Banff Springs Hotel:Castle of the Rockies

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel: Castle Of The Rockies

The beautiful Banff Springs Hotel.
The beautiful Banff Springs Hotel. | Source

Castle of the Rockies

To the west of the Canadian Prairies and to the east of the Pacific Coast, lie the Canadian Rockies, home to the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. This castle of the Rockies is unique to this area and a surprising change from the chalets and log cabins commonly seen in the area.

Much like the castles of old, it stands apart from the town of Banff, its scale and grandeur far different from the village atmosphere of the rest of the town.

How did this grand structure come to be, in the middle of the mountains of Canada? Who had the means and desire to build such an edifice in a place where winter comes so early, and stays so late. And how does one stay in this castle, and how much does it cost? This article will answer all the questions and more, about the fascinating Banff Springs Hotel.

I will also tell you that I have a personal fascination with hotel. As a former Calgarian, I used to love to drive to Banff and the beautiful hotel has always held a certain mystique to me. I have never had stayed there overnight, but I have spent time in the public areas and have had several friends and family members who have stayed there. I am doing research for my own interest, and look forward to sharing my finds with you.

Different Views of the Hotel

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The hotel looks tiny against the vast size of the Rockies. This shot makes the building look quite intimidating. In this picture, we can see the height of the hotel. A distant shot of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel nestled into the Rocky Mountains.
The hotel looks tiny against the vast size of the Rockies.
The hotel looks tiny against the vast size of the Rockies. | Source
This shot makes the building look quite intimidating.
This shot makes the building look quite intimidating. | Source
In this picture, we can see the height of the hotel.
In this picture, we can see the height of the hotel. | Source
A distant shot of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel nestled into the Rocky Mountains.
A distant shot of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel nestled into the Rocky Mountains. | Source

Fascinating Facts About the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

  • The original hotel, which burnt down in 1928, was built not facing the mountains, due to "builder mistake."
  • Marilyn Monroe stayed there while filming her film, "River of No Return," with Robert Mitchum.
  • The most expensive room goes for $889 a night
  • Queen Elizabeth II has stayed there three times.
  • The resort features a built-in bowling alley, 19 restaurants and bars and two golf courses.
  • The original architect, Bruce Price, was the father of the lady of etiquette, Emily Post.

Banff, Alberta, Canada

show route and directions
A markerBanff, Alberta -
Banff, AB, Canada
[get directions]

Banff is a resort town located in the Banff National Park, a protected area of Canada.

B markerCalgary, Alberta -
Calgary, AB, Canada
[get directions]

Calgary is located an hour and a half drive from Banff.

C markerSpokane Washington -
Spokane, WA, USA
[get directions]

Banff is approximately eight hours away from Spokane, Washington, by car.

D markerCoutts, AB -
Coutts, AB, Canada
[get directions]

If you are travelling by highway, from the States, note that the town of Banff is located approximately 5.5 hours from the U.S.A. / Canada border.

Moon Canadian Rockies: Including Banff & Jasper National Parks (Moon Handbooks)
Moon Canadian Rockies: Including Banff & Jasper National Parks (Moon Handbooks)

If you are considering a trip to the Canadian Rockies, this book is a must-have. It is written by Andrew Hempstead, an experienced travel writer who has extensive knowledge of the region that he generously shares with you. Ideas and insight that only a local would know about.

I would recommend this book.

 

Where Is Banff Alberta?

Banff is located in Alberta, Canada. Alberta is known for its prosperity from rich oil fields and a generous natural gas supply. Banff is an hour and half drive from Calgary, Alberta, the biggest city in the province of Alberta, and a fast-growing metropolis. Banff can be seen in the horizon by Calgarians and is a favoured destination by Calgarians searching for a getaway.

The town of Banff can be reached by driving along the Trans Canada Highway, as it is called by Canadians. The small town is a world-wide tourist attraction located in the midst of the Banff National Park. Approximately 3.5 million visitors come to Banff National Park on an annual basis. The park is a protected 2564 square miles of wild mountains, glaciers and lakes.

For American visitors, the town of Banff is about an eight hour drive miles from Spokane, Washington and about a five hour drive from the US / Canada border. Tourists can also get there by plane, first to the Calgary International Airport, and then with a shuttle from the airport.

