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“Magical”
Review of Shadow Lake Lodge

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Shadow Lake Lodge
Ranked #5 of 18 Speciality Lodging in Banff
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 5 September 2016

A truly unique and indulgent experience--to have mountains and many hiking options right out your door and to return to plentiful and delicious food (we especially enjoyed afternoon tea!), hot showers, cozy duvets. The best of all worlds! We stayed for four nights and this gave us an opportunity to really drop into the experience, enjoy the company of the very kind other guests, and really explore the nearby back-country. We almost exhausted all of the hiking options in that time, so we would not recommend more than 4 nights. We would also recommend taking the very scenic (and somewhat challenging) arnica LAke trail into Shadow Lake Lodge. While that means that you are eliminating one possible day hike option while you are there (the hike to Gibbon Pass), there are still enough other day hike options during one's stay at Shadow LAke Lodge to satisfy and the entire Arnica Lake hike leading to Shadow Lake Lodge is gorgeous and worth the effort. The hike to the ampitheater is worthwhile as is the hike to Ball Pass. Haiduk Lake is not much to write home about, and if you do the hike to Ball Pass, you cover much of the same ground. The one wish I had was that the staff was more detailed about weather forecasts--both in terms of what was in store for that day and also what the next day was forecasting. While I realize it is mountain weather, it still would have been helpful for planning purpose to have a better understanding of the weather predictions. We were also somewhat perplexed both by the request for gratuity and also how to address that. First, we weren't sure how to justify a gratuity when the cost of accommodations is so high, and second, it would have been helpful to understand what the gratuity was for and to get some direction in how to do right by the people to whom it was going. More explanation/guidance on this front would have been very welcome.

Room Tip: REdearth is close to the bathrooms, but there is a big tree in front which partially obscures the be...
  • Stayed: August 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
5  Thank debrandi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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15 - 21 of 111 reviews

Reviewed 24 August 2016

Short version: a pricey but worthwhile back-country experience.

Booked two late-August nights at Shadow Lake Lodge. We hiked in on the popular Red Earth Creek trail—a moderate 14-km hike that took us roughly four hours including a brief stop for lunch (we are a fairly fit couple in our mid-50s). The first 10km or so runs along an old fire road—a pleasantly wide, smooth path with reasonably gradual grades. The scenery is pretty enough, but nothing spectacular. We hiked in on a drizzly day, though, so we were happy to take the easiest, most efficient route. The Arnica/Twin Lakes route (also 14km) would be a great alternative for energetic hikers in good weather—much more strenuous, but reportedly very scenic.

We arrived just in time for afternoon tea, served in the main lodge from 3-5pm each afternoon—a generous spread, and absolute heaven for we two damp and weary hikers.

A gourmet three-course dinner is served at 6:30, at tables seating 6-8 people (so, if you're travelling as a couple, be prepared to be sociable). Wine (roughly $40-$60, or $9/glass for house) and beer/cider ($8) are extra.

Breakfast (also quite decadent) is served at 8:30am, followed by an elaborate make-your-own lunch buffet to serve as provisions on your day hikes (there is a wide assortment of routes to choose from).

While at camp, you can choose to hang out in a communal lounge cabin, with a fireplace for cool days and an assortment of books and board games.

Our cabin was fairly rustic, and very cold when we arrived. A sign asked us to not adjust the heat ourselves—but, when we asked for help, a staff member merely nudged the thermostat slightly upward. After that we managed our own heat, thank you very much, keeping it slightly cool (to respect the challenge of bringing propane to such a remote location) and turning the thermostat way down whenever we left for the day. I'm sorry, but at these prices I'm not willing to freeze in my own room. The beds in our cabin were smallish but very comfortable (and some rooms come with larger beds).

The room was lit (rather dimly) with power supplied by solar panels. There were a couple of free outlets, making it possible to recharge cameras and other small electronics (though, this far out in the woods, there's obviously no cell coverage or wifi). In-room washing facilities consist of a pot and basin, with warm and cold running water available from a nearby outdoor tap. There are also communal washrooms (male and female) with (non-smelly) collection-tank toilets and single hot showers—be prepared to wait your turn if you're showering in the morning. I was lucky, and never had to wait more than a few minutes.

The lodge's name is slightly misleading—the stunningly gorgeous Shadow Lake is in fact a 20-minute hike away—but the lodge's alpine meadow setting is nonetheless quite lovely.

At the check-out table, a rather cheeky sign urges you to add a 10-per-cent gratuity "if you enjoyed your experience." Given the face-to-face process of checking out, the gratuity doesn't exactly feel optional. Two nights in Shadow Lake's cheapest room already represented (for us) an almost unconscionable splurge, so the extra $110 was a bit of an awkward surprise. I would prefer that Brewster's build appropriate staff compensation into its rates. That said, we were in no mood to shortchange our cheerful cooks/servers/hosts, so we ponied up.

