Banff Springs Hotel

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Peregrine on July 23, 2001

One of the jewels of the Rockies and probably one of the most recognizable hotels in Canada. The hotel was built toward the end of the 19th century by William Van Horne of the Canadian Pacific Railroad to house the tourtists he brought up here to enjoy the hot springs at the base of Sulphur Mountain.

Built to resemble a baronial Scottish manor, the hotel has been added onto over the years (there are some 800 guest rooms here). We didn’t stay here, but we did have a fabulous lunch in the dining room our second day in town. I don’t remember ever seeing such an elaborate buffet. The tables (plural) covered a large portion of the very large room. Spread before us, it began with bread and soups (I had curried corn chowder). Then came pizza made to order from fresh ingredients you pick out. You had a choice of fish, such as grilled turbo (my choice) or salmon; meat, with dishes like beef Bourguignon; a variety of potatoes, and dozens of vegetables. Salads to make yourself, including Caesar, had offerings like stuffed grape leaves, pâté, olives, julienne red and green bell peppers, and dozens of other goodies I can’t remember. Dessert? A section all unto itself: raspberry Charlotte, apple maple pie, trifle, cheesecake, chocolate cake, and on and on and on.

We hauled our laden plates back to the table – starched white cloth and napkins, silver flatware and the view – oh, my. Floor-to-ceiling windows open out onto views of the mountains, which had just a touch of snow at the top. All in all it was quite a lunch – one that didn’t require dinner later.

Like most of the old Canadian Pacific RR hotels, if you aren’t spending money there, they don’t want you to wander around. Since we’d lunched there, we could take the tour of the hotel’s public rooms including tapestry lined ballrooms and baronial hallways. Almost all the public rooms have floor to ceiling windows so the view is always part of the experience. You get a bit of the history of the century-old hotel while you tour. By the way, there’s supposed to be a ghost in the dining room!

The Fairmont Banff Springs
405 Spray Ave
Banff, Alberta, AB T1L 1J4
(403) 762-2211

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