A few weeks ago, I enjoyed a great (but rainy and even snowy) stay in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, one of the world’s most pristine wilderness areas on a scale difficult to imagine. I will publish my trip reports over the coming weeks:
- Trip report: British Airways A380 Business Class from London to Vancouver
- Review: Fairmont Banff Hot Springs Hotel
- Review: Emerald Lake Lodge
- Review: Moraine Lake Lodge
- Review: Mount Engaldine Lodge
- Review: Post Hotel & Spa (today)
- Review: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (to be published later)
- Trip report: British Airways B787-8 (Dreamliner) Business Class from Calgary to London
Today (September 28, 2016): Review of the Post Hotel & Spa in Lake Louise, Banff National Park (Canada).
- Hotel website: Post Hotel
- Address: 200 Pipestone Rd, Lake Louise, AB T0L 1E0, Canada
- Location: Google Maps
The Post Hotel & Spa, a member of Relais & Châteaux, is located close to Lake Louise and often celebrated as one of the Canada’s finest destination hotels. The property originally opened in 1942 as Lake Louise Ski Lodge by legendary local guide Jim Boyce, and was renamed in 1957 as the Post Hotel. Guest amenities include an award-winning restaurant and wine cellar (not to be missed!), a fireside lounge, a well-stocked library, a full-service spa, and a recreation area including an indoor pool, whirlpool and a state of the art fitness room.
The Post Hotel & Spa features in my top 10 list of the best hotels & lodges in the Canadian Rockies.
In this review (more info below the slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The Post Hotel & Spa enjoys a very central location within Banff National Park. It’s situated along an idyllic river in Lake Louise Village, approximately 184 kms (115 miles) west of Calgary and 56 kms (36 miles) west of the town of Banff. Because the hotel is close to a lot of the Rockies’ most famous attractions, it is a perfect base to spend a holiday in the Rockies.
- The hotel is located close to the world-famous Lake Louise, which has become symbolic of the quintessentially Canadian mountain scene. This alpine lake, known for its sparkling blue waters, is situated at the base of impressive glacier-clad peaks that have long been at the heart of Canadian mountaineering. At about 2.5 kilometers (1,5 miles) long and 90 meters (300 ft) deep, Lake Louise offers a surreal paddling experience in the warm summer months and one of the most scenic skating rinks in the world during the winter.
- The hotel has an interesting history. The property originally opened in 1942 as Lake Louise Ski Lodge by legendary local guide and packer Jim Boyce. Sir Norman Watson, a British aircraft manufacturer, acquired the Ski Lodge with its adjacent cabins in 1947. In 1957, sparked by a need for change, the Lake Louise Ski Lodge adopted the name “Post Hotel” for two reasons: to recall the many Post Hotels in the Alps and because an additional building on the property was leased to the Post Office. In 1978, the hotel was sold to André and George Schwarz, two Swiss-born Canadian brothers that were drawn to the Rockies with a love for skiing; they transformed the Post Hotel & Spa into a wonderful destination hotel & spa in one of the world’s most spectacular regions.
- As a testament to the Schwarz brothers’ efforts, the Post Hotel was admitted to the prestigious Relais & Châteaux group in November 1990. Relais & Châteaux is an internationally renowned organization that is considered a quality guarantee. The brand represents small, independently owned hotels that excel in the areas of service, cuisine, comfort and special character.
- The lodge features an Alpine mountain architecture, with a blend of log, timber, stone, and pine. The hotel was constructed of logs brought from Revelstoke and from the headwaters of the Bow River. I would describe the interior design as rustic, homely, warm, and charming.
- The property includes 60 rooms, 29 suites, and 5 riverside cabins. During my visit, I stayed in a very spacious N suite which was decorated with solid pine furnishing and a wooden paneled and beamed ceiling. The suite’s lower level featured a kitchenette, a cozy sitting area (with wood-burning fireplace and outside balcony), a writing desk, and the master bedroom with king-sized bed and ensuite bathroom with whirlpool tub. On the upper level, there was a second bedroom with two single beds and a separate shower room.
- As a guest, you have acces to the hotel’s timber-framed library on the second level, where you can borrow a book from the well-stocked shelves or enjoy a board game near the spectacular, warm fireplace. A built-in bar is available for entertaining during special events.
- The hotel features one of the Rockies’ signature spas, designated the Temple Mountain Spa, which comes with eight treatment rooms. Services range from therapeutic to luxurious with a wide selection of massage therapies, body and facial therapies.
- Guests have access to the hotel’s Roman-inspired, indoor salt-water pool. You can also melt away any muscle tensions after a long day of hiking in the co-ed steam room and whirlpool.
- The Post Hotel & Spa’s fully appointed fitness center offers a selection of Life Fitness cardio machines and Kaiser strength training equipment.
- Since taking over in 1978, the Schwarz brothers have established the signature restaurant “The Dining Room” as the heart of the Post Hotel operation and guests travel many miles to enjoy the outstanding culinary fare. Indeed, the hotel’s restaurant – without any doubt the best restaurant in the Canadian Rocky Mountains- offers a fine dining experience while you can enjoy the warm glow of the grand fireplace. If you cannot book a room at the hotel, then make sure that you have at least dinner at the restaurant (I truly enjoyed my dinner and breakfast here). Advance dinner reservations are recommended with two seatings available: 6:30 pm (and earlier), or 8:30 pm (and later) and there is a dress code of casual elegance.
