* Prices may differ from that shown
This review for Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is part of our longer trip through the Canadian Rockies.
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (FCLL) is a large hotel sitting at the end of a lake which is often termed "the jewel of the Rockies". The Fairmont hotel chain is worldwide, in the UK the two hotels you may know best within this chain are The Savoy in London and the one on the golf course in St Andrews. We're talking big money people. The hotel is enormous with hundreds of rooms ranging from a standard room, to a suite, to a huge penthouse. There are two choices: one overlooking the lake, one not overlooking the lake. When you're paying these prices, it is worth paying the 15% extra (approx.) to get a lake view. Don't stay in the cheapest room without a view, definitely pay for the view, you won't regret it.
The hotel is decorated in the style of an old lodge, lots of taxidermic animal heads on the wall, lots of marble and dark wood, really stunning decor.
The price was a huge factor, indeed we moved the entire itinerary around just so that we could afford one night in this hotel. It is the first and last time I will pay £350 for one night in a room (room only at that ladies and gentlemen). It was the piece de resistance of our honeymoon and for one night only, worth every penny. If you've got the cash, stay a week. We didn't have the cash, so we stayed for one night only. It is worth saying £350 bought us a bog standard room with a view. However, fair dinkum to the hotel, as soon as we said (repeatedly!) in our e-mails prior to arrival that it was indeed our honeymoon, we were upgraded to a junior suite ( wit woo - we had an extra chair and a coffee table which would have cost us £150 extra!) and a bottle of champagne on ice for no extra price, making it a seriously sweet evening all round. (Hint: say it's your honeymoon even if it isn't!)
If you want alternatives to staying in the area, there are many cabins, none with a lake view but all within a 5 minute drive. For cheaper alternatives again, base yourself in Banff and drive up, takes about 40 mins.
Worth saying, we signed up for a free Fairmont President's Club membership, you get access to "cheap dates, cheap rates" e-mail for the first week of every month where certain hotels around the globe have certain deals. By staying here on the Wednesday, we saved around £200 compared with staying on the Thursday, so do sign up in advance.
I booked a pre-pay, no refund room (cheapest!). Except I booked it a month in advance of the date I wanted. Freaking out (understandably) at potentially losing hundreds and having out dream hotel experience go out of the window, I rang Canada, and the lovely Greg agreed to swap the dates (even though the date I'd booked it for had passed and the room was non-exchange, non-refund). I was very glad of Greg that night!!!!!! Very reasonable of the hotel indeed. I'm a dingbat I know.
Parking was in a large multi-storey next to the hotel (Adjoining it). However, it was $25 per day extra to park there (in addtion to the whopping room charges). With that in mind, I felt it was really unacceptable to charge extra money for what should be a free service. We parked our own car and were given the keys as we arrived outside of the hotel by the porter/bell boy type person. Although I understand this reduced pressure on reception, it felt very impersonal and almost as though we weren't important enough to speak to the front desk.
For various reasons, mainly trying out every free facility the hotel had to offer (a nice pool, stream room etc), we decided to order room service for our meal. It cost $100 for two meals, again a massive treat for us and about £60 for two really really nice Alberta steaks. Compared to the room cost, I found the room service bill was really reasonable. There are lots of cafes, restaurants and icecremeries in the building, some are open all night which was handy for our early morning getaway.
The bathroom had bathrobes, slippers, freebies (of course not actually free...all in the cost of the room!) and a shower and a jet-spa bath! Stupidly put bubbles in the bath and the water was seriously frothing in the tub. Had a shower and a bath just to make best use of the facilities and get my money's worth!
The views over the lake were amazing, the colour was really pretty a gorgeous turquoisey blue. It is a really busy spot in terms of tourists, but it was really peaceful later on as most of the tourists had left by 5pm so it felt much more peaceful and tranquil.
I woke up several times in the night and I kept peeping out of the window in the middle of the night to see the view which was just brilliant.It was so haunting looking at the Victoria glacier hanging over the top of the lake, with the moonlight shimmering.
I know a lot of people don't like the hotel as to be fair it is a blot on the gorgeous landscape, but for one night, it was definitely worth it.
Negative points - well the parking cost was terrible and you have to pay for the internet which is only available through a cable. If you are in the Fairmont Presidents Club (free remember!), you get internet for free, but I couldn't connect to the wi-fi through my iPhone which in this day and age, for the calibre of hotel, I found completely astounding. Sort it out Fairmont!
**Above and beyond**
Whilst I didn't feel the hospitality staff shone in any way, once we got to Jasper, I realised I'd had dingbat moment number 2 and left my straighteners in FCLL. It was a 2 hour drive (or more) back to the hotel to get them. It was possible but would have ruined a day of our Jasper itinerary. More importantly, it had the only power adapter we had attached, so I was more interested in getting that back. I called housekeeping and a lovely woman found it in lost property for me. They packaged them up and put them on their Fairmont bus which takes passengers to their sister hotel in Jasper. She told me which coach it would be on and what time to pick it up. Sure enough, I went to the Fairmont in Jasper and there were the straighteners. Super service, above and beyond what I would expect. Same for Greg.