Interior Views of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Click thumbnail to view full-size
View of the Sun Room in the Banff Springs HotelThis is a daytime picture of Mt. Stephen Hall, an elegant meeting room. It is easy to imagine fine Victorian ladies and gentleman in this atmosphere. A darker, more romantic photograph of the Mt. Stephen Hall. A hall way mailbox in the hotel which adds to the old character of the place. A grand staircase of the hotel. You almost expect a princess to come swooping down these stairs! Another elegant staircase in the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. A picture showing some Aboriginal art for sale in the hotel. More artwork on display at the Banff Springs Hotel.
View of the Sun Room in the Banff Springs Hotel
View of the Sun Room in the Banff Springs Hotel | Source
This is a daytime picture of Mt. Stephen Hall, an elegant meeting room. It is easy to imagine fine Victorian ladies and gentleman in this atmosphere.
This is a daytime picture of Mt. Stephen Hall, an elegant meeting room. It is easy to imagine fine Victorian ladies and gentleman in this atmosphere. | Source
A darker, more romantic photograph of the Mt. Stephen Hall.
A darker, more romantic photograph of the Mt. Stephen Hall. | Source
A hall way mailbox in the hotel which adds to the old character of the place.
A hall way mailbox in the hotel which adds to the old character of the place. | Source
A grand staircase of the hotel. You almost expect a princess to come swooping down these stairs!
A grand staircase of the hotel. You almost expect a princess to come swooping down these stairs! | Source
Another elegant staircase in the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.
Another elegant staircase in the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. | Source
A picture showing some Aboriginal art for sale in the hotel.
A picture showing some Aboriginal art for sale in the hotel. | Source
More artwork on display at the Banff Springs Hotel.
More artwork on display at the Banff Springs Hotel. | Source

Features of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

You will never run out of things to do at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Besides the wealth of natural beauty found in the town and surrounding park, there are numerous features to be found at the hotel itself. This is definitely a resort in every sense of the word!

First of all, the hotel features twelve restaurants and lounge, including a sushi bar, a restaurant bar with German/Swiss cuisine and many others.

The women I know who stay at the Banff Springs Hotel have liked two things best: the shopping and the spa! These features are done to perfection.

There are seventeen different shops located right in the hotel, including some for enjoying the outdoors, as well as a wealth of gift shops, with art, gifts and clothing.

The Willow Stream Spa of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is designed to have a similar feel to the hot springs so famous in the Rockies and is the ultimately pampering experience.

For kids, there is a bowling alley, including a neon blacklight feature. Kids can also take part in a program called Kid's Club, which has trained childcare staff taking children on hikes, walks and other adventures.

For the adults, there are two full size golf courses. Imagine golfing your nine yards while breathing fresh mountain air and gazing at some of the world's biggest natural

Mini Tour of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Staying At the Banff Springs Hotel

Booking can be done online at Fairmont.com. According to the company website, rooms range from $299 a night, for a basic room, up to $889 for the best room in the house.

The best room is going to get you over 600 square feet of space, a lounge, view of the mountain and a private valet just for you.

Although these are the listed prices, I do know from friends and family, that better deals come up from time to time. There is also a special price just for local Albertans.

Getting to the hotel can be done by car or from the nearest airport. The closest airport is the Calgary International Airport, and there is a direct shuttle service from the airport.

Because the hotel is located inside a National Park, there are also fees for staying in the park. Fees for staying in the park are $9.80 for adults, $4.90 for kids and $19.60 for groups and families, per night. Canada also has a 5% G.S.T. tax, as well as a hotel tax.

Please note that these prices are all from research done in August 2012. Please check the websites for current prices.

Breathtaking Rocky Mountains

View From the Banff Springs Hotel

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A view from one of the windows of the hotel. Note how the poetic arch frames the breathtaking scenery. A view of the river valley as seen from the hotel. A view looking from the terrace, in the evening.
A view from one of the windows of the hotel. Note how the poetic arch frames the breathtaking scenery.
A view from one of the windows of the hotel. Note how the poetic arch frames the breathtaking scenery. | Source
A view of the river valley as seen from the hotel.
A view of the river valley as seen from the hotel. | Source
A view looking from the terrace, in the evening.
A view looking from the terrace, in the evening. | Source

Other Things To Do In Banff, Alberta

There are many things to do in beautiful Banff, Alberta. First of all, just look around you. Being in the town itself is exhalirating because of the breathtaking beauty. Taking pictures can be enough to keep some people busy.

