The Banff Springs Hotel is over 100 years old and is itself a museum with the architecture, artwork and views. The first two floors of the hotel are open for public viewing. There is a historical section of artifacts, documentation and photographs on the 2nd floor which was very informative and well set up.
There are valuable paintings and photographs throughout the hotel. One in particular is a landscape painted by Cornelius Van Horne whose vision got the hotel built in order to bring well-heeled tourists to see the "million dollar view". What is not well-known is that the original floor plan was read backwards so that the hotel was built with the front facing back and the back facing front. Van Horne was so angry, he signed his painting with his name written backwards, "Enroh Nav". It was eventually fixed so that it wasn't the kitchen facing the "million dollar view" and the staff, not the tourists, enjoying it.
The terraces and balconies on the 1st and 2nd floor are open for visitors to see the beautiful view of mountains and rivers.
What would have enhanced the experience is if the artwork were labelled. There were no signs or placards that state the title of the artwork or the artist. Even Van Horne's painting has no label or explanation. When asked, one of the hostesses of the hotel had to go ask other staff as to where the painting was. We found it tucked away in a hallway with no label. It was only due to a school project that our son had done that we knew about the painting. Trying to find it was a treasure hunt in itself.
It was a pleasant hike along the Bow River trail to get to the hotel. Getting up the hill by stairs (pointing to a restaurant, not to the hotel) from the Bow Falls was a feat only for those fit to do so. Walking Spray Avenue is a nice provided it is not too hot. There is very little shade.
Still, what attraction can you view for no charge at a tourist place like Banff? A must see for its historical value let alone it's architectual beauty.
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