I couldn't ever afford to stay in a Fairmont again, it was a once in a lifetime fabulous opportunity with stunning views. If you can afford it, go for it. If you can afford one night, it is worth it. It isn't value for money but equally worth every penny if that makes any sense!
A chateau conjures up all sorts of pictures in my mind and Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise looked stunning on the website, with the Lake right on its doorstep, and in the heart of Banff National Park. The history of this hotel is fascinating, starting with a two bedroomed cabin, but far too long for my review, if you want to read all about it the look at http://www.fairmont.com/EN_FA/Property/CLL/AboutUs/HotelHistory.htm because this explains why a Canadian hotel has a Swiss flavour!
We arrived at midday and had already been informed that it was unlikely that our rooms would be ready until later, one of the staff came onto the coach and told us a few details, including that the hotel was extremely busy with over 1100 guests so we would be advised to reserve a table for dinner as soon as possible. We were directed into a large area away from the main reception and were allocated room numbers, one or two got their key cards, but the rest of our coach had to go back to reception in an hour. Meanwhile we wandered along a covered walkway, past lots of lovely little shops and through to the main reception, which had some settees and chairs and wonderful chandeliers hung from the high ceilings. Studying the menus we chose a restaurant only to discover the only time left was 9.30pm, as we had an early start the following morning we reserved a table at our second choice!
We felt we needed a plan of the hotel as it was so large, but we managed to find the Deli and had a snack lunch. There was music in the entrance to the Lakeview lounge being played by a young lady with a harp, it was very different from other hotels we had stayed in this holiday and I felt we had stepped back into the past.
Fortunately our room was ready when we went to the main reception, and we soon received our keys after switching our credit card, and our cases were already in our room. The cases incidentally, were taken by coach to somewhere below stairs and were transported to rooms out of sight of the guests, and collected and loaded on the coach the following day. People arriving by car had their cases taken care of by young men dressed in Swiss style clothes and hats! These arrangements were taken care of through the Rocky Mountaineer Explorer vacation.
Sadly we didn't have a room with a view of the lake, instead it was of a grassy bank and the top of the shops and other buildings! The window had a bug screen on it, so you could get fresh air, which incidentally was very pure and can make people feel light headed because of the altitude. It is 5,680ft above sea level. The room was quite compact, and had an old fashioned feel to it, which I believe was termed as "alpine", with flowery chintz covers in red and green and pale gold patterned curtains. The twin beds were very comfortable, and had a padded wooden head board, the bedside table had double lights and a clock and telephone. A light oak coloured wooden unit with wrought iron work, contained glasses, ice bucket, television and a fridge plus set of drawers. In an alcove was a small desk and lamp, with a chair and also an oval table with internet access. Another table had a tray with kettle, coffee maker, cups etc. The built in wardrobe/cupboard housed the safe, extra bedding and an iron and ironing board. Paintings and pictures of local railway scenes and flowers decorated the room and there was a ceiling fan but no air con. Plenty of lights and a large mirror completed the room. The bed was already turned down so the maid didn't return in the evening. The bedroom doors all had lovely flowers painted on them.
The bathroom was nicely decorated with a mixture of pale wall paper and tiles, and there was a white waffle material shower curtain as well as the waterproof one. Gold finish on the taps, gave you a sense of luxury and there was plenty of lovely toiletries and fluffy towels. A hair drier was supplied in a linen bag, which meant I could dry my hair in the bedroom as I hate hair driers in the bathroom, I never feel safe mixing electricity with water!
There was a "GREEN" policy and towels and bed linen was only changed every 3 days, unless requested sooner. Staying only one night this didn't affect us, but it did make me wonder how they can charge so much and no daily change of towels!
Walliser Stube Restaurant
This was our second choice but it proved to be a good one. We were welcomed at the entrance and taken to the first room which had like a library wall of wines, with a ladder for access, it had quite dark wood panelled walls but was cosy. The second room had a view of the lake, but was already booked up. The dress code was casual and the restaurant was open from 6 -9pm.
As seems to be the case in Canada, we were immediately served with water and given our menus. The waiter came back to see if we needed help and we decided to try the Seafood Fondue. $46 each, it wasn't cheap but we had scallops, prawns, salmon and halibut plus lots of vegetables. We had some lovely warm bread whilst we waited for our meal which arrived quite quickly as it didn't need to be cooked! The wine was expensive here and half a bottle cost about £15. We enjoyed cooking our own dinner and it meant we had a leisurely meal. The desserts all sounded lovely and I choose a Deconstructed Black forest gateau! It was definitely a pleasant change from the frozen gateau served up in Britain! My husband choose a Crème caramel with brandy snap cone and Chantilly cream and said it was lovely. Everything was well presented and delicious - which of course I expected as I cooked my own dinner! The bill with coffees was rather large, but walking by the lake afterwards you knew why they could charge such prices.
