Banff National Park: Where to Stay
If you read my Part 1 and Part 2 of our incredible trip to Banff and Glacier National Parks you may be wondering why I skipped from the National Bison Range to hiking in Banff National Park. Aren’t those two things far away from each other? They are! And with a toddler in the car they felt like an eternity away. A few lessons I learned from the 9+ hour drive (with a pit stop in Calgary to pick up my in laws): (1) if your husband is very budget conscious don’t let him book your flights, (2) a “few” extra hours of driving is not worth a few hundred dollars saved unless your toddler LOVES the car, and (3) don’t show up at the airport until your friends and family have already arrived and called to tell you so or you will spend four hours in an airport waiting for a cancelled flight with a jet lagged toddler. Don’t make my mistakes!
On to the good stuff…Banff! If you are planning a trip to Banff National Park then flying into Calgary is ideal. Calgary international airport to Banff (the city) is only about an hour and a half drive. In comparison to the rest of our drives it was downright painless.
After spending a few hours researching where to locate our home base for a visit to Banff National Park I settled on the city of Banff. Considering my little rant above about driving times you can probably guess it had something to do with minimizing our time in a car. Lake Louise would have been another great option but at the time (1) Lake Louise was rather booked up, (2) I was concerned how my in-laws would do with the lack of a “town” in terms of restaurants and alternative activities, and (3) while gorgeous I wasn’t sure the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise would offer enough options for inexpensive diners. We ruled out Canmore because we wanted to be located in the park and have a shorter drive on days we did go to Lake Louise or up towards Jasper.
I ultimately settled on The Banff Aspen Lodge for our home base. I had a few criteria that the Banff Aspen Lodge met:
- Close to the heart of Banff so we had easy access to restaurants and shops
- Within walking distance of a grocery store meaning we could buy supplies for our hikes
- Recently renovated and looked clean and modern which meant my MIL would be happy (that should probably be reason #1)
- Reasonably priced in comparison to the other hotels I checked out
- On site parking
- Complimentary cribs for the toddler
Overall our stay at the Banff Aspen Lodge was great. The rooms are exactly as shown on the internet, which in this case was a good thing. They were very flexible with me when I called with weird requests like can you put me as far away from all other people as possible because if someone wakes my toddler up I will lose my mind! The rooms are set up like a studio suite so we made a little barricade out of the couch and then spent the evening hanging out in my in-laws room (which the staff kindly put right next door so the monitor still worked). It was a great location. We were able to walk to restaurants in the evening but I didn’t ever feel like the hotel was so in the middle of things that noise was a problem in our room.
One thing I wish I had known before I went was there was no air conditioning but I am assuming that is very common in Canadian hotels. The breeze felt wonderful but it is a good to know for people traveling with children would may not be able to keep the sliding doors open at night because of noise.