Need someplace to stay while you adventure in Alberta? Look no further
1. Fairmont Hotel Macdonald
Fairmont Hotel MacdonaldEdmonton is a great place to start any Albertan adventure, and with world-class drinking establishments and eateries that rank on Canada’s top lists, it’s only natural that there are accommodations that follow suit.
On the corner of Jasper Avenue and 100th Street, you’ll find the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald—a 16th-century French-inspired chateau that’s a beloved fixture on the Edmonton skyline—perched on a hill overlooking the Saskatchewan River and a large urban parkway with over 250 kilometres of trails. Endearingly referred to by locals as the Mac, it’s a great home base whether you’re in town for an Oilers game, one of the many festivals or as a starting point for an adventure in the Rockies.
Upon arrival, you’re immediately transported to a bygone era of luxury, old-world charm. The stately, century-plus-old hotel has changed hands plenty over the years, though it’s held onto pieces of its history, like the ornate chandeliers that hang from the 24-foot ceilings, that continue to breathe timeless grace into the heart of the city.
The 198 guestrooms have been renovated, but are still charming, with modern touches like the Fairmont’s signature Le Labo Rose 31 toiletries. Be sure to stop by the Confederation Lounge, a preserved, library-style cocktail lounge with a roaring fireplace, a unique cocktail menu and sprawling views of the river.
Rooms from $250/night
2. Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Declared the world’s second largest Dark Sky Preserve (this is a place where you can see the Milky Way or the northern lights with your naked eye), Jasper is a year-round destination that has managed to remain mostly untouched. Its secluded location—three hours from Lake Louise, four hours from Edmonton and five hours from Calgary—makes it feel like it's in middle of nowhere, largely because of the town’s efforts to preserve the dark skies there, which include installing fixtures that project light toward the ground rather than upward.
Fairmont's accommodation options range from standard rooms in a cedar chalet to luxury eight-bedroom cabins, some of which have been named after past high-profile guests like Queen Elizabeth II, Bing Crosby and Marilyn Munroe. Nearby activities include a show at the Jasper Planetarium, where you’ll learn about the area's stars, nebula and Aboriginal history, and skiing at Marmot Basin, a resort just 30 minutes away from the Fairmont that's home to some of Alberta’s best champagne powder.
In the summer, there are options for hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, golfing and fishing. A popular all-season hike is the Maligne Canyon, the deepest canyon in the Rockies and one that's full of natural ice sculptures and frozen turquoise waterfalls in the winter, and spectacular caves and trails in warmer weather.
Rooms from $229/night
3. Storm Mountain Lodge
AV WakefieldStorm Mountain Lodge, nestled off a side road 30 minutes from Banff Avenue, is a true rustic-meets-luxury getaway. Often driven past by travellers who are on their way to the region’s better-known resorts, Storm is also one of the area’s best-kept secrets.
The 16 cabins on the property are as quintessentially Canadian as can be, each complete with a handmade log-frame bed and a wood-burning stone fireplace that's ready to be lit with parcels of shredded paper, dry logs or the matches that are on hand. What you won’t find, however, are TVs, wifi or phones, so grab a handmade bath bomb from the gift shop and take it back to your cabin for a soak in the antique clawfoot tub, then curl up by the fire with a good book.
You could stay on the property relaxing all day, but it’s worth venturing out for some hiking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on one of the nearby trails. The 10-kilometre round-trip trail to Boom Lake is a scenic, leisurely hike with cliffs that rise 600 metres from the shore of the lake.
After you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Storm's lodge for dinner. The all-Canadian menu and wine list is astoundingly good: start with the seared-to-perfection scallops and follow up with the B.C. halibut, poached in butter with a flavourful caper-parsley sauce, or the juicy Carmen Creek bison.
Rooms from $285/night
4. Fairmont Banff Springs
Fairmont Banff SpringsPerched high on a hill overlooking the town of Banff, the Fairmont Banff Springs is surrounded by unobstructed views of the Rocky Mountains and the Bow Valley. It oozes opulence, though that's balanced by a casual mountain-resort vibe that most people come to Banff for.
The Scottish-style castle boasts several dining options and bars, including Samurai, a Japanese spot where the chefs prepare the food right in front of you; Grapes, a cavernous wine bar that serves share plates and charcuterie; and the Waldhaus Restaurant, which cooks up fondue and German fare. The recently renovated Vermillion room, meanwhile, offers French fine dining with options like steak frites, moules marinières and extensive wine and cocktail lists.
Banff Springs is also home to the Fairmont's signature Willowstream Spa, which features an outdoor jacuzzi with sweeping mountain views, and indoor mineral pools where you can complete a European-inspired hydrotherapy circuit. Looking for other activities? The adventurous will be happy to hear that a free shuttle offers access to the nearby Banff Sunshine ski resort, which is known for having some of the country's best snow.
In the summer, you can hike a network trails from Sunshine Village. Choose from easy one- and two-hour strolls or challenging full-day hikes to Quartz Ridge or Healy Pass.
Rooms from $399/night
5. Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge
AV WakefieldAn hour from Calgary, you'll find jagged mountains and towering pine trees that guide you to the recently renovated Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, a new addition to the Marriott’s Autograph Collection of hotels.
Ask for the bi-level luxury loft, where natural light (easily blacked out with the touch of a button while you sleep) and stunning mountain views await. The suite has a fireplace-equipped living space on the lower level, and two queen beds up top—perfect for a family vacation (dogs are welcome here, too).
Just a few steps from the lodge is the Kananaskis Nordic Spa, the first Scandinavian-inspired spa in Alberta though the waterproof plaid fleece robes offer a Canadian twist. The spa has a hydrotherapy circuit that recommends you spend 20 minutes in any heated pool, sauna or steam room, followed by a cold plunge and then kicking back at a relaxation station. There's even an on-site lounge, one of several designated social spaces where you can where you can relax by the fire with a glass of wine and charcuterie.
Pomeroy Kananaskis's dining options vary. There's the elegant Cedar Room, which serves steaks and seafood; the casual Blacktail Bar, which makes one of the best veggie burgers in Alberta; and the grab-and-go Market Café. The property also has hiking and cross-country ski trails that start from the hotel grounds, and a kids camp and activity centre where little ones can keep busy. Also nearby are the slopes of Nakiska, as well as a skating rink, tennis court, fitness centre and pool.
Rooms from $260/night.
Spa access $70/day (massages from $120, including spa access)