It is also cool to witness the wildlife that are allowed freedom to come around the town. It is not uncommon to see some deer, elk and mountain goats on the side of the road or crossing some grass. Park authorities, though, do caution to not get too close. They may be cute, but they still are wild animals! For more about wildlife viewing, see these suggestions from Parks Canada.

You can also walk around the town and take in the stores. Stores are designed according to guidelines set out by the town of Banff to give it a consistent rustic feel.

There are many interesting stores to browse in, including lots of gift shops and art galleries. As well, there are many restaurants, lounges and coffee shops. Two of the most popular tourist attractions include the Banff Upper Springs and the Banff Gondola. The Hot Springs offers a hot soak straight from spring waters. I have soaked in these hot springs and I can attest that they are truly relaxing.

The Gondola offers a ride up to Sulphur Mountain. It is fun but a bit scary if you have any fear of heights or suspension. I have taken the ride a few times, but each time, I did hold unto the side of the car! Let me say that it felt like more than a five minute ride. The view from the top of that mountain, however, is well worth a little nervous tension!

There are also many opportunities for outdoor adventures in Banff, including some world-class skiing in the winter at the park's several ski resorts, including Lake Louise and Sunshine Village.

A King Visits The Banff Springs Hotel

King George IV
King George IV | Source

Marilyn Monroe in Banff

Marilyn, August 1953: The Lost LOOK Photos (Calla Editions)
Marilyn, August 1953: The Lost LOOK Photos (Calla Editions)

This is a collection of never-before seen photos of Marilyn Monroe in Banff, Alberta.

 

Famous People Who Have Stayed At Banff Springs Hotel

When royalty comes to town, where do they stay? If it's Banff they are coming to, they stay at the Banff Springs Hotel. The hotel has had the pleasure of putting up Queen Elizabeth in 1951 (while she was still a princess) and again in 1959 and once more in 2002.

King George, father of the present queen, stayed at the Banff Springs Hotel with the present Queen Mother in 1939. Other famous guests have included Helen Keller, jazz musician Benny Goodman.

Marilyn Monroe also stayed here during the filming of the movie, The River Never Ends. Just recently, never before seen photographs of her surfaced and were made available in a book done by the photographer, John Vachon. Monroe stayed there to get better after breaking her ankle during the shooting of the movie.

In recent years, celebrities associated with the hotel have included William Shatner, who taught a class there and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Banff World Television Awards. According to this fun article featuring an interview with the guest relations manager, Meg Ryan and Robin Williams. among countless of other celebrities, have all been guests of the hotel.

Banff Springs: The Story of a Hotel

Banff Springs The Story of a Hotel
Banff Springs The Story of a Hotel

This book is the go-to book for learning about the fascinating history of the Banff Springs Hotel. Written by a local author, the book ties in anecdotes and factoids to make a mesmerizing reading experience.

 

History of the Banff Springs Hotel

The history of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is a page-turner. Motivated by commerce and gripped by a vision, William Cornelius Van Horne, manager of Canada's national railroad, wanted to find a way to bring visitors to Canada. He is famous for saying "since we can't export the scenery, we will have to import the tourists."

Van Horne, determined to develop the business of tourism in the Rockies, had three smaller hotels built in throughout the Rockies. He used the services of the famous New York architect, Bruce Price, father of Emily Post, the etiquette lady. All the while, Van Horne was planning for his grand project.

The hotel was built in 1888, by Price, at a cost of a quarter of a million dollars. The equivalent cost today would be almost almost six million dollars. The original design was quite different than today's structure and was closer to the style found in the rest of Banff of a Swiss chalet. The first hotel was made entirely of wood.

