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Banff Aspen Lodge 3.0

Banff, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Excellent location two blocks from downtown and close to public transit
  • Spacious, up-to-date rooms with natural light, balconies, and big beds
  • In-room Keurig machines, kettles, irons, mini-fridges, and safes
  • Chic interior courtyard with two hot tubs and a gas fireplace
  • Free hot and cold continental breakfast
  • Cool coffee shop off the lobby
  • Spotless steam room and sauna
  • Tunnel Mountain views across Banff Avenue
  • Free heated underground parking
  • Free Wi-Fi

Cons

  • No air-conditioning in rooms
  • Noise from trains (typical of the area)
  • Usually has much higher rates compared to its competition

Bottom Line

This mid-range hotel has become a popular choice for leisure travelers since its 2014 renovations, though its higher rates than comparable properties are a downside. The 89 rooms here are filled with natural light and contemporary, albeit generic, style, but they lack air-conditioning (which has been an issue for some in hot months). The generous free breakfast with hot and cold fare and the interior-courtyard hot tubs are favorites among guests, as is the hotel's excellent location just two blocks from downtown Banff. Other amenities include a hip and popular cafe off the lobby, steam and sauna rooms, and a small conference room. For roughly the same rates, it's worth comparing rooms and features at the upscale Moose Hotel & Suites, which has in-room AC. 

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Scene

Contemporary spot with and a relaxing vibe

After its 2014 renovations, Banff Aspen Lodge became a major contender within Banff's mid-range properties, particularly competing against the Elk + Avenue, Fox Inn and Suites, and the Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa. However, rates here are noticeably higher than other comparable properties. Overall, this is a contemporary and sometimes stylish property with a quiet atmosphere and decor that feels like a slight step up from the average chain hotel -- though pleather couches in the lobby and generic decor in rooms is decidedly generic. A subtle lodge-like vibe is displayed through several wooden elements, like the polished tree stump coffee tables and large wooden check-in desk in the lobby, and nature pictures. There's also a hip cafe off the lobby that's always buzzing with folks grabbing drinks or snacks. This is a nice respite from the well-worn mid-range properties littered around Banff, though it does lose a bit of value due to the higher rates. 

Location

Excellent setting on the edge of downtown, clot to public bus and shuttle stops

Banff Aspen Lodge has a nearly center location on Banff Avenue, two blocks from downtown. The public bus toward Sulphur Mountain departs less than a minute's walk down the street in front of the Banff Ptarmigan Inn (same-route buses heading toward Tunnel Mountain are across the street). You can also hop on the free shuttle to the Banff Gondola and Upper Hot Springs right 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. Most trailheads are within about a five-minute drive. 

  • Five-minute drive, nine-minute bus, or 14-minute walk to the Banff Pedestrian Bridge
  • Six-minute drive to the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
  • Seven-minute drive to Cave and Basin 
  • Nine-minute drive or 14-minute bus to the Banff Upper Hot Springs
  • 13-minute drive or 39 minutes via public transportation to Lake Minnewanka 
  • 10-minute drive or 20-minute bus o the Banff Gondola
  • 25-minute drive to Canmore
  • 43-minute drive to Lake Louise
  • 90-minute drive to Calgary Airport

Rooms

Contemporary, albeit generic, rooms with lots of space, but no AC

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. The dark-brown carpets and tiled entryways, off-white walls, modern lighting, and simple wood furniture, create an up-to-date, though generic, look. Small touches, like metal vanities, over-toilet caddies, and canvas artwork on the walls knock these rooms up a notch. There's also an environmental initiative (plus a basic sampling of eco-friendly toiletries) that gives guests a free coffee at the attached cafe or the option to donate a set amount of money to charity for each day they skip a housekeeping service. 

All 89 rooms come with typical amenities such as kettles, Keurig coffeemakers, flat-screen TVs, and mini-fridges, plus extras like terrycloth robes, welcome mats, and big, comfy beds. Bathrooms have shower/tub combos and vanities in the entryways. All but the Economy Rooms have personal patios or balconies (with large sliding glass doors that bring in lots of natural light) and are surprisingly spacious. Balconies and patios have metal chairs, though due to the thick railings on balconies, views are obstructed when you sit. The smaller Economy Rooms are on the ground floor and have queen beds for two guests. Superior Rooms also sleep two, but they have more space and an outdoor area, while Premium Rooms are much larger and sleep up to four. The layouts for these room vary greatly: they feel biggest with one king or queen and a sitting area with pullout couch, and smallest as a Premium Two Queen, when the beds are divided by the bathroom and two separate vanity areas. 

Features

Outdoor hot tubs, cafe with patio, and conference room

It's not uncommon for mid-range hotels (or even value properties) in Banff to have a good selection of on-site features, though their quality and condition can be a gamble. Banff Aspen Lodge excels in both their quality and variety of features. A few standouts here include the outdoor hot tubs, connected Whitebark coffee cafe, and the breakfast room. The two hot tubs are both located in the snazzy interior courtyard, which is outfitted with sleek wood-slatted and slate-stone seating, textured glass, and a large, contemporary gas fireplace. There are also a spotless, modern steam room and dry sauna in the exterior hallway by the tubs. 

The hip Whitebark Cafe is a town favorite, where guests, tourists, and locals alike can grab sandwiches, soup, and espresso drinks; during summer, the patio is a popular spot. Breakfast is free, served daily down in the stylish (and large) basement breakfast room, and it features a good hot and cold continental selection of slice meats, sausages, fruit, and pastries. 

In addition to the continental breakfast spread, guests also get high-speed Wi-Fi, to-go breakfast packs, ski and bike lockup with free locks (secured with key card entry and chains), heated underground parking, and luggage storage for free. Extras that cost guests include a Sally Borden Banff Gym day pass, rollaway beds, and detergent for the coin-operated laundry machines. Playpens are available on request and games can be rented for free from the front desk. No pets are allowed. The conference room is small, but flooded with natural light.

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Address

401 Banff Avenue, Banff, Canadian Rockies T1L 1A9, Canada

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