Calgary, Canada

Photo: Kensington Riverside Inn
Photo: Kensington Riverside Inn

It’s happened way too many times. Your excitement to explore a new city is dimmed by your accommodation options. Cookie-cutter hotels in desperate need of modernizing and style suddenly make you unsure about your trip. How can a city be on every must-visit list and not have at least one chic boutique hotel? Luckily, this won’t be a problem in Calgary.

On your previous trips to Banff and Jasper National Parks, you always bypassed Calgary. Between hockey, the Olympic Plaza, and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the country’s fifth-largest city seemed solely focused on sports. But that’s slowly been changing. Surrounding neighborhoods are being revitalized. Independent stores, cool coffee shops, seasonal restaurants, and non-sports bars keep opening. While artists are now just as common as athletes.

So you’re not going to skip Calgary on this trip to Alberta. Your sights are set on Kensington—one of the most vibrant neighborhoods—just north of the city center. The Calgary CTrain, the light-rail transit system, runs through Kensington, though it’s easy to walk downtown along the Bow River. It’s also home to the charming Kensington Riverside Inn.

Photo: Kensington Riverside Inn
Photo: Kensington Riverside Inn

The Kensington Riverside Inn was built in 1999 as a country-style bed and breakfast. About 10 years ago, it underwent major upgrades to become a boutique hotel with a European feel. After arriving in the underground, heated parking lot, you enter the hotel on the second floor. The building has a 10-foot ceiling and an impressive art collection. You’re welcomed with a chilled bottle of water and a true, unrushed smile.

None of the hotel’s 19 rooms are the same, though each promises warm bathrooms (large bathtubs and heated towel racks) and soft fabrics (fluffy pillows, high-thread-count linens, and plush bathrobes). Your spacious junior suite is enhanced with French doors that open to a panoramic view of the river and the skyline. This is exactly is what you were hoping to find.

You had planned to go out your first night in the city, though you feel so comfortable that, unusually for you, you decide to stay put. You peek in the Fireside Lounge, where cookies have been set out near the fireplace. If it weren’t still so nice outside, you’d claim one of the leather chairs for happy hour. Instead, you move to the patio and order a bourbon lemonade. You’re in no rush for dinner, especially since you’ll be eating at the hotel’s Chef’s Table. Thanks to a great hotel, you’re already in love with Calgary.

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