Looming up beside the Bow River, the Banff Springs is a local landmark in more ways than one. Originally built in 1888, and remodeled in 1928 to resemble a cross between a Scottish baronial castle and a European chateau, the turret-topped exterior conceals an eye-poppingly extravagant selection of ballrooms, lounges, dining rooms and balustraded staircases that would make William Randolph Hearst green with envy.
Highlights include an Arthurian great hall; an elegant, wood-paneled bar; and the gorgeous hot-springs spa. Even if you’re not staying here, you’re welcome to wander around, and it’s worth splashing out on a coffee or a cocktail in one of the four (count 'em!) lounges.
The hotel is best seen in winter, when the lights of its 700-odd rooms twinkle out from under a thick crust of snow.