As a travel writer, I get asked to stay at a lot of hotel properties in Canmore and Banff. Because I have a house in the region, I rarely do. Out of all the Canmore things to do, resting my head in a bedroom that’s not my own isn’t high on my list. Unless, of course, it’s a top notch property I’ve been dying to suss out.   

three sisters mountain views

Sipping something delicious at a charming inn with these mountain views can’t be beat.

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A Bear and Bison Inn

Our place in Canmore is tiny, so I’ve always coveted those large, alpine looking homes with balconies and outdoor hot tubs. A Bear and Bison Inn ticked all those boxes. The custom built inn, situated at the base of Lady McDonald mountain, is surrounded by evergreens and dotted with bright, colourful flowers.

Canmore things to do

You’ll be charmed as soon as you step onto the property!

Checking in felt as comfortable as slipping on my favourite sweater. The thoughtful process actually began a few days before our arrival, when I received an email asking if I’d like any special touches in our room, such as wine, a cheese board or some roses. As I was staying overnight with my daughter, I had to pass. The thoughtfulness extended upon check-in when we were asked if we needed any bike trail or dining suggestions and what time we’d like our three course breakfast for the next morning.

A bear and bison breakfast

So stuffed after this breakfast!

Lo and behold a few minutes before 9 am the next morning, a tray appeared outside our guest room with our tea, and OJ in crystal champagne flutes. Minutes later, another tray appeared loaded with fruit, granola and yogurt and a hot dish of eggs, sausage and potato rosti. They weren’t kidding when they said a three course breakfast was included!

mountain resort guest room

Look at how spacious our room was! To the right is the massive hot tub. I’m holding the plate of brownies that were waiting for us upon arrival.

Each guest room is styled differently with either a private balcony or patio overlooking the Rockies. Ours had views of the Three Sisters, high, vaulted ceilings, a two-person jetted hot tub, plus a fireplace anchored by cozy armchairs. 

balcony breakfast

It was hard to tear myself away from the balcony!

Our guest room was spacious enough for my daughter and I, and could easily accommodate families. On one side of the large property, there’s even a sandbox filled with toy dump trucks to occupy the littles. The inn sports a large, outdoor hot tub, too!

flower filled gazebo

There’s more than enough room to take the celebration outside.

Apparently, A Bear and Bison Inn is quite the place for weddings, which I could totally see. The main floor has an open living/dining room and there’s plenty of spaces outside for gathering, including a gazebo. I, however, took advantage of the second level lounge and caught up with a girlfriend over a bottle of wine before hitting the sack. 

charming inn alberta

You could host a pretty awesome shindig at A Bear and Bison Inn.

Canmore Things To Do

When making your base at A Bear and Bison Inn, you’re perfectly positioned to tap into all the best Canmore things to do. Of course, you probably know all about Elevation Place and shopping down Canmore’s Main Street. But right outside A Bear and Bison lies several shops and eateries that locals frequent, but most visitors aren’t aware of. Here’s a few of my favourites – all within easy striking distance of the inn.

Mountain Blends Coffee Roasters

For the best cup of Joe in town, head down the road to Mountain Blends Coffee Roasters. This sweet spot isn’t on most tourist’s radar, likely because they’re closed on weekends. Should you be in Canmore on a weekday, you’ll want to swing in here for freshly roasted beans, killer coffee or a really well made London Fog. 

Canmore coffee

Take home freshly roasted beans or nab one of the best coffees and/or lattes in town.

Valbella Gourmet Foods

Recently renovated, Valbella Gourmet Foods is the place to build an epic charcuterie board, nab some picnic provisions or pick up a few excellent sandwiches to sustain you while you explore the surrounding mountains.

We never leave without picking up some of their thick, country-style bacon, a few frozen pot pies for busy weeknights and their special sandwich is our hiking go-to. Sadly, Valbella is closed on Sundays.

