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Bow View Lodge 2.0

Banff, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • One of Banff's most affordable hotels
  • Located in downtown Banff across from Bow River
  • Clean and simple rooms with blackout curtains, views, and comfy beds
  • Huge and contemporary River Suite with kitchenette and corner views
  • Coffeemakers and cable TV in rooms; irons on request
  • Free access to features at three-pearl sister property next door
  • Vending machines and elevator
  • Free newspapers and umbrella rental from the front desk
  • Free parking

Cons

  • Daily fee for Wi-Fi (unusual for Banff)
  • Dated rooms (usual for a value property)
  • Guests have reported spotty elevator service and Wi-Fi

Bottom Line

Bow View Lodge is one of the most affordable hotels in town. This 58-room value spot is a dated but clean option for anyone not fussed with the minimal on-site features and no-frills rooms. Rooms have basics covered, like boxy TVs with cable, comfy beds, and coffeemakers, and most have outdoor space (sometimes semi-shared) and pleasant views. Features like the buffet breakfast, pool, and fitness room listed on the hotel's website are actually located (as with a ton of other accessible features) next door at the hotel's sister property, the Banff Park Lodge and Conference Centre. The hotel itself only has Wi-Fi (fee), free lot parking, and free newspapers. Downtown Banff's only other value property is the Homestead Inn, which has similar decor and rates. 

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Scene

A clean but dated no-frills property that's one of Banff's best values

Bow View Lodge is visibly dated from the outside, thanks to rows of white-metal balconies and large windows and a classic '70s L-shaped motel design. Though its skeleton is definitely dated, weak contemporary and old-school decor are often juxtaposed inside. For example, textured gray wallpaper and dated motel carpeting line the hallways, and a bright-orange contemporary couch sits on top of '80s patterned carpet and next to an electric fireplace in the lobby. Visitors will also find some hallways painted white with wood paneling and a manufactured totem pole that stands guard on the front lawn. There's no AC here and it can get stuffy inside, and there aren't any public spaces for folks to linger. 

Bow View Lodge is a typical value spot, and it stays popular thanks to affordable rates, its convenient location, and overall cleanliness. The Homestead Inn, located a block over on the other side of the Banff Park Lodge and Conference Centre, is Bow View's two-pearl sister property and has the same dated rooms and limited on-site features. It's the only other value property in downtown Banff, and is worth checking availability if this hotel is booked. 

Location

Quiet riverside location in downtown Banff, within walking distance to all the action

Bow View Lodge has a downtown location right across from the Bow River. It's located on the outer edge of central Banff, just a six-minute walk to the hubbub of downtown central. Bus stops and shuttles leave and return three blocks away on Banff Avenue, and the Banff train station is a six-minute walk north. This is a quiet location with great access to all of downtown Banff, the walking trail along Bow River, and the freeway onramps to Lake Louise and Canmore. 

  • Six-minute drive to Cave and Basin
  • Seven-minute drive to the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
  • Nine-minute drive or 15-minute bus to the Banff Gondola
  • 11-minute walk to the Banff Pedestrian Bridge
  • 15-minute bus to the Banff Upper Hot Springs
  • 14-minute drive or 55 minutes via public transportation to Lake Minnewanka 
  • 26-minute drive to Canmore
  • 37-minute drive to Lake Louise
  • 90-minute drive to Calgary Airport

Rooms

Clean, albeit dated, rooms with coffeemakers

With the exception of the contemporary and stylish River Suite, rooms at Bow View Lodge are typical of what you'd expect of a two-pearl property (though not all value properties can claim to be as clean). All rooms have soft, motel-style maroon carpeting and generic, dated wood-finished furniture, including table and chairs sets. Fortunately, bedding is contemporary and comfortable, and the large windows have blackout curtains. On the downside, there's no AC, and during spring and summer, the small desk fans don't always keep rooms cool. Coffeemakers with free tea and coffee, boxy TVs outfitted with cable, and the bare minimum of toiletries come standard in all rooms. Kettles and irons are available on request. 

Standard Two Doubles and Kings have vanities outside the bathrooms, shower/tub combos, and scratchy towels. The View Two Double Rooms have semi-shared patios divided by bars and furnished with plastic lawn chairs, while the View King Rooms have small balconies with views across the lawn to the river. Ground-floor View Queen rooms don't have outdoor space, though the ones on upper floors share balconies furnished with small cushioned bucket seats. 

Premium View Kings upgrade to personal patios with metal furniture, a location slightly closer to the river, and in-room sofa beds. Family Rooms sleep up to six and are the only rooms without views, though they do have conveniences like microwaves and mini-fridge, as well as separate bedrooms and living rooms with two double beds. The top of the lot, the River Suite, is a large corner unit with a small kitchenette, microwave, and mini-fridge; it's about three times as big as a standard room and has two queen beds. 

Features

Almost nonexistent amenities, but access to those at sister property next door

On-site features here pretty much tap out after Wi-Fi (which requires a daily fee and is spotty) and free parking in the hotel's lot. There's no communal space outside of the small siting area in the lobby, and there are lonely vending and ice machines on the second floor. Free local newspapers and umbrellas are available at the front desk. However, all is not lost, as Bow View Lodge guests have free access to the plethora of feature at the three-pearl Banff Park Lodge sister property next door. This includes two restaurants (one with an outstanding Sunday brunch buffet), laundry, currency exchange, ATM, business center, and conference rooms. There's also an indoor pool area with a hot plunge pool, hot tub, and heated pool; a small gym; and aromatherapy steam room. Entrance to the pool area is free, but all other shared features cost extra. 

This is a non-smoking hotel with a no-pet policy. 

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Address

228 Bow Avenue, Box 339, Banff, Canadian Rockies T1L 1A5, Canada

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