Winter Break in Canada // Lake Louise + Banff
On Black Friday, I saw The Points Guy post about airfare deals available through Cyber Monday and a lightbulb went off. Let's go somewhere! By the way, you should be following The Points Guy on Facebook. He has a wealth of travel knowledge, which is honestly how we've been able to travel frequently. Anyway, I kept my eyes peeled and an open mind on where to travel next. Where we were going to end up depended on flight and hotel price. It was actually fun to go where the wind blew us. OH CANADA!
TAKE THE BUS or RENT A CAR?
WHERE TO STAY
THE FAIRMONT CHATEAU LAKE LOUISE
There's no doubt about it, this hotel is expensive. I've complained in the past about hotels charging the equivalent to a life's savings and not delivering, but this hotel delivers. First of all, the scenery alone will take your breath away. Every trip, I have a moment of utter appreciation (which always involves tears) and Lake Louise was one of the most overwhelming.
I think we were upgraded to a room with a lake view, because I believe these rooms are more expensive and I definitely booked the cheapest room. The room was VERY tiny and the bathroom couldn't hold two people at once but I wasn't mad for a second. This view was everything. After all, if you're at Lake Louise, why would you spend any time in your room?!
WHAT TO DO
The hotel is huge. There are numerous restaurants and several fun shops. I may have purchased a flannel shirt, scarf and beanie - obviously. The main floor has a lounge and restaurant with the most spectacular views of the lake. We popped in for Glühwein (spiced mulled wine) several times to escape the unseasonably cold weather.
You could stay inside sipping hot cocoa or you could GO OUTSIDE! Even if it is -7 degrees, the shops have plenty of hand warmers. You can ice skate, cross country ski, walk through the wintery forest, go for a snowshoe walk across the entirely frozen lake, hike to Fairview lookout for spectacular views of the hotel and lake, play hockey, snow sled, go dog sledding, or have a drink at the Ice Bar. The hotel rents pretty much any equipment you could possibly need and rentals are fairly cheap. We rented skates for $15 an hour and it was so cold, that's all we needed. In the summer, they rent canoes, walking sticks, etc.
Throughout our stay, we noticed the hotel was packed during the day and quiet at night. Because Brewster Express offers a shuttle to the hotel, there were a lot of outside guests but I didn't even mind. I was having too much fun in the snow. If you choose not to stay at The Fairmont, staying in Banff would be a more affordable option with a day trip (or two!) to The Chateau.
WHERE TO EAT
At The Fairmont, we ate at The Alpine Social several times. It's chic, cozy, and has amazing food and bar. As you might know, Matt and I are gluten and dairy free. Every restaurant at The Fairmont was able to accommodate our restrictions. If you're vegan, I recommend the sweet potato & quinoa burger. OH MY.
Lakeview Lounge provides sweeping views of the lake so lunch there is a must. I ordered a $24 glass of champagne because it felt appropriate.
Walliser Stube restaurant and wine bar offers European cuisine with a variety of classic Swiss, German and Alpine dishes. The atmosphere felt so European.
The hotel also has an Italian, French, and farm to table restaurant. We had dinner at the farm to table, Fairview, and were underwhelmed mostly due to the hefty price tag. I'd prefer to hang out at Alpine Social.
For pizza, head to The Bear Street Tavern. It's quaint, lively, and in the center of town. They even have gluten free crust.
Also on Bear Street is Nourish. It's a vegan restaurant that took my breath away. Get the mac n' cheese and order dessert!
If you can believe, this long post is only a taste of what you can do in Banff // Lake Louise. If you ever have the opportunity to make the trip, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. I don't often say this, but we'll make it back. It's just one of those places you make an effort to visit more than once.
Until next time Canada!