The Prince of Wales Hotel is the nicest…..and the most expensive hotel I’ve ever stayed in. Located in the Canadian portion of Glacier National Park, it looks like a castle overlooking the valley below.
If cost isn’t a concern, the Prince of Wales Hotel is worth a stay while visiting Waterton, the Canadian side of Glacier National Park. The views, luxurious rooms, impressive lobby, delightful afternoon tea, and proximity to the park make it a prime location to stay.
I’m Cheryl and have stayed at 6 of the hotels within Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. I’ve taught special education for 24 years and love to travel with my husband, Matt, who teaches people how to travel to the West.
Read on to see if the Prince of Wales is the best choice for you.
At a Glance
|Fancy and formal style lobby with amazing views||Paid parking|
|Lovely piano music||$300 and up per night (peak season)|
|Superb service||Reservations needed for restaurant|
|Royal Dining Room- afternoon tea||No AC|
|Comfortable rooms||Waterton area is not as pretty as Glacier National Park|
|Great view from rooms||Limited elevator use|
|Gift shop with a wide selection|
|Walking path to Waterton|
The Prince of Wales Hotel is perched on top of a hill overlooking Waterton Lakes National Park – the “Canadian side of Glacier.”
Unlike Glacier National Park, Waterton has plenty of lodging within the park including hotels and campgrounds. The Prince of Wales is actually a bit on the outskirts but still plenty close to all the things to see and do.
Waterton National Park is small and reminds me more of a lake town than a national park. It’s more developed than a national park and contains several stores, gas stations, restaurants, and bike recreation rental businesses.
There are several hikes, boat rides, picnic areas, biking trails, and waterfalls. Plus, abundant wildlife including bears.
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Our room at the Prince of Wales was by far the nicest of the rooms we stayed at in Glacier National Park. It was classy and had beautiful wood paneling 3/5th of the way up the wall. I loved that the touches of plaid sprinkled throughout the hotel extended into our room. I enjoyed reading about the history of Waterton in the book that was included in our room.
From our window, we had an amazing view overlooking the Canadian Rockies, Upper Waterton Lake, and the valley.
Bonus sightseeing! Of all the lodges we stayed at in Glacier, this one had the best view.
Our room contained a full bed and a single bed, a writing desk, a nightstand, and a fan. The outside temperature stays pretty cool most of the year so the Glacier lodges don’t have A/C. It’s usually not a problem but I would have loved our room a little cooler.
There was also no T.V. This is unusual for a hotel but not for a national park lodge. I guess the people running the national parks want us to get out and enjoy nature and mingle with other travelers. Not a bad idea!
Our bathroom was updated and very nice. The towels were soft, the water pressure perfect, and the pedestal sink was smartly located in our room instead of the bathroom. This is such a smart idea since the bathroom was pretty small.
Staff & Front Desk
The staff at every Glacier lodge were helpful and kind but the staff at the front desk of the Prince of Wales were the friendliest and seemed to enjoy telling us their insider tips and favorite spots.
The lobby is the most impressive lobby I’ve ever seen. Giant windows allow visitors to enjoy the views of Waterton. The building style is Swiss chalet/rustic but the furniture is elegant and all the tables are decorated with fresh-cut flowers. Guests can listen to live piano music, played by a professional musician, and have food from the lounge served to them if they desire.
The store is the largest in Glacier National Park as well. Along with traditional offerings like clothing and souvenir magnets, they also sell beautiful tea sets, plaid merchandise, and lots of maple syrup.
I think they are playing up Canadian and English culture to American tourists.
High Tea at the Royal Stewart Dining Room
The Royal Stewart Dining Room was the highlight of my trip to Waterton. I’m an American with English ancestors so when I saw that they served afternoon tea, I had to try it out.
This is an upscale, fine-dining establishment with linen table clothes, fresh flowers, piano music, and incredible views. Guests are not required to follow a dress code, however, I recommend changing out of your hiking clothes and putting on something nice. You’ll feel more comfortable and enjoy the experience more.
The tea presentation was great and we enjoyed our sandwiches, tea scones, and mini quiches. Even with the price tag of $40 per person, we highly recommend afternoon tea. You’ll need reservations for any meal at the Royal Stewart Dining Room.
For great places to eat while visiting other areas of Glacier National Park, see our article 9 great places to eat in Glacier National Park.
We didn’t use these services, but the Prince of Wales hotel also offers massages, horseback rides, and complimentary coffee. A bellhop service is also available which comes in handy since the elevator only accesses the 4th floor.
The Prince of Wales is one of the most photographed hotels in the world. Built in 1927 for the super-rich, this Swiss/rustic structure charms us all with its balconies, hanging flowers, and breathtaking views. It looks like a castle built on a green hill, so picturesque that it appears to of come straight out of a fairy tale.
Tourists visit both the exterior and lobby of the hotel to snap their travel photos. It really is the best view in Waterton.
