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Tunnel Mountain Resort 3.0

Banff, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Spacious condo-style rooms, lofts, suites, and cabins with kitchenettes
  • Walking distance to trails, and a bus stop is out front
  • Most rooms have balconies, fireplaces, and contemporary flat-screen TVs
  • Some updated rooms have jetted tubs and steam showers
  • Indoor pool, large whirlpool, steam room, and sauna
  • Handful of barbecue areas with grills and vending machines
  • Free hot drinks each morning and self-serve slushies (fee) in the lobby
  • Free use of business computer and printer
  • Free ice pops in summer
  • Quiet time each night (between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. during our stay)
  • Free Wi-Fi and lot parking
  • Pet-friendly with pet amenities (nightly fee)

Cons

  • No AC
  • No restaurant or store on-site
  • Dated rooms and appliances
  • No underground heated parking

Bottom Line

Tunnel Mountain Resort is a three-pearl property popular with families who have kids. Most of the hotel's 96 rooms are visibly dated with a hodgepodge of furniture and appliances from different decades and designs, though some rooms appear more contemporary than others. Expect full kitchenettes with dishwashers and full-sized refrigerators, sofa beds, wood or gas fireplaces (with free firewood), dated bathrooms, and balconies in most rooms. On-site features include an indoor pool, steam room and sauna, and large hot tub. There are also tons of freebies, from bus passes and bear spray, to barbecue areas and ice pops. For even more kid-friendly features or for a few more conveniences like in-room AC, check out the Douglas Fir Resort & Chalets. 

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Scene

One of Banff's standard condo-style properties with a peaceful vibe that's popular with families

Tunnel Mountain Resort was built in the 1970s and taken over by the omni-present Banff Lodging Company, who own eight other properties in town. Like most of the properties in Banff, including most of those owned by the Banff Lodging Company, Tunnel Mountain Resort is dated and in need of an upgrade. Fortunately, there's a renovation scheduled for rooms in late 2017, plus upgrades like new walls and carpets to the Executive King Suites, which were built in the early 2000s. 

This is a peaceful spot with a more natural setting than the lodges and hotels down on Banff Avenue, but it's still well-connected thanks to the local bus right outside. Thanks to a decent amount of family-friendly features, this spot sees a lot of families with kids who want to cook meals themselves. Families with very young kids may prefer the nearby Douglas Fir Resort & Chalets, which is also dated but has the bonus features of a water park, convenience store, and play zone -- and rooms with AC. 

Location

On Tunnel Mountain, within walking distance to trails and a bus stop

Tunnel Mountain Resort is located above Banff Avenue, off Tunnel Mountain Road. It's less than 20 minutes down the hill to Banff Avenue by foot, or guests can catch the bus down from the stop out front. Several biking and hiking trails are behind the Buffalo Mountain Lodge located across the street, including the paved access point for the Tunnel Mountain Trail. There's also a great restaurant at the Buffalo Mountain Lodge across the street, or guests can walk one minute to the HI Banff Alpine Center for a cheap meal. 

  • 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 75-minute bus to Canmore
  • 43-minute drive to Lake Louise
  • 90-minute drive to Calgary Airport

Rooms

Big, albeit dated, rooms with kitchenettes and fireplaces, plus suites with jetted tubs

Tunnel Mountain Resort has 96 mostly dated rooms that are slated for an update in late 2017. During our visit in summer 2017, there were rooms with partially updated furniture and appliances, a few fully updated rooms, and still a lot that could use a full facelift. There was a full line of Rocky Mountain Soap toiletries, plus makeup remover wipes in the bathrooms, and fans (no AC) to help keep the rooms somewhat cool in the summer. Flat-screen LED TVs have DVD players and local cable, and most rooms have ski storage directly outside the room (locks available at the front desk). 

Studio Condos are ground-floor units that open directly into a queen bedroom and have older-looking TVs, scuffs on furniture and countertops, plaid comforters, motel-style bathrooms, dated stained furniture, and slatted blinds. In the kitchenettes, there are junior four-burner ranges with ovens, dishwashers, full-size refrigerators, and microwaves that hog about half of the available countertops. Bathroom have old countertops and deep shower/tub combos. These rooms also have sofa beds, wood-burning fireplaces (with free firewood), and patios with plastic furniture and ashtrays. 

King Lofts also enter through the bedroom area (which have queen beds) and then move into the kitchenettes with settings for up to six. Pullout couches, stone fireplaces, and balconies are around here, while lofted areas hold the king beds, half baths, and small balconies. 

One Bedroom Loft Chalets are housed in duplexes or quad-plexes, and feature lower-level bedrooms with queen beds and boxy TVs, living areas, kitchenettes set for up to four, and full baths with tiled floors. These units have a more updated look with contemporary fireplaces, large flat-screen TVs in the living rooms, and wooden balconies. The lofted areas have two double beds. Although these units can sleep up to eight, they only have one bathroom.

Mountain Cabins are stand-alone structures and are the most contemporary of the bunch, with hardwood laminate floors, contemporary sofa beds, slate stone fireplaces, and open-plan kitchenettes. Folks in these rooms will also snag bigger balconies, three-quarter walled lofts with two double beds, and wall-sized picture windows with road and back views. 

Executive Kings are the more hotel-style rooms, as they lack full kitchenettes. Instead, they come with microwaves and bar fridges built into double vanities. Though billed as suites, there’s no separation between the bedrooms and sitting areas, which have gas fireplaces, large flat-screen TVs, and IKEA-style leather couches. The significant perks of this room type are the steam showers and separate jetted tubs. 

Features

Expected amenities for a mid-range hotel, plus lots of freebies

Tunnel Mountain has all of the expected features for a mid-range condo-style property in Banff, including a warm indoor pool, large hot tub, and steam and sauna rooms. There’s also a small, windowless gym with a Hoist all-in-one machine, a few free weights, and a mirrored wall. For those that prefer to exercise in nature, guests can rent bikes on-site for a fee either by the hour or day. Hikers can grab free bear spray from the front desk, but there is a fee if it’s used. 

Like several family resorts in Banff, including the nearby Hidden Ridge Resort, Tunnel Mountain Resort has a quiet time (between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m during our stay). Other family-friendly features include a small wood and metal playground; free cribs, highchairs, and pack-n-plays on request; activity books; and seasonal treats like ice pops in the summer and hot chocolate in the winter. This is the only place we saw that provided kids’ floats in the pool. For kids of all ages, there’s self-serve slushies for sale in the lobby and both board games and DVDs available at the front desk. 

The lobby is also the place to grab free hot drinks in the morning, buy snacks and basic toiletries from the vending machine, and use the free business center computer and printer. Ice machines are located in the Studio and Executive buildings. Wi-Fi, local bus passes, B-Y-O-Lock bike racks, and limited, heated underground parking are all free. There are also a few barbecue areas with Broil King grills, including one poolside. 

Pets are welcome for a per-pet, per-day fee that includes a pet bed, feeding bowl, and poo bags. 

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Address

502 Tunnel Mountain Road, Corner of Tunnel Mountain Road and Drive, Banff, Canadian Rockies T1L 1H8, Canada

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