Travel Accommodation: Choosing a Hotel or Motel
There are a number of considerations in selecting accommodations that can make the difference between an enjoyable stay and a major headache, whether your trip to the Canadian Rockies is for business or pleasure. You can select a hotel based on its name, features, price range, or its location.
Many of the major hotel chains have properties in the the Canadian Rockies marketplace. If you are familiar with and happy with a chain, or just want its frequent flyer miles, then you will like their hotel in the Canadian Rockies.
Some chains focus on business travellers, in the upper-middle price range. In the Canadian Rockies you'll find CP Hotels are dominant, though their hotels here are classed as "resorts". Some chains target families and budget conscious business travellers, and in the Rockies, you'll find Best Western the most visible.
The Canadian Rockies have many very fine hotels and motels that may not belong to a chain. Remember, you are in Alberta, land of the independent.
A traveller may need to rely on a specific features in a hotel. It may be a hotel-wide capability like airport shuttle or business centre, it may be an in-room feature like Internet access or a whirlpool bath (and vary from room to room), it may relate to fitness to stay in shape on the road or to entertain the children, or you may require special suites. We have tried to catalogue them all in the FoundLocally database.
We differentiate among properties in the following manner: Motels where you can park your car outside your room; Hotel typically a building that contains all rooms and facilities; Lodge a wilderness experience with limited comforts (TV, radio), sometimes requiring a hike to get there; Hostel where several strangers may share a common sleeping area; Long term where you can book a room for a month at a time.
The range of features will vary from hotel to hotel, and sometimes from room to room. If there is a feature that is critical to your stay (ie wheelchair access or coach parking) request it in the Hotel Search screen, to display only to those establishments. Be sure to request this feature when making your room reservation.
Some commonly sought features are:
There is accommodation in the Canadian Rockies to suit any budget. Those on a real budget can stay at the Hostel for only dollars a day. The major corporate chains and hotels have suites for any corporate president or even royalty.
Pricing is seasonal. Summer and Stampede Week are high season in the Canadian Rockies and Banff. Banff hotels are also cost more over holidays and long weekends, and during the ski season (January to March). Fall (September to December) and spring (April to June) are definitely the least expensive times to visit. Each hotel's dates for high, low, and shoulder seasons differ a bit so watch your timing or your hotel.
Some hotel locations are better suited for different purposes it. If you are here to do shopping or partying, you would likely want a hotel in town, so that you can walk to shops, bars and restaurants. Most hotels are within walking distance or a short cab ride of shopping, restaurant and nightlife. This is true for each of the resort towns in the Rockies (Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper).
Here are some specific location tips in each of the Rockies' resort communities. In Banff, most accommodation is along Banff Avenue, though there are a number of establishments on Tunnel Mountain with great vistas, and even fewer on the Sulphur Mountain side of the Bow River. On Banff Avenue, the lower the number, the closer to the town's core (to balance it, also closer to the town's level crossing's train horns). Canmore has a few establishments right in the town core, though most are a few blocks away on Bow Valley Trail. There are several small motels across the highway at "Harvie Heights," just east of the Banff Gates. Lake Louise has most of its accommodation in the valley floor, alongside the Bow River, with the highest price establishments up the hill closer to the Lake itself. In Jasper, most of the accommodation is on Connaught, with a few the next block over on Patricia. All other accommodation is more isolated.
If you are here for rest and relaxation, then isolation stands in favour of an establishment. There are backcountry "lodges" throughout the National Parks, some without even a phone. Usually establishments further away from a town are less expensive (but not always). Keep in mind that the CP Hotels are remote from the rest of the town; they picked the best scenery, everybody else built where land was flatter.