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Deer Lodge 3.0

Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Historic property with unplugged vibe and comfortable common areas
  • Excellent location a short walk from Lake Louise and trails
  • Antiques and vintage decor throughout 
  • Contemporary-classic guest rooms, some with balconies
  • In-room desks with chairs and wardrobes 
  • Huge rooftop hot tub and large indoor dry sauna
  • Lounge with Fieldstone fireplace and game room
  • Lobby computer and printer and basement laundry room
  • Free on-site parking in an outdoor lot
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout

Cons

  • Rustic decor may not suit all tastes 
  • No TVs in guest rooms (pro for some)
  • No free breakfast
  • No pets allowed (pro for some)

Bottom Line

Deer Lodge is a 71-room historic property celebrated for its location within walking distance to Lake Louise. Originally built in 1939 and used as a teahouse for hikers, this mid-range spot hasn't had a proper revamp since the mid-80s. Several of the original elements of the house have been retained, leaving guests to either love the vintage vibe or feel disappointed in its datedness. Guest rooms are snug and they have contemporary-classic decor, including knotted wood desks and wardrobes, and some have balconies, but all lack TVs and AC. The casual Canadian Rockies cuisine, plentiful public spaces, rooftop hot tub, and massive dry sauna make it ideal for those looking to relax and unplug. The only other hotel with such a privileged location is the luxury Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, which has significantly higher rates and is better kept. 

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Scene

Historic property with rustic vibe and antique decor that's not fit for everyone

Deer Lodge started its life in the early 1900s as a teahouse for trail hikers and slowly morphed into a hotel as more guest rooms were added. The historic property is popular with tourists visiting Lake Louise, and the quiet location—plus the lack of TVs in the guest rooms—best suit those looking to unplug and unwind the old fashioned way: with a book by the fireplace. 

In 1981, the hotel was used as the setting for a B horror movie called The Ghost Keeper, which can be fun to hunt down for those interested in seeing the space before it was fully renovated in 1985. Still, much of the original early 20th-century hand-hewn log structure has remained in tact, translating to an undeniable rustic setting, particularly in the dim, creaky hallways and public spaces. The hotel even uses old metal keys for guest rooms. While some may find it a bit too dated, others embrace it as an antique treasure trove. Expect vintage decor stashed in almost every corner, including a huge steel safe, gold phone booth room, and a repurposed wooden case around a digital toiletry dispenser. 

Location

Choice location within walking distance from Lake Louise

Deer Lodge's location is one its shiniest gold stars, within a seven-minute walk to Lake Louise—meaning guests can beat the hoards of tourists heading there early in the day. Several trails varying between an hour to four hours in length start or are easily accessed from this entry point. There's also a free shuttle roughly every 15 minutes that departs and drops off over at the Fairmont Hotel, which is just a five-minute walk up the road, as is the Gondola and ski shuttles in season. Banff is a 45-minute drive southeast, and Calgary Airport is just under a two-and-a-half hour drive away.

Rooms

Contemporary classic-style rooms, some with charming details, but no AC or TVs

None of Deer Lodge's 71 guest rooms have TVs or AC, and decor skews more classic-contemporary than in common spaces. Expect well-maintained knotted wood furniture, classic lighting fixtures, and vintage black-and-white photographs. Some have a simple look, while others are more charming, with details like rustic side chairs and wood-paneled walls. The same holds true for bathrooms, ranging from basic and tidy with shower/tub combos to details such as pedestal sinks with separate hot and cold faucets. 

Lodge Rooms are carpeted and they have two-bed options between singles and doubles, while Lodge Family Rooms are corner units with double beds, single beds, and pullout sofas. The Tower Rooms are the oldest in the house but also the nicest. They feature hardwood floors, queen beds, coffeemakers with ceramic mugs, and antique-style armchairs, plus handsome wooden armoires and headboards with above-bed reading lights. Heritage Rooms are the newest and they have lighter carpeting, granite countertops, balconies or patios with stylish wicker furniture, and not-so-stylish contemporary armchairs. All units are stocked with bottle and wine openers, and bathrooms have pretty bottled toiletries and hairdryers. Views are of the beautiful surrounding landscape, and some overlook the mountains. 

Features

Attractive features including restaurants, roof deck, and old-fashioned entertainment

Deer Lodge has a ton of public space that translates to several different features hiding within the property's nooks. The Mount Fairview Dining Room occupies the old teahouse space, serving Canadian Rockies cuisine under vaulted ceilings and Art Deco light fixtures. The buffet breakfast is pricey, but good, and dinner is a la carte. The Caribou Lounge is an even more casual spot and is connected to the Mount Fairview. It serves an a la carte lunch menu and pub-style variations on the main dining room's dinner menu from the beautiful curved wooden bar and patio area facing the mountain. 

For relaxation, guests can venture up to wooden roof deck to soak in the 18-person metal hot tub that overlooks the surrounding mountains, forest, and bits of Victoria Glacier. There's also a huge, somewhat oddly placed dry sauna at the end of a hall off reception. 

Centrally located in the main building, the living room features parquet floors, vintage photos, tattered traditional rugs, and a Fieldstone fireplace topped with a Buffalo head. Guests tend to occupy the mismatched furniture, sitting around a huge tree stump-like wooden pillar shooting from the center of the room. Other popular spots to sit and read or play board games include the library nook, where there's a guest computer and a printer, and the Lady Agnes Room off the living room, which has free tea and coffee in the morning. 

Both the coin-operated laundry room and game room are in the basement. In the latter, there's a 46-inch TV with VHS player, table games, and darts. Freebies include outdoor parking—a steal for Lake Louise—playpens, and Wi-Fi throughout. A limited amount of highchairs and extra beds are available on request, and there is a strict no smoking and no pet policy. 

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Address

109 Lake Louise Drive, Lake Louise, Canadian Rockies T0L 1E0, Canada

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