Today, our ‘My Favourite Hotel’ review is from Canada.
We are currently running this reader-written feature to provide some positivity and inspiration to Head for Points. You can find all of the ‘My Favourite Hotel’ reviews so far by clicking here. This was scheduled to be a series of about 25 hotels, but a good response from readers means that we have commissioned another batch and are continuing the series.
Today’s hotel is the Fairmont Banff Springs. It is reader David’s favourite hotel and in his view the greatest mountainside resort in the world. Here is his review:
In today’s review we will look at one of the pinnacle properties in the Fairmont collection. Before the large French conglomerate, Accor, bought them up a few years ago Fairmont was an independent group alongside the Raffles and Swissotel brands.
Before that, the original name was Canadian Pacific Hotels. The chain was developed in the late 1800’s by the railroad company of the same name and its primary function was to host people who were travelling across Canada’s rugged terrain.
My wife and I have always loved Fairmont’s as they are known for their elegance and superb service. I’d go as far as to call my wife and I Fairmont enthusiasts as we’ve stayed in over 40 Fairmont properties worldwide. In fact, we got married at a Fairmont (Sonoma Mission Inn) and spent our honeymoon across three other Fairmont properties ranging from Dubai, Singapore, and the Maldives. So having experienced many of the global Fairmont’s we can confirm the Fairmont Banff Springs is the crown jewel in the collection!
Don’t worry if Banff isn’t a town you’re familiar with. Unless you’re from Canada or a frequent mountaineer, you may not know it. The name comes from the national park located outside of Calgary in the Canadian province of Alberta. Opened in 1888, the hotel was originally called the Banff Springs Hotel as it was part of the railway project. The hotel was built onto a small bluff overlooking two nearby crystal blue rivers.
To get to Banff you’ll fly into Calgary. The Calgary airport is well serviced with flights coming in from all over the world including London (LHR & LGW), Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin, Zurich, Frankfort, and Rome. Air Canada and United dominate but the Canadian discount airline WestJet offers attractive fares. You will want to rent a car as public routes are very few and far between. If you are travelling in Winter months be sure to rent an appropriate all wheel drive vehicle as snowstorms can pop out of nowhere in Canada!
From the airport it takes around 1 hour 45 minutes to drive from densely populated downtown Calgary to the sparsely populated Banff national park – the drive is lovely as you go from flatlands to picture perfect mountain scenery! As you approach from the highway you will begin to see a large castle looking building from afar. Minute by minute you get closer until you arrive on what can only be described as a Canadian version of the Disney Castle (of course it was modelled after the German Neuschwanstein Castle!).
You’ll first notice that the Fairmont Banff Springs is HUGE. It’s a convention centre-sized hotel boasting four restaurants and large indoor and outdoor pools.
You’ll also notice that there are many adjoining buildings in the property. You can stay from the basic “Fairmont Rooms” to the most elegant suite apartments depending on your budget. Summer season is by far the most expensive and a basic room will run you $500+ depending on the exact dates – of course this was all pre Covid-19. A quick check of the website has July rooms available for a steal of a price at $350!
Reception and check-in
My wife and I stayed here in July 2019. We booked a basic room but decided to splurge on an upgrade to a two-bedroom two split level suite! It was the right choice and only about $150 extra a night.
The grand lobby is HUGE with many receptionists available to service people staying in the 764 rooms covering 15 floors.
The hotel staff is amazingly trained and unbelievable friendly. We were welcomed by a bottle of champagne and treats including the famous Canadian Bear Claw chocolate snacks.
From the windows of the room we could see, hear and feel the mountains. What’s amazing about this hotel is although it’s massive in size, you never feel like you are in a big hotel. All views look out at the seeping mountain sides and you can’t help but think you made it to heaven!
This was the actual view from our room:
Eating and Drinking
When hunger calls or you get tired of looking at the mountains, you have MANY options on the property. In fact, you have 12 different restaurants to try! There’s a convenience store stocking essentials should you want to “rough it”.
There’s a snack shop at the outdoor pool and a Mexican themed taco bar on the deck. There’s a wine and tapas bar. There’s even a bowling alley serving nachos and hot dogs! And of course, there are plenty of fine dining options. We enjoyed some fancy cocktails. Our favourite dining spot was the German style beer pub out back overlooking the golf course.
You really can’t go wrong with any of the options. Just make sure to bring your wallet because food and drinks on property come with on-property prices!
What is there to do near Fairmont Banff Springs?
From the Fairmont Banff Springs you are at the perfect point for enjoying all the Canadian Rockies and Banff National Park has to offer. You are minutes away from a ‘can’t miss’ trip to the Banff Observation Peak or minutes away from adventures like white water rafting and all the hiking you could do in a 100 lifetimes.
Don’t miss a trip down the road to Lake Louise and take a peek at another lovely Fairmont property, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. No matter where you explore you will be met with picture perfect postcard quality sights!
With the Fairmont Banff Springs you get the Fairmont brand at its very best – high quality, superb service and guaranteed amazing memories! It is a special occasion type of hotel that you will save for.
Any trip to the Canadian Rockies wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Fairmont Banff Springs. But remember to bring that wallet because a special occasion hotel comes with special occasion prices!
If you want to find out more, the hotel’s website is here.
As part of Accor, the hotel lets you earn points in Accor Live Limitless and benefit from any Accor status you have. Accor Live Limitless is a revenue-based redemption scheme, and points are worth a flat 2 Eurocents each when you redeem them towards a stay.
How to book
You can get extra bonuses when booking Fairmont Banff Springs if you book via Emyr Thomas at Bon Vivant, our luxury hotel booking partner.
Bookings made via Emyr come with:
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- Daily full breakfast for two guests per bedroom, served in the restaurant
- $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
- Authentically local welcome gift
- Early check-in / late check-out subject to availability
- Complimentary wi-fi
You will pay the same as the ‘Best Flexible Rate’ shown on the Accor website, and you pay at the hotel as usual.
Accor Live Limitless update – August 2021:
Earn bonus Accor points: You will receive double base points on Accor stays in the UK and Europe until 5th September 2021, but you must register before booking. You can register here.
New to Accor Live Limitless? Read our overview of Accor Live Limitless here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our analysis of what Accor Live Limitless points are worth is here.
Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from Accor and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.