Banff Park Lodge – Banff, Alberta

We have stayed at this hotel twice in the last 2 years, once for a Christmas party (November 2015) and again in October, 2016 for a conference. The Banff Park Lodge is located on Lynx Street, making it one of the more centrally located hotels in Banff. You can walk down Caribou Street to get to Banff Avenue (main shopping area) in less than 5 minutes. 

THE GOOD

The Banff Park Lodge has underground parking for its registered guests, which is nice in the mountains as you don’t have to scrape snow off of your car if you are staying in the winter. You can take the elevator in the parkade straight up to the lobby level or up to your room if you are staying on one of the higher floors. 

The wheelchair accessible room we stayed in (room 102) was very average. It had a king-sized bed and a small pull-out sofa. The room was located on the main floor of the hotel, just off the elevator to the parkade. The patio doors opened up onto a nice little outdoor area that would be a good place to sit in the summertime (or convenient if you were travelling with a dog).

The bathroom was large and had a wheel-under sink, toilet with grab-bars and a wheel-in shower. The shower was upgraded to include several different controls and the heated towel bar was a nice touch. The hotel supplied a portable shower bench.

There were two eating establishments in the hotel, one lounge area on the main level and a restaurant on the second floor. We ate at the restaurant on the second floor twice and, although overpriced, the food was good. A much better option is the famous Melissa’s Missteak restaurant across the street, which serves the best breakfasts known to man (yes, I think this has been scientifically proven). See below for photographic evidence:

There were a few shops and a hair salon located on the main floor of the hotel. The gift shop offered quite a few things, so if you forgot something, you could probably just pick it up there. 

The main floor and lobby of this hotel was completely wheelchair friendly. The sidewalks outside of the Banff Park Lodge were easy to navigate, although immediately across the street, some of the sidewalks were missing curb-cuts. 

THE BAD

The pool area was quite pretty, complete with a swimming pool, hot tub and a cooler hot tub. They also had a steam room and a very small fitness room. Unfortunately, the accessibility for this area was extremely poor. There were three steps down into the pool area from the entrance door and there were no pool lifts. The fitness room (if you can even call it that) was accessible but there was no room to manoeuver in there and no accessible machines or equipment. 

The staff at this hotel wasn’t overly helpful. When I called the front desk to ask what time the pool opened they told me 7am but 9am for kids. So I entertained the kids for two hours until 9am only to go and see a sign on the door to the pool that said the pool was open to adults at 7am and everyone at 8am.

Another example of the below-average hospitality occurred at breakfast in the upstairs restaurant. They had a big buffet set out for the conference attendees and my husband grabbed a plate and came to sit with us in the restaurant. We ordered food from the restaurant menu for the kids and myself but the kids were picking some hashbrowns off of my husband’s plate. When we got the bill, we noticed that we were charged for the breakfasts we ordered and $10 extra for a “kids buffet.” I thought that was pretty bad. If we had intended to feed them from the buffet, we wouldn’t have ordered separate meals for them.

Lastly, because we were staying two nights, housekeeping came to clean our room after the first night. I’m not really picky about that kind of thing but the effort was noticeably lacking. The garbages were emptied and the main bed was hastily made but that was it. This was how they made up the sofa bed:

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Sofa Bed Untouched After Room Cleaned

THE UGLY

While the sprayers in the wheel-in shower were kind of cool (our kids called it the car wash shower), the shower itself could have used a really good cleaning and repair job. The caulking around the shower was in bad shape and looked like it could be harbouring all kinds of grime and mould. 

OVERALL

The Banff Park Lodge is a very average hotel in a great location. Its proximity to Banff Avenue and tons of eating establishments definitely puts it higher on my list than it would be otherwise.  If you are looking for a wheelchair-friendly hotel in Banff and proximity to shopping and food is your top priority, then this one is a good choice. 

Banff, Alberta – Banff Aspen Lodge

We stayed at this hotel in the summer of 2015 for one night. After researching a number of Banff hotels and asking questions about accessibility, this one seemed to be the most cost-effective option with the basic accessibility features that we needed for a one-night stay.

THE GOOD

The location of this hotel is excellent. It is right on Banff Avenue, which is the main street that most of the shops and restaurants are located on. It is about one block away from the beginning of the main shopping district. It is also one block away from a Safeway store, which is really convenient if you need to grab some food or, in our case, some children’s Tylenol.

Our room was located on the main floor, just off of the hot tub area.

Main Floor Wheelchair Accessible Room, Room 111

Main Floor Wheelchair Accessible Room, Room 111

Our room was simple but clean. One of the nice things about the room was that there were two queen beds on different sides of the room, with the bathroom in the middle. It made the room seem very large and almost created two separate bedrooms. On the side with the patio door to the outside, there was ample room for two pack-and-play-style cribs, which the hotel supplied. Without the cribs in the room, there would be lots of space on this side for a wheelchair to move around.

