like we had walked onto the set of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
During our walk we found:
Conservatory area that could be set up for wedding ceremonies.
We came across this gathering area that was completely empty. I can understand that this could be a popular spot, complete with a fireplace, and pool tables underneath the bar area:
The bar looked like it could be a hive of activity when in operation:
As well, there were other open spaces we passed, such as this hallway that looked like it was taken from a European castle:
Elevator exterior, and mail chute all appeared as close to original as possible:
And the mail chute:
View of the lobby from the museum:
saltwater indoor & outdoor POOL
The single coolest part of the hotel was the outdoor pool. It’s heated to 30+C, so it feels almost like a hot tub, instead of a pool. We enjoyed spending time in the pool. There is something unique to being spoiled — nice and warm in a pool with snow capped mountains in the distance and snow ringing the pool deck. Access to the pool, begins beside the spa entrance. From there you descend a level to navigate through change room and then exit into the indoor pool. Via a door, you step outside and down into the outdoor pool immediately.
And the indoor pool was quite large. Unlike the outdoor pool, the water was temperate and great for swimming. There was a small hot tub across from the shallow end of the pool.
Explore other parts of this trip:
Part 1 – Planning, Flight & Rental Car
Part 2 – Banff Springs Hotel (this post!)
Part 3 – Banff Springs Hotel, Fairmont Gold
Part 5 – Banff National Park sites