The Ultimate Guide to Hotels in Banff & Lake Louise

If you’re planning a visit to Banff, picking the right hotel can be tough, especially if it’s your first visit.

Over the years we’ve stayed in virtually all the hotels in Banff for one reason or other; we’ve used hotels for parties, weddings, romantic getaways, hot tub parties, budget long-term stays and more.

Whatever you’re looking for, this guide should point you in the right direction.

Just to note, this post contains some affiliate links. By making a booking through one of our links, we may receive a small commission that we use to keep our site up and running. Don’t worry though, it doesn’t cost you a dime, and as usual, all opinions expressed here are our own and based on our real experiences over the years. Thanks for pitching in, we really appreciate it!

Quick Guide:

Here are some of our favourite hotels in Banff and Lake Louise, ranging from the cheapest hostels to the most expensive and exclusive resorts.

HotelPrice Per NightCheck Availability
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel$$$$$Check Availability
 Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise$$$$$Check Availability
 Rimrock Hotel$$$$Check Availability
Sunshine Mountain Lodge$$$$Check Availability
The Moose Hotel$$$$Check Availability
 The Post Hotel$$$$Check Availability
Buffalo Mountain Lodge$$$Check Availability
 Emerald Lake Lodge$$$ Check Availability
Hidden Ridge Resort$$$Check Availability
The Fox Hotel$$$Check Availability
 Deer Lodge$$$Check Availability
 Elk + Avenue$$$Check Availability
 Juniper Hotel & Bistro$$$Check Availability
Mount Royal Hotel$$$Check Availability
Tunnel Mountain Resort$$ Check Availability
Inns of Banff$$Check Availability
HI Banff Alpine Centre$Check Availability
The Banff International Hostel$Check Availability
 King Edward Hotel$Check Availability

Luxury (4 Star) Hotels $$$$

If you’re coming to Banff for a taste of the good life, there are plenty of luxury hotels to choose from. While there aren’t any 5 star hotels to speak of, there are numerous fantastic 4 star hotels to choose from (in no particular order):

Fairmont Banff Springs (Banff)

The iconic castle in Banff is the ultimate luxury accommodation in Banff. You can generally expect a certain standard from a Fairmont, and this one is no different. The food is great and its spa is unparalleled in Banff. The castle is full of rich history, and supposedly even has a few ghosts roaming its halls.

It also has year round events, particularly at Christmas time, where you can experience “Christmas in the Castle“. If you’re looking for a romantic meal, the Waldhaus is where you’ll find Banff’s finest fondue restaurant.

We literally got married here, so we can definitely vouch for the quality at the Fairmont Banff Springs!

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (Lake Louise)

Again, it’s a Fairmont, so you can expect the best. While the Banff Springs are the main attraction in Banff, the real highlight here is the spectacular view of Lake Louise.

Again, there are plenty of activities here including pony trekking and hiking in the summer, and ice skating on the lake in winter.

We love to come to the Fairmont for their afternoon tea and would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for great views and a peaceful atmosphere away from the crowds.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BcknjqjBk6P/?taken-by=wzylouisey

The Post Hotel (Lake Louise)

Another Luxury Hotel in Lake Louise that’s fairly well secluded. The hotel has several luxurious chalets with river views, and it offers a rustic escape away from the crowds. We like to visit for their great food, especially for their incredible Mother’s day brunch.

The Rimrock Hotel (Banff)

The Rimrock is another of the best hotels in Banff. It’s a little dated, but still offers incredible views of the surrounding mountains and is very conveniently located within walking distance of the Banff hot springs and the Sulphur Mountain Gondola (read more on Banff Gondolas here). It’s also home to one of Canada’s few, and Banff’s only, 5 diamond restaurant (the Eden).

Sunshine Mountain Lodge (Sunshine Village)

This is Banff’s only ski in/ski out hotel, and is located on the mountain at Sunshine Village Ski Resort. It has one of the best outdoor hot tubs around and its prime location means you can be first on the slopes in the morning and last down in the evening. The only downside is that you’re a little isolated from the town. The lodge is significantly cheaper in Summer, where you’ll have access to the beautiful Sunshine Meadows hiking area. Read more about ski resorts in Canada here.