A packed dirt walking path to get you from the hotel to the valley of Waterton is located behind the hotel. The trail is less than a mile and is a great way to get into town without having to drive your car and find parking. It’s a nice view the entire way there.
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You really do feel like you are part of the elite while staying here. The furniture in the lobby is elegant and comfortable and the staff make every effort to make sure you enjoy your stay. Relaxing in the lobby after a day of hiking was one of the highlights of our last trip.
Our room, the lobby, and the Royal Dining Room were all top tier and guests will enjoy their experience.
Know before you go
The Prince of Wales is open May-mid September and you should get reservations as soon as you know you are going because rooms book up. Reservations are taken up to a year in advance.
Things I didn’t like
Even though I loved my stay at the Prince of Wales and hope to stay here again, there are a few things I didn’t like.
Our room was over $300 a night plus we had to pay $10 a day for parking. Everything about the hotel was beautiful and luxurious but our main reason to visit Waterton was to enjoy the natural scenery. It seemed like a shame that we were staying at such a nice place but spent most of our time away.
Before visiting Waterton, I had heard from several people that the Waterton section of Glacier National Park was the prettiest. I completely disagree. Of course Waterton is beautiful, but it isn’t so majestic that it leaves you feeling humble like Glacier. If you are on a trip to Glacier and are limited on time, I suggest spending all your time in Glacier National Park and skipping Waterton.
Things I liked about Waterton
That being said, Waterton Lakes National Park does offer some advantages.
The visitor center is top-notch and something the whole family will enjoy.
Waterton is a charming little town with lots of great places to eat. We really enjoyed the Pizza of Waterton.
Waterton Lakes is more pet friendly. The national parks service in the U.S. does not allow pets on the trails, but I saw plenty of dogs while hiking in Waterton.
There are a lot of recreation options in Waterton. There’s a great bike path that runs through town plus a few businesses that rent kayaks and bikes.
Should you stay here?
It depends on the purpose of your trip and your budget. The Prince of Wales is elegant and memorable. I will never forget my stay here. I loved feeling like I was staying in a castle. Getting to enjoy the views from the lobby in the morning and evening gave me extra time take in the beauty of the area. And let’s not forget the afternoon tea at the Royal Dining Room. It was my favorite dining experience in a national park.
If you are looking for a romantic getaway with some great scenery, restaurants, and activities, the Prince of Wales is a good pick.
If you are looking to enjoy nature, there are many more budget-friendly options, both in Glacier National Park and Waterton National Peace Park. When I stayed at the Prince of Wales, it was just with my husband. If I came back with my 4 children, I would stay somewhere in town, or maybe even camp. But overall, I would spend most my time in Glacier National Park.
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Alternative lodging inside Glacier National Park
If staying on the Canadian side of Glacier National Park doesn’t sound appealing, consider staying at one of the many other lodges. The Swiftcurrent Motor Inn is a budget friendly accommodation in the Many Glacier area and is near some of the most beautiful attractions in the park.
Another great option is the Lake McDonald Lodge. This lodge is nestled along the shore of Lake McDonald and is only minutes away from Apgar Lake, Trail of the Cedars, Avalanche Lake, and the GTSR (Going to the Sun Road).
There is also the Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier. It is the closest national park lodge to the Two Medicine section of Glacier National Park and is located on Blackfeet Nation land.
Or 5 minutes outside of West Glacier there is The Belton Chalet. It is both rustic and comfortable with great access to the Amtrak railway. However, you will have to drive at least 25 minutes before you get to the sites in the park.
For more information about lodging inside Glacier National Park check out our article, Everything You Need to Know about Lodging in Glacier National Park.
If you’re not interested in staying inside the park and would rather stay outside the park, we recommend using booking.com to secure your lodging accommodations.
Is there anything else I should know?
Yes! Planning a trip to a national park can take days. It can be overwhelming and stressful. Let us lighten the load. Check out our must-have Travel Itinerary to Glacier National Park.
Our itinerary provides you with a daily (yet flexible) plan to help you efficiently see the park. It will get you to the most important places, at the right time to avoid the crowds, by telling you exactly how to do it. You can’t go wrong.
- Glacier National Park Itinerary
- Glacier Trip Planner Page
- Everything You Need to Know about Lodging in Glacier National Park
- Glacier Park Boat Tours: An expert’s advice and helpful tips
- Can I swim in Glacier National Park
- 9 great places to eat in Glacier National Park
- Do I need bear spray in Glacier?
- Glacier’s Lake McDonald Lodge: my complete review and tips
- Glacier Park Lodge (East Glacier): Should You Stay Here? An Honest Review
- Glacier’s Belton Chalet: should you stay here?
- Waterton Visitor Center
- Prince of Wales Lodging Reservations
- Royal Stewart Dining Room Reservations
- Banff National Park Official Website
- Glacier National Park Official Website