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Rundle Bar, the heart of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

On a recent trip to Banff, Alberta, I experienced a relaxing afternoon at the Rundle Bar in the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, which brought back cherished travel memories.

My visit was part of the PCA-CWR Big Horn Tour, which included over 40 Porsche owners from Canada and the USA exploring Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

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Banff Ave
Banff Ave on a quiet summer morning. | Photo Edward Quan

Having visited Banff numerous times, I’ve witnessed its remarkable growth and transformation. On Banff Ave, the main boulevard, you will now find top fashion boutiques such as Canada Goose, Lululemon Athletica, Patagonia and a more diverse food scene. So, it is no longer the quiet, rustic Canadian Rockies town I experienced growing up.

Castle in the Rockies

The Fairmont Banff Springs, also known as the ‘Castle in the Rockies,’ was opened in 1888 by the Canadian Pacific Railway as one of Canada’s earliest grand railway hotels. In 1988, the hotel buildings were designated a National Historic Site of Canada. 

As you approach the main entrance, you enter the eleven-story central tower with steeply pitched roofs, ornate dormers, and gables. It is perched on a lush, green, forested mountainside overlooking a valley towards Mount Rundle.

View of Mount Rundle from the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.
View of Mount Rundle from the Rundle Bar patio. | Photo Edward Quan

In 1858, British explorer John Palliser renamed the mountain after Reverend Robert Rundle, who conducted missionary work in western Canada in the 1840s.

Best Patio Award 2024

As you step into the hotel lobby, take one of the curved staircases to the second floor, where the Rundle Bar is located towards the rear of the building. Ask for a table on the outdoor patio, which offers a panoramic view of the snow-capped Cascade mountains, or you can choose a plush seat inside by the fireplace.

Our visit was well-timed, as the Rundle Bar was awarded the ‘Best Patio Award 2024’ by Canada’s 100 Best, the definitive guide to the nation’s top restaurants, bars, and chefs. 

Rundle Bar Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
The Rundle bar’s interior design is reminiscent of a cozy living room.

The bar’s interior design is reminiscent of a cozy living room. It features bespoke furniture groupings and intimate lighting pockets, creating a unique and inviting atmosphere.

The Rundle Bar’s lounge is anchored by a magnificent central bar, which connects to double-volume wooden arches that were once part of the original building facade. These arches have been transformed into full-height shelving with custom bronze and wood engraving, preserving the bar’s rich history.

The engraved ‘thistle’ is a common motif in the linenfold, plaster, and stained glasswork found throughout the historic hotel. One of the original arches next to the grand bar has been transformed into a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf with a secret door that leads guests to a posh speakeasy.

Rundle Bar Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Rundle Bar’s signature cocktail, the Wildflower.

Wildflower, Rundle Bar’s signature cocktail

They recently introduced Rundle Bar Gin, exclusive to the bar in partnership with Canmore-based Wild Life Distillery. 

The gin features butterfly pea flower to create a vibrant purple hue when citrus and tonic is added. It is paired with flavorful botanical ingredients including juniper, coriander, lemon and grapefruit peel as well as angelica, orris and licorice root, to create a perfectly balanced floral gin. 

I recommend ordering the Rundle Bar’s signature cocktail, the Wildflower, on your next visit to the Fairmont Banff Springs.

Rundle Bar
Discerning whisky enthusiasts can now savour some of the world’s most sought-after spirits at the Rundle Bar.

Hotel bars: where unforgettable experiences come to life

Over the years, I have always enjoyed visiting hotel bars with my journalism colleagues. I fondly remember meeting in iconic hotels such as the Savoy in London, the Peninsula in Hong Kong, and the Carlton in St. Moritz.

A haven where I shared indelible life adventures with associates and occasionally with captivating women has genuinely enriched my life. 

As a luxury travel journalist, I’ve discovered that visiting historic hotel bars is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Cheers!

10 comments

    1. The Rundle Bar was awarded the ‘Best Patio Award 2024’ by Canada’s 100 Best. It is well worth the visit. Thanks for reading my post.

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