If you are traveling through the Canadian Rockies, there are three brilliant hotels to the East of the Rocky Mountains. Fairmont Banff Springs Vs. Chateau Lake Louise Vs. Jasper Park Lodge, but Wwich is best?. Over towards the West Coast there are two other clear winners, Four Seasons and Fairmont Chateau Whistler which are both the best hotels in Whistler.
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All three hotels have great spas, luxury rooms, and excellent restaurants and bars. Banff and Jasper have warm outdoor pools. Banff and Lake Louse have Gold club lounges. Below we review each hotel in detail, considering the most important features, so you know what you are getting whichever property you choose.
1. Best Location
I prefer the location of the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel in the summer. It is near the tourist village of Banff, which is packed full of interesting shops, restaurants, and cafes. However, the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel is not based in the center of town. It is a short (congested in the summer) drive away over the Bow River.
The hotel is a one-and-a-half km walk into the center, or you can use the hotel’s free shuttle to get to and from Banff. If you drive into the village, parking can be problematic in the summer, so the stroll or use of the hotel’s shuttle is the best way to explore Banff. You will also find Banff Springs Gold Course, Bow Falls, Banff Upper Hot Springs, and the Sulphur Mountain Gondola near this hotel.
The location of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is perfect, right by the lake but it can feel isolated. If you want to Instagram or photograph the lake, you can roll out of bed and into this picture postcard setting. This is a resort hotel complete with all its own amenities and restaurants, but if you want some variety in eateries, Banff is a 45-minute drive away with difficult parking in the summer, and there isn’t much to the Lake Louise village so you are limited to dining in the hotel. On the bright side, there are plenty of walks you can take right from the doorstep of this hotel.
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is located in the heart of Jasper National Park, near Banff National Park. Fairmont Jasper is a 700-acre year-round lakeside mountain resort located on the shores of lake “Lac Beauvert”. It is Canada’s number 1 Golf Resort. It is less than 10 minuted drive into Jasper Village.
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, approximately 211 miles (340 kilometers) from Banff. It is surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the Columbia Icefield, the stunningly blue waters of Lac Beauvert, and the lush forests of Jasper National Park. The resort is situated on the shores of Lac Beauvert and is only minutes from downtown Jasper and the Jasper SkyTram. Canada. It is situated in Jasper National Park, just a few hours from Edmonton and Calgary.
2. Best Ambiance
Fairmont Banff Springs looks like a European castle poking out above a sea of pine trees. While all three hotels are Fairmont brand meaning their style isn’t hugely dissimilar the Banff Springs Fairmont probably feels most grand with lots of unplastered stonework, an enormous staircase, lots of seats to sit, and a large outside space with, a fire pit, and great views.
Fairmont Lake Louise is a grey-hued castle-style structure set in front of a sky-blue lake (the lake’s color is extraordinarily blue!). The windows all face out towards the lake. Its Lakeview Lounge and Fairview Restaurant offer dining with wonderful lakeside views and are exclusively reserved for guests.
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is low-rise and hidden within the trees set next to a beautiful lake. The grand lobby showcases rustic wood beams, chandeliers, and a cozy fireplace. The grounds are more spread out than Fairmont Banff or Lake Louise. The picturesque views of the Rocky Mountains and wild Alberta landscape create a calming and peaceful atmosphere.
3. Best Rooms
Fairmont Banff Springs is huge with around 757 guest rooms, while the Chateau has 539, and Jasper Park Lodge has 442 rooms. Base rooms start at Banff Springs 220 ft² (20 m²). Fairmont Lake Louise start base rooms start at 215 ft² (20 m²). Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge base rooms start at 275 ft² (26 m²), so Jasper offers the largest rooms. Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise base rooms tend to be the most expensive, with lake-view rooms being more expensive still, but the view is quite something.
4. Best In Room Amenities
The Fairmont offers Le Labo Rose 31 bath amenities which is standard for the Fairmont brand. The amenities are the same across both hotels.
5. Best Parking
Parking currently costs around $30 CAD for self-parking at Banff and Lake Louise and around $45 per night for Valet at all the resorts. This is not included in your room rate unless specified in your room rate. The Banff Parking is outdoors, whereas the Lake Louise is covered which is an advantage in the snow if you go for the self-park option.
