banff

While temperatures of -41°C may put most off leaving the house, those who were in Banff National Park during the first few days of 2018 didn’t let it stop them from hitting the slopes. With the mercury a little closer to zero as spring approaches, it’s the perfect time to visit one of North America’s most beautiful spots, renowned for ice-capped mountains riven by turquoise streams.

This is the ultimate destination for outdoor adventure. Ski downhill or cross-country, snowshoe and ice skate until you’ve had your fill of fresh air. Spend evenings or the day bar-hopping down the resort’s charming main street before hitting the hay to recharge, ready to do it all again tomorrow.

TO STAY

Banff Springs Hotel

Nestled between thickets of gargantuan pines, this hotel is straight out of a fairytale. With its rabbit-hole setting, it has old-world charm amplified by cosy stone fireplaces and leather sofas. If you want to take a break from the slopes for a day, you’ll be entertained with an array of outdoor pools that are heated and lovely even on the snowiest of days, as well as the Willow Stream Spa, complete with Roman-style columns.

The hotel also houses some of the area’s best restaurants with world-class views. Sink into a chair in the Rundle Lounge with a boozy salted-caramel hot chocolate and watch the sun’s reflection turn Banff’s glaciers pink.

The Rimrock Resort Hotel

Set just below the hot springs, the Rimrock climbs the hill overlooking Banff village. It’s one of the area’s most classic stays, and with good reason; beautiful rooms have enormous windows offering views of the Rockies, as well as a multitude of restaurants, including Eden, which is one of only six diamond-rated restaurants in Canada.

But its’s the spa that truly has our hearts at this hotel. Take advantage of the natural healing benefits of treatments that use locally sourced products, from the volcanic hot-stone massage to the aromatherapy-intensive “weary traveller” which includes a seriously luxurious foot massage and is an ideal post-ski treat.

The Post Hotel Lake Louise

If you’re heading two hours north of Banff to check out the ski area of Lake Louise (where William and Kate spent their honeymoon), stray away from the typical Chateau Lake Louise route and head to The Post. It’s a rustic dream with wooden beams, an immense stone fireplace, and a babbling river ribboning past it.

When it’s not covered with a dusting snow, the hotel’s iconic red rooftop stands out between the trees as you cross-country ski back in on a wooded trail, beckoning you in for a few hours at the Temple Mountain spa before dinner. The food here is fantastic, and the hotel certainly has the wine collection to match; its cellar is one of the largest in the country.

  • +1 403-522-3989
  • Go to Website
  • 200 Pipestone Road
    Lake Louise, AB
    T0L 1E0

Deer Lodge Lake Louise

Another Lake Louise option, Deer Lodge is one of the area’s most charming choices. With spacious rooms and some of the most comfortable beds we’ve ever slept in, it’s one of the best choices for hardcore skiers who need a solid relaxation space between slope sessions. The best thing about the hotel? The immense stone rooftop hot tub, which looks out to the surrounding Rocky Mountains, as well as the Victoria Glacier, which separates Alberta from British Columbia. If you can brave running across the icy roof before hopping in, you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular light show as the fiery sunset plays out against the sparkling peaks.

  • +1 403 522 3991
  • Go to Website
  • 109 Lake Louise Dr
    Lake Louise, AB
    T0L 1E0

TO EAT

Three Ravens Restaurant and Wine Bar

This chic restaurant is set in the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and is certainly one of the more inspiring places one could have a meal. The walls are completely made up of immense windows, opening out onto the wilderness encasing the centre. This restaurant is completely sustainable, with creative plating to boot. Enjoy the nightly live piano while indulging in the miso-glazed sablefish or, for something local, the roasted-elk rack.

1888 Chop House

This is the spot for farm-to-table lovers looking for an elegant evening out. With locally raised beef and seafood sourced from Vancouver, the menu is all about simple, fresh, and local flavours – even their butter is made in-house.

  • +1 403 762 6860
  • Go to Website
  • 405 Spray Avenue
    Banff Springs Hotel
    T1L 1J4

Bear Street Tavern

Sometimes you’re in dire need of pizza on a ski holiday. Bear Street is by far the best in the area for a thin-crust slice and a pint of craft beer after an outdoorsy day. If you’re in Banff in summer, sit out on the patio to watch the sun set over the surrounding mountain crests.

Walliser Stube Lake Louise

Set in the immense Chateau Lake Louise, Walliser Stube is a chic Austrian-style restaurant. It’s perfect for a celebration, such as for a birthday or to cap off the end of your holiday. Book a large table for a group here and do not miss out on the truffle fondue.

  • +1 403 522 3511
  • Go to Website
  • 111 Lake Louise Drive
    Chateau Lake Louise
    T0L 1E0

TO DRINK + DANCE

Rose & Crown

This cosy pub is where you’ll find the locals huddled during a snowstorm. Bag a snug booth, order a pint and some seriously good nachos and settle in to watch one of their nightly live bands. If you’re in Banff for hiking and biking over the summer, they’ve also got a great rooftop patio.

Dancing Sasquatch

With a name like this, you you can’t be anywhere but the Rockies. This lodge-style nightclub is the town’s best for dancing. Our favourite night out here is Sunday for Nineties and early Noughties tunes.

TO SHOP

Lolë Atelier

Montreal-based Lolë is a must when shopping for eco-conscious outdoor gear in Banff. They’ve got stylish  – and wonderfully insulated – puffer jackets, as well as fabulous yoga and running gear meaning you won’t be sporting the same Lululemon gear as everyone else.

Monod Sports

This is your one-stop shop, stocking everything from Canada Goose to Patagonia and Arc’teryx. Our favourite brand has got to be Alp-n-Rock, who make embroidered long-sleeve tops so pretty (and warm) that you can wear them from black-diamond piste to après ski.

TO DO

Ski at Sunshine

The name says it all; Sunshine, unlike some of its counterparts further north, is all about catching rays on wide-open cruisers. Shred through the mountain’s champagne powder before putting your ski boots up on one of its lodges’ chaise lounges.

Hot Springs

When you’ve tired your legs out with a few days of hitting the powder, drive up the winding road to the Banff Hot Springs, renowned for their medicinal powers. The water is ultra-soothing – the ultimate remedy for sore muscles – and you will feel completely mellowed out when you emerge from the warm pools.

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

If you’re looking for an artistic retreat amid the peaks and pines of Banff, the area’s Centre for Arts and Creativity is the ultimate creative hub. The Centre offers facilities and courses – available to all – in everything from printmaking to performance arts. Residencies are available, but more casual culture-seekers can stop by the Walter Phillips Gallery to take a peek at art hailing from all over Canada and a variety of First Nations communities.

Ski at Lake Louise

Lake Louise is ideal for skiers looking to do more than simply sunbathe on warmer afternoons. The ski terrain is massive, with plenty of back bowls for adventure seekers – you’ll be hard-pressed not to find large swathes of untouched powder to charge through.

If you can brave it, cap the day off by taking the vertiginously steep Poma lift to the very top of the mountain for 360-degree vistas. As the sun casts its last golden glow on the mountain, take one last long run from the top of the hill all the way to the bottom, which should take around 20 minutes before you’re down by the Kokanee Kabin at the base for après-ski.

Banff Springs Hotel

The Rimrock Resort Hotel

The Post

Deer Lodge

Three Ravens Restaurant and Wine Bar

1888 Chop House

Bear Street Tavern

Walliser Stube

Rose & Crown

Dancing Sasquatch

Lolë Atelier

Monod Sports

Ski at Sunshine

Hot Springs

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

Ski at Lake Louise

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