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Is a car needed in Lake Louise - staying at the Fairmont?

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Is a car needed in Lake Louise - staying at the Fairmont?

Hello,

My partner and I have booked a 12 night stay at the Fairmont in Lake Louise over Christmas. We are planning to ski most days and have not booked any meals at the hotel.

So we were planning to take the shuttle bus each day for skiing and perhaps head into town for dinner etc.

So I just wanted advice as to how easy it would be to have our holiday without a car....we have heard that the hotel is very expensive for eating etc. so to keep costs down we would probably head into the village.....can this be done and how easy is it to get around without a car?

I look forward to hearing from you,

CB

Calgary, Canada
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1. Re: Is a car needed in Lake Louise - staying at the Fairmont?

Not to dump a can of worms onto your plate of holiday spaghetti but I would go stir crazy stuck at the Chateau for 12 days. And yes, the food there is numbingly average and very, very expensive.

My suggestion would be to cut back the stay at Lake Louise to 4 - 5 days and arrange accommodation down in the village instead of up at the Chateau. Spend the remainder of the holiday in Banff, with maybe even a night or two in Canmore.

This would give you a PILE of alternative restaurant/pub/bar/nightclub options after a day on the slopes and be waaaay cheaper than the Chateau. I'm betting you'd save enough to pay for a rental car for entire time which in my opinion is a fabulous thing in the mountains in the winter. Depending on ski hill shuttles is a drag, a car gives you so much more flexibility. If you had a bad weather day or simply wanted a break from the slopes then a drive up the Icefields Parkway is spectacular.

Have fun no matter what you decide to do.

Cheers,

Terry

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Banff
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Calgary, Canada
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2. Re: Is a car needed in Lake Louise - staying at the Fairmont?

Just out of curiosity, what's a 12 night stay at the Chateau worth these days, including taxes and hotel surcharges?

Cheers,

Terry

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3. Re: Is a car needed in Lake Louise - staying at the Fairmont?

Hi Terry,

Thanks so much for the taking the time to reply....that option sounds great!! We have provisionally booked our trip so can make changes but I was having doubts having read some of the reviews about the expensive food!

Do you have any thoughts about the Fairmont at Banff....?

I will look into the car hire....probably wont hire one for the entire 12 days but it would be good to explore for a few days!!

CB

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Banff
Banff
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London
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4. Re: Is a car needed in Lake Louise - staying at the Fairmont?

We booked via Trailfinders - It is £3500 for 12 nights, flights and transfers from the UK but no food....which is an issue as with skiing on top the costs start to add up!

Calgary, Canada
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5. Re: Is a car needed in Lake Louise - staying at the Fairmont?

Too bad the hotel costs aren't broken out separately, I'd be interested to see what the Chateau is charging over the holiday season.

The Fairmont in Banff (it's called the Banff Springs Hotel) is lovely, definitely one of the best - and most expensive hotels - in the Rockies. If budget is an issue you can get perfectly acceptable accommodation for way less money in Banff.

Cheers,

Terry

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Banff
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Calgary, Canada
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6. Re: Is a car needed in Lake Louise - staying at the Fairmont?

I think Terry has hit the nail on the head here! It's far easier to dine on a budget in Banff or Canmore than it is in Lake Louise, and there is a lot more variety. Also, Banff has the ROAM bus service which may help you to get around a little more easily if you're not too confident with winter driving or the winter road conditions happen to be poor when you're here.

I've stayed at the Fairmont in Banff a few times - although not lately - so here are my thoughts. First, the rooms are quite variable; some are tiny, some are huge, some are in the original heritage building (coming up on 100 years and with smaller rooms and occasional heating issues), others are in newer wings. Like the Chateau Lake Louise, the hotel itself has a number of dining, shopping, and recreation options - spa, pool, bowling (yes, bowling), comfortable lounges to where you can sit and enjoy a book or the view of the mountains (and perhaps order an alcoholic drink or a hot snack, depending on the time and the lounge).

However, it's about 1km from the center of downtown Banff (if I recall correctly), and - like the Chateau Lake Louise - you will have to pay extra for parking; parking is somewhat limited. You're further from the less expensive restaurants, as well as other attractions such as museums, shops, ski rental, etc.

