Canada Day 5: Banff

The Banff Springs Hotel was originally built by the Canadian Pacific Railway to encourage travellers to stay there. In its heyday, it was the place to go in the Rockies. The hotel still has that grandeur and its setting is spectacular. It’s not a cheap place to stay, but few hotels in Banff are and the sense of magic of being in such a place is palpable.

View of the Rockies from Banff Springs Hotel bedroom

Inside, the hotel feels a bit like being in Harry Potter’s Hogwart’s school, or a castle.. or both. It’s quite a maze of rooms and corridors and its grounds are extensive, with a golf course by the river below the hotel. The town of Banff is about 20 minutes’ walk away and this is where we went for a walk after our breakfast of bacon, eggs, pastries & coffee.

The town is pretty, with its main street purposefully aligned between two mountains. Preparations were well advanced for Banff Pride (which we’d sadly miss) and rainbow banners adorned shops and lamp columns everywhere. As with many similar towns, there were many tourist-focused shops, but it still felt like a thriving town in its own right. We learned that, surprisingly due to its location in ski country, summer is is busiest season. On a sunny autumn day, the town looked stunning.

After a wander around a small Farmers’ Market, we headed along the river back to the hotel to get to the Bow River falls before walking up past the golf course to get back to the hotel; we had a lunchtime appointment at the hotel’s spa.

After the treat of a relaxing massage to try to rid us of jetlag, we were able to enjoy the spa’s mineral pool, hot pools, steam room and jacuzzis. One of the hot pools was outside the spa, with mountains looming all around us. Even in light rain it was a fantastic way to relax. We got chatting to a visitor from Calgary who was similarly treating himself for a special occasion and he gave us some tips for our next stop in his home city.

We had arranged a cocktail demonstration in the hotel bar that afternoon, which was quite good fun. I wasn’t a great fan of the cocktails demonstrated, but it was an interesting hour learning about some of the art and science involved.

In the evening, we went to one of the hotel’s restaurants – a tiny charcuterie place that created towers of meats and cheeses, adorned in pickles. Fantastically presented and delicious with it. The brilliant food was washed down with a fantastic bottle of red wine.

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