Cellar Door

Mere steps away from A Bear and Bison lies a lovely wine shop. The wine at Cellar Door is pretty curated, so it’s unlikely you’ll walk out of here with a cheap bottle of plonk. They also sport a pretty fine selection of regional craft beer.

things to do in canmore

How convenient that the wine and chocolate shop are next to each other!

La Chocolatier

If you’re craving something sweet, this is the shop to pop into. La Chocolatier offers tempting truffles, chocolates and handmade chocolate bars, each made with the finest Belgian chocolate and without preservatives. The only negative is that it’s closed Sunday and Monday and its hours are tight – from 11am to 4pm.

Iron Goat

Despite its name, the Iron Goat Pub & Grill is family friendly with a great kid’s menu. We spent far too much time here when my daughter was young. Best is that it’s only a short, wine-fuelled stroll back to A Bear and Bison Inn.

Iron Goat canmore

You’ll be privy to some amazing views when dining at the Iron Goat.

Wild Life Distillery

You can shop and nab a cocktail at Wild Life Distillery, a small batch, craft distillery producing some really fantastic vodka and gin. I alway opt for some version of a mule for its medicinal benefits. My nightcap before heading back to A Bear and Bison was the Dandy Mule, fuelled with dandelion, burdock, vodka and ginger. You can choose to sit inside or on their outdoor patio for more space.

WildLife Canmore

When in doubt, order both!

Washagi Tea House

If you were to ask me what the most under the radar gem in Canmore was, I’d have to say Washagi Tea House. It’s a bit hard to find, situated as it is inside Bow Valley Garden Centre, nowhere near any touristy areas. Still, it’s not far from A Bear and Bison, and is worth hunting down.

Tuck into a fantastic tuna poke bowl or traditional bento boxes filled with plenty of veg, pickley things and your choice of meat. On Fridays they bring in fresh fish and their freezers are packed with wild caught fish and other goodies.

Canmore japanese food

How bright and colourful is this delightful spicy tuna bowl from Washagi Tea House? (It was flavourful, but not hot spicy.)

Charming Inns of Alberta

Whether you’re looking for a spa escape, somewhere cozy to rest your head after hardcore adventuring or a romantic getaway, you’re sure to find your bliss at any one of the Charming Inns of Alberta. That’s because each inn has something special about it.

To be part of this prestigious collection of inns, the property has to be distinct and special. The innkeepers also have to be present on the property, so you know standards are going to be up to snuff, plus you’ll have a legit local able to provide good recommendations.

There are only a dozen boutique independent inns and hotels as part of this collective. Membership is kept tight as their standards are high. Here’s a few other Charming Inns you may want to consider booking into:

turn down service

Expect to receive thoughtful touches when staying at any one of the Charming Inns of Alberta.

Overlander Mountain Lodge

Overlander Mountain Lodge is a total Rocky Mountain retreat with lodge-style rooms and chalets you can rent. Last summer I popped in and was so impressed, I decided the next time I’m in Jasper, I’m staying here! Their Stone Peak Restaurant delivers incredible value. I had their tasting menu paired with wines and it was well under $100 – and I’m pretty sure I threw back 3-4 glasses.

Prairie Creek Inn

Quite possibly the most romantic looking property in all of Alberta, Prairie Creek Inn is another place I’ve been dying to stay at, but the timing has never worked out. Near Rocky Mountain House, this inn sports deep soaker tubs, stone fireplaces and thick duvets to snuggle under. I’d love to bring my cross country skis up here this winter.

The Heartwood Inn & Spa

Situated in Drumheller, near all those specular looking hoodoos and sandstone cliffs, Heartwood Inn & Spa consistently receives great reviews. Some of their rooms have 3 beds – ideal for families and girl’s weekends. I can’t wait until their spa reopens.

pink and yellow flowers

It felt so decadent to see so many flowers both inside and out at A Bear and Bison Inn.

Have you ever stayed at one of the Charming Inns of Alberta? What was your experience like?


charming inns in alberta

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