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Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Canada, North America
405 Spray Avenue
Banff , Alberta
Canada T1L 1J4
Tel: 403 762 2211's insider take:

For more than a century, this opulent, immense (778 rooms!) hotel has sat on its own plot of forested land, just outside of downtown Banff, proving that, sometimes, manmade beauty can almost match nature's. Styled after a Scottish baronial castle, the imposing structure has had a long history: It opened in 1888, was rebuilt in 1920 after a fire, and most recently underwent a massive remodeling in 2001 under the management of Fairmont. Improvements include a less cramped arrival area: Now a seamless roundabout takes guests and their luggage right to the doors and soaring ceilings of a grand lobby, where staffers can easily accommodate check-ins even if slack-jawed tourists are aimlessly wandering around, ogling. Service is efficient, but nobody is likely to remember your name. Remodeling of the rooms has affected some more than others: Be wary of getting stuck in the smallest rooms in the older castle portion. If you're looking to truly live it up, there's always the Presidential Suite (accessed via private elevator), with 1,500 square feet and panoramic views of the Spray and Bow River valleys. The Willow Stream Spa has also been renovated, and now has 29 treatment areas, mineral pools, and waterfall-fed whirlpools.

From the readers of Condé Nast Traveler:
Overall Score: 87.9
  • Activities: 88.8
  • Design: 91.7
  • Food: 85.8
  • Location: 95.5
  • Rooms: 78.8
  • Service: 86.8
"If God designed a resort, this is where he (or she) would place it." The 1888 Scottish castle is "just majestic," surrounded by the forests, mountains, and lakes of Banff National Park. Staff are "solid, polite, helpful." Choose from European (Club Lounge), Italian (Castello Ristorante), Canadian ice wine (Grapes Wine Bar), and more at the ten bars and restaurants.

(768 rooms)
—2011 Gold List

Amenities: Game drives, Golf, Pool, Skiing, Spa, Tennis

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.