When your room comes with a puffy chaise longue and a deep whirlpool tub, complete with a rubber ducky, doesn’t it cry out to you to settle in and cocoon?
I could have stayed for days at the snugly luxurious Prairie Creek Inn, outside the western Canadian town of Rocky Mountain House, the first stop on an early autumn road trip with a group of colleagues across the province of Alberta.
Here’s the scoop:
Rocky Mountain House
Rocky Mountain House isn’t actually in the Canadian Rockies. Along Highway 22 in the mountain’s eastern foothills, this small Alberta town is roughly equidistant between the cities of Calgary and Edmonton. It’s a two hour’s drive east of Saskatchewan River Crossing, which is along the scenic Icefields Parkway that wends through the Rockies from Lake Louise to Jasper.
Highway 22 is also known as the “Alberta Cowboy Trail,” as it takes you through territory that was important to western Canada’s ranching, fur-trading, and indigenous past.
En route from Calgary to the Prairie Creek Inn, we stopped at Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site to learn more about this history. We toured the remnants of a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post and took a “medicine walk” to explore the healing properties of local plants. Meeting with several Métis cultural interpreters, we learned about the Métis’ mixed French-indigenous heritage and sampled bannock (a biscuit-like bread) cooked over an open fire.
The highlight was a lesson in traditional Métis dancing — which resembles Irish or Scottish step dancing — when we gamely tried to avoid stomping on each other’s feet, accompanied by lively fiddle music and our own howling laughter.
Guest Rooms and Amenities at the Prairie Creek Inn
We were ready for a rest when we arrived at the Prairie Creek Inn, set on a wooded 150-acre property 20 minutes’ drive south of the national historic site.
The 15 guest rooms are spread out between several buildings. The main inn, a log structure built in 2010, houses seven of those units — three on the lobby level, with private terraces, and four on the lower level, where they open onto patios overlooking the grounds.
Three additional suites are located in the coach house, a converted barn, while two rooms are set in the “Treehouse,” a standalone cottage a short walk from the main inn.
Also on the property are three “Executive Cottages,” each with one or two bedrooms as well as full kitchens.
All the units are furnished differently but share an upscale country style, with log or four-poster beds, leather armchairs, and fireplaces.
The modern bathrooms come with plush robes and whirlpool or soaker tubs. In some units, the tubs are more romantically set in the bedrooms.
The Prairie Creek Inn is a good place to unplug. The property does have Wi-Fi, although it’s not always speedy.
The inn’s Heartstone Restaurant, in a separate log building adjacent to the main inn, serves a traditional menu with starters like grilled Caesar salad and shrimp cocktail, and mains like beef bourguignon, salmon wrapped with proscuitto, and Alberta beef tenderloin sauced with a merlot demi-glace. While not wildly innovative, everything we sampled was fresh and well-prepared.
The next morning, the sun was just coming up when our group met back in the restaurant for a substantial breakfast of vegetable frittata, bacon, and freshly-baked muffins, before we had to hit the road.
And regardless of whether I ever master the steps of a Métis red river jig, I hope that someday, that bathtub — and the rubber duck — will welcome me back to Alberta’s Prairie Creek Inn.
Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Travel Alberta and the Prairie Creek Inn arranged my stay for review purposes.