The original hotel burnt down in 1928, but by that time, there had been numerous renovations done and so there was still a building there. Another American architect, William S. Painter, rebuilt the structure using concrete faced with stone into its present state. Since 1928, there have been numerous renovations and additions, including a state-of-the-art spa and an on-site staff housing unit.

Source

I Hope You Enjoyed The Tour

I hope you have enjoyed this learning expedition focused on the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. I know I have learned a lot about this fascinating building. I learned that the hotel has connections with etiquette, with famous starlets and with royalty. I found out that the same person who spearheaded the building project was in charge of a whole railroad. And I learned that the hotel, unlike the mountains, has changed and transformed itself throughout the years. I hope you learned something new, too. And if you ever decide to stay there, enjoy yourself!

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Comments 29 comments

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa

Very well done. I've never been to Banff but once had a dream about the hotel (I must have seen a picture of it that burned into my brain or something) so I've always wanted to go. Thanks for the virtual tour.


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

So beautiful! My parents went there on vacation years ago and never stopped talking about the breathtaking scenery. I never got to go, but it does remind me of the scenic beauty of Alaska. Great read and stunning photographs. Thanks!


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States

For many years, my best friend lived in Calgary and I would visit her a couple of times a year. On one trip we visited Banff and I remember how very beautiful it was. I think there was and interesting museum there with a lot of natural items to see. I remember seeing a stuffed beaver, which I'd never seen before. I also think we saw mountain goats. Great Hub!


Liz Walmoth 4 years ago

This was an informative hub about Banff. I enjoyed reading it and the pictures were fantastic. It's now on my bucket list.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

@Deborah, that is so interesting! Wow, it sounds like the hotel really had an impact on you, to dream about it. Thanks for the comment!

@Green Lotus, that is so neat that your parents had the opportunity to visit. The beauty is so breathtaking. Wow, that's interesting that you mentioned Alaska. I have never been to Alaska, but I spent a year in the Yukon, which is right next door. The wild North is so, so beautiful, too. I would love to make it over the Yukon some day. Thanks for coming by and have a good day!


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

@Virginia, that is an interesting connection. And yes, that museum is still there. I remember visiting it when I was a child and it has a lot of taxidermy. The animals are very life-like! Thanks so much for stopping by!

@Liz, that's great! I hope you make it someday. The scenery is amazing. Thanks for stopping by!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon

Oh I'm crying now...I so want to go to Banff - I always have dreamed of going there on vacation...but I guess I got a wee bit of a virtual 'vacation' through your beautiful hub.

Lovely spread and I love how you included the map. I have yet to remember that so gotta include it somewhere.

Man I would give anything to go to that gorgeous hotel and see all that gorgeous scenery...my cameras would be in snap heaven~ One of these days.....


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

Audrey, I am so glad that this hub allowed you to experience a place that you would love to visit. I have the same experience when visiting other hubs, so I understand.

There is something about the mountain air that just makes you feel alive. Take care and I appreciate your comment so much!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon

Definitely - I'm in love with nature and mountains, lakes, oceans...I think I'm in love with vacation or time away with my hubby, my dogs and my camera...my dream would be to just sell my house, buy a huge motor home (who could afford the gas though) and take off with my computers and the above...and travel EVERYWHERE and write and take pictures....truly there is so much to see. I only wish I had time to see everything!


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

Audrey, that is so awesome! I have the exact same dream! And I do think we might do it sometime. I mean, if there's no mortgage and no gas bill, how much money could you save? I was just telling my husband a couple nights ago that I would love to have an excellent camera, and just travel around, take pictures and write. I do believe it's doable. I know ... there is SO much to see out there. Thanks fo the comment again. Wow. Have an awesome night!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon

Ha - glad there is someone thinking along the same lines...if either of us do it, we have to meet up somewhere...and the camera would be a great addition for your writing, too...at least that's what I said when we gifted it to each other last Christmas. It wasn't the most expensive but it really is a nice step up for the pixels...and we both do photography in real life so of course it was a great "excuse"--but there is just so much to capture~ See you "on the road"--at least mentally!


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

Exceptional Hub with so much information -- those who had never considered going to Banff before -- certainly do now! Thanks for an interesting and informative read. Best/Sis


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

A wonderful, wonderful hub - we stayed at the Banff Springs hotel for just one night! and what an amazing experience it was, I will never forget it!

