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Alberta is arguably one of Canada’s most spectacular provinces. It’s got both Banff and Jasper National Parks, and the surrounding ridges of the Canadian Rockies, serene Lake Louise and the glittering Columbia Icefield, great swathes of open grasslands to the north, home to bison, and in the south there are wonderfully ancient rocky deserts of Red Deer Valley and the badlands, a prime spot for dinosaur hunters. It’s difficult to say where you might find the best places to stay in Alberta, this is a vast region with so many great reasons to visit, but you will find all the best places to stay in Alberta on our Guru’s list of recommendations.
Banff and Jasper National Parks are two of the world’s oldest. And Banff Town exists solely as a gateway and comfort stop for exploring the park. It’s got some great restaurants, boutique shops and even a nightclub, but for most people it’s all about the spectacular mountain scenery and the opportunity to get seriously active in amongst it. The mountains and hills range high and low, crafting a dramatic course for skiers and mountain bikers, while the serene, unsullied mountain lakes are ripe for canoeing and kayaking.
Jasper National Park is another stunning setting and home to wolves, mountain lions, bears, caribou and beavers. There’s also hot springs, incredible canyons and more of those rocky peaks.
Lake Louise is another great base for enjoying the mountains, known for its teahouses, hiking and skiing. And of course for its perfect setting, surrounded by the snow-and-glacier topped peaks of the Canadian Rockies.
Just below the Rockies is Waterton Lakes National Park, a peaceful place of surprisingly flat prairies, a sparkling lake and even a surprise castle! This is a much quieter national park than Banff or Jasper, and a great place to see elk, deer, cougar and grizzly bears, as well as an amazing array of wildflowers.
For a landscape as polar opposite to this lush, alpine wilderness as you can probably imagine, head for the Badlands and Drumheller. This strange, dry region is home to some serious dinosaurs, many of them in the wonderful Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, but many of them as yet undiscovered…
When it comes to the cities, Edmonton is Alberta’s capital, known for having the largest urban parkland area in North America, and for its excellent array of festivals, which culminate in the summer, but run pretty much year round.
Though Calgary is the largest city, with a reputation among other Canadian cities for being a bit American and a bit big business. But it’s also known for holding one of Canada’s largest parties: the Calgary Stampede, an amazing produce show and rodeo exhibition - and festival and parade. And for being the gateway to Banff and the Rockies. It’s also got some great museums and bars.
Alberta’s rural interior is a different landscape again, this time one of wheat fields and cattle ranches.
Whatever your reason for visiting, use our guide to the best places to stay in Alberta and start planning your trip.
For a City Break
- The Hotel Le Germain Calgary is right across the street from Calgary Tower: it’s a luxurious boutique hotel in the heart of town. There are 143 rooms and suites, with quite opulent decor and original artworks. You’re hip and happening but with a classic, grown up feel.
- The Kensington Riverside Inn is perfect for those who like a boho vibe, as it's in Calgary’s trendy Kensington area. Rooms are comfortable and modern and you can borrow one of the complimentary bikes for some local exploring.
For the Rockies
- Banff’s Buffalo Mountain Lodge is the perfect place for an active break in summer or winter. There’s a range of accommodation, but most options come with fireplaces and private balconies with spectacular views. There’s an Italian restaurant, but they also have an option serving more local style cuisine.
- The Post Hotel & Spa is a charming hotel right by the water, and just five minutes from the Lake Louise ski resort. There are 97 simple yet elegant rooms, many with fireplaces and balconies, plus a choice of restaurants - including a Swiss fondu restaurant and an English style pub. There’s also an indoor pool.
- If you don’t mind being further from the resort - or if you’re here to escape - then the Moraine Lake Lodge might be for you. It’s an upscale resort with 33 rustic rooms featuring handmade wooden furniture. You’ll get amazing views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and Banff National Park from your private balcony. Peaceful and serene.
Best Hotels in Alberta
Buffalo Mountain Lodge 108 rooms from $138Banff (Alberta)
Snow or sun, this brilliant located lodge is the perfect for active families to set-up camp. Fireplaces, private balconies and comfortable beds make the rooms hard to leave but we promise the great outdoors and views are worth it. Cilantro is Italian cuisine, or try Sleeping Buffalo's local cuisine.Foodies - 40 people can be sat in the Wapiti Longhouse wine cellar on site, a great place to indulge in the local cuisine and fine wines.Romantic Break - Make the most of the enchanting and romantic views with the outdoor hot tub and private balconies.Kayaking - Leisure canoeing on Emerald Lake or Lake Louise is the perfect outing, especially with a picnic from the lodge.Lively - Hip and happening.
Kensington Riverside Inn 19 rooms from $152Calgary (Alberta)
Bohemian Kensington district is ideal for those seeking boutique shops, independent cafes and buzzy life of Calgary. Modern rooms are the epitome of comfort, with access to tasting menus and Chef's table at the restaurant. Local exploring is on the cards, as are back to nature family activities.Local exploring - Hop on a free bicycle and explore this hip area, packed with designer stores, small unique shops, cafes, and restaurants.Sights nearby - Devonian Gardens is an indoor botanical garden home to a range of palm trees and other tropical plants.Fishing - Head to Fish Creek Provincial Park for a spot of fishing.Views - River.Recommended by - Relais & Chateaux, Fodors
Post Hotel & Spa 97 rooms from $487Lake Louise
A charming riverside hotel, just five minutes from Lake Louise Ski Resort. The rooms are simple and elegantly furnished, with cosy fireplaces and balconies. A range of on-site restaurants include a Swiss fondue restaurant and an English-style pub, while the cellar boasts some 25,250 fine wines.Back to Nature - From winter to summer there are a whole host of activities that allow you to soak up the great outdoors!Swimming Pool - Indoor year round swimming poolLively - Hip and happening.Full of characterRecommended by - Tablet, Relais & Chateaux
Moraine Lake Lodge 33 rooms from $450Lake Louise (Improvement District No. 9)
An upscale resort nestled under the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Banff National Park. The rustic rooms feature handmade wooden furniture and stone chimney pieces. Private balconies command wonderful views of the lake and surrounding countryside. Peaceful and serene.Restrictions on children - Children older than 8 years are welcome.Full of characterBarefoot Luxury - For total relaxation.Remote - Off the beaten track.
Hotel Le Germain Calgary 143 rooms from $339Calgary
A luxury boutique hotel under the shadow of the iconic Calgary Tower. The opulent suites feature feather and down comforters, plush linens, original modern art and stylish bathrooms. The downtown location keeps your finger on Calgary's pulse. Cutting edge contemporary, with a classic feel.Sights nearby - Across the street from the iconic Calgary Tower.Lively - Hip and happening.Lively area - In the thick of the action.Barefoot Luxury - For total relaxation.Recommended by - Tablet