One of Canada’s most iconic hotels, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is cradled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by towering peaks and fully immersed in the protected pristine wilderness of Banff National Park. In the distance, the hotel looks like a grand castle. Originally founded in 1890 by Cornelius Van Horne—the general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway, who famously declared, “If we can’t export the scenery, we’ll import the tourists”—the hotel helped kick-start tourism in the Canadian Rockies. Today, guests arrive to a grand lobby with imposing chandeliers and sweeping staircases. Common areas are decorated with old-timey photos from the hotel’s past, while spacious rooms are all about showcasing the stunning turquoise lake and snowcapped mountain views.
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Lake Louise lies in the heart of Alberta’s Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site recognized for its responsible tourism. Take a trip back in time at the Lake Louise Railway Station to see where modern tourism in Canada began thanks to the railways. During the summer, get out on the water. Experiencing the morning light over the intense green water is a wow moment, so rise early and book a sunrise paddle.
Need to Know
Rooms: 460 rooms, 90 suites. From $299. Check-in: 4 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Guests can choose from five on-site restaurants, including the famous Walliser Stube with its traditional Swiss fondue. The restaurant honors the history of the Swiss guides who came via the Canadian Pacific Railway to found the birthplace of Canadian mountaineering. The Glacier saloon offers casual bites such as wings, nachos, and wild game. Sip craft cocktails in the Lakeview Lounge with its huge windows overlooking the terrace and lake. Spa and gym details: The first-floor gym is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, with whirlpool, steam room, heated indoor pool, and fitness center. The spa offers Kerstin Florian treatments and has an Aveda hair salon.
Who’s it for: Outdoor enthusiasts, fans of mild to moderate adventure, and families. Our favorite rooms: Room 505, a deluxe lake-view room, has a Juliet balcony overlooking the terrace and grounds of the chateau, with vast unspoiled views of the lake and glaciers. The Belvedere suite on the eighth floor is tucked away in the top corner of the hotel on two levels, with a spiral staircase and two huge balconies. These floors are part of the Fairmont Gold level and offer exclusive services and amenities, such as snacks served throughout the day, plus a dedicated concierge. Cozy perch: Curl up in one of the reading nooks by the Painter Wing, which dates back to 1913 and allows perfect views of the grounds and lake.