Fairmont Palliser Calgary Review: Timeless Elegance Redefined

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Front Sign Fairmont Palliser Calgary
The Fairmont Palliser Calgary is a historic luxury hotel in the heart of downtown Calgary. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

The writer was hosted.

If you’re headed to Calgary and staying in a top-tier, luxury hotel is what you’re all about, then the Fairmont Palliser Calgary is located in the heart of downtown and close to all the Calgary sights you want to see.

This is more than just a comfortable, clean place to lay your head for the night while you explore this fun, bustling city in Canada’s Alberta province, home to Banff National Park. Calgary has lots of great hotels that will suit just about every price point, but the Fairmont Palliser is an experience, and yes, it’s a splurge.

Here’s everything you need to know about a stay here and establishing this posh hotel as a basecamp for exploring Calgary, but fair warning: you just might be tempted not to step outside this historic hotel after check-in. It’s that good.

History and Location

Located at 133 9 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 2M3, Canada, in downtown Calgary, the Fairmont is about 12 miles from Calgary International Airport, YYC. It’s an easy cab ride, and once you’re in downtown Calgary, you don’t really need a car to get around, especially if you don’t mind doing a little walking.

I visited Calgary during winter, and while it is definitely cold, the city has a network of indoor sidewalks, known as the Plus 15, that makes it easy to get around and stay out of the elements. Cabs are also easy to get. Both Uber and Lyft operate in Calgary, too.

The Fairmont Palliser Calgary was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway and opened in 1901. Westward expansion and the influx of tourists to Banff National Park created the need for hospitality in Calgary. The property is named after Canadian explorer Captain John Palliser. Fun facts: the Fairmont Palliser was the tallest building in Calgary until 1958 and had the rather dubious distinction of having the last remaining men’s only bar in the city until women were permitted entrance in 1970. Times have changed, baby.

First Look – The Lobby

There’s a lot of wow factor when you walk into the Fairmont Palliser. You’ll be greeted by a smartly dressed member of the bell staff. The front desk is to your right, and the concierge desk is to your left. The lobby has a grouping of comfortable seating just beyond the front desk before you get to the elevators. Then the lobby opens up into the Hawthorne Dining Room and bar area.

The lobby really sets the tone for how gorgeous the rooms are. Sometimes when I glide through a super luxe lobby and step into a basic room, it’s a bit of a letdown.

This downtown hotel offers valet parking or self-parking. The lobby has an ATM in case you need to withdraw some Canadian dollars. The hotel also has event space and meeting rooms.

Fairmont Palliser Calgary Guest Rooms Do Not Disappoint

The Fairmont Palliser has 407 elegant guest rooms. Regular category rooms include, smallest to largest, the Fairmont Room, Deluxe Room and Signature Room. These rooms sleep two to four people, depending on whether you choose a King or Queen bed. Standard amenities include Nespresso Machines, a minibar, a hair dryer, an iron and ironing board, bathrobes, luxury toiletries and more.

Feet on ottoman in king room at Fairmont Palliser Calgary.
The guest rooms are luxurious, comfortable and spacious. Calgary. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

Amenities on request (ask when you make your reservation) include a crib, microwave, mini-fridge and rollaway bed. Enjoy full air conditioning and heating in all guest rooms for a constant, comfy temperature.

partial view of bathroom and full view of closet Fairmont Palliser Calgary
All rooms come with a ton of amenities including plush bathrobes. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

Super Dreamy Fairmont Gold Rooms

If you want the best, book a Fairmont Gold Room. There’s a substantial jump in price for the extra amenities and service, so make sure you compare when you’re getting ready to book. I stayed in a Fairmont Gold Room and loved it.

Fairmont Gold Key Card
Want to take your experience up a notch? Book Fairmont Gold. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

 In addition to extra floor space, I enjoyed the Fairmont Gold amenities, such as private, express check-in on the penthouse floor, lounge access, free wifi,  a Bose sound system, a humidifier and extra plush towels. Gold guests get access to personal concierge services to assist with dinner reservations, health club or spa reservations, dry cleaning, laundry service or to request a late check-out time.

My room had a king bed, a valet to hang a man’s suit on, and lots of open floor space. I had high-speed internet access and was able to work from this location. There’s also a business center, if you need that.

There are also different suites available, including a reasonably priced junior suite.

The service was stellar and went the extra mile. Room service is available for all types of hotel rooms.

Onsite Dining at the Fairmont Palliser

The Fairmont Palliser’s Hawthorn Dining Room and Bar serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and also offers brunch on the weekends. If you want to stay onsite and luxuriate in the ambiance of the hotel, you don’t need to step a foot outside to eat.


Breakfast is served Monday through Friday from 6:30-10:00 and on weekends from 6:30-11:00. The menu is simple but hits all the breakfast basics: smoothie bowl, pancakes, steak and eggs, porridge and more.


Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 10:30-3:30. The menu offers everything from sandwiches to soup and salad to a 6 oz. sirloin steak.


Dinner is served daily from 5:00 pm. The dinner menu is very robust and hearty and is heavier on the beef and game. There are a variety of shareable appetizers from burrata to oysters to build your own charcuterie boards. If you have a sweet tooth, dessert options include Cinnamon Toast Crunch cheesecake, black cherry mousse and lemon thyme creme brulee. If those don’t make your mouth water, then you definitely don’t have a sweet tooth, so order an extra savory app.


Brunch is served from 11:00-3:00 on weekends and fills the gap between breakfast and dinner. The brunch menu is a combination of the regular breakfast and lunch menus.

In-room dining is also available.