Here are a fewTripAdvisor Traveller Articles to give you more background:

Banff vs Canmore, Lake Louise, etc - tripadvisor.com/Travel-g154910-c14815/Banff-…

Banff Hotel Districts and Amenities - tripadvisor.com/Travel-g154911-c54863/Banff:…

Car-free in Banff - tripadvisor.com/Travel-g154911-c155456/Banff…

Traveller Articles are written by TA members like you and me in response to the most popular questions.

Edited: 5:42 pm, June 24, 2011
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Banff
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Canmore, Alberta
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7. Re: Is a car needed in Lake Louise - staying at the Fairmont?

I would also re-think having your entire stay in Lake Louise. I work at, but not directly for the Fairmont Chateau hotel. I am now living back in Lake Louise again. Honestly I would go crazy if I was here for 12 days without escaping to somewhere.

The costs are very high for food at the hotel, having breakfast alone for 12 days could break your wallet. There are not a huge amount of choices in the village. There are restaurants at the Post Hotel, Lake Louise Inn, the HI Hostel, the Mountain Restuarant, and in tiny Samson Mall there is the Trailhead Cafe, I believe they do breakfast and lunch. Laggans Bakery had sandwiches and soup and there is the Bar and Grill in the mall as well. Some of these places are not exactly cheap either. The ski hills has a place to eat too. Banff has many more options for food as someone has already stated.

As far as getting around without a car: you can take the shuttle from the Chateau to the ski hill. The only way to get back and forth from the Chateau to the village for food, etc. is taking the only taxi. Somehow they get away with charging per person and not per ride. It is $12 per person for a one way ride between the Lake and the village.

You could get from Banff to Lake Louise or vice versa on the Brewster Bus, http://www.brewster.ca/ I would not recommend taking the Greyhound. Once in Banff they have a public transportation system, the Roam Bus, banff.ca/locals-residents/…roam.htm

it can get you to a far amount of places. Otherwise there are taxis that are more reasonable and charge by the meter.

It is easier to get around with a car hire, but not everyone is experienced or comfortable with our winter driving conditions.

Cheers

Edited: 11:08 pm, June 24, 2011
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Lake Louise Inn
Lake Louise Inn
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Trailhead Cafe
Trailhead Cafe
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Banff
Banff
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seattle
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8. Re: Is a car needed in Lake Louise - staying at the Fairmont?

I stay in LL a few days each month where I don't have any meals included. Breakfast at LL will be at least $25., Lunch in the deli has sandwiches at $9 and thats about the cheapest. For Dinner the Glacier Saloon has some $17 burgers. In town things close up very early so you have to go early. The small restaraunt at the Esso has some $14 burgers but most entrees are about $17-24 so no great bargains. The hostel normally has specials in the $12 range but have never been there in winter. This time of yr they often sell out so you need to go around 6 pm. Agree with all above re: 12 days may be too long and if you do rent a car then you have to deal with the parking fees in addition to all the other charges.

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Glacier Saloon
Glacier Saloon
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Lake Louise, Canada
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9. Re: Is a car needed in Lake Louise - staying at the Fairmont?

Thank you all so much for you comments....these have relly helped as you cannot always get a direct answer from the internet or the travel advisors.

I am pretty much decided....the Fairmont for 12 days is not for us....we want nice accomondation but with the flexibility to make food ourselves or to be able to head to reasonably priced restaurants...with or without a car.

I am going to keep looking...if anyone has suggestions for reasonably priced (nice, cosy, clean) accomodation in town then let me know....or we would consider something further out (but cheaper) so that we could afford a car to travel into town.

Thanks again for all the comments so far.....so helpful..!!

CB

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10. Re: Is a car needed in Lake Louise - staying at the Fairmont?

You can phone the Lk Louise Inn as they have some loft type chalets with Kitchens. The food is LL at the grocery would be a lot however if you could stop in Calgary or Banff on the way in that may be an option. Otherwise staying in Banff would be the next best choice.

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Banff
Banff
Banff National Park, Canada