With beds for $100 less than anyplace else in the village, the 164-bed HI–Lake Louise Alpine Centre (Village Rd., 403/522-2200 or 866/762-4122, www.hihostels.ca) is understandably popular. Of log construction, with large windows and high vaulted ceilings, the lodge is home to a funky café, a library of mountain literature, wireless Internet, a laundry, and a game room. Members of Hostelling International pay $38 per person per night (nonmembers $42) for a dorm bed or $109 s or d ($119 for nonmembers) in a private room. The hostel is open year-round, with check-in after 3 p.m. In summer and on weekends during the winter season, advance bookings (up to six months) are essential.
Historic Deer Lodge (403/410-7417 or 800/661-1595, www.crmr.com, $175–275 s or d) began life in 1921 as a teahouse, with rooms added in 1925. Facilities include a rooftop hot tub with glacier views, game room, restaurant (breakfast and dinner), and bar. The least expensive rooms are small and don’t have phones. Rooms in the $200–250 range are considerably larger, or pay $275 for a heritage-themed Tower Room. Deer Lodge is along Lake Louise Drive, up the hill from the village, and just a five-minute walk from the lake itself.
An excellent option for families and those looking for old-fashioned mountain charm is Paradise Lodge and Bungalows (403/522-3595, www.paradiselodge.com, mid-May–early Oct., $215–345 s or d). This family-operated lodge provides excellent value in a wonderfully tranquil setting. Spread around well-manicured gardens are 21 attractive cabins in four configurations. Each has a rustic yet warm and inviting interior, with comfortable beds, a separate sitting area, and a recently renovated bathroom.
The smallest cabins have a small fridge, microwave, and coffeemaker, while the larger ones have full kitchens and separate bedrooms. Instead of television, children are kept happy with a playground that includes a sandbox and jungle gym. Twenty-four luxury suites, each with a fireplace, TV, one or two bedrooms, and fabulous mountain views, start at $290. To get there from the valley floor, follow Lake Louise Drive toward the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise for three kilometers (1.9 miles); the lake itself is just one kilometer (0.6 mile) farther up the hill.
Aside from the chateau, the Lake Louise Inn (210 Village Rd., 403/522-3791 or 800/661-9237, www.lakelouiseinn.com, from $220 s or d) is the village’s largest lodging, with more than 200 units spread throughout five buildings. Across from the lobby, in the main lodge, is a gift shop and an activities desk, and beyond that is a pizzeria, a restaurant, a bar, and a large indoor pool. Most rates booked online include breakfast.
The European-style Post Hotel (403/522-3989 or 800/661-1586, www.posthotel.com, $345–455 s or d) is one of only a handful of Canadian lodges that have been accepted into the prestigious Relaix & Châteaux organization. Bordered to the east and south by the Pipestone River, it is as elegant, in a modern, woodsy way, as any other mountain accommodation. Many rooms have whirlpools and fireplaces, while some have kitchens. Other facilities include the upscale Temple Mountain Spa, an indoor pool, a steam room, and a library. The hotel has 17 different room types, with 26 different rates depending on the view.
The famously fabulous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (403/522-3511 or 800/257-7544, www.fairmont.com, from $659 s or d), a historic 500-room hotel on the shore of Lake Louise, has views equal to any mountain resort in the world. But all this historic charm and mountain scenery comes at a price. During the summer season (late June–mid-Oct.), the rack rate for rooms without a lake view is $659 s or d, while those with a view are $829. Rooms on the Fairmont Gold Floor come with a private concierge and upgraded everything for a little over $1,000. As at the company’s sister property in Banff, most guests book a room as part of a package, either online at www.fairmont.com or through a travel agent, and end up paying closer to $400 for a room in peak summer season.
If you’re prepared to lace up your hiking boots for a true mountain experience, consider spending time at Skoki Lodge (403/256-8473 or 800/258-7669 www.skoki.com, mid-June–mid-Oct. and mid-Dec.–mid-Apr., from $194 pp), north of the Lake Louise ski resort and far from the nearest road. Getting there requires an 11-kilometer (6.8-mile) hike or ski, depending on the season. The lodge is an excellent base for exploring nearby valleys and mountains. It dates to 1931, when it operated as a lodge for local Banff skiers, and is now a National Historic Site.
Today it comprises a main lodge, sleeping cabins, and a wood-fired sauna. Accommodations are rustic—propane heat but no electricity—but comfortable, with mostly twin bedrooms in the main lodge and cabins that sleep up to five. Rates include three meals daily, including a picnic lunch that guests build from a buffet-style layout before heading out hiking or skiing.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition