Review: The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

I just finished up another stay at the Fairmont Lake Louise and I thought it was about time I write up a review of the property. Unfortunately, as of today it is no longer possible to apply for a Fairmont Credit Card by Chase and get two free nights as a sign on bonus. However, I do realize that some of my readers still have some leftover free nights and would love to hear about one of these iconic Fairmonts.

It’s no secret that the Fairmont Lake Louise is one of Canada’s Grand Railway Hotels and sits upon one Canada’s most beautiful turquoise colored lakes. In terms of location you would be hard pressed to find a better hotel right next to such a iconic landscape. The hotel sits at the foot of the trail circumventing the lake and views can be enjoyed from almost anywhere in the hotel.

 

Arrival and Check In

When driving up to the hotel you are asked at the gate whether you have a reservation and by the time you get to the valet, your room keys are ready (that’s assuming you arrive after 2pm). So you never really have any interaction with the front desk and head to straight to your room as soon as possible. Parking at the hotel costs 30 CAD per night and includes in and out privileges. Do note that you can also park in the public spaces if you arrive at the right time (it is packed in the summer) and walk over to the hotel.

Since we already had our keys we strolled through the foyer admiring the vintage finishes of the hotel. There are some interesting canvases of local landscapes all over this area.

Walking into the hotel you make a left turn toward the hotel restaurants and walk past the shops to the elevators. The elevators are actually just across from the doors leading out onto the terrace facing the lake itself.

Fairmont King Lake View Room

On my first visit to the property (last summer) I stayed in a Fairmont Lake View Room using one of my suite upgrades to get the room with a view as opposed the suite. The room is actually one of the smallest rooms I have seen in recent times. Both times I stayed in this room, the views were really good, but the bathroom and living space was super cramped even more so than some of the small hotel rooms I’ve stayed in Europe. The accommodations are decent enough, but I would never call this a luxurious space. For one thing cleanliness could use a lot of improvement especially in the restroom (they probably need to replace the toilets). You are pretty much paying for the location here and perhaps the premium for the view out the window, which is certainly spectacular.

Fairmont Jr Mountain View Suite

The Fairmont Jr Suite is not that different from the regular room at the hotel except that there is an attached living area to the tiny bedroom area. The living room was quite spacious given that it only has a couch and a red chair. I somehow managed to lose the images of the room from both the times I stayed here because of a corrupted SD card so apologies for that. According to the hotel site, there are some rooms with a more open floor plan and bathroom with both a shower and a tub, but we did not get one of those.

Walking around Lake Louise:

Something many people don’t know is that Lake Louise is frozen for almost 8 months out of the year. From late October to late-May, the lake is absolutely covered in snow. Most of the hiking trails from the area are actually closed until June and even the pathway around the lake is covered in snow for the greater part of the Spring. So if you are expecting a cerulean blue alpine lake I would recommend going between June and September when the glacier and the snow has melted.

The pathway or walk around the lake was open during both seasons, but it wasn’t exactly the most pleasant walk on my recent trip in April. For one my feet were going right through the snow and second there was dog feces everywhere along the trail. We personally abandoned the trail within minutes and headed off to the Icefields Parkway for our sunset photo shoot.

Here is the Lake during early June: 

Here is the Lake during mid-April:

As you can see here the lake is frozen and completely covered in snow. In the winter you can actually walk on the lake, but during Spring the ice is way too thin to walk in. And so the lake was completely closed for recreational activities during our stay.

Breakfast @ Poppy Brasserie 

There were two dining certificates worth $25 included with our Fairmont Credit Card signon bonus. This might not be entirely true all the time, but you can probably use the certificates in your account just by presenting your Fairmont number. Atleast in our case, even though we were staying in the hotel, the attendants never asked our room number and simply noted our Fairmont’s President’s Club Number. So if you do have left over certificates this might be a viable way to use them before they expire. Just so you know a full breakfast buffet costs 32 CAD + tax which comes out to around 26.50 USD per person.

Service at the restaurant is prompt and friendly and the buffet breakfast is quite extensive. The buffet includes almost all of the items found on the a la carte menu so there is no real reason to order off the menu. The highlight of the entire buffet had to be the Cinnamon Croissant French Toast, which was amazingly well done. In the summer, the hotel serves Indian breakfast items in the buffet as well. I tried them out, but found them to be about average in quality and just stuck to the Western breakfast options. 

Here’s a buffet of pictures for you to enjoy 🙂 

Check Out:

Check out at the hotel was an absolute breeze. I just said I was checking out and to have my car pulled around when I called the valet. By the time I got downstairs our car was ready and it turned out that there was no bill to pay since everything was taken care of. Certainly a nice thing to hear at the end of the stay.


Bottom Line:

Location is the name of the game and the Fairmont Lake Louise’s is unbeatable in terms of hotels in the Canadian Rockies. As a stand alone hotel, this is not where I would want to stay given the small rooms, cleanliness, and rather aging infrastructure. Service at this hotel however is absolutely fantastic all around. The check in process was by far the easiest I’ve seen at any property and is something many hotels can learn from. Food was kind of hit or miss depending on where you dine. The breakfast buffet is of pretty good quality, but the food at the “Lakeview Lounge” (the dining area with a view of Lake Louise through the windows) is nothing great. So to put it in a few words: stay for the views and service, but don’t expect anything more.