If you'll be staying at the Sandman that's located downtown, that is an excellent location (but be careful you get the right one, because there is more than one Sandman in Calgary).
The Sandman is somewhat towards the west end of the downtown core, which is more of a strictly business district (albeit the number of restaurants in that area has grown in recent years). There is a higher concentration of restaurants and shops a few blocks east. It’s an easy walk of 3 – 5 blocks to get from the Sandman to more restaurants and shops. However, if you don’t feel like walking, remember that use of the C-Train is free in the downtown core (along 7th Avneue).
There are no B&Bs that I know of right in downtown Calgary.
There are some B&Bs a short distance to the south of downtown, close to 4th Street SW, near the Elbow River. They include Calgary Westways, Twin Gables and 18 Ave. Uptown Mount Royal B&B. If you were to stay at one of those B&Bs, you could do the approximately 15-block walk from that area to downtown, or you could catch the frequent #3 bus that travels along 4th Street SW to downtown. (Bus fare is C$2.25 per person in each direction.) The Fourth Street / Uptown 17th Avenue area has some nice shops and restaurants in its own right.
River Wynde B&B is located in the neighbourhood of Kensington. Technically the area is called Hillhurst, but everyone refers to it as Kensington, because a well known road called Kensington Road runs through it. The area is just across the Bow River from downtown, and within walking distance of downtown. If you don’t feel like walking, you can catch the C-Train from Sunnyside Station to downtown (but Sunnyside Station is outside of the free fare zone, so you would have to pay C$2.25 per person in each direction). Kensington is a nice neighbourhood with some funky shops and restaurants. A limitation of River Wynde B&B is that it has shared bathrooms (if that matters to you).
Still further north is Lions Park B&B. It’s on a leafy residential street, but within walking distance of North Hill Shopping Centre, Lions Park Station (from which you can access downtown on the C-Train), and within walking distance of the north end of Kensington, with its restaurants, etc.
But I think that when you check out the prices of Calgary’s B&Bs, you’ll find that they are no cheaper than the Sandman. I don’t know. I haven’t checked prices recently.
I guess it depends what kind of an experience you want. I believe most of these B&Bs include gourmet breakfasts in their rates. In addition to that, a B&B host usually is personable and offers advice on nearby restaurants and on what there is to see and do in the city. That is not to say that hotel staff won’t answer questions. But, because of the small number of rooms in a B&B, the experience is more one-on-one.
But, if you don’t want to spend time commuting to and from downtown, a downtown hotel would be more convenient. Also, if you are staying at a B&B and want to get back to it during afternoon rush hour, say between 4 pm and 6 pm, be warned that trains and buses leaving the downtown core are PACKED. Frankly, I would rather walk from downtown to the 4th Street SW area or to Kensington than catch a bus or train at that hour (and indeed I’ve done just that).
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