I wonder what Malcolm III of Scotland would make of his namesake as I soak in the southernmost hot tub of Canmore’s new $43-million hotel.
Based on the striking oil portrait in the lobby, I can only guess that the 11th-century king would approve of the 124-room escape, which is said to be the first and only traditional four-star luxury hotel in the scenic Rocky Mountain town just east of Banff National Park in Alberta.
Surely he’d enjoy taking in the stunning views from the trio of steaming outdoor pools that overlook a slender tributary of Spring Creek, the brook after which the surrounding planned community is named. And I bet he’d be tempted to linger by the towering stone fireplace next to the check-in desk, appreciating regal features such as elegant chandeliers hanging from the lofty lobby ceiling, a handsome mezzanine above and wide hallways leading to a 8,800-square-foot event space with glorious floor-to-ceiling windows.
The first of three hotels slated for the 1,000-unit Spring Creek development, the Malcolm offers 20 suites, 73 double-queen rooms and 32 kings starting at $135 a night. I’m booked into one of the latter and find it to be comfortable and spacious – at 301 square feet – but somewhat bland compared to the stately lobby.
The main-floor Stirling Grill & Lounge reveals a similar contrast. The pub-like Lounge serves up a superb Cobb salad ($20) and traditional Scottish lorne sausage ($16) – a robust blend of minced meat, rusk and spices – but the decor verges on Boston Pizza territory. The Stirling Grill, however, is much more stylishly appointed, with a menu that follows suit with fare such as a rack of Alberta lamb with roasted garlic and shallots, potato pavé and rosemary sauce ($45).
Fuelling up is key in Canmore, which has long been a popular jumping-off point for outdoorsy day trips to Banff. There’s plenty to do in the more-immediate vicinity, however, such as cross-country skiing and mountain biking at Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park; boutique-, cafe- and gallery-hopping downtown, which is a 10-minute riverside stroll from the Malcolm; or spelunking in the mountainside Rat’s Nest Cave with a Canmore Cave Tours guide. I opt for the latter, and am rewarded with a thrilling day of rappelling down subterranean precipices, marvelling at surreal calcite formations, and squeezing through gaps in the ancient limestone.
Would King Malcolm make it through those gaps? I managed to squeeze through after breakfasting on an enormous smoked salmon-wrapped Scottish scrambled, so I like his chances.
The writer was a guest of the Malcolm Hotel. It did not review or approve this article.