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Irwin's Mountain Inn 2.5

Banff, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Great Banff Avenue location, walking distance to town and next to the bus
  • Clean, good-sized rooms with AC and mini-fridges; some with balconies
  • Family rooms and Junior Suites sleep up to six and have basic kitchenettes
  • Big indoor hot tub area with sauna and showers
  • Tasty restaurant with Latin-inspired food
  • Laundry facilities and workout room
  • Event room that can hold up to 70 
  • Free Wi-Fi and limited on-site parking

Cons

  • Breakfast not free
  • Room decor feels a little tired
  • Occasional street and hallway noise 

Bottom Line

Irwin's Mountain Inn is a good lower-middle-range option for anyone looking for something a bit better-equipped than a basic motel. Although some aspects are contemporary, there's still an undeniably dated vibe (common throughout Banff), particularly in the lobby, halls, and the 65 spotless rooms. Expect individual AC units, some noise, 37-inch flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, and Cuisinart coffeemakers with mugs in rooms. You won't get free breakfast here, but you can grab a bite at the attached Latin-inspired restaurant, soak in the seven-person hot tub (plus sauna), and workout while you do your laundry in the basement. While this is a much more convenient and contemporary spot than Inns of Banff, for something a notch higher, check out the Banff Ptarmigan Inn a few hotels closer to town. 

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Scene

Somewhat dated decor and slightly lower rates than comparable nearby hotels

Irwin's Mountain Inn began renting rooms back in 1967 under its original name Irwin's Motor Inn. Since then, this limited-service hotel has expanded, though it comes off a bit dated -- particularly in the hallways and atrium-style lobby, due to old-fashioned decor and furniture. This spot is more affordable than other comparable options in the immediate area, like the Banff Ptarmigan Inn and the Banff Aspen Lodge (both of which underwent stylish renovations in 2017), something easily attributed to the low number of features and dated decor.

This hotel is a good middle ground for folks who want a little more style and comfort than a value hotel, but don't feel the need to pay extra for features they might not use. Anyone interested in the history of the hotel can venture into the small lobby area off reception to take a peek at some historic photos and the story behind the property, both posted next to the gas fireplace. Beware, it's right next door to a party hostel, though quiet time is observed. 

Location

Great location off Banff Avenue, a seven-minute walk to downtown

Irwin's Mountain Inn is located just east of center on Banff Avenue, a two-and-a-half-block walk to the center of town. The hotel is between Red Carpet Inn and the party-friendly Samesun Banff hostel. The Route 1 bus picks up next door at the Red Carpet Inn and takes travelers all the way to Sulphur Mountain (or from across the street toward Tunnel Mountain), or guests can catch the free shuttle to the Banff Gondola and Upper Hot Springs outside the Elk + Avenue hotel, a five-minute walk toward town. Buses to Lake Minnewanka depart from the high school right across from Elk + Avenue. Most trailheads are within about a five-minute drive. 

  • Six-minute drive or 10-minute bus to the Banff Pedestrian Bridge
  • Seven-minute drive to the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
  • Eight-minute drive to Cave and Basin 
  • 10-minute drive or 15-minute bus to the Banff Upper Hot Springs
  • 14-minute drive or 37 minutes via public transportation to Lake Minnewanka 
  • 11-minute drive tor 18-minute bus o the Banff Gondola
  • 25-minute drive to Canmore
  • 43-minute drive to Lake Louise
  • One-hour-and-25-minute drive to Calgary Airport

Rooms

Comfortable rooms with individual AC units, dated decor and furniture, and single-pane windows

Irwin's Mountain Inn has 65 spotless and comfortable neutral-tone rooms that come standard with 37-inch flat-screen TVs with full cable (but no on-demand features), large mini-fridges, Cuisinart coffeemakers with mugs, and generic wall artwork. This is also one of the few hotels with individual AC units (plus heating) in every room, and some rooms have sliding doors or Juliette balconies for fresh air. Lighting in the rooms can be dim, but windows help bring in good natural light during the day. Expect hard carpet floors, comfy contemporary converter sofas, plastic shower/tub combos, and basic wood furniture with a few dings. Some updated rooms have bleached stone tile entryways and bathrooms, granite countertops, and modern shower/tub combos. 

Standard King Rooms give guests noticeably less space than a Standard Two Queen, while upgrades to Queen Suites have a bit more room, leather chairs, and microwaves in wet bar areas. Most of these rooms also have a large, awkwardly positioned breakfast bar and desk combination. Upgrades to Superior Mountain Views (updated in 2017) will add a small balcony and so-so views over the parking lot of Cascade Mountain, higher-floor position, and a jetted shower/tub combo. Family Suites sleep up to six people, snag top-floor views, have a queen bed at the entrance with a nearby sofa bed, plus a separated queen room with the room's only bathroom. Junior Family Rooms have the same features as the Family Suites but without the separation of the bedroom. 

Pets are allowed in some of the ground-floor rooms. Note that several guests have complained of street and hallway noise. 

Features

Few-frills, but basic wants and needs are met

One of the hotel's only frills is the lofted hot tub and sauna area located just above the lobby, behind a three-quarter wall of glass privacy blocks. Renovated in winter 2016, this bright and clean public space feels contemporary with slate tile and it's equipped with a seven-person hot tub, free towels, a small dry sauna, and shower area. There's also a separately owned restaurant off the lobby that serves up breakfast and dinner with a Latin flair. It's a casual upscale spot where the eggs Benedict and table-side Chateaubriand for Two are favorites. 

Basic needs like laundry, snacks, and exercise are taken care of at the basement level, where travelers will find three sets of coin-operated laundry machines, a spot to fold clothes, and an old-school vending machine in one room, and a decent-sized gym with rubber floors and a few machines, free weights, exercise mats, and old metal lockers in the other. 

Freebies include Wi-Fi, underground parking, ski lockers with locks, and local calls within the Bow Valley. You'll also get free playpens and extra beds for free. Pets are welcome for a nightly fee. 

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Address

429 Banff Avenue, Box 1198, Banff, Canadian Rockies T1L 1B2, Canada

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