This was the view from our king suite at the legendary Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel – the “Castle in the Mountains”. (Yes, this is an actual photo taken with my phone.)
Somehow, I feel I barely need to type another word to convey the feelings of wonder and relaxation brought on by this vacation…
The breathtaking site was all the more incredible coming the morning after what can only be called a harrowing highway drive due to an early autumn snowstorm. The storm turned the 90 minute drive from Calgary into an over six hour ordeal. At 8:30pm rather than our anticipated 2:30pm arrival, we finally made it to “the Castle” — without yet glimpsing the mountains behind the snow clouds and darkness. We were grateful just to be safely off the road, never mind at our intended destination.
Many had it far worse. Delays were not only due to slipper roads and visibility issues; several traffic accidents had occurred farther ahead on the road, creating havoc. In fact, the highway was eventually closed, leaving people stranded in their vehicles overnight (can’t imagine…). In our twenty years of travel to the Rockies and making the scenic drive from Calgary to Banff National Park, we have never experienced anything remotely like this, even in winter. (I’m hardly suggesting that this is the norm — but do be warned that dramatic changes in weather can happen when traveling in the mountains at ANY time of year.)
Anyway, after all the stress and drama, you might imagine how we were all the more delighted to be told that we’d been upgraded from a very comfortable king room to a king suite, one of only about eight such rooms overlooking the Bow Valley.
I (really and truly) gasped when I opened our bedroom window the next morning. The dark clouds had cleared, bands of pink and gold morning sunlight stretched over the snow-capped mountains, and suddenly we were here.
The old entrance to the hotel, complete with its snow-topped horse-and-rider statue rising from the center of the cul-de-sac drive, was picture-perfect. I raced into the suite’s living room next to see just how spectacular the Bow Valley would look from our window. Of course, the majestic view was beyond words as you can see above in the first two shots. This is am absolutely magical place to be, and our three-night vacation was just beginning…
The view was the absolute ‘centerpiece’ of our stay, but the suite itself was spacious and very comfortable. The king bed had a Goldilocks “just right” firmness, and the large adjoining living room gave us plenty of room to read, write, stretch out and relax. The bathroom was a decent size (not always the case in these older hotels) and stocked with luxurious rose-scented products from Le Labo.
Something to note: this is an old hotel, built in 1888, rich in history and also rich in design certain quirks. Rooms have been through renovations, re-imaginings, and expansions. Our suite was more than comfortable, but guests should be prepared for the quirky placement of doors, thin walls, odd angles and projections, etc. The service in the hotel overall was excellent; we were a bit wary after a stay we at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise some years back where service was somewhat spotty and unreliable (rooms not ready, dinner reservations canceled…). This time around, the Fairmont Banff Springs and everyone we encountered on its staff were more than charming.
Above is a shot of the living room. With its valley views, it proved the perfect place to enjoy our scrumptious Rocky Mountain Breakfast for two.
Though it took some grit to get here, we woke up in paradise ready for a wonderful stay at the Castle…
For more information or to book a holiday at the “Castle in the Mountains”, visit www.fairmont.com