Which Is Best? Fairmont Banff Springs Vs. Chateau Lake Louise


Which is best? Fairmont Banff Springs Vs. Chateau Lake Louise. Being similarly luxurious Canadian Rocky hotels in similar locations this choice can be confusing, but we break down the differences between these hotels below. it’s worth mentioning that over towards the West Coast, there are two additional clear winners for luxury hotels in the Canadian Rockies, Four Seasons and Fairmont Chateau Whistler which are both the best hotels in Whistler.

Wherever you decide to stay, book via our luxury travel concierge. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, and free perks at hotels, including Four Seasons, Aman, Belmond, Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, InterContinental, and more. You also get your usual Marriott Bonvoy, Hyatt, Hilton, and other loyalty points and status benefits when you book with our concierge.

Both hotels have great spas, indoor pools (Chateau Lake Louise doesn’t have an outdoor pool), luxury rooms, Gold club lounges, and excellent restaurants and bars. 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.

2. Best Ambiance

Fairmont Banff Springs looks like a European castle poking out above a sea of pine trees. While both hotels are Fairmont branded 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. This Banff hotel also offers a large outside space with, a fire pit, and great views.

Fairmont Chateau 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 and inside similarly grand chandeliers adorn a large circular foyer. Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise’s Lakeview Lounge and Fairview Restaurant offer dining with wonderful lakeside views and are exclusively reserved for guests.

3. Best Rooms

There’s not much to choose between the rooms at these two hotels. Fairmont Banff Springs is vast with around 757 guest rooms, while the Chateau has 539. Base rooms at Banff Springs start at 220 ft² (20 m²). Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise’s base rooms start at a similar 215 ft² (20 m²). If you like a view, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise’s lake view rooms are the ones to choose as they look right across the stunning lake. These rooms cost more.

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 and $45 CAD per night for Valet. This is not included in your room rate unless specified. 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.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise base rooms tend to cost slightly more, with lake-view rooms being more expensive still, but the view is quite something.

When looking at the design, the rooms at both hotels are comparative. Gold rooms are usually worth paying more for, as they give you Gold club lounge access at both hotels. More on this below.

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.

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.

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.

9. Best Gold Club Lounge

Both Fairmont Banff Springs and Chateau Lake Louise offer Fairmont Gold Lounges. The Lake Louise lounge is excellent. It is usually lovely and quiet, and there were always seats and tables 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

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.

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.

Image © Inger / Adobe Stock.

Note: Benefits offered correct at the time of writing but may be amended at discretion of the vendor. Posts may be sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.