If you think that staying in a national park means roughing it in a campground or settling into a quaint but old-fashioned lodge, then maybe you haven’t been to Banff National Park. This popular region in the Canadian Rockies has been steadily upping its accommodations game, renovating and rebuilding lodgings in the town of Banff, which now — surprise! — has several stylish boutique hotels.
Here’s our round-up of Banff’s best boutique lodgings.
You can’t get more centrally located than the Mount Royal Hotel, set on Banff Avenue in the heart of town. Originally opened in 1908, the Mount Royal Hotel was rebuilt and expanded several times, reopening most recently after a major renovation in 2018. Inside this somewhat sprawling property are 133 guest rooms, all with colorful quilted headboards and custom-made Canadian furnishings.
While the rooms are lovely, the nicest spot in the hotel might be its rooftop lounge and outdoor terrace, with several hot tubs and views of the surrounding mountains.
Are you a fan of mid-century modern design? Then you’ll like the Juniper Hotel and Bistro, a revamped motel on the edge of the town of Banff. The Juniper’s 50 guest rooms are decorated with clean-lined cherry-wood furnishings, earth-toned upholstery, and plenty of 1950s-era style.
Another highlight at the Juniper is the food — contemporary mountain fare at brunch and dinner in the spacious dining room or out on the patio overlooking the mountains.
Another centrally-situated, Banff Avenue property, The Elk + Avenue was also updated from its former lodge-like incarnation into a smart, 162-room boutique hotel. The rooms have silver-grey wood-patterned wallpaper and soothing neutral soft goods, accented with fun features like faux-fur pillows or red desk chairs. Another plus: underground parking.
One of the area’s major tour operators, the Pursuit Collection, runs both The Elk + Avenue and the Mount Royal Hotel, so you can purchase tickets for excursions, tours, and various attractions at the activities offices inside each of these properties.
One of the first Banff accommodations to jump on the boutique bandwagon, the Moose Hotel & Suites opened in 2016. This 174-room property starts with classic mountain lodge style, but updates it with more contemporary furnishings and modern amenities. There’s an indoor pool and two rooftop hot tubs, as well as convenient underground parking, so you can leave your vehicle and explore Banff car-free.
Then head for the mountains, knowing that you no longer have to rough it when you’re visiting Banff National Park, one of the most beautiful destinations in the Canadian Rockies. You can book any of these hotels through Trip Advisor or through the links on each review.
Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, author of the 450-page Moon Vancouver + Canadian Rockies Road Trip guide. Elk + Avenue Hotel photo © Michele Sponagle. Other photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Thanks to Travel Alberta, Banff-Lake Louise Tourism, and the Pursuit Collection for assistance with my Banff travels.