2016 was a quite a year.  Not only did we explore new destinations but we also returned to old favourites. One favourite in particular we saved to cap off the year.  On Christmas Eve we checked in to the Rimrock Resort hotel in Banff for our final 2016 travel excursion.

The Rimrock, for us, is more then just a hotel.  For over a decade this was my father’s place of work and my family’s second home.  It’s where my brother and I grew up and is the keeper of many family memories.  When Kevin and I first met it was easily the place I was most excited to share with him.  And so, overs the year we continue to create new memories at this breathtaking home in the mountains.

While Banff most often evokes images of the famous Fairmont Hotel, we encourage you to look beyond the castle.  A stay at the Rimrock resort is a true Canadian experience.  Built into the side of the mountain the setting is like no other.  Panoramic mountain views cover every window pane and the lobby exudes grandiose glamour.   Western Canada’s only four diamond restaurant resides here and when in need of a cocktail, Divas lounge is only a few steps away.  Need I say more?  If so, take it from some experts, here is the perfect itinerary for a magical Rimrock stay.

Checking in

The hotel is on Sulphur Mountain approximately five minutes from downtown Banff.  To reach it, follow Banff Avenue until you reach the bridge that crosses the Bow River.  From here, turn left onto Spray Avenue, and then keep to the right.  The road will wind you up the mountain side.  As you approach the top the hotel is on your left.  For those who prefer valet parking, pull into the front and staff will assist you.  For those comfortable with self parking, continue past the main entrance and then turn left where you see a small kiosk.  The gates are always open so proceed in and then drive down to the lower level. Here you will find the parking garage.  Hint: park on level seven, this is the lobby.

At this point we usually leave our bags in the car until we check in and confirm which side of the building our room is on. Another tip: ask for a room on the south side facing the court yard. When you enter the building stay to the left and follow the corridor until you reach the lobby.  The check in counter is easily visible near the front door.  If its your first time let the front desk know and they will happily provide an overview of the building (it’s quite big and there are two sides).

Rooms

We’ve stayed in a lot of rooms over the years but the south side is our favourite.  The views overlooking Mount Rundle are stunning.  In the winter you can watch ice skaters in the courtyard below and in the summer wildlife will often cross the grounds.  The south elevators are also closer to the parking garage which makes loading and unloading luggage much more efficient.  And the health club (spa, pool and gym) is only accessible from this side.   I must admit, I prefer to sneak down in a robe and flip flops without having to cross the lobby.

All of the room categories offer comfortable, luxurious accommodations.  High end linens drape either a king or two queens and each room has it’s own seating area.  While the Infinity Suite and Signature Grand View rooms offer the ultimate experience for those unable to stretch their budget quite so far the premium guest rooms located on level four have excellent balconies.  I’m also partial to room 525 if you are travelling with family and in need a bit more space.

banff at christmas

banff at christmas

Health Club

Our first stop after checking in was the health club.  Located on the ground level, the facilities include a spa, gym (if you are feeling inclined while on vaca), indoor pool, whirpool, saunas, steam rooms, squash courts and changing facilities.  In the summer, guests can indulge in patio pedis or relax outdoors while taking a swim break.  We like to sneak down before the evening rush and enjoy the hot tub.

Divas Lounge

Divas is an absolute must for pre-dinner cocktails.  Nestled on the south side, this jazz themed lounge specializes in classy cocktails.  Guests can choose from a variety of martinis or bartenders are happy to concoct something new.  Decorated in rich woods, Tiffany influenced lighting and oversized seating it’s difficult not to linger.  Most noticeable is the collection of glamorous celebrities adorning the walls. Grab a spot near the fireplace and make sure to check out the bathroom decor (I know that sounds odd but trust me, it’s fun)!

Primrose Dining

After cocktails, it’s time for dinner.  While we’ve enjoyed amazing meals at all of the venues there are five options for guests to choose from:

  • Divas (why bother leaving) – they offer a full menu
  • The Larkspur lounge – a casual option located in the lobby
  • The Primrose – a traditional evening menu (ask about the pasta buffet on certain evenings)
  • Eden – a chef’s menu at the only four diamond restaurant in Western Canada
  • Room service – why go out when the food is just as good in

This time around we opted for a quiet dinner at the Primrose however I highly recommend Eden if you are looking for something truly special.  From the servers to the sommeliers the experience is indescribable.  Both restaurants require a reservation so book early and if possible see if you can get a spot close to the window.  Just when you think the mountains can’t be anymore beautiful they light up with the setting sun.

The Larkspur

As you stumble full bellied from the restaurant it’s almost impossible to avoid the pull of the Larkspur lounge, especially at Christmas time.  Decorated with 9 foot tall trees, golden bulbs, garland and twinkling lights, the atmosphere is mesmerizing.  Tunes from a live pianist echo across the room as families cozy up by the oversized fireplace.  This is my favourite place in the evening.  It’s a spot that brings back a lot of wonderful memories and is always where new ones are created.  This year we snuggled by the window sipping on baileys and hot chocolate.  If you make time for one thing while you are here, make it an evening at the Larkspur.

Every trip we seem to find something new to do and while we don’t always have time for everything, if you do here is what else you need to check out:

Skating – enjoy ice skating in the courtyard.  Skates can be rented at the health club on the third level. Picture a romantic evening skating by a camp fire with your loved one.

Banff Hot Springs – located a quick walk up the hill from the hotel, relax in outdoor thermal pools.  This is ideal summer or winter.

Banff Gondola – also located just up the hill from the hotel, take a ride on the gondola to the summit of Sulphur mountain for breathtaking view.  There is also a recently renovated restaurant which is garnering great review.

Do you have a favourite Banff activity?  Or have you stayed at the Rimrock before?  Tell us your story!