The Moose Hotel (Banff)

One of Banff’s newest hotels and my family’s favourite place to stay when they visit. It’s a modern 4 star hotel with a fantastic location close to the heart of Banff (unlike any of the other luxury hotels on the list). It also has a luxury spa complete with rooftop pool, hot tub and fire pit.

Buffalo Mountain Lodge (Banff)

If you’re looking for luxury in Banff with some of Banff’s best food, then Buffalo Mountain Lodge has to be your first choice. The rooms are styled as luxury cabins, and it almost feels like you’re alone in the backcountry. Staff are happy to come and start a fire for you while you enjoy the area’s tranquility.

Emerald Lake Lodge (Yoho)

This one is actually in Yoho National Park, but we couldn’t write a list without including it. The hotel located on the shores of the beautiful Emerald Lake, and is the perfect place to escape the crowds of Banff and Lake Louise. Internet and tv signal is weak at best so it’s the perfect place to bring a good book and curl up in front of the fire. Just like Buffalo Mountain Lodge (same owner), the food is amazing and all their exotic meats are sourced from their very own ranch.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bcc8gz2B_ZY/?taken-by=wzylouisey

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Mid-Range Hotels in Banff & Lake Louise (3 star Hotels): $$$

Hidden Ridge Resort

This is another hidden gem in Banff that’s tucked away up Tunnel Mountain. The location means you’ll enjoy complete seclusion from the crowds, but you’ll need to drive or take the bus back into town (don’t worry, the bus stop is right outside). It arguably has the town of Banff’s best outdoor hot tub with the perfect view of sunset in the valley.

Deer Lodge

Probably only a 3 star because it’s so old (recently renovated though!). This is the perfect place to stay if you want to be in Lake Louise but don’t want to shell out for the Fairmont or the Post. It also has, without doubt, our favourite rooftop hot tub, and the views of the surrounding mountains are unparalleled. Again, it has amazing food and it’s somewhere we regularly stop in (read about our last visit).

https://www.instagram.com/p/BStfMxrBZ3B/?taken-by=wzylouisey

The Fox Hotel

Another popular spot in Banff on the main street. It’s a little bit of a walk to downtown, but not as far as some of the other options. The main attraction for us is the replica of the original hot springs (cave and basin) in the basement. It’s like being in a hot tub in a cave and is definitely the highlight. There’s also a Chili’s restaurant if you’re feeling lazy, but there are plenty of fantastic local options within walking distance.

The Mount Royal Hotel

Formally one of the more popular hotels in Banff, the Mount Royal Hotel underwent a massive renovation after a roof fire. There’s now a rooftop hot tub, and brand spanking new rooms. Great, central location!

Tunnel Mountain Resort

This is another hotel up tunnel mountain. It’s a little out of town but again, you’ll be nicely away from the crowds. You can rent individual chalets for less than you would anywhere else, so it’s great for hosting big groups or parties where you don’t need to worry about noise (there’s also a liquor store across the street). There’s also bus stop directly in front so that you can easily get into town.

Inns of Banff

This is the last hotel before you leave town in Banff, so it’s quite a walk to get to the shops. Having said that, it’s usually a fairly cheap option and has some enormous cabins you can rent if you have a big group .

We rented their biggest cabin which sleeps 8 people for our wedding, and used it for our bridal party to get ready. It was perfect!

Inns of Banff used to have a great outdoor hot tub and an all you can eat sushi restaurant but unfortunately they’re both now a thing of the past. Hopefully a new restaurant will pop up soon in its place!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BIp5mT9gAFc/?taken-by=wzylouisey

Elk + Avenue

This hotel was recently renovated and rebranded, and whereas before it was extremely dated, it’s now very modern and sophisticated. It’s one of the closest hotels to downtown, directly across the street from a grocery store, and it has a great breakfast spot (Ricky’s – yes it’s a chain but a great diner to roll into if you’re nursing a hangover).

Juniper Hotel & Bistro

This hotel is famous for having one of Banff’s best breakfasts, and one of the most stunning views to boot.  Juniper has a nice outdoor little hot tub, as well as fire pits on their terrace with views of Mt. Rundle and Banff.

Juniper Hotel is not really within walking distance of the town, but it’s right at the bottom of Mt. Norquay if you’re planning to ski there during your stay.