Nearby Dining

If you want to venture outside the hotel for lunch, dinner or drinks, here are some of my top picks in Calgary.

  • Barbarella – Coastal Italian cuisine and bright, fresh, vegetable-forward small plates.
  • Ten Foot Henry – Upscale but approachable family-style dining named for a mural of the 1930’s comic strip character, Henry, that graces the restaurant’s hallway.
  • Donna Mac – Three words: Cauliflower pimento cheese whip. Okay, so that’s four words but this is so good you’ll forget how to count, too. Donna Mac has lots of tasty food for a light or hearty lunch or dinner.
  • NUPO – Calling all sushi lovers! If you love fresh sushi in an elevated atmosphere, NUPO is the place to be. Delicious food + a truly memorable dining experience awaits here.
  • Proof – Consistently rated one of Canada’s best bars, Proof will delight with creative cocktails with whimsical names.
  • Sidewalk Citizen Bakery – In addition to making sourdough bread and other baked goods, Sidewalk Citizen is a fun entrepreneurial success story of a self-taught baker who moved from selling bread from the back of his bike to running an operation employing 40 people. And yes, the sourdough is delish!
  • Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters – These former university lab partners have eight coffee spots throughout Calgary. Their Simmons Building location is about a mile from the Fairmont Palliser. Calgary has soooo many cool coffee places, so branch out from your usual Starbucks.
  • Neighbor Coffee – This Inglewood coffee shop also serves breakfast bowls and a variety of sandwiches.
  • Canela Vegan Bakery – Not a vegan? That’s OK. This fully plant-based bakery has some serious sorcery going on. I had a cinnamon roll with creamy icing (their signature item) and a decadent hot chocolate and would never have guessed it was vegan.

rnr Wellness Spa

The spa was the highlight of my stay. The Health Club, Spa and indoor pool are located on the bottom level of the Fairmont Palliser Hotel, Boulevard Level, Fairmont Palliser, 133-9th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB T2P 2M3.

Spa treatments include various massages, facials, body treatments, manicures, pedicures and waxing. Relax before or after your treatment in the hot tub, sauna and steam room.

Want to work out on your vacation? The health club and fitness center have a variety of fitness equipment, including a Peloton bike.

Indoor Pool and Hot Tub at Fairmont Palliser Calgary
I highly recommend carving out time to book a spa treatment and enjoy the pool, sauna and hot tub. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

Things to Do Nearby

You’ll probably want to venture outside this charming Calgary hotel – although I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t – so here are a few activity suggestions:

Take It To The Top – The Top of the Calgary Tower

The Calgary Tower is a freestanding observation tower in downtown Calgary and a distinct part of the city’s skyline and is well within walking distance of the hotel. In fact, it’s right next door.

A trip to the top will treat visitors to 360-degree views of the city and the Canadian Rockies. There’s also a rotating restaurant, Sky360. The tower is lit at night. The colors rotate and usually mean something, such as red and pink for Valentine’s Day. A schedule online will tell you what the colors mean or signify if you’re not sure.

Visit the Coolest Library Ever.

Yes, that might be subjective but pop into Calgary’s Central Library and see if you don’t agree. If you call yourself a book nerd and don’t use an e-reader because you insist books have an appealing smell you can’t do without, you definitely need to pay a visit. And even non-book nerds will appreciate the unusual design and the art, both inside and out.

Also Don’t Miss…

The Calgary Zoo and the Glenbow Museum. If you visit in July, the Calgary Stampede is a must. The city’s most famous event is a 10-day outdoor rodeo that includes midway rides, entertainment and fair food.

SheBuysTravel Tip: If you plan to visit during the Stampede, make your plans far in advance. Calgary is hopping for this event.

Sculptures in front of Calgary’s Central Library near the Fairmont Palliser
There are three “drinking bird” sculptures at Calgary’s Central Library (the third is on the opposite side of the building.) These statues move with the wind. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

Who is the Fairmont Palliser for, and would I stay here again?

While this hotel initially has a luxe, adults-only vibe – think gleaming marble floors, crystal chandeliers, impressive moldings in the common areas and crisply uniformed bellhops that greet you upon arrival – there’s an approachable element at work here, too. Luxurious doesn’t have to mean stuffy or pretentious, and although I didn’t stay at this hotel as a family traveler, I would do so.

I think the luxury price tag might put the Fairmont Palliser Calgary in the special occasion bracket for some, which may mean anniversary or romantic getaway type trips, which this property is well-suited for. However, if you have a bigger hotel budget and want comfort and luxury, guests with kids will do just fine here. There was nothing about the general vibe of the hotel to indicate kids wouldn’t be welcome.

The property has rooms that sleep four and offers connecting rooms for larger families, or anyone who just likes their space. The hotel also offers babysitting services, although I recommend you inquire about this in advance if it is a service you would like to use.

I personally fell in love with the hotel. I stayed here during a Calgary City break where I was extremely busy, and I didn’t spend a ton of time at the hotel. I’d stay again just to do that.


As with any hotel, doing some legwork to get the best rate is going to…well, get you the best rate. Booking directly through the Fairmont’s booking site can show you what specials and rates are available for booking directly. I also went on Booking.com and found a regular room rate for $265 per night and a Gold room for $465 per night with free cancellation – read the fine print. Booking through a Canadian site may yield a different price.

Jill Robbins is a freelance writer covering lifestyle, travel, health, and commerce. Her writing has appeared in SheKnows, HuffPost, Tripsavvy, Insider, AARP, and other publications. Jill lives in San Antonio with her husband and two youngest kids, although she’s usually somewhere else. You can find out what Jill is up to by reading her blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals.
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