The Deli, open 24 hours a day this is a self service restaurant with so much to choose from, you are spoiled for choice. We bought mammoth baps, mine had 3 large slices of ham and cheese and salad, for $11 or £5.50 it was good value but far too big for me! I would have liked half of it and one of the delicious looking cakes! We also had a quick breakfast here, the mountaineers wrap contained scrambled egg, ham and mushrooms and along with a huge cranberry scone and two coffees was only $11.20. It was possible to buy food here and take away with you if you were headed out walking, it also was popular with the many day tourists who came to see the lake.
The Fairview Dining Room, features the best in Canadian Cuisine, focusing on innovative and creative flavours.
Tom Wilson Steakhouse, named after the first non native to see the lake, this restaurant obviously serves steaks, both beef and bison, and you can see the cooking as the kitchen is open. People we spoke to who ate here enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere as well as the steaks, it was also open from 6 -9pm.
Poppy Brasserie, not only can you eat dinner here but the brasserie is open for a buffet breakfast and lunch. A mixture of all sorts of meals including the ever popular burgers.
Lakeview Lounge, enjoying fantastic views you can eat sandwiches, salads and tapas here and enjoy a cocktail or even afternoon tea.
Glacier saloon, a place to relax especially if you have been climbing mountains, local beers or a Swiss stein can be enjoyed and if you feel peckish light snacks and pub style meals are available.
I was aware that there was an indoor pool and steam room, plus a fitness centre and spa treatments, but didn't have time to try it out as I preferred to enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery outside. There were special offers available, an Aveda package costs $499 Canadian dollars for a 60 minute spa treatment and room accommodation per person based on two sharing! Oh, I nearly forgot it includes valet parking too!
There are over 20 different shops in the hotel. You can buy beautiful jewellery, luxury knitwear, books, films and cameras, expensive sweets and candies, children clothes, sportswear and lots of local gifts and crafts. Some of the things were similar prices to shops in nearby Banff, whilst others were very expensive.
The lake is absolutely beautiful and walks along the side are easy to do, but there are guided walks too and if you want to climb up to see Lake Agnes and visit a little teahouse then it is advised to go with a guide. These walks take about 4 hours and you need proper boots and clothing as the weather can change rapidly, all the gear can be borrowed. It is about 7Km and you climb 1,260 feet. The cost is $275 for half day private guiding for 4 people. We had an hours walk and talk about Lake Louise with one of the guides and learned a lot about the area, but the weather changed from a sunny day to a storm within half an hour and we had to shelter, the lake turned from a mill pond to a white water lake, and canoeists had problems getting back in. This showed us just how important it is to have guides if you intend to climb in the surrounding areas. They can also arrange all sorts of sports and trips depending on the time year.
As part of our holiday package I'm not sure of the exact cost if you book yourself, but prices seem to range from £250 to £320 a night, for room only! Deluxe rooms, suites and lake views come at a higher price!
This was a very expensive hotel to stay at, but was one of the highlights of our holiday, as Lake Louise was stunning, and whilst there we heard the crack that sounds like thunder but is the glacier calving as it cracks and falls. It was very busy during the day but in the evening was quieter and more enjoyable, so restful and stunning scenery. I had expected the dress code to be more formal but it was resort casual. Everyone deserves a wee treat sometimes and this was ours!
Also on Ciao under jo145
Location: within the region of Yoho National Park / Location: within the region of Yoho National Park / Number and type of rooms: 548 guestrooms. Cable programming and video-game consoles are provided for your entertainment, while wireless Internet access (surcharge) keeps you connected. Bathrooms feature shower/tub combinations, makeup/shaving mirrors, and designer toiletries. Conveniences include safes and complimentary newspapers, as well as direct-dial phones with voice mail / Rec, Spa, Premium Amenities: Relax at the full-service spa, where you can enjoy massages and body treatments. A spa tub and a sauna offer a relaxing way to wind down after a day on the slopes. Additional features include wireless Internet access (surcharge), concierge services, and supervised childcare/activities / Dining: Enjoy a meal at a restaurant or in a coffee shop/cafT. Or stay in and take advantage of the resort's 24-hour room service. Quench your thirst with your favorite drink at a bar/lounge / Business, Other Amenities: business center, limo/town car service, and audiovisual equipment. Event facilities at this resort consist of a ballroom, banquet facilities, and exhibit space. Limited parking (subject to charges) is available onsite.