Those expecting five-star luxury will be discouraged by Shadow Lake's somewhat rustic facilities, the understandable stinginess with precious resources (heat, electricity, water), and the strict "shoes off before entering" policy in the lodge, lounge, and cabins. To those of us accustomed to back-country backpacking and rough camping, however, Shadow Lake is sublime. Imagine coming off a damp day on the trail, and being greeted by hot tea, gourmet food, a dry bed, and a hot shower. The food was excellent and beyond plentiful. The staff was friendly and obliging, and the overall atmosphere was highly convivial, with fellow travellers from across North America and beyond.

Given the challenges of providing hospitality in such a remote back-country setting, Shadow Lake Lodge and its staff exceeded our expectations. Warmly recommended, assuming you can afford the prices.

  • Stayed: August 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
5  Thank TallDad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 August 2016

We were completely rejuvenated after spending four nights at the lovely Shadow Lake Lodge The from-scratch cooking is delicious and well prepared with an emphasis on fresh ingredients, fresh vegetables, herb seasonings, and wholesome, nutritious and appealing dishes.All the the food was wonderful including the homemade seeded breads and desserts. The make- your- own hiker's lunch components were perfect for the day's excursions. We made own sandwich and selected fresh veggies, fruit, and homemade baked items and trail mix. We loved our log cabin and the porch where we sat in the sun and enjoyed a good read. The hiking was beautiful with something for every fitness level. Sitting by Shadow Lake was peaceful, serene and beautiful. The staff was pleasant, professional, knowledgeable, and eager to provide hints on how to make your hike a bit more adventuresome and rewarding. We met many nice couples and families as mealtimes are communal. The bathrooms were clean and it was not a problem at all not to have a bathroom in the cabin. It is important to bring a pair of sandals as shoes must be removed prior to entering the cabin, dining and community room. A great stay in a beautiful setting that exceeded our expectations.

Stayed: August 2016, travelled as a couple
Thank maya r
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 August 2016

We had a great stay at Shadow Lake Lodge. Scenery was beautiful, cabins were cute and tidy and the food was excellent! Some nice hikes to choose from. All in all a great way to see a slice of Banff National Park and avoid the crowds! Would definitely recommend! Only one small improvement I would make - get rid of the carpet in the cabins and replace with wood floors!

  • Stayed: July 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank rockside
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 August 2016

We loved this place -stayed here for two nights. After hiking almost 9 miles we were greeted with shrimp, polenta fries, and lots of other yummy snacks. Food is great, and plentiful and we made great friends at our communal table. The cabins are spacious, and the beds are comfortable and clean. Would highly recommend Shadow Lake Lodge!!!

  • Stayed: August 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Jesse B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 August 2016

The cabins are comfortable and clean. The lodge area is set up to encourage visitors to mingle and meet. Considering it's all packed in, the food was great. And the staffs were ever creative in making meals using the prior meal's leftover ingredients. My one suggestion is that although the website is informative on hiking options (which are great), it would be wonderful to have a large map on the wall of the lodge together with descriptions of the area's recommended hikes. I recommend Ball Pass and the waterfalls/amphitheatre hikes along with Little Copper.

Room Tip: Sphinx cabin gets best morning sun. Choose a cabin closer to lodge for better views.
  • Stayed: August 2016, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Thank DJG2222233333
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 August 2016

This place is great. We have stayed at other "hike in" cabins ranging from the canvas type to the cabin type. The place was clean. There are compostable toilets and one shower per gender but you are in the back country! I thought it was great! They set it up to maximize the views and privacy while still encouraging travelers to meet each other. The cook was AMAZING! It is a little pricey but for the accommodations and the food it was worth the price. We would go back and probably stay the extra night. The only small things that I can think of to be improved upon and to keep in mind when planning a trip is the timing of breakfast and gratuity. Breakfast was at 8:30 AM in the summer and it gets light out at 5:30. For us early morning risers that are used to hitting the trails at 7:30 AM, the later breakfast start was a little difficult. Morning people, bring a snack and some coffee. Secondly, there are signs that say gratuity is appreciated and 10% is customary. This caught us a little off guard as most places we have stayed build this into the price. Not to mention, 10% of $600 a night? It made for an awkward checkout. Too bad it wasn't built in to the price so come prepared with a little extra money.

  • Stayed: July 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
3  Thank Kateri S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Shadow Lake Lodge

Address: Box 2606, Banff, Banff National Park, Alberta T1L 1C3, Canada
Region: Canada > Alberta > Canadian Rockies > Banff National Park > Banff
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 18 Speciality Lodging in Banff
Price Range: $190 - $260 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2 star — Shadow Lake Lodge 2*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Situated in the high alpine meadows of Banff National Park, Brewster's Shadow Lake Lodge is a remote back country lodge with private cabins, accessible only by hiking, cross country skiing or snowshoeing. Included in the rate are three mountain gourmet meals as well as afternoon tea served to you daily in our dining lodge. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Shadow Lake Hotel Banff
Shadow Lake Lodge Banff, Alberta

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