2022 Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel Review

the best things to do in banff national park

Banff National Park has been on my bucket list ever since I saw these beautiful Instagram videos of Lake Louise. If you’re wondering if these videos are filtered, they aren’t – the lake is simply breathtakingly beautiful. I can’t believe I got to celebrate my birthday in Banff this year and want to come back to do Jasper National Park!

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We stayed at Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, “Castle in the Rockies”, the luxury mountain resort open all year round. The hotel is Scottish Baronial style and was built in 1888 in the heart of Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies. We wanted to stay inside the park and the Fairmont is only a 15 minute walk from downtown Banff, a 9 minute walk from Bow Falls, and a 4 minute walk from the Spray River West trailhead.

Banff is a popular destination in the winter for the ski season, but I wanted to take advantage of it in the summer. Fairmont Banff has added several new activities this year, so read below for our stay!


How to get to Banff National Park

fly in Calgary International Airport and from the airport, it’s a scenic 90-minute (87-mile) drive to Banff. From Austin, we made a stopover in Dallas before landing in Calgary and picking up our rental car. We explored Calgary on the first day and spent the night in Cochrane at a cabin in the woods overlooking the valley. Then make the drive from Cochrane to Banff!

ROOMS

The Fairmont Banff has 745 rooms and suites – we had a mountain view room with a king bed and woke up to beautiful sunrises and sunsets over Rundle Mountain and Tunnel Mountain.


APPROVALS

  • Willow Stream Spa
  • Indoor pool and outdoor pool
  • daily cleaning
  • 3 outdoor tennis courts
  • Fitness Center
  • Award-winning 18-hole golf course designed by Stanley Thompson
  • 13 food and drink options
  • ski room
  • babysitting services
  • free public transport (ROAM transport cards available at reception)
  • valet parking
  • accept pets

ON REAL ESTATE ACTIVITIES

Free bikes from the adventure center

The Fairmont Banff offers free one-hour bike or e-bike rentals at the Adventure Center located in the Gatehouse Rotunda (under the Ramsay Bar). Bike to downtown Banff, around the national park, or just around the property. The weather was perfect!

Forest swimming near Fairmont Banff National Park

Guided Forest Bathing Experience

Forest bathing is a mindfulness practice that originated in Japan and is known as Shinrin Yoku. This is an exclusive experience offered by the Fairmont Banff Springs that encourages guests to connect with nature in a deeper and deeper way. We did the two hour private session with an accredited guide and learned all about the healing benefits of Shinrin Yoku, the forests of Banff, and finished with a tea service.

Golf course at Fairmont Banff Springs in Banff National Park

Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course

Named one of the top ten golf courses in Canada and one of the best in the world, people come everywhere to play golf at the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course. The 18-hole golf course bordered by a pine forest and set against the mountainous landscape of the Canadian Rockies was designed by master golf course expert Stanley Thompson.

Golf cart tour and driving range

If you don’t like golf, opt for the golf cart tour. The golf course is beautiful and we enjoyed learning all the facts and seeing the animals. The golf course guide took us on a short cart tour of this iconic course, played by celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, famous sportsmen and even royal guests since the early 1900s. If you feel up to it , the golf course guide can also stop at the driving range for a few shots.

Willow Stream Spa - mineral pools at Fairmont Banff Springs in Banff National Park

Dive into the mineral pools of Willow Stream Spa

Banff was known for its natural hot springs back then and you can enjoy the experience in the mineral pools at Willow Stream Spa. The spa offers treatments such as massages, facials and more. There are three plunge pools of varying temperatures, hot tubs, a eucalyptus inhalation room, sauna, steam room, and outdoor hot tub.

Banffchella Summer Art Installation

Banffchella Summer Art Installation at the Outdoor Pool

New artistic and Instagrammable 3D structures by the Wknders are presented just for the summer at the outdoor pool and indoor pool! There is a cocktail menu organized in partnership with Veuve Clicquot. DJ set live every Friday in the summer by DJ Adam DoubleYou too!

Rundle Bar cocktail making class

Learn the secret to professional mixology during a cocktail-making class with the talented, award-winning bartenders at Bar Rundle. We learned how to make Signature Mountain Series cocktails, showcasing the essence of every Fairmont property in the mountain region – Fairmont Banff Springs, Lake Louise Chateau and Jasper Park Lodge.


RESTAURANTS

There are 13 dining options at the Fairmont Banff Springs.

360° Private Dining Dome at Fairmont Banff Springs in Banff National Park

360° Private Dining Dome at Fairmont Banff Springs in Banff National Park

Private 360° dining dome

This was one of my favorite dining experiences – the private 360° dining dome is located on the picturesque upper garden terrace. We enjoyed coffee and a signature breakfast of eggs benedict, toast, fruit and pastries while surrounded by panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies and the 132 year old castle.