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Cheap and Cheerful Hotels in Banff – (1-2 Star) $

HI Banff Alpine Centre

This is a hostel up Tunnel Mountain, close to Hidden Ridge and Tunnel Mountain Resort. I actually lived here for 3 months during my ski season and it’s a great place to live on the cheap and meet some great people travelling through. Private rooms are available if you’re not looking for a dorm experience, and there’s good food at Cougar Pete’s restaurant. The staff are one of a kind and I can guarantee you’ll have fun there. Only downside is that if you’re in Banff to party you’ll be paying for a cab when you leave the bar, or it’s a long walk back up the hill

Banff International Hostel

Another cheap as chips hostel in Banff. This one’s much closer to the town but still a little walk (not as bad as the HI though). Another great spot to meet other budget travellers and backpackers! Mixed and Female only dorm rooms are available.

King Edward Hotel

This is one of the most central hotels in Banff, and what it lacks in quality it more than makes up for in location. Super cheap and a great location!

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Of course, there are plenty more hotels in Banff, but these are a selection of some of the better options that we’ve come across over the years. Feel free to contact us if you’re looking for some more detailed advice!

Where should I stay when I visit Banff?

Here are some really quick pointers about picking which town to stay in. Canada is a huge country, so when you look at a map, it might seem like there are plenty of towns right next to each other.

The reality is that Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, Golden, Field and Canmore are all significant drives from each another and you should factor that into your decision making.

Here are a few helpful pointers:

  1. If you’re visiting the town of Banff, Kananaskis or anything around Canmore, staying in Banff or Canmore are your best options. They’re within 20 minutes drive of each other and are both great places to stay.
  2. Only stay in Lake Louise if you specifically have good reason to stay there for multiple days. It’s very isolated and expensive and is easy to get to from Banff within 45 minutes as a day trip. Yoho is about 20 minutes from Lake Louise.
  3. Last year I heard of people staying in Golden and commuting into Banff each day. That’s 1hr 40 each way and will quickly get old. There are plenty of great things to do in Golden in summer and winter (Kicking Horse Ski Hill, for example), but I wouldn’t want it as a base for exploring Banff.
  4. Jasper is approximately 3.5 hours from Banff, so it’s only worth staying there for the time you’re visiting Jasper. It’s not a feasible place to stay if you’re planning to sightsee in Banff.
  5. Emerald Lake and Field are about 20 minutes from Lake Louise. There is nothing to do in Field really, but Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls are nearby. Stay in Field or Emerald Lake if you want solitude, but you’re about an hour from Banff and all the restaurants and things to do.
  6. Personally, if I didn’t have a car, I would want to stay in Banff. Restaurants and public transport is designed to allow you to reach most things without a car. None of the other towns are really set up that way.

Important things to note when choosing your hotel

  1. Banff and Lake Louise are 45 minutes apart by car. If you don’t have a car and opt to stay in Lake Louise, you’ll be very isolated. There seriously isn’t that much to do in Lake Louise aside from hiking, skiing and visiting Lake Louise itself. I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve met that have found themselves stuck in Lake Louise for a few days with no vehicle and nothing to do.
  2. Lake Louise itself is quite a long walk from Lake Louise Village. If you’re not staying at Deer Lodge or the Fairmont, and don’t have a car, you’ll be either taking the shuttle bus or walking a long way up the hill to reach Lake Louise.
  3. Not all hotels in Banff are walkable and may require public transport or a shuttle bus. If you want to be in the heart of the action in Banff, make sure you check how far your hotel is from the centre. Hotels up Tunnel Mountain are at least a 20 minute walk from the centre.
  4. There are no Airbnb’s in Banff. Yes you can book hotels and actual BnB’s in Banff through the Airbnb platform, but residential Airbnb’s aren’t legal in the park. The vast majority of Airbnb’s will therefore be in either Canmore (20 minutes from Banff) or Golden (1 hr 40 minutes). I would not recommend staying in Golden if you plan to spend most of your time in Banff.
  5. Banff books up extremely early, especially in the summer. I’m talking 80% booked up by October the year before. If you want options then it pays to book super early.

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2 Comments

  1. Jenna

    Does Inns of Banff still have outdoor hot tub and sushi restaurant? I don’t see this on their website

    Reply
    • Robin

      You are absolutely correct, thanks for the correction! Miki closed down very recently and their outdoor hot tub has now been retired. There is an indoor one still though. Sorry for the confusion, it has been updated!

      Reply

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