- The Post Hotel & Spa’s highly regarded wine cellar contains over 25,000 bottles with 2,200 labels and is recognized as one of the most impressive wine collections in Northern America. Every year since 2002, the Post Hotel & Spa has won the “Grand Award” from Wine Spectator Magazine, an honor held by fewer than 75 establishments worldwide. Each year the Post Hotel & Spa hosts the Wine Summit Lake Louise, a widely known wine and culinary event that gathers wine enthusiasts with some of the world’s most renowned winemakers, winery owners and their wines.
- Besides The Dining Room, The Post Hotel also has two other more casual, dining options: Fondue Stübli is a 24-seat stübli (translation: small, cozy room), specializing in traditional Swiss-style fondues, and the Outpost Pub is an English style pub setting that offers a pub-fare menu and sports events on TV.
- While I visited the hotel in summer, the Post Hotel is a year round mountain resort, offering a range of activities and Canadian Rockies vacation packages to satisfy any traveler. In winter, guests have access to the outdoor skating rink, which is located just outside of the front lobby, or can enjoy downhill skiing at one of Canada’s largest ski areas just a 5 minutes away (the hotel has a complimentary shuttle that will drop you right at the base of the lifts).
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
The Post Hotel & Spa is one of the Rockies most famous hotels, and it regularly features in glossy travel. I can confirm that it is indeed a very good and charming property, but you need to know the following drawbacks before making a booking here:
- Not all rooms at the hotel are equally excellent. The hotel’s preferred side is the one where the rooms are facing the east, overlooking trees, cabins and the hotel’s back lawns. However, rooms at the hotel west-facing side overlook the hotel’s guest parking, and – more problematic – these room suffer from occasional noise from the CPR rail line which runs right in front of the hotel and may wake you up at night (there are about 3 to 4 trains per night). To the hotel credit’s, this is clearly mentioned on the website and west-facing rooms enjoy steep discounts.
- The hotel lacks an outdoor lounge area. Behind The Post Hotel is an idyllic river with some Adirondack chairs on the river banks. However, as tempting as they look, the chairs are not for public use as they’re reserved for guests staying in one of the riverside cabins. Having said that, it’s not much of a problem as you should be out during the day enjoying the great outdoors (staying at the lodge during the day would be a big mistake with all those natural wonders and spectacular scenery on your doorstep).
- Although you can open all of the room’s windows and doors – which come with screens to keep the mosquitoes away – none of the accommodations features air-conditioning. This might not sound like a problem in the Rockies, but summers can get hot here and there are several reports on TripAdvisor complaining about rooms that are too hot in the midst of summer. So if you stay at the hotel in the middle of summer, you will need to open your window to cool down the room and be able to sleep (as long as you are not facing the train tracks).
- The hotel does not feature a contemporary decor, but rather wants to create an Alpine mountain lodge ambience with a back to nature feel. All in all though I feel that some parts of the hotel are in need of a refurbishment. The decor of the public areas (e.g. lobby, pool) and the rooms feels dated in certain areas (e.g. old carpets, worn furniture). It’s nothing too bad, but it could be better nonetheless.
- The hotel is located in Lake Louise Village, which itself is a 10-minute drive away from the famous lake. There is a shuttle to the lake, but the hotel charges $5 per person. If you want to stay on the lake shore itself, then you have only one option: the excessively expensive Fairmont Chateaux Lake Louise hotel.
- The hotel somewhat lacks the spectacular location to be found at other iconic Rocky hotels, such as Emerald Lake lodge, Lake Moraine and Fairmont chateaux Lake Louise. But its excellent facilities and superb restaurant make more than up for that.
- Location: 7/10
- Design: 7/10
- Pool (indoor): 7/10
- Resort grounds: 7/10
- Rooms: 8/10
- Food: 10/10
- Breakfast: 8/10
- Spa: 8/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 8/10
- Overall experience: good: 7,5/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like the Post Hotel & Spa (and/or receive many free perks).
- Definitely book a room on the river side if you don’t want to wake up because of a passing train.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
As far as hiking, scenery and warmer weather goes many, the best time to visit is from late June to mid-September. Respectively this time frame offers the best chance for good weather; however, it also has the largest crowds and highest accommodation prices. Consider a trip during a shoulder season such as June and mid-September to mid-October when there’s less crowds. The accommodation prices will be somewhat lower compared to the summer months, and your chances on spotting wildlife are much better.
Starting in early December and through March is the time for skiing, but don’t worry if you are not a skier, there’s plenty of winter activities for non-skiers like snowshoeing, ice skating and sleigh rides. Depending on the snow conditions and temperatures some of these activities continue into the month of April. Ski hills start to open some of their runs in mid-November and remain open until mid-May.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Post Hotel & Spa is located in Lake Louise Village, approximately 184 kms (115 miles) west of Calgary and 56 kms (36 miles) west of the town of Banff. Calgary International Airport is the most convenient airport to start your holiday in the Rockies. Check the Wikipedia page of Calgary International Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Calgary.