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“Exceptional potential couldn't save our experience” 2 of 5 stars
Review of The Fairmont Banff Springs

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The Fairmont Banff Springs
4.0 of 5 Resort   |   405 Spray Avenue | P.O. Box 960, Banff, Banff National Park, Alberta T1L 1J4, Canada   |  
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40% OFF SPRING BREAK
Ranked #1 of 31 Hotels in Banff
Certificate of Excellence 2014
GreenLeadersSilver level
Seattle, Washington
Top Contributor
81 reviews 81 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
“Exceptional potential couldn't save our experience”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2013

Crushing disappointment.

That was what we felt when we walked into our room at the Fairmont Banff Springs. A highlight of our vacation, and a hotel my wife had wanted to stay at for her entire life, and when we checked in on our first anniversary we were given a dark, dungeon-like room not even in the historic hotel itself, but in a 1980s-era annex off to the side. The only tiny window look directly out at a tree, meaning even in bright daylight, the room was completely dark. It was a nice enough room - a standard Fairmont room - but an utter disgrace given the >$500/night rate. In addition to the dungeon-like atmosphere, the bathroom door was chipped and cracked and the A/C didn't work.

It's almost criminal in my mind for the Fairmont to put guests in this wing while charging them full rate. And I'm certain we weren't an exception -- we weren't even on the bottom floor of this wing. There must have been dozens or more of other rooms equally as terrible.

The hotel did attempt to make amends, of sorts. For our second and final night, they moved us into a mountain view room on the third floor in the main building. That room was beautiful, and exactly what one would expect when shelling out so much money in a historic building -- light and airy, with decent mountain views, and even an old (walled up) fireplace in the corner.

The rest of the main hotel is quite nice. Once you dodge the throngs of tourists outside, valet service (another $35/day) is efficient, the interior is gorgeous, the internet (another $15/day) is functional, and the bars and restaurants all seem to be quite good. I especially appreciated their no-tipping policy; while I'm sure it's there to accommodate all of the international guests, it's great even for those of us from North America.

If we had been in this second room from the beginning, I'd be writing a 4- or 5-star review. As it is, all I can say is that this hotel is utterly a "buyer beware" sort of place, which is absolutely inexcusable given their brand, heritage, and price tag.

I would strongly, strongly caution any prospective customer to ask probing questions about the room you will be getting at time of reservation. And if you don't want to do that, I would suggest you avail yourself of any of Banff's many other, gorgeous places of lodging, and just drop by the Fairmont for a drink or some sightseeing. The cash you'll save will buy you a heck of a nice meal in town or at the hotel.

Room Tip: Avoid the annex -- the "stanley wing" -- at all costs. Ask detailed questions about what r...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fairmont_Banff_Mgmt, Manager at The Fairmont Banff Springs, responded to this review, September 4, 2013
We are so sorry to read your review and hear of your disappointment which of course we want to address! A Hotel representative has written to your private account to learn more.

The Fairmont Banff Springs
Proudly celebrating 125 years
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (889)
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English first
Yonkers, NY
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2013

There is a lot of history here and the hotel is fun to explore. However, the rooms need updating - we had old paint, carpet that had seen better days and peeling wallpaper. The spa is truly exceptional and worth spending a few hours enjoying the pools. We booked for skiing and were unsure whether to stay here or at Fairmont Lake Louise so split the week between to two; I was expecting the Banff to be nicer than Lake Louise, but it was the other way around, although Banff has better spa and ski storage. If booking, ask if any rooms have been recently redone. The included breakfast was phenomenal!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fairmont_Banff_Mgmt, Manager at The Fairmont Banff Springs, responded to this review, September 4, 2013
We appreciate the opportunity to hear from you and reach out. The Fairmont Banff Springs is renovating our guestrooms regularly. A hotel representative has emailed you privately to determine the room you were in so we can ensure it has been addressed. Thank you.

The Fairmont Banff Springs
Proudly celebrating 125 years
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2013

I arrived at the Fairmont this afternoon after a long morning full of walking and touring around. My room was not ready when I arrived however they were happy to hold my bags until it would be ready. I returned at 4 and my room still wasn't ready, however, Lia, the lovely gal at the President's Club desk was so sweet and friendly it made my wait very bearable. She provided me with 2 complimentary drink vouchers and gave me a map and bit of information re: touring the hotel. When I returned back to check in, Felix was just as welcoming and polite. I was fortunate to get a really neat room in the tower (secret floor - room 916! ;) ) there are about 4 rooms up here and one must go up a few floors in a private elevator that has an outside view. Really neat. It's a bit like being in a special attic - private and cozy. The client service and special touch makes this Fairmont experience a stand out.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled solo
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fairmont_Banff_Mgmt, Manager at The Fairmont Banff Springs, responded to this review, September 4, 2013
We are delighted that you experienced exceptional and engaging service from our team in the Front office and will be happy to tell them.

