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Buffalo Mountain Lodge 3.5

Banff, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Quiet Tunnel Mountain location with trails at the back
  • 20-minute walk to central Banff's restaurant, bars, and shops
  • Comfortably rustic rooms with wood-burning fireplaces and L'Occitane toiletries
  • Some rooms have kitchenettes, balconies, clawfoot tubs, and/or heated floors
  • Stunning mountain views from Premiere Rooms
  • Restaurant with award-winning exotic game dishes and superb wine list
  • Large outdoor hot tub and tiny indoor gym with a few machines
  • Free on-demand shuttle to anywhere in Banff
  • Free bike rentals and ski and bike storage
  • Free Wi-Fi and outdoor lot parking

Cons

  • No AC; rooms can get stuffy in summer
  • No free breakfast
  • Rooms with kitchenettes lack balconies
  • No bus passes (free hotel shuttle)
  • Only two bikes available to rent; often booked out

Bottom Line

The romantically rustic, upper-middle-range Buffalo Mountain Lodge is a popular pick with couples visiting Banff. The 108 rooms have comfy beds, feather pillows and duvets, flat-screen TVs, L' Occitane toiletries, and either kitchenettes or balconies. Upgraded bathrooms have clawfoot tubs, though the heated tile floors and lovely mountain views are only in Premiere Rooms. There's no AC here and rooms can get stuffy in the summer, while wood-burning stone fireplaces (with free firewood) help keep them warm in winter. The excellent restaurant, which invented Canadian Rockies cuisine, is known for its wine list and exotic game dishes -- even at breakfast. In addition to meeting rooms and an outdoor hot tub, there are several freebies, including Wi-Fi, an on-demand shuttle, and bike rental. For more kid-based amenities, check out the nearby condo-style Hidden Ridge Resort. 

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Scene

Romantic and rustic lodge that's popular with couples 

Buffalo Mountain Lodge is situated on the Tunnel Mountain slope and has a generally quiet atmosphere, save a few cars that drive by out front. Set among nine acres of forest and with beautiful mountain views, this is a favorite romantic pick for older couples between 30 and 60 years old and honeymooners. During our stay there was even a small wedding on the property. The lodge is split into two parts: lower and upper, with the lower part opening in 1988 and the upper in 1993. Thanks to its natural surroundings and building materials like naturally finished cherrywood, pine, and bent yellow wood; knotted logs; slate; and stone, this property feels like a mountain lodge through and through. This is particularly true in the lobby ,where a double-hearth fieldstone fireplace and large mounted bison head serve as a decorative centerpiece underneath tall vaulted ceilings. The only exception to the cozy lodge vibe is in the Buffalo Rooms, which have more contemporary decor and a hotel-like vibe (though you'll still get a lovely fireplace).  

Travelers looking for a more family-friendly spot or large, condo-style rooms with full kitchens might want to check rates at Hidden Ridge Resort, which has an even more secluded location, though it lacks the lodge-like vibe of Buffalo Mountain Lodge. 

Location

Quiet location on Tunnel Mountain with excellent views and access to trails

Buffalo Mountain Lodge is located above Banff Avenue, off Tunnel Mountain Road. It's less than 20 minutes on foot to Banff Avenue and its restaurants, bars, and shops, and there's a bus stop across the road. There are a few biking and hiking trails that start just behind the hotel (behind the Premiere Rooms), including the Tunnel Mountain trailhead. Next door at Douglas Fir Resort & Chalets, there are a liquor store, well-stocked convenience store, laundromat, and a small indoor water park. 

