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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
The Juniper Hotel 52 rooms from £74Banff
A striking hotel resting at the foothills of the Rockies, just minutes from Banff. Sleek modern interiors beautifully offset the spectacular vistas visible through the floor to ceiling windows. The on site restaurant serves modern Canadian cuisine with a local seasonal emphasis. Charming.Families - With large suites and plenty of local activities this is the ideal spot to keep the family entertainedHotel Entertainment - Relax after a long day on the slopes with a glass of wine and a soak in the all weather hot tubOther Activities - Immerse yourself in the local culture with a blessing or smudging ceremony from a local ElderHills & mountains - This magical spot gives guests a chance to explore the Rocky Mountains in all their glory
High Country Inn 70 rooms from £71Banff (Box 700,)
A family run hotel in the Canadian Rockies. The rooms are comfortable and offer exceptional views of the mountains beyond Banff. Enjoy meals in the in house restaurant, or make the most of the amenities with hot tubs, pools and saunas. The friendly staff make this a warm and welcoming hotel.Hotel Entertainment - Unwind after a long days activites with a refeshing soak in the hot tub followed by a steam in the cedar wood saunaActive Holiday - Ideally located for the active guest, with skiing, mountain biking, guided walking trails and horse trekkingRiding - Ask at the reception about pony trekking through the mountains, a unqiue way to soak up the sceneryBirdwatching - The nearby mountains are teaming with birds, head out on the trails and see what you can spot
Buffalo Mountain Lodge 108 rooms from £106Banff (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.
Ambleside Lodge 2 rooms from £96Canmore
A charming rustic lodge in the small Rocky Mountain town of Canmore with stunning mountain scenery. Outdoor activities can be arranged in the town, such as golf, climbing and mountain biking. Host Dave Booth is a hiking guide with extensive local area knowledge to assist you in planning excursions.Back to Nature - Surrounded by breathtaking mountain scenery, with the great outdoors on your doorstep, a natural world full of wonders awaitsGreat walks - There are lots of beautiful mountian walks in the area and the natural parks of Banff and Yoho are a short car journey awayViews - A wooden lodge nestled in a spectacular mountain landscape. Breathtaking mountain scenery surrounds you on all sidesKayaking - Kayaking can be arranged in the local town of Cranmore
Kensington Riverside Inn 19 rooms from £117Calgary (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
Jasper Park Lodge 442 rooms from £148Jasper
In Jasper National Park, nestled on the shores of Beauvert Lake in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Boasting a high-end golf course, 8 on-site restaurants, and a large spa. Ideal for active holidays or relaxed retreats in summer or winter. Attracts families and couples alike.Skiing - A ski pass vendor, ski equipment hire and ski storage are all available on site. The Marmot Basin ski area is 20 mins awayGolf - Play a round at the stunning Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf ClubSpa - The superb spa offers a wide range of relaxing treatments to come back to after a busy day outside.Views - Great views from hotel
Buffaloberry Bed and Breakfast 5 rooms from £260Banff
A charming family run B&B in Banff National Park. The cosy rooms have been lovingly decorated and offer fabulous views over the mountains. The breakfast is a hearty affair that will fuel you through the morning and well into the afternoon. A great spot from which to enjoy the mountains.Golf - Choose between the Stanley Thompson course at the Fairmont Banff Springs, or the Silvertip and Stewart Creek courses in CanmoreBack to Nature - Retreat to nature in this Banff National Park B&B- hiking, biking, skiing as well as nature trails and birdwatchingGreat walks - Take a drive to Lake Louise and spend the day hiking through the forests along the shoreOther Activities - Recharge your batteries with a dip in the mineral spring’s pool on Sulphur Mountain
Hotel Le Germain Calgary 143 rooms from £260Calgary
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
Fairmont Banff Springs 764 rooms from £237Banff
Styled after a Scottish Baronial Castle, this elegant retreat is situated in stunning mountain scenery, surrounded by pine trees, mountains, and lakes. Enjoy many outdoor activities from skiing to horse riding; relax after an active day in the spa, and feast on the wide selection of cuisines.Skiing - Many ski locations just minutes away; offers an on-site snow school; also offers ski passes, storage, and rentalSwimming Pool - Indoor and outdoor poolsSecluded setting - For escaping.Back to Nature
Post Hotel & Spa 97 rooms from £374Lake 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 £345Lake 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.