The Fairmont Banff Springs
Proudly celebrating 125 years
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Winnipeg, Canada
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 1, 2013

We spent 4 night at this hotel. It is truly a magnificent building, rich in history and architecture. While you can certainly find better value accommodations in Banff, none will leave you with a sense of awe and wonder as this hotel. It is a look into a bygone era when travelling was an event. Even if you don't stay, I would say it is worth the walk up to explore the lobby and grounds.
The staff was friendly, rooms and beds comfortable, and as you would expect, everything was pricey. We were in the Stanley Thompson wing, which included a lot of walking and stairs. I'm sure that there are more accessible rooms for people with accessibility issues, but make sure you mention it when you book, as there are a lot of stairs everywhere we went.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled on business
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Monte Sereno, California
Top Contributor
69 reviews 69 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 1, 2013

We stayed one night in the Fairmont Banff Springs while vacationing in the Rockies. The hotel and surroundings are absolutely beautiful and its the place to stay in Banff. Definitely recommend it. Our deluxe room and bathroom were a bit small, but very nice overall. Service was very good, but I continue to be frustrated with luxury hotels like this one that do not have your room ready when you arrive after check in. Complimentary drink tickets provided were nice, but having to wait until after 5pm to get our room is just not acceptable. Dinner at the Bow Valley Grill was very good and service was exceptional. Very friendly staff. Breakfast buffet was excellent, with a lot of great, fresh choices. Again, service was exceptional. Definitely worth a stay when you are in Banff.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fairmont_Banff_Mgmt, Manager at The Fairmont Banff Springs, responded to this review, September 4, 2013
Thank you for your compliments for our culinary and restaurant teams. They will certainly appreciate the kind feedback. we strive to prepare rooms in time for each arrival and always work to improve in this area. We do apologize for any delay you experienced.

The Fairmont Banff Springs
Proudly celebrating 125 years
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubbo, Australia
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 1, 2013

A lovely hotel in a beautiful town. The room was excellent and the hotel is all class. Minor blemishes were the difficulty in navigating around the wings of the place, the poor signage to the rooms and the need to go up and down stairs. That would not be at all pleasant for the elderly or handicapped.
$11 for a glass of average red wine is over the top in the restaurant. Not everyone is able to pay those prices without being made to feel second class.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fairmont_Banff_Mgmt, Manager at The Fairmont Banff Springs, responded to this review, September 4, 2013
We appreciate your visiting us from Australia and will ensure your feedback is appropriately shared. Thank you very much!

The Fairmont Banff Springs
Proudly celebrating 125 years
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Top Contributor
112 reviews 112 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
157 helpful votes 157 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 1, 2013

We returned to the Canadian Rockies for a five-night stay, retracing our steps from our honeymoon amid many happy memories – but on a much higher plane, as we were poor college students 48 years ago! We greatly enjoyed staying at the Banff Springs Hotel, with its rich history, expansive public spaces and spectacular views. Called “the castle in the mountains,” its guests have included Benny Goodman, Helen Keller, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.

Our stay got off to an unpleasant start, though. We arrived a half hour past the check-in time of 4 p.m. and our room was not ready -- and it was not ready for several more hours. A housekeeping problem, we were told. The lobby was jammed with unhappy people milling around, many dressed more appropriately for the beach in over-sized shorts, flip-flops, etc. than for an elegant resort.

After that unfortunate beginning, everything else was wonderful. The service is a nice mix of warm and professional. The Rundle Patio is a perfect place for lunch or afternoon drinks, with a remarkable panoramic view. The Bow Valley Grill is a great place for dinner and the Golf Club a fine place for lunch (see our separate reviews). The public spaces are historically significant and beautifully kept (although the lobby is often crowded). Be sure to take the hour-long tour -- free for guests -- which will give you the hotel's very interesting back story. James was our guide and he was excellent.

Be aware that the rooms, while very nicely appointed, are small and the bathrooms even smaller. The hotel was built 125 years ago in the days of railroad travel, and back then these rooms were considered top of the line. Size excepted, they remain so. And the old-fashioned thick walls ensure quiet.

The hotel is a good base for daily excursions. At Lake Louise we walked around the lake and had a delicious lunch at Chateau Lake Louise (sister hotel to the Banff Springs, both owned by Fairmont; see separate review). On a cruise on Banff's Lake Minnewonka we learned about the ecology and wildlife of the area. After riding up the mountain on the Banff Gondola, we walked up to a weather station on the peak and back down again, 374 steps each way. At the Athabaska Glacier, formed by snow that fell 400 years ago, we walked on a colossal ice field 1,180 feet deep whose runoff feeds three different oceans – truly a remarkable experience. Note that there are savings of $30 per person if you buy the three excursions -- cruise, gondola and glacier -- as a package.

Another delight: We loved visiting with so many people from around the world, including our wait staff and tour guides. All had their own interesting stories.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fairmont_Banff_Mgmt, Manager at The Fairmont Banff Springs, responded to this review, September 4, 2013
Congratulations on your second honeymoon and thank you for spending it with us!!
We do apologize for the wait on arrival, and are pleased that overall your stay was very memorable!

The Fairmont Banff Springs
Proudly celebrating 125 years
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Fairmont Banff Springs

Address: 405 Spray Avenue | P.O. Box 960, Banff, Banff National Park, Alberta T1L 1J4, Canada
Phone Number:
Location: Canada > Alberta > Canadian Rockies > Banff National Park > Banff
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Spa Hotel in Banff
#1 Green Hotel in Banff
#1 Romantic Hotel in Banff
#1 Family Hotel in Banff
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Banff
#2 Business Hotel in Banff
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — The Fairmont Banff Springs 4*
Number of rooms: 770
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in the heart of Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the world famous Fairmont Banff Springs resort stands as a landmark in the picturesque alpine town of Banff. This year round luxury resort is styled after a Scottish baronial castle and offers guests spectacular mountain and valley views, a championship golf course during the summer, unparalleled skiing in the winter, and an award-winning European-style spa, the Willow Steam Spa. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel Banff
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
The Fairmont Banff Springs Banff
Fairmont Banff Hotel
Fairmont Hotel Banff
Banff Fairmont

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