Brunch at the Banff Springs


I do love working from home out of our wee extra bedroom. But one of the downfalls about this arrangement, besides the slight Twitter addiction (it makes the self-employed feel like they’re somehow in an office environment, I think), and too-strong incentive to live in PJ bottoms, is the lack of separation between work and home. There’s always work around, and always something that should be done. So when weekends come along, particularly during a deep freeze, and especially when there are PD days scheduled on Friday and Monday, sometimes you just gotta get the hell outta Dodge. This was one of those weekends. Some people pay big bucks for high-priced hookers – I’m willing to pay for a night with a bed like this – crisp sheets, turn down service, and no need to fight for the best pillow.

Also, I adore the Banff Springs. When it’s been too long, especially over the winter, I get homesick for it.

As kids we often made day trips to Banff, sometimes staying at the Springs during a ski weekend. My youngest sister used to go from ballroom to ballroom, looking for the king. When W was about three, he was terrified to go inside, and cautiously peered up every spiral marble staircase, worried that a dragon was lying in wait for him to come around the corner.

Ben had never been, and so we told them on Friday that we were going to to Banff and stay in a castle, one with suits of armor and a bowling alley, and that we’d stop at the candy store on the way, spend lots of time at the pool, and go for a breakfast buffet Monday morning. They fake fainted.

It was a stunning, sunny, snowy drive. Banff is the perfect distance, I think – not long enough to drive anyone squirrely, yet long enough to seem like a special event. And the Banff Springs, despite its worldwide fame and regular visits from Hollywood stars and royalty, is really not at all snooty (the opposite, in fact). It’s very accessible, and big enough that you couldn’t possibly get cabin fever even when the temperature drops to -29. I could spend days wandering through the castle and grounds, sitting in chairs in nooks and just hanging out in my favourite bathroom in the world (below) – I brought W in to see it and he said, “it smells like girls in here”, and promptly left. (It has a dusty perfume that reminds me of my great aunt.)

Brunch was the most notable meal of the day. The boys were ecstatic to be able to serve themselves Froot Loops, smoothies and bacon. We ate vegetable frittatas, maple bison sausage (they also had a gluten-free chicken apple variety), creamed roasted mushrooms, baked apples stuffed with raisins and walnuts, crispy potato rösti (topped with a bit of corned beef hash!) and sticky, smoky maple baked beans. And a bit of yogurt with granola and berry compote, a wee Danish, coffee, the last of W’s grainy toast with cherry jam. They do the buffet every morning, and I’ve never seen it crowded. Every table has a spectacular view. Don’t you love supporting local business in this way?

I’m writing this in this little nook in the Mt Stephen hall – one of my favourite rooms in the world – one of these days, when I win the lottery or come into some big money or finally marry rich, I’ll throw a huge party here.

I so badly wanted to crash this party.

The boys are in the pool for the fourth time, their orange-sized jawbreakers bought at the Banff candy store yesterday wrapped carefully in the shower caps that come with the room – I always wondered who used them.


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28 comments on “Brunch at the Banff Springs

  1. Manon from ONtario
    February 1, 2011 at 7:05 am

    I’m so jealous…I wish I was ever more your neighbor now my family and I would be pleased to spend some deep freeze weekend with you guys at Banff Springs!

    I love how you make a -29C weekend into a fun thing!

    Good on you Julie :)


  2. Colleen
    February 1, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Good for you guys, enjoy the rest of the holiday. I love W’s goggles.

  3. JulieVR
    February 1, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Oh that’s it for the holiday! it was only one night – we’re back in reality now. I tried to post this last night, but the server was down…

  4. bellini
    February 1, 2011 at 7:47 am

    When I lived in Calgary back in the day Banff Springs was a favourite Sunday drive for brunch and a hike. A dream I have is to spend Christmas at the Banff Springs hotel with a trip to the hot springs where I can wear 1890’s bathing suits and relax:D

  5. Fiona
    February 1, 2011 at 7:48 am

    I love brunch at the Banff Springs. I love the Banff Springs, but I have never stayed there. Must remedy that one of these days, for sure.

  6. thepinkpeppercorn
    February 1, 2011 at 8:11 am

    “finally marry rich”. Hehehe! You are too cute!