A standout winner for best value parking is Fairmont Jasper which offers offers free self-parking in their heated underground lot, which is complimentary for all registered guests.
6. Best Pool
Fairmont Banff Springs has a large indoor and outdoor pool. It is classic in design, with lots of archways and a rather dull rectangular design. Dare I say the indoor pool looks a bit dated but is great if you just like swimming laps. This pool is open throughout the year. The outdoor pool at Fairmont Banff Springs is heated is also open all through the year. While the pool again is rather dull in its design, the views are stunning looking across the valley and out to the mountain beyond. There are plenty of loungers in the summer if you want to spend your days lazing by the pool, and there are lawns beyond for little ones to run about on. This outdoor pool is a massive advantage of Fairmont Banff Springs and may swing your choice on which hotel to stay in.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise offers a rather dull rectangular indoor pool with whirlpool. No outdoor pool at all, so you can’t laze outside by the pool in the summer or swim in a steaming outdoor heated pool in the winter, which is a major disadvantage of this hotel if you like a swim.
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge offers a warm heated outdoor pool. The pool is open year round and is surrounded by the beautiful natural landscape of the Canadian Rockies. The pool has a shallow end for families with children and a deep end for those who want to take a more adventurous dip. The pool area also features two hot tubs, lounge chairs, and umbrellas for shade all with the marvellous backdrop of the Rocky mountain scenery.
If you are looking to spend quality time by the pool, particularly in the summer, Banff and Jasper are your best choice as by comparison, the Lake Louse pool is unappealing.
7. Best Golf
Fairmont Banff Springs is best for golf. It is right next to a golf course, and you can book room rates to include golf. The Fairmont Lake Louise also has a scenic 18-hole golf course. It is an 18-hole par 72 golf course, which features a unique layout that includes a mix of challenging fairways, rolling terrain, and stunning mountain views. The course has been designed to provide the ultimate golf experience, with a wide variety of tee boxes, bunkers, and water hazards. It is open to the public, and offers a golf school, a pro shop, and a clubhouse.
Golf at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is a 9-hole golf course located on the stunning Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Estate so it is right on your doorstep. Featuring spectacular mountain views, this par-3 course offers a challenging and fun round of golf for all levels of golfers. The course features a variety of holes ranging from long par-3’s to shorter chip shots, making it a great place for beginners and experienced golfers alike. The golf course is also surrounded by lush forests and wildlife, creating a peaceful and calming atmosphere. The course is maintained to a high standard and offers top-notch facilities, including a pro shop, driving range and practice greens.
8. Best Ski Slope Access
You can’t ski in ski out from Fairmont Banff Springs or Chateau Lake Louise. Sunshine Mountain Lodge, Banff’s only ski-in, ski-out hotel in the area, is not luxurious, and the National Park regulations limit this type of ski in ski out development. You need to drive or shuttle to the ski hills and while the shuttles and busses are free, they can be a hassle and eat into your skiing time.
Chateau Lake Louise is closer to the slopes than Fairmont Banff, but if you are looking for a great ski-in ski-out ski hotel in Canada, we prefer Farimont Chateau Whistler or Four Seasons Whistler.
Staying in Banff gives good access to skiing at Mount Norquay and Sunshine Village, which are about half an hour’s drive away. Sunshine Village is a vast bowl of deep snow with an average of 30 feet of powder from November to May; the longest ski season in Canada. Throughout Sunshine’s history, all developments have been carefully designed to harmonize with the natural beauty of the Canadian Rockies and Banff National Park. Still standing is the original 1928 ski cabin known as Old Sunshine Lodge. The village is home to epic ski adventures, plus guided snowshoeing or sightseeing experiences. Unfortunately, at the Sunshine ski area, parking is a real pain, and you need to take the gondola up to the hill, you can’t just walk onto the slopes. The runs at Sunshine are plentiful but also short when compared to those at Lake Louise.
Mount Norquay is just 20 minutes from downtown Banff and has been the local ski area since 1926, offering 28 runs spread over 129 acres. Mount Norquay awards the flexibility of allowing skiers and boarders to pay by the hour and offers the only night skiing in the Rockies every Friday night.
