Part of the worldwide Hostelling International organization, HI–Calgary City Centre (520 7th Avenue SE, 403/670-7580 or 888/762-4122, www.hihostels.ca) is an excellent choice for budget travelers, both for its convenient location and wide variety of facilities. It has 94 beds, most in eight-bed dormitories, but there are a couple of private rooms. Other amenities include a fully equipped kitchen, laundry facilities, a large common room, Internet kiosks, free wireless Internet, bike rental, an outdoor barbecue, a game room, a snack bar, lockers, and free parking. Members of Hostelling International pay $29.50 for a dorm bed ($33 for nonmembers) or $73–79.50 s or d ($81–87.50 for nonmembers) in the private rooms. It’s one block east of the City Hall C-train station.
The most central bed-and-breakfast is Inglewood B&B (1006 8th Ave. SE, 403/262-6570, www.inglewoodbedandbreakfast.com, $100–165 s or d), named for the historic neighborhood in which it lies. Its location is excellent—close to the river and Stampede Park, as well as a 10-minute stroll from downtown. The three rooms within this modern Victorian-style home each have private bathrooms and rates include a cooked breakfast of your own choosing.
A few blocks west of the downtown shopping district, but linked by the C-train, you’ll find the 301-room Sandman Hotel (888 7th Ave. SW, 403/237-8626 or 800/726-3626, www.sandmanhotels.com, $169–235 s or d). This full-service property features an indoor pool, a family-style restaurant, and large, attractive rooms. Pay under $130 through the website.
Least expensive of the hotels right downtown is the 5 Downtown Suites & Spa (618 5th Ave. SW, 403/451-5551 or 888/561-7666, www.5calgary.com, $159–199). Although the 300 rooms are unremarkable, bonuses include full kitchens, free weekend parking, a free business center, spa services, a restaurant and lounge, and a small outdoor pool.
Hotel Arts (119 12th Ave. SW, 403/266-4611 or 800/661-9378, www.hotelarts.ca, $249–436 s or d) is a newish 12-story, 188-room accommodation on the south side of the railway tracks, within easy walking distance of Stampede Park. The rooms are contemporary-slick, with 42-inch LCD flat-screen TVs, cordless phones, high-speed Internet access, luxurious bathrooms, and plush beds with goose-down duvets. Downstairs is a fitness room, an outdoor heated pool surrounded by a beautiful patio, a restaurant, and a lounge.
The International Hotel of Calgary (220 4th Ave. SW, 403/265-9600 or 800/661-8627, www.internationalhotel.ca, $239–289 s or d) features 250 spacious one- and two-bedroom suites, an indoor pool, a fitness room, and a restaurant.
When I spend the night in Calgary on business I try to stay somewhere different every time (in the name of research). But when it’s a special occasion, it’s difficult to beat the Kensington Riverside Inn (1126 Memorial Dr. NW, Kensington, 403/228-4442 or 877/313-3733, www.kensingtonriversideinn.com, $299–369 s or d includes breakfast). Why? From the moment I’m tempted by a homemade cookie from the jar at the reception to the moment I slide between the Egyptian cotton sheets that top ultra-comfortable mattresses, the inn has a captivating atmosphere that is unlike any other city accommodation. Each of the 19 guest rooms has a slightly different feel (from bold contemporary to warmly inviting), but it’s in-room niceties such as heated towel racks, or a quiet hour spent in the central living room with evening hors d’oeuvres, that make the inn super special.
One block north from the Calgary Tower is the Hyatt Regency Calgary (700 Centre St., 403/717-1234 or 800/492-8804, www.calgary.hyatt.com, $339–429 s or d). Incorporating a historic building along Stephen Avenue Walk in its construction, this 21-story hotel features an indoor swimming pool, a refined lounge, and a renowned restaurant specializing in Canadian cuisine. The hotel’s Stillwater Spa is the premier spa facility in Calgary—spend any time here and you’ll forget you’re in a city hotel. The up-to-date guest rooms won’t take your breath away, but they have a wide range of amenities and luxurious bathrooms.
In the heart of the shopping district, the Westin Hotel (320 4th Ave. SW, 403/266-1611 or 888/625-5144, www.westincalgary.com, $419–489 s or d) has a wide range of facilities, including a rooftop indoor swimming pool, a café, the renowned Owl’s Nest Restaurant, a lounge, and more than 500 rooms.
Easily Calgary’s best-known hotel, the gracious Fairmont Palliser (133 9th Ave. SE, 403/263-0520 or 866/540-4477, www.fairmont.com, from $529 s or d) was built in 1914 by the Canadian Pacific Railway for the same clientele as the company’s famous properties in Banff and Jasper. The rooms may seem smallish by modern standards, and the hotel lacks certain recreational facilities, but the elegance and character of the grande dame of Calgary accommodations are priceless. The cavernous lobby has original marble columns and staircases, a magnificent chandelier, and solid-brass doors that open onto busy 9th Avenue. As you’d expect, staying at the Palliser isn’t cheap, but it’s a luxurious way to enjoy the city.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition