Hotel Review: The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Just before New Year’s John and I spent a few nights at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise on Lake Louise in Banff National Park.
Chateau Lake Louise has a long history. It was originally built towards the end of the 19th century though there have been many iterations of the hotel over time. It was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway with the idea of enticing the well to do into taking trains and heading west. The hotel has endured fires, rebuilding, renovations and most recently the addition of the Mount Temple Wing in 2004.
Here is a review of our stay.
For all the times of I have been up to Lake Louise – to either hike or just plain gawk at the lake, I had never set foot inside the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise until last week.
As we drove up to the hotel I had visions of a long check-in process – just judging by the number of cars ahead of us. It was anything but. In literally seconds we were greeted by an employee who asked if we had a reservation. Yes we did I said and he disappeared for perhaps 30 seconds. He came out holding two keys to our room. Now if we had elected to have someone valet park our car we would be done. Instead, in the interest of saving a few dollars, we followed his directions to the parking garage, found a place and five minutes later were in our room. Now that’s what I call a seamless check-in process and it’s probably the fastest check-in I’ve ever done.
A humongous Christmas tree greets you in the main lobby
We opted for the lowest price room – which entailed prepaying our accommodation at least six weeks out. It was non-refundable. At $299 a night it was hardly a bargain but to be fair it was over the Christmas period.
The room felt fresh and spotlessly clean. It wasn’t large but it was more than adequate. There was a full closet with plenty of room to hang clothes as well as a chest of drawers. There was a TV and a mini-fridge – though I couldn’t get it open. A coffee maker and kettle were provided – as was coffee, tea and sugar. But if you wanted milk or cream you were out of luck. That seems like something they could improve on as I’ve traveled where UHT milk in creamer sized containers has been provided. It would have been nice to have the morning’s first cup of coffee from our bed. Other amenities include an in-room safe, an iron and ironing board, robes and high end toiletries. WiFi was free as I’m a member of the Fairmont President’s Club – and it costs nothing to join.
Our room in the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
The view from our room was pretty darned nice and I can only imagine how incredible it would be from one of the penthouse suites.
The view from our room on the fourth floor of Chateau Lake Louise
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is huge so it does take a bit of wandering around to get your bearings. There are numerous gift shops, high end restaurants, casual style restaurants, a spa, a pool and a hot tub. This is not the place where you come back from skiing and head for the hot tub. It’s just not set up for many guests at a time. I didn’t use the spa so I can’t comment on what it’s like.
There are many restaurants to choose from at Chateau Lake Louise. We ate at the Fairview Dining Room one night. Service was friendly but at the high end places you shouldn’t have to ask for bread and water. We did. Although the food was good it wasn’t memorable. And at the prices they charge it should be. On another night we ate in the more casual Lakeview Lounge. I liked the ambiance of the place but again for what we got I found the prices to be high.
On both mornings we grabbed a latte and a muffin at the Chateau Deli. Although we received incredibly friendly service – a very good latte and a respectable muffin, the prices were through the roof. If you wanted to take a roast beef sandwich with you for the trails it would set you back $11. I find that steep for take-out food. It seems that all the food choices are on the pricier side. They can get away with it because of their location and the fact you’re not likely to head elsewhere for a meal.
A hallway decorated with deer heads
Looking out the window from the deli restaurant
We had chosen to stay at the hotel for a couple of reasons.
After seeing the hotel on so many occasions I wanted to experience a stay. And its location is second to none with Lake Louise on its’ doorstep. You can hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski down to the far end of the lake. You can skate and play hockey out the front door. Both the nearby downhill and cross country skiing is excellent. They do in fact run a shuttle to the Lake Louise ski hill - and they’ll keep your skis at the end of the day for you so you don’t have to schlep them back to the car. If you’re into cross country skiing there are a huge number of trails to choose from – and many start from within yards of the front door. It’s also possible to go for sleigh rides or head off for a few hours of dogsledding. There is plenty to do.
Ice skating on Lake Louise
Sled dogs in action
Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. We used it as a base for a few days of cross country skiing and loved the ease of being able to step out the front door and get going. But there are a few things that might make you unhappy.
- The noise outside your door transfers inside. You might as well be in the hallway with the guest. Fortunately it was only noisy on a few occasions but that’s a definite downside.
- Rooms are dry though that’s mostly a function of the climate. Take lots of lotion.
- Meals are expensive. For a great meal I would be tempted to drive down to the Post Hotel in the village where I think the food is better.
- Parking is $30 extra a night. It’s disclosed when you book but I still think it’s on the high side.
Have you stayed at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise? What was your experience?
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