Nestled in the Canadian Rockies, the picturesque mountain town of Banff attracts visitors by the busload all year long. In the winter, travelers come for world-class skiing and snowboarding, and during the warmer months, they’re here to hike, bike, swim in glacial lakes, and look for wildlife. The resort town has no want of affordable mid-range hotels, but our investigators have pinpointed the best in terms of location, amenities, and freebies. Keeping in mind that many Banff properties are dated, take a look at our favorite value hotels in the area.
The Juniper Hotel's prime location, a five-minute drive from Banff's town center, provides uninterrupted panoramic views over the forest and out to the mountains. Like many Banff properties, Juniper was originally built in the 1950s, but a makeover in 2014 ushered in several up-to-date changes. Juniper has a stylish, contemporary-vintage look -- especially compared to the many dated hotels in Banff -- though chalets are a bit more rustic. The hotel's 52 rooms, suites, and chalets all come with free Wi-Fi, big flat-screen TVs with cable, and mini-fridges (chalets have full kitchens). There are also a couple of freebies adding to the property's value, including seasonal morning shuttles into town with late afternoon pickups, outdoor parking, and guest discounts at local vendors. The Juniper Bistro, and its stunning patio views, is a favorite with guests and locals alike, and it's common to spot wildlife around the property or on the nearby trail.
Thanks to full room renovations done in 2014, Banff Aspen Lodge has become a leader in town for contemporary mid-range properties -- even without AC. Rates start higher than Juniper Hotel's, but the ones here include a generous free breakfast with hot and cold fare, plus free heated underground parking and free Wi-Fi. Some travelers will also prefer this hotel's location, just two blocks from downtown Banff. Hotel amenities include interior-courtyard hot tubs, steam and sauna rooms, and a hip and popular cafe off the lobby. Free shuttles to the Banff Gondola and Upper Hot Springs can be picked up outside the Elk + Avenue hotel, a one-minute walk away. Free shuttles to Lake Minnewanka (across the street and down one block) and shuttles to the popular ski hills of Norquay, Sunshine, and Lake Louise are all within walking distance.
After 2016 renovations, Elk + Avenue Hotel emerged as a chic beacon in the largely dated pool of Banff hotels. Besides its refreshingly modern style, the hotel's edge-of-downtown location, free underground heated parking, and free ski storage are all huge advantages. There is no free breakfast (like at Banff Aspen Lodge), but the hotel does have a restaurant that serves big meals and a chic cocktail and sports lounge, as well as a hot tub and sauna. The 162 rooms are spacious and stylish, and come equipped with ceiling fans (no AC), mini-fridges, and Keurig machines with free coffee pods. The free shuttle to the Banff Gondola and Upper Hot Springs picks up right outside the hotel.
Rundlestone Lodge is a rustic lodge-style property, a 20-minute walk (or five-minute drive) from downtown. There are solid creature comforts to be found in the 98 rooms: 42-inch flat-screen TVs with cable, independently controlled AC and heat (a big plus), mini-fridges, coffeemakers, and electric kettles. Hotel features include an on-site steakhouse that serves a generous breakfast buffet for an extra charge, and an indoor lap pool and whirlpool in a light-filled space. Ample freebies include bikes and DVDs to borrow, heated underground parking with a ski waxing and locker area, and high-speed Wi-Fi throughout.
Fox Hotel & Suites is a welcoming 116-room property located within a 10-minute walk of downtown Banff. Guest rooms are spotless and contemporary with slate bathrooms and comfy beds, though suites are the only rooms with air-conditioning, and even then it's only in the living rooms. Guests tend to find the regular hotel rooms small (and a bit stuffy in summer without AC), while suites are spacious with kitchenettes, pullout sofas, and lofted configurations. The beautiful grotto-style hot pool is a favorite among the many new and returning guests, and the hotel's on-site Chili's Restaurant is almost always lively. Freebies here include breakfast, Wi-Fi, heated parking, and ski storage.
Right in the heart of downtown, Brewster's Mountain Lodge is one of the best all-around values in town for folks who prioritize location. The 77 rooms are simple and clean, with finished pine log furniture and patterned wool bedspreads that nod at the area’s First Nation history. All rooms come with coffeemakers, kettles, flat-screen TVs, and irons. Like several other properties in Banff, there are fans but no AC, so it can get hot in the warmer months. The hotel has a gym, a hot tub, and two bright and quiet lounge spaces. A free continental breakfast buffet is served in a large breakfast room featuring handmade pine tables and chairs. Expect items like cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, and oatmeal. Unlike several spots in town (such as Fox Hotel & Suites), there are fees for parking and local calls.
The 99-room Banff Inn is a mid-range hotel situated on the main road leading into Banff (guests can get to the center of town in 10 minutes on foot). Rooms are basic and homey, and come with flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, and coffeemakers. Some have beautiful views from tiny balconies. A free continental breakfast has a decent selection (bagels, cereal, fruit, toast, juices, coffee, and tea), and an on-site pizzeria serves food and drinks in the evening. The indoor hot tub, sauna, and steam room are pluses here, as are the free Wi-Fi, free covered parking, and the fact that children 12 and younger stay free.
Nestled into Tunnel Mountain, the mid-range Hidden Ridge Resort is a secluded condo-style property with excellent views. The 107 units come with full kitchens (oven/stoves, dishwashers, microwaves, coffeemaker, and refrigerators), dining tables, wood-burning fireplaces, and flat-screen TVs with DVD players. There’s no AC here, but tower fans do their best to keep spaces cool on hot days. The hotel's mountainside hot pools are a notable feature, and there are also barbecue areas with gas grills, a huge but rustic sauna, and a tiny climbing play area for kids. The 24-hour reception can arrange for tours and bike rentals, and is the place to go for trail maps, free tea and coffee, and DVD rentals. The hotel has free three-day bus passes for guests, plus free Wi-Fi, parking, and local calls. Other amenities include free firewood, bear spray (fee), and free playpens on request.
Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa is a quiet and comfortable hotel about a 15-minute walk to downtown. The 190 rooms lack AC, but all have fans, coffeemakers and kettles, big flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, and comfy Mountain Luxury beds. Dual-level suites have gas fireplaces, extra half-baths, and pullout sofas. Unusual for a mid-range property in Banff, Caribou features a spa, which in turn has a 26-person hot pool, a huge steam room, and a small gym. The popular on-site Keg Steakhouse and Bar offers a good breakfast buffet for a reasonable price, and also serves lunch and dinner. Freebies at the hotel include parking, Wi-Fi, ski storage, and free bus passes.
The 70-room High Country Inn is a top mid-range choice for travelers who want a cozy and clean spot with good on-site features, including an indoor pool and two hot tubs. Thanks to a 2016 renovation, rooms are up-to-date and have a fresh color palette, as well as 40-inch flat-screen TVs, individual AC units, and more diverse amenity kits than comparable properties. Guests receive a discount at the attached Swiss-Italian restaurant and at partner ski shops in town. Wi-Fi and first-come, first-serve parking are free. In all, this hotel is an unexpected bargain and often books up early.
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.