Lake Louise is one of the largest ski areas in North America. Lake Louise is further from Banff (30 Vs. 40 minutes) but offers better parking, and you can walk right up to the hill. With over 4200 skiable acres and 139 named runs. This alpine terrain offers variety for all abilities. The ski hill is open from mid-November to early May. This ski area is a 40-minute drive from Fairmont Banff Springs with free shuttle services available, but it is just a few minutes from Chateau Lake Louise village. There’s a hotel shuttle making numerous runs from the Chateau to the Lake Louise ski hill throughout the day, as the Lake Louise Ski Area is just across the valley from the hotel. Lake Louise ski area is usually considered the best ski area, so Chateau Lake Louise wins hands down for the best ski option when comparing these two hotels.
In winter Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is the better choice for skiers, although Fairmont Banff is more fun from the aspect of having a village to wander through apres ski.
Jasper Park Lodge gives you access to ski slopes serviced by two chairlifts, four surface lifts, and two magic carpet lifts. Ski lessons are available for all levels of experience, as well as ski and snowboard rentals. Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge also offers a variety of other winter activities, such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and tubing.
While there is good skiing across all three resorts, for the best conditions, largest ski area and quick access to the slopes, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is your best choice.
9. Best Gold Club Lounge
Both Fairmont Banff Springs and Chateau Lake Louise offer Fairmont Gold Lounges. Jasper Park Lodge does not offer a Gold Club Lounge. The Lake Louise lounge is excellent. It is usually lovely and quiet, and always seats and tables were available. The staff will make reservations for you and help you with whatever you need, including checking in and out. They offer free shoe shine and a personal wake-up call in the morning by bringing you a drink to your room at a specific time.
The food in the lounge is very good and varied, so don’t worry if you book the lounge for a week as the food is not repeated regularly. Breakfast includes oatmeal, eggs, bacon, sausages, and unusual items like banana bread and french toast. Hot food options are provided by an egg chef who will make your eggs to order. A disadvantage of this lounge is that it is located at the back of the hotel, so instead of a view over the lake, you have a view of the parking and ski area on Mount Whitehorn across the valley.
The Banff lounge is also excellent but if can be busier than the lounge at Lake Louise, particularly at breakfast and only really busy during breakfast where there is a very decent spread including whole fruit, cut fruit, a huge array of pastries, smoked salmon, cold cuts, cereal, juices. The evening canapes here are decent and are enough to substitute for a decent dinner for most.
The Fairmont Gold Privileges include:
- Private check-in and check-out
- Exclusive Fairmont Gold Lounge for Fairmont Gold guests
- Deluxe Continental Breakfast in the Fairmont Gold Lounge
- All day coffee & tea service in the Fairmont Gold Lounge
- Afternoon canapés & honour bar in the Fairmont Gold Lounge
- Complimentary newspapers and personalized wake-up calls
- Fairmont Gold privileges include exclusive access to the Fairmont Gold Lounge. Relax fireside while enjoying complimentary Deluxe Continental Breakfast, local newspapers, and magazines, catching up on email with our complimentary laptop computer, or simply unwinding after a day on Whistler Mountain
10. Best Overall: Fairmont Banff Springs Vs. Chateau Lake Louise Vs. Jasper
Fairmont Banff Springs is a grand hotel within walking distance of Banff village. It has a lovely outdoor pool area but is some way from the ski slopes, which is a major disadvantage if you are staying for a ski trip.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a great place to stay for wilderness walks, spectacular sunrises, and for easy skiing using the quick hotel shuttle to the Lake Louise ski area. It also has a Gold club lounge that is usually quieter than the Gold Club Lounge in Banff. However, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise can feel isolated as it is not near an interesting village, and there is no outdoor pool in the summer to laze around.
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge offers larger base rooms, free self park and a wonderful outdoor pool and grounds in the summer. The golf course is right on the doorstep which is hugely convenient but for skiing the runs are limited in Jasper particularly when compared to what is available at Chateau Lake Louise.
Ultimately if you can’t decide which hotel to stay in, we recommend staying at both and booking via our luxury travel concierge for extra free benefits.
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