Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel: Canada’s Castle in the Rockies

Canadian Rockies views, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada

Canadian Rockies views from the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

If you’ve seen many photos from Banff National Park, you’ve probably seen images of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Located in the town of Banff, this iconic Canadian Rockies property has been welcoming guests since the late 1800s, and it’s still one of the top lodgings in this gorgeous mountain region.

Here’s the scoop:

Lobby, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada

The elegant lobby of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

The Castle in the Rockies

Canada’s railroad inspired the construction of the Banff Springs Hotel. When the Canadian Pacific Railroad was completed, linking the country from east to west, the railroad’s general manager Sir William Cornelius Van Horne realized that to encourage travelers to use this new method of transportation, they would need places to stay. Legend has it that when he came to the Banff Hot Springs Reserve, created in 1885 as Canada’s first national park, he famously declared, “If we cannot export the scenery, we’ll import the tourists.”

Opened in 1888, the original Banff Springs Hotel was a wooden building designed to emulate a French chateau. A 1914 addition was the first section of the property to be built from the dark brown rundle stone that forms the hotel’s facade today. After the original wooden structure was destroyed in a 1926 fire, the hotel was reconstructed using this stone, creating the “Castle in the Rockies.”

Deluxe room, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada

A Deluxe room at the Fairmont Banff Springs

Guest Rooms and Amenities

With more than 700 guest rooms, the Fairmont Banff Springs has a dizzying array of room types, from the compact 220-square-foot Fairmont Rooms to lavish multi-room suites.

The property has kept up with the times, with outlets and USB ports wired into night tables and into round dining or work tables that are flanked by comfortable arm chairs. Reading lamps are tucked into the headboards, and bathrooms feature rain showers, full-sized bottles of Le Labo bath products, and thick towels and bathrobes.

Espresso machines and tea kettles are provided, as are real glassware and ceramic cups. The property is eliminating plastics and disposable items wherever possible.

As in many historic hotels, room configurations and views can vary even within a particular category, and even some of the larger guest rooms can have tiny (though modern) bathrooms. In my otherwise spacious and airy deluxe unit, there wasn’t enough space to stand directly in front of the sink when the bathroom door was open. In contrast, other rooms have luxurious spa-like bath facilities.

Fairmont gold room, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada

A Fairmont Gold room

Fairmont Gold Rooms and Suites

The “Fairmont Gold” room category also features a range of room types and sizes, including small guest rooms, junior suites, and one- and two-bedroom units. The decor has been updated in a somewhat different palette, generally more rusts and golds than the blues of the standard guest rooms. The main benefit of these Gold rooms, which are located on the hotel’s fourth and fifth floors, is access to a private lounge and concierge.

Continental breakfast and afternoon hors d’oeurves are available in the lounge for Gold guests, who can also use the lounge at any time to relax over coffee or tea, read the complimentary newspapers, or simply enjoy the mountain views. Gold guests bypass the sometimes crowded lobby to check in directly in the lounge, and the Gold concierge can assist with activities, bookings, and other services.

Crown suite, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada

The Crown Suite

The property also offers a number of unique suites, including the two-bedroom, 1500-square-foot Crown Suite, accessed via a private elevator. This luxurious unit, with ample space for entertaining, has panoramic views of the mountains and valleys below.

Yes, even from the bathtub….

Crown suite bath, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada

Bathtub with a view in the Crown Suite

Facilities and Services

Fairmont Hotels are known for their service, and the Banff Springs maintains this reputation. Staff text you after check-in to confirm that you have what you need, are available via text for assistance during your stay, and enable you to check out via text as well. They’re quick with directions or information about transportation, tours, and things to do both in the hotel and around the area. And there’s plenty to do without even leaving the property.

Breakfast buffet, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada

The Vermilion Room offers an extensive breakfast buffet.

The hotel has both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, as well as soothing indoor mineral pools. While the swimming pools are open to all guests, the mineral pools are available only to people booking spa services. Hotel guests can purchase a day pass to the mineral pools for a fee (currently CAD$69 per person).

Guests can borrow snowshoes, ice cleats, and hiking poles to go adventuring or go for a ride on one of the hotel bicycles (complimentary for one hour). Hotel staff offer different activities throughout the year, from family-friendly scavenger hunts to lawn games to trivia or music nights.

If you’re curious about the hotel’s origins, guests can book a spot on a free 30-minute history tour. You can also sign up (through the hotel’s website) for yoga and other fitness classes, which are included in the room rates, and a variety of other experiences available at extra cost, such as forest bathing, moonlight snowshoeing tours, or wildlife-spotting excursions.

Rundle Bar, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada

Can you find the hidden room in the Rundle Bar?

The Fairmont Banff Springs has eight restaurants and bars, from the grab-and-go STOCK Food & Drink in the lobby, to the stately Vermillion Room that serves buffet breakfasts and lavish weekend brunches, to the Waldhaus, a European-style fondue pub. There’s an Italian restaurant and a wine and charcuterie bar, and a traditional afternoon tea is served every day.

A particularly lovely spot for a drink is the two-level Rundle Bar, which was once the hotel’s lobby. Take a peek behind the arched floor-to-ceiling “bookcase” to find a hidden nook for a private meet-up.

Water dispenser, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada

Fairmont Hotels have launched company-wide sustainability measures.

Environmental Sustainability

Fairmont Hotels have launched a corporate-wide sustainability program. At the Banff Springs, you’ll find a station to refill your water bottle on the lobby level, and the property has replaced small plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash with full-sized refillable versions. Rooms have recycling bins, and housekeeping staff generally honor requests not to change your towels every day.

Like many Banff hotels, the Fairmont is helping guests get out of their cars by providing free passes to Roam Transit, the town’s public bus system, good for the duration of your stay. Particularly during the busy summer months, traffic can be a challenge in town and at popular spots around the national park; exploring car-free is not only better for the environment but potentially less frustrating. There’s a transit stop outside the hotel, and it’s a quick ride into town.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada

Canada’s Castle in the Rockies


Double room rates at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel typically start at CAD$549 per night, and rates over CAD$1,000 per night aren’t uncommon during the summer high-season. There’s a daily resort fee of CAD$50. Self-parking in the hotel garage is CAD$32/night; valet parking is $46/night. You can also compare rates and book through Hotels.com, Booking.com, or your favorite online hotel booking site if you find a better deal.

Yes, it may be a splurge to stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs. But how often do you have the chance to sleep in a Castle in the Rockies?


Looking for other Banff accommodations? Check out our reviews of The Dorothy, Mount Royal Hotel, Elk + Avenue Hotel, Moose Hotel & Suites, and the Juniper Hotel & Bistro.

Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. I paid a discounted media rate for my stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, while attending an SATW (Society of American Travel Writers) event.

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