Prince of Wales Hotel
Go back in time at the Prince of Wales in Waterton
My sister and 13 year old nephew went up to the Prince of Wales on opening day, 2007. We started our stay w/ the very pricey tea (about $40 a person). The lobby where the tea is set up is very gracious...we had a table right by the 4 story windows that overlook the lake. The tartan wearing staff is very gracious, friendly and young. The general manager even came by each table to welcome guests. Tea was wonderul - served on Prince Albert china, we had the Prince of Wales tea and munched on dainties. I especially loved the smoke salmon sandwiches w/ capers. It was fun but ended up taking my nephew down to town later for Subway because he just ate the chocolates and shortbread cookies!
We checked in and were delighted to get actual keys. We booked a lakeside room on the 2nd floor. This was not what we had thought it would be - a small room w/ a double bed and a single bed. There was a small desk and a nightstand. The bathroom sink was also in the bedroom. The beds were very comfortable, though and had good quality white cotton sheets. They also had turned down the beds and put Canadian chocolate on our pillows. It was rustic and made us laugh - $200 bucks for a room that felt more like a dorm. The bathroom was clean w/ a tub/shower combo (not clawfoot, something more 1960s). The wind was howling outside and rattled the windows. All and all, it was fun. Rooms are not made for hanging out in - we went down that evening and played cards in the lounge and watched the sun fall away over Waterton lake.
Unique Quality: The lounge/bar offers cheaper faire than the formal resturaunt. I had a celtic sampler (not my thing but well executed) and an Irish whiskey. Lots of seating in the lounge along w/ a cozy fire (it was cool up there in June) and 2 TVs (which delighted my nephew). Really, after an early afternoon of sight seeing, there is not a nicer way to spent the evening.
I slept well there and was rewarded in the morning w/ that great view.
My recommendation - Spend the extra cash and get a lakeside room. Remember that this place was built in 1927 and the Prince of Wales tries to keep that feeling alive.
Location, Location, Location
The Prince of Wales Hotel is said to be the most photographed hotel in all of Canada, and once you see it you will immediately understand why. It is a Swiss-style chalet located on a high hill, the prairie to it's back, lofty mountains on both sides and before it, and overlooking a dazzling lake.
The hotel was built in 1927 and named for Great Britain's Kind Edward VIII, while he was the Prince of Wales. There are 86 guest rooms above an expansive lobby which has large picture windows framing the lake and mountains. There is also a fine restaurant, lounge, English-style tearoom and a gift shop.
When Karen and I first saw photos of the Prince of Wales Hotel we knew we just had to stay there on our trip to Waterton. We made reservations months in advance, and it's a good thing. The place is usually booked solid.
The Prince of Wales shows its age somewhat and does not have air conditioning or television in the rooms, but we didn't miss either of them. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in this hotel, although, at $345 CDN per night, plus tax, for a lakeside room it comes close to being the most expensive lodging I've ever had. You can get a much nicer room for less than half the price in many places, but I don't know anywhere that surpasses the romantic ambiance and the breath-taking views found at the Prince of Wales Hotel.
A bit of royalty in the Canadian Rockies
I did not stay at the Prince of Wales Hotel, but came here for a traditional high tea at Valerie's tea room in the lobby. The Prince of Wales was built in the 1920s by Americans and is one of many grand historic lodges in the American and Canadian national park systems. It has a British styled interior decoration due to its namesake, however the real Prince of Wales (King Edward VIII, later abdicated to marry American divorcee Wally Simpson) had never visited this hotel. Some of the male employees wear kilts. The lobby has a huge chandelier and the guest rooms surrounds the central lobby on the upper floors above the main level. The main level also contains the registration desk, restaurant, lounge, gift shop, and an old fashioned elevator. The gentlemen's restroom is located at the -1 level while the ladies restroom is on the second level. As you enter from the main entrance, you first see the central lobby area with couches, and then behind it is Valerie's Tea Room and its giant windows offering views of Upper Waterton Lakes and the Rocky Mountians. Even if you choose not to stay at the Prince of Wales, do come here for a cup of tea or to look at the architecture and interior decorations of this historic hotel.
Unique Quality: Very British atmosphere and look for male employees in kilts. The panoramic view of the park is perhaps the best from behind the hotel. But beware of the winds; they may just blow you over. During construction of the hotel in the 1920s, one night the winds were over 90 mph and blew parts of the hotel frame off center.
Directions: Just before reaching Waterton townsite, turn left onto the small road in front of the Parcs Canada Visitor Centre and it will take you directly to the parking lot in front of the Prince of Wales Hotel.
This is the oldest hotel in Waterton. I have heard some negative comments that the walls are like paper, the floors creak and the rooms are tiny. That may be true. If you are staying here, you need to understand that you aren't getting a room at the Hilton in downtown Calgary. This is a historic building in a rustic setting, appreciate it for that. If you prefer amenities over charm, then you would do well to book at one of the newer facilities in Waterton. If you are the type of person who can get past that and see what's under the surface, you will find an architectural beauty, with the most amazing views of the lake and townsite. In fact, you'd have to climb Bear's Hump to get a better view than this!
I am the sort of person who prefers a few more amenities than the Prince of Wales can provide, so I have only stayed here once. It wasn't my place. That's not to say the other people don't really love it here, though! I just think the rooms are really expensive for what you get, that's all.
The hotel serves traditional high tea every afternoon. There is also a lounge; both places have great views.
Unique Quality: Architecturally outstanding, inside and out.
There are no televisions or air conditioning in any rooms. Also no in-room coffee makers or mini fridges are available.
Rocked to Sleep by the Relentless Wind
The wind funnels up Waterton Lake through the 8,000+ foot peaks on either side. I don't know exactly how hard the wind was howling during our stay, but I can safely state that it was in excess of 50 mph.
When the hotel was first being built, it was blown off its foundation by the wind. Our room was up on the fourth floor and it swayed as if we were on a ship--all night long. There was no let up during our stay, the fierce wind was our constant companion.
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Prince of Wales Hotel
We've found that other people looking for this hotel also know it by these names:
- Prince Wales Hotel Waterton
- Hotel Prince Of Wales
Address: Waterton Lakes National Park, Off Hwy. 5, Glacier Park Inc., Box 33, , Alberta, T0K 2M0, Canada
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Amenities at Prince of Wales Hotel
- Free Parking
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