Thank you for this interesing read, I enjoyed learning more about the history of the hotel.

Voted up


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

@Audrey, I will see you on the road! Hopefully! And good for you, for getting yourselves decent cameras. They are definitely worth it. A good camera is on my wish list, for sure!

@Angela, thanks so much for the comment. I'm glad to do a little bragging about one of my favourite places. Take care and blessings, Angela!

@Movie Master, I appreciate your kind comments so much. That's so neat that you had an opportunity to stay at the Banff Springs Hotel. It sounds like it was very memorable for you! Thanks for sharing your experience. Take care!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland

I loved this hub about this awesome hotel and the scenery surrounding the place is stunning! I would dearly love to spend some time at this beautiful hotel and visit Banff as well - I wonder if there would be any similarities to Banff, Canada and Banff Scotland? It would be interesting to find out one day!

Not only that, but so many famous people as well - the energy of this place must be extraordinary!

Thoroughly enjoyable + voted up!


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

Seeker, that is a good question about Banff, Scotland. When doing my research, I did see that Banff, Alberta was named after Banff, Scotland, because the founder of Banff was from that town in Scotland. So, there is a connection there, but otherwise they don't seem very similar.

I am so glad you liked the hub and I appreciate your visit. I also have a real hankering to visit Scotland some day, so you never know! Have a wonderful day.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

What a beautiful place! I certainly would enjoy staying here on vacation. Thanks for highlighting its features.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

Teaches, thanks for the comment! I am sure you would love it. Canada's actually pretty close to the USA, you know! Take care and I wish you all the best in your upcoming school year.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

Wow...this place is breathtaking from the hotel itself to the scenery! You've really given a lot of interesting information not to mention the photos and videos. This is a travel hub that is more than worth its weight!

Voted up, awesome, and interesting.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

Till, it really is breathtaking and I am glad that you found the hub interesting to read. Have a wonderful night, and thanks for the comment and votes!


PAPA-BEAR profile image

PAPA-BEAR 4 years ago from London England UK

Wow a little slice of history about a really big place and quite a treasure. Thank you.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada Author

PAPA-BEAR, thank you so much for your kind words. It was lot of fun to research and write, and I am glad you enjoyed the read. Have a wonderful evening!


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Banff is on my dream list. You certainly did it credit with this hub. I had idea there was a castle/hotel there, but it reminds me of the Empress in Victoria and even Neuschwanstein in Germany.


ALL4JESUS profile image

ALL4JESUS 2 years ago from USA

I have heard of this place but have never seen it or read its history. What a wonderful tribute to God's glory and to a historic landmark. Very well done! I hope to be able to visit one day. How is the skiing? I met a grey haired lady once in Whistler Canada and she stated that Whistler was the prelude to the real ski trip where they would be dropped from a plane to ski Banff. What a remarkable lady!


Joyfulcrown profile image

Joyfulcrown 23 months ago

What a magical place. This is one of the places I would really visit one day. Thank you for sharing. The pictures are so beautiful.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 23 months ago from Canada Author

@Kathleen Cochran, thanks for coming by! I do hope you are able to visit someday. It really is beautiful. And yes, the hotel is very similar to castles in Europe (only very modern inside!) Have a great night.

@All4JESUS, you are so right! All of that beauty certainly does point to the one who created it all. And as for skiing, it is world-class. Thanks so much for the comment, and take care!

@Joyfulcrown, that is a great word for it: magical. Thanks so much for the comment and take care!


Blackspaniel1 profile image

Blackspaniel1 22 months ago

Impressive building in an impressive setting.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 18 months ago from Canada Author

@Blackspaniel1, thanks for the comment, and sorry for taking so long to get back to you. Yes, impressive is a good word to describe it. Take care.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 months ago from Queensland Australia

Hi Prairieprincess. You loved this introduction and tour of the Banff Springs Hotel. It can certainly live up to being called a castle as well. If I were ever to visit Canada it would be top of my list. I have always been fascinated with the amazing piece of architecture seemingly in the middle of the snowy wilderness. A beautiful hub with great info nd photos.

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