Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Review

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The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is not a very nice hotel. To be fair, we knew this going in, and the accommodations were priced accordingly. This Fairmont review features my thoughts on staying here, room photos, and more. Note that this is one of three Fairmont hotels in the Canadian Rockies; we’ve already separately reviewed Fairmont Banff Springs.

The low price was what tipped me off as to the quality of the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, and led me to some not-so-favorable reviews. Still, options were limited in Jasper National Park, and I thought maybe visitors had unreasonable expectations for a park lodge.

After all, the “Fairmont” name has certain implications–but so too does the “park lodge” name. I’ve stayed at brilliantly designed National Park lodges–true works of art–that received unfavorable reviews because they lacked televisions. I was hoping the same was true of the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge…

It was not. Perhaps this is partly because Fairmont Banff Springs raised my expectations. After seeing how that hotel transcended what was possible of a park lodge (err…park castle?), maybe I was expecting too much out of Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. Looking back, I don’t really think so. Let’s start with the rooms, as those were the least impressive aspect of the hotel.

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Our room cost just under $200/night, which seems to be about the norm for Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. I suspect summer prices or holidays spike quite a bit, but no matter when you visit, it is the most expensive hotel in Jasper National Park. You can check current rates on the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge website.

One thing to note that I found is that the Canadian National Parks differ a bit from the U.S. parks in terms of development, and generally had more hotels–even chains–within the bounds of the park. I believe there are 15+ hotels within Jasper National Park. Some might technically be in “Jasper,” but it didn’t seem like there was a meaningful distinction between the gateway towns and actual National Park boundaries in Canada. (Perhaps I just missed that.)

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Here you can see what is a very basic room. It’s reminiscent of Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, which is basically a bungalow style motel, that totally coasts on its location near Yosemite Falls.

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As with those rooms, you could show photos of a $50/night motel on the wrong side of the tracks alongside this room and someone who has not been to either might have a hard time determining which was which. I cannot imagine this being better than one of the other cheap-o hotels in Jasper National Park.

There were not even attempts to make lemonade out of lemons by sprucing a woefully dated room up with some decor touches to make it feel like a rugged National Park lodge. Instead, there was a print of woodchuck (or some other woodland critter) on the wall that looked like something your grandma might sell at a garage sale because even she realizes it’s dated.

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Likewise, the bathroom felt like an old motel. Even the supplied bath soaps were nothing impressive (unlike the excellent toiletries at the Banff Springs location). Suffice to say, the room was a total disappointment.

To be fair, things start to improve once you get to the common areas in Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. While the lobby falls well short of the grandiose multi-story atriums found in the best-designed park lodges, it has a nice style and looks well-maintained…

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I also found the lounge on the other side of the lobby to be a rather inviting space, and it conveyed that perfect National Park lodge ambiance. The kind of place you want to unwind by the fire after and order a hot meal after a long day of hiking.

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It also had an aura of authenticity and texture. From the carvings to the rockwork to the tapestries and rugs, the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge felt like it offered a nice tribute to the culture and people of the Canadian Rockies.

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The weather during our time here was hardly ideal (rain turned to snow during our visit), and yet, the outdoor pool was open and people were swimming in it. Canadians are often a source of cheap, tongue-in-cheek jokes by Americans, but you cannot deny the toughness of our neighbors north of the border. I barely wanted to go outside to take a photo of the pool, much less swim in it.

Overall, I cannot recommend staying at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. Even though the common areas in the main building do a great deal to redeem the lodge, unless you are going to be spending the bulk of your time in that lodge (or the hotel’s restaurants), that’s simply not enough. You could say “you get what you pay for,” but here you’re not even getting that. I’ll be the first to admit that I grade National Park lodges on a curve because I value their rustic charm (and often, their location), but the rooms here do not have any such charm. Instead, they are low-grade motel rooms, and the fact that Fairmont puts its name on a hotel offering rooms of this quality is really disappointing. The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is currently in the midst of a $16 million top-to-bottom refurbishment, and it looks like that includes adding the kind of rugged allure that fans of National Parks appreciate in their lodging. Hopefully, that will dramatically improve the quality of Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. Until then, this is little more than a motel masquerading as a Fairmont.

For more of my tips and thoughts about Jasper National Park, please check out my Canadian Rockies posts. If you’re planning a trip, I recommend picking up a copy of The Canadian RockiesIt’s by a photographer, so there are a ton of inspirational photos in addition to the normal tips (you’ll also find trail maps and other sound advice).

Your Thoughts…

Have you stayed at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge? If so, what did you think of it? If you haven’t stayed there, would you consider it as part of your trip to the Canadian Rockies? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

3 replies
  1. Nick
    Nick says:

    Interesting review! Since I’m a local Albertan, I’ve really enjoyed your stories on the Canadian Rockies, places I know quite well. Keep them coming!

    I’ve stayed at the Jasper Park Lodge numerous times over the years, and have to agree that the rooms are in desperate need of a reno. From what I understand, because the hotel is a collection of many separate cabins and buildings many, many decades old, upkeep is phenomenally expensive. I’m very interested to see how the ongoing reno improves things. The entire town of Jasper has needed updated accommodations, but a few new ones have appeared the last few years and that may help the situation. And that’s not why many people travel to Jasper. Many Albertans see it as the quieter, less-touristy and more authentic mountain town (contrasting Banff). And the Jasper Park Lodge does have a certain quaint charm. It runs a few different, well attended events annually that many local Albertans get out to (Jasper Dark Sky Festival, Jasper in January, and Christmas in November). As well, I’ve heard that the large, private cabins around the lake on property are very luxurious. I know they are quite popular for entire extended families to rent at Christmas and enjoy the ‘rocky mountain experience’.

    By the way, us Canadians aren’t THAT tough….the pool is very much heated. A great spot to relax after a day of skiing!

    Reply
    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      That’s an interesting observation between the perception of Banff and Jasper. I had not thought of that before, but you’re absolutely right. Thanks for offering your perspective on that, and further insight into Jasper Park Lodge.

      A $16 million refurbishment is pretty significant, so hopefully Fairmont is able to fix things up here. I’m sure that’ll mean more expensive rates, but right now the hotel is sort of in no man’s land: it’s more expensive than other lodging options in the area, but does not (to me at least) seem to offer a considerably better experience. They’d probably be better off charging more but differentiating themselves by offering a better ‘resort’ experience.

      Heated or not, I still would not have been swimming while it was snowing! 🙂

      Reply

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