Do you want to take a dream trip to Banff in the Canadian Rockies this winter? Are you put off by the high cost of accommodation? We hear you. Prices keep rising and affording a trip like this seems to get more and more difficult. Does this mean giving up on a spectacular winter getaway in the Canadian Rockies?
Maybe not, because we can help! We want to share our Insider Tips on the best deals in Banff. We’ve spent more than 10 years learning how to save money on trips to the Canadian Rockies, and we’ve curated this list to reflect all the best deals we can find.
Find out the best ways to save money for the 2019 / 2020 winter season. Don’t forget to read the important details on these programs at the end of this document.
Why go to Banff in winter?
We love Banff! It’s a fun town in a beautiful location. Because there is so much to do here, it is a great holiday for anyone, including families. Winter fills Banff with stunning beauty, but gets rid of the crowds. We actually prefer winter in the Rockies. With nearly deserted ski hills (especially mid-week) and other incredible activities like winter hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and dog-sledding, this can be the winter trip of a lifetime!
While there are some great hotels in Banff, too many travellers ignore the town of Canmore, 15 minutes to the east. Canmore is a great, “locals’ town”. It is great for families or groups because of its great selection of condos and suites that work well for more people.
Save Money in Banff
Going to Banff doesn’t have to be expensive. Below we share some of our favourite ways to get a great deal on our holidays in Banff. Whether it is finding discounted activities, hotels or restaurants, keep reading to find out more.
Banff Springs Alberta Resident Rate
You can save up to 30% off accommodation with the special Alberta Residents Rate in the luxurious Banff Springs Hotel.
Banff Springs Hotel
We have taken trips to the Banff Springs Hotel where didn’t leave the grounds. There is so much to do at the hotel: skating, tobogganing, movies, bowling, a great spa, great restaurants, wonderful walks, wildlife all around. If you can stretch your budget, it’s worth treating yourself once to a stay. Regular rates are up to $500 a night in summer. In winter we routinely pay half that through our tips below.
If you’re an Alberta resident you can get 30% off accommodations at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel with their Alberta Resident Rate (promotion code PABP). This saves you 30% off regular rates! For a legendary hotel like this, a trip now is affordable. Sign up for Accor Hotels Le Club loyalty program for discounted rates, early access to private sales, and the chance to earn points toward reward travel.
But the best part for families is a little-known perk: kids eat free! Kind of. Children ages 5 and under eat for free from the children’s menu. Children ages 6-12 can choose a meal from the children’s menu, or enjoy a children’s portion of anything from the regular menu for half price. This deal isn’t at every restaurant at the hotel, so confirm with the concierge before making your reservations.
Hidden Ridge Resort and Banff Lodging Company
We love the Hidden Ridge Resort. Their large condos are great for families, and their hot tub is a lot of fun. The location above town means you’ll see more wildlife, and you can walk into town, weather permitting. . Staying at Hidden Ridge is usually cheaper than buying multiple hotel rooms; however, if you want to get even better deals sign-up on their reservation website to unlock special offers, which can often be up to 10% off.
Hidden Ridge is part of the Banff Lodging Company. They have a range of hotels in Banff. Sometimes we call central reservations at 1-800-762-3544 and ask what discounts they have for online members and are surprised by great deals.
The Sunshine Super Card
Another great way to save is the Sunshine Super Card which is great to cut costs on accommodation and activities in the Sunshine Mountain Lodge.
The Sunshine Super Card gets you the 1st, 4th, and 7th day free as well as $15-$25 dollars off lift passes on other days. You also get 10% off lodging, lessons, tune-ups, and meals at the Creekside Grill.
Sunshine Mountain Lodge
The Sunshine Mountain Lodge is a wonderful on-hill accommodation option. In full disclosure, the food here isn’t great, but the ski-in, ski-out option is great for shorter breaks and the newer rooms look great. Book early (by October 31) and save 35% off standard room rates. Sunshine Super Card holders to get 10% off. You can also get a 15% discount using your Banff Sunshine Village season pass or a Mountain Collective or Ikon Pass. We usually call the lodge to book our rooms, as their website is one of the more difficult to manage (1-877-542-2633)
The Lake Louise Plus Card
A great option to save around Lake Louise is the Lake Louise Plus Card. The card holders are entitled to numerous discounts on accommodation and the great activities in the area.
Buffalo Mountain Lodge
A pleasant place to stay is the Buffalo Mountain Lodge. It’s charming and we have always had great stays there. Rates are usually $175+, however with the Lake Louise Plus Card, you can get rooms starting at $149. Buying The Lake Louise Plus Card opens great discounts throughout the Rockies, including at Buffalo Mountain Lodge. High-end quality at a budget price – we love it! You need to call the hotel (1-800-661-1367) to get this rate and present your Lake Louise Plus Card when you check in.
Note: Lake Louise Plus Cards can be bought online until December 31 each year. But don’t fret if you missed out, you can usually find cards on Kijiji or one of the many Facebook groups in Alberta throughout the year, with people selling (or more often giving away) their cards once they’ve used the free ski days.
Castle Mountain Chalets
Do you want the real experience of staying in a log cabin in the Canadian Rockies? What about one that is only twenty minutes from Banff? Castle Mountain Chalets is the answer. While these cabins are isolated, we think this is an advantage, as it means more tranquility and star-gazing. These cabins are also a great option for families. Use your Lake Louise Plus Card to get 20% off Sunday-Thursday and 10% off on weekends. Call 1-877-762-2281 to book your trip.
Luxury is great, but you can also get frugal. The easiest way to save on rooms is by renting just a bed. Banff’s International Hostel is great, cheap, and has a stellar location. Typically, the price is around $30 (USD) per night. They even have four- or six-bed private rooms that, if you book early enough, can be a cheap way to plan a trip for a family or with friends.
Our favourite hostel in this area has to be the HI Canmore Alpine Club of Canada. There are a good number of smaller rooms (four-bed ladies only, six-bed dormitories, and three-person private rooms), a big patio, a BBQ, washing machines, and free Wi-Fi. If that isn’t enough, the views are amazing. It’s great for ski trips in Banff or Kananaskis. If you can’t rent a private room for your group then we recommend some earplugs and a sleeping mask, since you can’t predict when your bunkmates will sleep or wake. A few precautions will make your stay way better.
Our last Banff accommodation tip is simple: check out Canmore. Ok, this isn’t a revelation, but somehow it slips people’s minds. There are loads of great condos to rent for families or bigger groups of friends. If your place has a kitchen then you can save money by eating in. Pack a board game, load up at the supermarket and you have the makings of a great trip. We routinely get two-bedroom condos for $200 in Canmore using Expedia. This is a great deal.
The Important Details
In the spirit of full disclosure, many of these discounts are designed around winter trips, the traditional off-season for places like Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. Luckily for us, some of these winter discounts will also work in summer, spring and autumn as well, especially if you book them during the winter season.
For all of the deals we are sharing, the rates are typically for the lowest room category and two people sharing mid-week, outside of major holidays. The rates are excluding any taxes or service fees you need to pay
To get these rates you need to book directly with the hotels, usually on the phone but occasionally we also provided an online promo code. Be aware that there are blackout dates around major holidays and that these deals do often sell-out. In addition, rates are typically even more discounted mid-week (Sunday–Thursday) so consider that when planning your trips.
Finally, you will need proof of residency (drivers’ licence) for some rates, while those for the Sunshine Super Card, Lake Louise Plus Card and the Marmot Escape Card will require you to show your card at check-in. Don’t try and book these rates if you don’t qualify, you will be disappointed, they always check when the rates are this good.