Queen-Sized Bed on One Half of Room, Ample Room for Two Cribs

Queen-Sized Bed on One Half of Room, Ample Room for Two Cribs

TV, Mini-Fridge, Dresser, Coffee Maker on One Half of Room

TV, Mini-Fridge, Dresser, Coffee Maker on One Half of Room

Queen Bed on Other Side of Room, Faces Another TV and Another Dresser

Queen Bed on Other Side of Room, Faces Another TV and Another Dresser

There was a grab bar by the toilet in the bathroom and the sink was wheel-under. Our room did not have a wheel-in shower. We were okay with the bathtub for the one night so I did not inquire as to whether they had a shower bench or whether other rooms had wheel-in showers.

Bathroom in Between Two Bedroom Areas

Bathroom in Between Two Bedroom Areas

Bathtub with Grab Bar

Bathtub with Grab Bar

Toilet With Grab Bar

Toilet With Grab Bar

Wheel-Under Sink Located Outside of the Bathroom, Mirror and Hair Dryer

Wheel-Under Sink Located Outside of the Bathroom, Mirror and Hair Dryer

The hotel did not have a pool but it did have two hot tubs, which were located in the central courtyard area of the hotel. The hot tub area was open to the sky, so there was quite a nice atmosphere in there. The hot tubs were very warm, but not so uncomfortable that the kids wouldn’t go in. One of the hot tubs faced a nice, outdoor fireplace. There was also a steam room and sauna located right beside the doors leading in to the hot tub area.

First Hot Tub Located in Outdoor Courtyard

First Hot Tub Located in Outdoor Courtyard

Second Hot Tub Facing Outdoor Fireplace

Second Hot Tub Facing Outdoor Fireplace

One of the big advantages of this hotel was that the room rate came with a free breakfast. It wasn’t just a continental breakfast either! They had eggs, toast, bacon, cereal, muffins, yogurt, home-made granola, etc. The breakfast was served downstairs but there was an elevator on the main floor for access to the breakfast room.

Hallway Facing Lobby, Elevator on the Right to Go Downstairs to the Breakfast Room

Hallway Facing Lobby, Elevator on the Right to Go Downstairs to the Breakfast Room

Parking was included with our room rate as well and there was a small underground parking area and ample parking in the back (covered). We had no trouble finding an accessible stall and we had a very short walk to get inside from the outdoor parking area.

This hotel is not at all the same calibre as the Banff Springs or the Rimrock, but it was also much cheaper than those alternatives. On the weekend we stayed, the Rimrock quoted us $358 a night (with AMA) plus $18 for parking and no free breakfast. The Banff Aspen Lodge cost us $269 a night with free parking and a free breakfast.

THE BAD

The bathroom in our room was a little bit small. My husband did okay transferring on and off the toilet but he could definitely have used more room. We didn’t need a shower for the one night but I am always surprised when an “accessible” room has no wheel-in shower.

The steam room and sauna would not be accessible by wheelchair as the doors to those rooms were too narrow.

Doors to Sauna and Steam Room are too Narrow for a Wheelchair

Doors to Sauna and Steam Room are too Narrow for a Wheelchair

The outdoor patio would not have been accessible by wheelchair as there was a large lip that a wheelchair would not have been able to manoeuver over.

The Patio Doors Open to the Street, There are Some Plants and Landscaping Separating the Patio Area and the Public Sidewalk

The Patio Doors Open to the Street, There are Some Plants and Landscaping Separating the Patio Area and the Public Sidewalk

The breakfast room downstairs was accessible by using the elevator but the food was located down a couple of stairs. They had four tables on the main level where someone in a wheelchair could sit to eat. We sat on this level but I had to run up and down the stairs to get food for our table.

By far the worst thing for us was that we stayed at this hotel during a heat wave (30 plus degrees outside) and upon entering our room, we came to realize that the hotel did not have air conditioning! We wanted to sleep with the patio door open so badly but because we were on the ground floor facing the street, we thought this might not be a great idea.

Extra Fans Were Provided in the Closet, Along with In-Room Safe, Iron, Ironing Board and Hangars

Extra Fans Were Provided in the Closet, Along with In-Room Safe, Iron, Ironing Board and Hangars

THE UGLY

The only ugly thing about this hotel experience was that our room was so unbelievably hot. They supplied us with three fans, 1 of which worked and 2 of which were broken. We went to the front desk to ask if they could find us something else and they did locate a big fan for us (although it was dirty and looked to be about 20 years old).

OVERALL

Overall we were happy with this choice. The location couldn’t be beat and with the free parking and free breakfast, we felt it provided a good bang for our buck. If I had known in advance about the lack of air-conditioning, I might have requested an upper-level room with a patio door that I could leave open all night.