  • Eight-minute drive to the Banff Pedestrian Bridge
  • Nine-minute drive to the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
  • 10-minute drive to Cave and Basin
  • 12-minute drive to the Banff Upper Hot Springs
  • 13-minute drive to Lake Minnewanka 
  • 13-minute drive to the Banff Gondola
  • 27-minute drive or 71-minute bus to Canmore
  • 43-minute drive to Lake Louise
  • One-hour-and-26-minute drive to Calgary Airport

Rooms

Lodge-like rooms with fireplaces but no AC; some with either kitchenettes or balconies

Buffalo Mountain Lodge's 108 rooms are romantic and rustic with wood-burning fireplaces (with free firewood), big beds and feather pillows, and decor that stays within warm tones with light-yellow walls, lots of wood furniture, and soft, brown duvet covers. Rooms here get a combination of mountain and forest views with Mount Norquay and Cascade Mountain toward the front, and stunning, in-your-face views of Mount Rundle from the Premiere Rooms out back. There's no AC and even with fans the rooms can get stuffy in the summertime, though most have balconies or patios that help circulate fresh air. Ear plugs, flat-screen TVs, and top-notch L'Occitane toiletries, as well as Blu-Ray players, coffeemakers, and ironing facilities, come standard.

The Buffalo Rooms, meanwhile, have more contemporary-style furniture and green color schemes in the bedrooms (though they have a classic lodge look in the living rooms). These are suite-style rooms with separate bedrooms, slate-tile bathrooms, and small kitchenette corners with a two-burner hobs, mini-fridges, and microwaves. There are also pullout couches and dining areas, plus armchairs and footrests facing the fieldstone fireplaces. Although spacious and are the designated rooms for pets, these units lack outdoor space. For a balcony or patio, you'll have to go up or down a category. 

Lodge Rooms are typical hotel-style rooms, while Premiere Rooms have bathrooms with clawfoot tubs, heated tile floors, and stand-up showers with honeycomb tiling. Neither of these room types have kitchenettes. For those wanting an apartment-style unit, the Buffalo Open Studios have expanded, separate kitchenette areas with large countertops and dining tables. They also come with stand-alone clawfoot tubs and queen-sized Murphy beds as the only bed; they are often used for intimate meetings. 

Features

Excellent restaurant with exotic meats, outdoor hot tub, and lots of freebies

The chef behind Buffalo Mountain Lodge's Sleeping Buffalo Dining Room coined Canadian Rockies cuisine and the restaurant is known for having excellent exotic dishes. Whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the menu here focuses on seasonal ingredients and game meats from the owner's own ranch. During summertime, there's a breakfast buffet and all other times it's a la carte. This cool, casual, and contemporary spot is popular for locals and tourists (there was a long wait during our visit on a Tuesday night for those without reservations), so its best to book in advance. The adjacent bar, Sleeping Buffalo Lounge, is a good alternative for folks who don't want to wait. Along with the restaurant's award-winning wine list and strong cocktails, a variation of the main menu is served here on tiny tables or at the sofas in front of the large fireplace. 

To work off the rich dishes, the hotel has a small and dim 24-hour basement gym with only a few Precor machines and an all-in-one machine. There are also a larger-than-average sauna and changing rooms. Outside on a wooden deck, there's a nine-sided metal hot tub surrounded by a few loungers and chairs. This is the only outdoor public space, save the patio dining during summer. 

Business features include free Wi-Fi and free local calls, as well as four event rooms with audiovisual equipment that can host between 15 and 99 people. The largest room has high vaulted ceilings and its own kitchen, while the others can be catered from the restaurant. There's also a small business center room with a printer. Family-friendly features include free playpens, cribs, and folding beds on request, plus specific pet-friendly rooms. Pets are allowed with a per-night fee, though dog walkers and treats are free. Unlike most other hotels, animals can be left alone in the rooms here. 

Freebies include bike rentals (though there are only a couple of bikes available to rent and they're often booked), tea and coffee in the morning, a hotel shuttle to anywhere in town that leaves on demand every 15 minutes, and ski and bike storage (plus free locks) without overnight access. 

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Address

700 Tunnel Mountain Road, P.O. Box 1326 , Banff, Canadian Rockies T1L 1B3, Canada

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