The private 360° dining dome is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I can’t imagine how magical it is in the winter when it snows!

Pricing: Sunrise breakfast is $70 per person, advance reservations required

Food and drinks

Located on the lobby level past the Concierges, STOCK is the casual cafe and cafe. We had coffee and pastries here every morning and popped in for sandwiches and snacks in the afternoon. Great place to grab snacks for hikes and picnics.

Rundle Bar at the Fairmont Banff Springs

Running bar

Rundle Bar has the best view of Rundle Mountain with a beautiful view of the outdoor patio and a secret door through a library, designed by FRANK architecture led by women in Calgary. The new menu features dishes like Brandt Lake Beef Carpaccio, Cold Smoked Arctic Char and Chef Atticus’ Hot OGC Rundle (Oooey, Gooey, Cookie).

We had lunch, dinner and cocktails here several times during our stay!

Waldhaus Restaurant at the Fairmont Banff Springs

Restaurant Waldhaus

Considered one of the best patios for enjoying a beer or a cocktail, Waldhaus is a Bavarian-style cottage with German-inspired Alpine dishes. Soft pretzels, onion potato soup, cheese fondue, schnitzel, etc. Waldhaus offers local and international beer. Try the beer flight (five 6oz tasters), stein or big beer boot (64oz)! XT

Stanley Smokehouse

Named after golf course master expert Stanley Thompson, The Stanley Smokehouse is located on the golf course and offers a barbecue menu. The classic avocado on toast, the alpine omelette with local meats, the Black Forest ham from Valbella or even the breakfast poutine.

Italian Castle at Fairmont Banff Springs

italian castle

I love pasta so was delighted to dine at Castello Italiana – handmade pasta, classic Italian dishes and a bottle of wine. We loved the chicken picatta and the fried calamari.

The Vermilion room

If you love French cuisine, head to the Vermillion Room for French classics from appetizers to desserts and a bar with incredible views of the Canadian Rockies.

THINGS TO DO IN BANFF NATIONAL PARK

Sulfur Mountain Hike

The hotel offers free passes for the roving buses at the concierge desk. The bus stop is just a 10 minute walk from downtown Banff and will take you directly to the Sulfur Mountain summit station.

The hike took us about two hours (it would be an hour and a half, but I’m a slow hiker) to a great view of six mountain ranges, the Bow Valley and the town of Banff from the top of Mt. Sulphur. Banff. There are restaurants, cafes and a promenade to enjoy the view. We took the Sulfur Mountain gondola down or you can walk down.

The Banff Gondola is an 8-minute trip at an elevation of 2281 meters (7486 feet) above sea level.

Tickets: ranges from $40 to $70, children 5 and under travel free but require a ticket.

100 Mountain Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1B2, Canada

https://www.banffjaspercollection.com/attractions/banff-gondola/

Scooter ride in Banff National Park

Scootering around Banff was one of my favorite things to do on this trip! We picked out a bright yellow Vespa scooter and drove around the park to Lake Minnewanka. So many animals along the way – moose and big horn sheep! The best way to see and experience Banff.

The Banff by Scooter store is conveniently located next to the hotel. Scooters are available for rent for 2 hours, 4 hours, a full day or several days. Includes unlimited gas, 2 helmets and unlimited mileage. No motorcycle license is necessary and sunglasses are mandatory.

Availablity: May to September

405 Spray Avenue, Banff, AB T1L 1J4, Canada, banffbyscooter.com

Canoe Lake Louise

Canoeing on Lake Louise has been on my bucket list for years and I can’t believe we have to do this!! If you’ve seen those iconic videos of a blue lake on Instagram, it’s Lake Louise and it looks like it in real life.

The lines to rent a canoe can get really crazy, but we were very lucky to find a parking space right away and the line was short for the canoe.

Tip: arrive early at 7am to get a parking space (or take the shuttle) and queue for the canoe. If you are a guest at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, there is a separate expedited line.

Cost: $145 for one hour or $135 for 30 minutes

Business hours: 8:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (last boat at 7:00 p.m.)

111 Lake Louise Drive, Lake Louise – Alberta, more info

Afternoon tea at the Fairmont Lake Louise

We didn’t have time to experience tea at the Fairmont Lake Louise, but it was highly recommended. We stayed for lunch after canoeing and enjoyed the view of Lake Louise from the deck.

Bow Springs at Bow Falls in Banff National Park

Bow River Cold Dive

Bow Falls has a 30 foot (9.1 meter) drop at the corner of the Bow River. Made popular by the 1953 Marilyn Monroe film River of No Return. If you feel like it, you can take a cold dip in Bow River. The water is surprisingly clear and beautiful.

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