If you’re road-tripping across British Columbia between Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies, the city of Kamloops, BC, is a convenient stopover point. It’s four-and-a-half hours east of Vancouver and about five hours west of Banff National Park.
During my recent Western Canada road trip to research my travel guide, Moon Vancouver and Canadian Rockies Road Trip, I stayed over in Kamloops, but surprisingly, my accommodations at the gracious South Thompson Inn and Conference Centre felt more like I’d detoured into the horse country of Kentucky. Here’s the scoop:
Desert Hills, Riverside Rooms, and a Horse Theme
Opened in 1993, the South Thompson Inn sits on a 55-acre property, between the Thompson River and the desert hills east of Kamloops. The property once housed a working ranch and thoroughbred breeding facility.
Horses (and llamas) still roam the grounds, and if you happen to own your own horse, the inn offers a “bed and bale” option, where you can stay and board your steed. However, no other riding activities are currently offered.
Facilities and Amenities
On one side of the three-story building that houses the main inn, the vistas extend across the landscaped grounds to the craggy hills. On the other side, a pool and hot tub are just above the river, and both the dining room and many of the guest rooms have river views.
There’s a fitness center on the building’s lower level. At the front desk, you can borrow equipment for horseshoes, badminton, bocce, or volleyball, and complimentary mountain bikes are also available. In the library, you can read or play board games.
Guest Rooms and Amenities
With its hallways wallpapered with a traditional rose print, the inn’s design takes its inspiration from Kentucky’s thoroughbred traditions. Each of the 48 guest rooms is named after a race horse and outfitted with traditional dark wood furnishings and floors. Some have fireplaces, and all have balconies overlooking either the river or the hills. Wi-Fi is complimentary, and bathrobes are provided.
Rooms don’t have either coffeemakers or refrigerators. However, you can stop into the library every morning for complimentary coffee or tea, and on request, staff will deliver coffee to your room.
Beyond the main inn, there’s a separate two-story brick Manor House. With a spacious living and dining area, full kitchen, laundry facilities, and seven bedrooms, it’s set up for families or other groups.
Two additional suites with kitchens are available in the Stable House, where the horse trainers and jockeys once stayed. These units are much more modestly furnished than the rest of the inn. The showers are particularly low — designed to accommodate short-statured jockeys.
The dark paneled Bourbon Lounge, where you can enjoy a cocktail, overlooks the river, as does Madisens, the inn’s restaurant. Dinner options range from burgers to steaks to local trout.
The dining room is open for dinner only, although a continental breakfast is available to guests for CAD$9.95.
The South Thompson Inn is located off Highway 1, the Trans-Canada Highway, 15 miles (25 kilometers) east of downtown Kamloops.
Another nearby attraction is the B.C. Wildlife Park, a non-profit animal center — popular with the kids — where moose, elk, wolves, eagles, and other animals live in large outdoor enclosures.
And if you’re traveling to the B.C. coast or the Canadian Rockies? From Kamloops and the South Thompson Inn, it’s easy to hit the road.
For other places to stay in the Kamloops area, check out our reviews of The Riverside B&B closer to town or the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel in the mountains at the Sun Peaks Resort, just 45 minutes from downtown Kamloops.
Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, author of the books Moon Vancouver and Canadian Rockies Road Trip, Moon Handbooks: Ontario, and Living Abroad in Canada. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Tourism Kamloops hosted my stay at the South Thompson Inn for review purposes.