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You’ve probably seen the jaw-dropping pictures of Lake Louise’s emerald waters on Instagram, and yes, it’s really worth visiting in person too. Between the lake itself, its national park location, and surrounding peaks and glacier, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and the Canadian Rockies deserve a spot on your bucket list.
Here’s why staying at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is the best way to visit Lake Louise and what time of year is the best time to go if you want to avoid the crowds.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: The Location
You can’t get any closer to Lake Louise in Banff National Park than with a stay at the Fairmont Chateau. The hotel was first built as an attraction along the Canadian Pacific Railway for tourists to visit in the summer. Since its beginnings in the late 1800s, the property has welcomed royalty, celebrities, artists, filmmakers, world-famous skiers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
As part of the Canadian Pacific Hotels division, the property became a Fairmont in 1999. The property has a rich mountaineering history that’s seen through the design, service, and activity offerings at the hotel.
The Fairmont grounds directly abut the UNESCO World Heritage site, which means hotel guests don’t have the property to themselves. Busloads of tourists visit the lake every day, but that shouldn’t stop you from staying here. Tourists are allowed in parts of the hotel, but priority is given to hotel guests at the onsite dining options and the new spa.
In fact, staying at the hotel will give you time in the morning and evenings to enjoy the lake in a rare moment of solitude. Plus, not many tourists stay long enough to enjoy the dozens of hiking trails surrounding the lake and hotel. I recommend the Plain of Six Glaciers and Big Beehive hikes for intermediate hikers. You can also participate in outdoor actives via the Mountain Adventure Program.
Shoulder season (early spring and throughout the fall and early winter) are ideal times to visit for less expensive room rates and fewer crowds. I stayed at the property in mid-October and was able to enjoy the property without crowds for the better part of the day. Plus, you get to see the surrounding mountains with a dusting of snow contrasting the jagged granite peaks. It really is the best of both worlds.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: The Rooms
The rooms are updated, spacious, and decorated in traditional Fairmont style. I stayed in a suite room with views facing the lake. The suite was spacious, even by suite standards, and has plenty of space for a family. Since you visit for the view, I recommend spending extra on a lake view room. In total, there are 539 rooms at the chateau.
Fairmont Gold members receive an exclusive experience, with signature suite rooms on the seventh floor reserved only for Gold member guests. Other perks include arranging dinner reservations, transportation, and access to the private lounge. Gold members can head to the Fairmont Gold Lounge for a complimentary breakfast buffet and access to books, games, coffee, and tea, as well as an honor bar and complimentary cocktail canapes from 5 to 7 p.m.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Dining
The Fairmont Chateau has many dining options ranging from a gastropub and a breakfast buffet to fine dining overlooking the lake. Guests can also enjoy a 24-hour deli-style counter for quick meals and snacks. Restaurants include the Fairview (fine dining), Lakeview Lounge (lounge area serving tapas and cocktails), The Wallister Stube (European alpine inspired restaurant and wine bar), The Chateau Deli, Poppy Brasserie (breakfast style buffet restaurant), the Alpine Social (gastropub), and the seasonal Italian cuisine kitchen Lago (usually opened regularly during summer).
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Extras
Guests have access to all of the surrounding trails and equipment (for a fee; crampons are free for guests). There is also an adventure center, where guests can book guided hiking tours on trails around the lake. The entire staff is friendly and helpful with activity recommendations. You also aren’t far from the small town of Lake Louise, but you really don’t need to leave the property to explore all the Canadian Rockies have to offer. Winter activities include ice skating, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. Summer activities include canoeing, hiking, horseback riding, and biking.
For skiers, some of the best Canadian Rockies skiing is only three miles away at The Lake Louise Ski Resort. The mountain is home to the Lake Louise World Cup every November and gives the area international fame in the skiing world. Free ski storage is also available at the hotel.
There is also a newly renovated spa and fitness center featuring a heated indoor pool, steam room, and complimentary fitness classes. The hotel is also well known for its all-inclusive wellness retreats offered in the shoulder season.
I recommend continuing on to Jasper National Park and staying at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, as well as a night at the Fairmont Springs Banff to complete your Canadian Rockies vacation. All three hotels are unique in that they’re located in national parks and each property works closely with the Canadian Park Services to uphold standards in nature preservation, sustainability, and respectful tourism.
For reference, Lake Louise is located about two hours from the Calgary International Airport, a 40-minute drive from the town of Banff, and about one hour from the entrance of Banff National Park. From the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise to the Fairmont Jasper is about a three-hour drive.
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