As a child I was crazy following the downhill ski world championships on TV. My favourite race was the one at Lake Louise. Each year, the transmission would start with a feature about the Canadian Rockies; and there would be a close-in on Lake Louise and the imposing Fairmont hotel bordering it. Ever since, it was my dream staying at this hotel one day.
When I finally went on a road trip through the Canadian Rocky Mountains last summer, it was clear the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise would be the hotel of my choice while stying in Banff National Park.
I’ve been no stranger to the Fairmont brand before this trip. I very much like their particular form of luxury, combining modern amenities and flawless service with authentic design and experiences based on the respective location.
Yet only when researching for this trip that I discovered more about the story behind some of the brands most iconic Canadian hotels. In fact, many of them were originally built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by an initiative of the Canadian National Railway to help spark tourism along their routes. Many of them have turned into iconic Canadian landmarks.
It did not take me long to decide Fairmont Hotels would be my preferred hotel choice on this trip, especially as they conveniently line up along the way through the Rocky Mountains . And what a great decision it was! I loved every of the different places and cannot recommend them enough.
Fairmont Edmonton Macdonald
Located right in downtown Edmonton, the Fairmont Edmonton Macdonald became my first stop.
Built in 1915, it was the only building perch on the hillside overlooking the North Saskatchewan River Valley from its prominent location. Today it’s surrounded by several highrise office buildings but still stands out with its grand facade.
Unfortunately, my timetable did not allow for more than a quick sleepover. However, for the occasion I opted for the Fairmont gold package. It includes private check-in, access to a private gold lounge, a private breakfast buffet, and coffee, tea and cold drinks during the day along with complimentary canapés in the afternoon. I also managed to have dinner at the hotel’s signature restaurant, The Harvest Room.
The spacious Fairmont gold rooms are beautifully styled with classy yet relaxed furniture and marble-clad bathrooms.
Fairmont Macdonald offers various dining options. A more relaxed and informal menu is served at the hotel’s Confederation Lounge.
Award-winning cuisine is served at The Harvest Room. I particularly liked the restaurants concept offering a fixed-price three-course menu that you can compose yourself picking a starter, main and desert from their seasonal menu.
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Located in Jasper National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jasper Park Lodge is no doubt one of the most iconic Fairmont hotels and one of Canada’s most favoured resort locations, attracting many VIPs as well. Among them were King George VI and his wife Queen Elisabeth (the late Queen Mum) who stayed at the Lodge’s Outlook Cabin during their honeymoon. The cabin burnt down later on but was rebuilt to match the original.
Jasper Park Lodge is spread across a 700 acre site of wood and parkland at the shores of beautiful Lake Beauvert, with the main Lodge and its many cedar chalets and cabins perfectly blending into the surroundings.
One of the Canadian Rockies most iconic mountain peaks, Mount Edith Cavell, can be seen from almost everywhere on the estate.
There are different room options, from the standard Fairmont room to the private signature cabins. Fairmont rooms are located in the many cedar chalets spread across the property, all adorned with their own little patio.
The outdoor pool and hot tub are great places to relay during a warm summer day. They offer stunning views of the mountains and Lake Beauvert.
There are four different restaurants on the premises. The relaxed Emerald Lodge offers light snacks and burgers; Orso Trattoria is a classic Italian restaurant; and Oka Sushi is a small, intimate sushi bar. Then there is Jasper Park Lodge’s fine dining The Moose’s Nook Chophouse restaurant. On the menu are the best local produce such as game (definitely try the bison), organic meats and excellent seafood.
On warmer days, you can also have snacks and light lunches on the Lodge’s terrace overlooking the outdoor pool and lake Beauvert.
On a general note, Jasper Park Lodge offers accommodation and services you’d expect from a luxury resort. But with many of the cabins and cedar chalets dating back to the 1920s, expect a rustic touch; and also be prepared for some minor functionality issues. Service was usually quick to respond to any complaint, but this should not be the norm at a luxury resort. In fact, the hotel’s website announces a major renovation program. That highlights the management has recognized and is addressing the need to improve overall guest experience.
All that said, Jasper Park Lodge overall matched my expectations and it is a location clearly not to be missed when travelling through Jasper National Park.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
The more than 100 years old Chateau Lake Louise certainly enjoys one of the most prominent locations in Banff National Park, sitting right at the shores of Lake Louise. This is a real advantage if you want to enjoy the lake without the large crowds arriving from early in the morning and staying until sunset. Thus head out early before breakfast for a stroll along the boardwalk, it will be the only time you have the location almost to your own.
Room options again range from the standard Fairmont rooms, specialty rooms, suites and the Fairmont gold rooms.
There is also a large shopping alley where you find shops selling mountain gear, souveniers, arts and books.
The Chateau offers several dining options, from casual bistro-style food at the Lakeview Lounge, casual dining at Poppy Brasserie, Italian cuisine at Lago Italian Kitchen, hearty comfort food at the Alpine Social restaurant to fine dining at Fairview restaurant.
Note that while priority is given to house guests some of the restaurants can nevertheless book out quickly. In particular if you want to have dinner at Fairview, make reservations in advance otherwise you might have to compromise on time (early or late bookings are easier to get) or might not get a table at all.
Once again, the breakfast buffet at Chateau Lake Louise will leave you spoilt for choice. In fact, there are various buffets: choose between the Lago Italian, Poppy Brasserie or Alpine Social restaurants. Otherwise, you can also grab a quick coffee to go at the deli.
Did you stay at any of the Canadian Fairmont hotels? Let me know about your experience.