  7. Erica B.
    February 1, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Oh my, I miss that view! Crisp sheets every day & turn down service would be fabulous *swoon* When my MIL visits we head to the Banff Springs for tea, it’s become an annual ritual. One of these days we’ll have to try their brunch :)

  8. Robyn
    February 1, 2011 at 8:22 am

    i want to go to there!

  9. Michelle
    February 1, 2011 at 8:25 am

    I have always wanted to go to Banff! Thanks for the peep!

  10. Vivian
    February 1, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Thank Goodness all the old CNR hotels were saved. One can step back in time when entering yet have all the modern conveniences. Great to see the interiors of the Banff Springs again.

  11. Morgan
    February 1, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Can you believe I have never eaten brunch at the Banff Springs? Born and raised Calgarian….I really need to stay there for a weekend soon!

  12. Cheryl
    February 1, 2011 at 9:09 am


  13. JulieVR
    February 1, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Perhaps we should ALL go for brunch at the Banff Springs sometime! It’s on Saturdays too – brunch isn’t just for Sundays anymore! (Of course ours was on Monday, even!)

  14. Jennifer Jo
    February 1, 2011 at 9:28 am

    That dining hall? That’s Hogwarts!

  15. Michelle
    February 1, 2011 at 10:07 am

    We love the Banff Springs hotel as well and since moving to Calgary a few years ago can now enjoy those lovely day trips. But my favorite spot for a little R&R is Kananaskis Delta Lodge though. It is so peaceful and relaxing with lots for the whole family to do.

    I love your blog and recipes ! I made your two bite brownies the other night for dinner and they were a huge hit.

  16. the other Al
    February 1, 2011 at 10:41 am

    “smells like girls” HA HA HA HA HA
    the boys learning…..

  17. Beverley M
    February 1, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Looks fabulous – wish I was closer to check it out!

  18. Snarky Sister
    February 1, 2011 at 11:22 am

    I love brunch in general, but LOVE it at the Banff Springs Hotel. Your blog makes me want to experience my city more! Thanks for sharing :)

  19. Laurie from Burnaby
    February 1, 2011 at 11:34 am

    That’s it! Now I have to go to Banff and stay over for one night.

  20. Nurse Jenn
    February 1, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I enjoy the Banff Springs hotel, but prefer Chateau Lake Louise. Same great brunch, fairy tale drive up the steep and slightly curvy road, and the ice sculptures are the icing on the cake.

    I also like the Chateau for one more reason: Walliser Stube. It is an alpine restaurant that serves Swiss style cuisine. I love the raclette. Cheese, cheese and more cheese.

  21. Lana in South Mountain (ON)
    February 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    I have a soft spot for the Chateau Lake Louise, too. I worked there for three summers as a student, and met my first husband there, as well as two of my best friends in the whole world. Husband is now ex, Kelly and I are still friends, and Rachael as you know, is no longer on this earth. Someday I will return to the room where we were roommates and re-live a whole whack of memories.
    I have never been to the Banff Springs Hotel but will one day. I love the old CP hotels. The Chateau Laurier here in Ottawa is a castle, too!
    Great post. Thank you.

  22. Barb
    February 1, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Looks fabulous. I sure could use a bit of a getaway myself….

  23. Carol SB
    February 1, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    LOVE the Banff Springs. And I’m in for brunch, JVR: just name the day! (it’s been a long time since the farm table at Forage. I’m just sayin’.)
    Bellini- before we go, we’ve GOT to get us some 1890s bathing suits.
    Banff Springs brunch was a family tradition back when they were up in the Alberta Room and the big hall (the one with the fireplace, looks out over the rink). Middle daughter still gets teased about the first time we let her go back to the table on her own and she came back with a WHOLE PLATE of bacon :)

  24. tara
    February 2, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    OH! My brother was married at the Banff Springs, 12 years ago this month. These photos make my heart hurt a little for that trip; it was absolute magic. How wonderful it is that your B and W get to have a castle in their lives.

  25. eddy
    February 2, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    OMG Why am I thinking about THE SHINING when i see these gorgeous pictures>?

  26. Mary
    February 3, 2011 at 8:44 am

    I was told by someone to use the hotel shower caps to cover melons or big bowls. They work great for watermelons in the summer!

  27. JulieVR
    February 3, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Mary – OK, so I should use the shower caps (there were two!) to cover my melons? :)

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