Savor bold flavors at Brazen in Banff’s historic Mount Royal Hotel, then take the gondola to Sulphur Mountain’s summit and enjoy Nightrise, a dazzling feast for the (other) senses.
Dining at Brazen
Flames flicker atop flambéed ginger beef and cast a warm glow on our starters: pickled deviled eggs with dill and saffron mousse, beet carpaccio, chicken pops, and mocktails. It’s almost sunset and the view of Banff Avenue outside the window is as pretty as a postcard with a dusting of fresh snow. We’re at Brazen, the stylish new restaurant in the historic Mount Royal Hotel, known for serving up bold flavors and classic cocktails with a twist.
“Brazen pays homage to the original lounge and restaurant in the Mount Royal Hotel – The Alberta Bar. In its day, The Alberta Bar was the center of activity and a place where all gathered to share a meal and share their stories,” said Executive Chef Scott Hergott in a May 2022 press release (Brazen opened in June). It was here that legendary Bill Peyto – mountain man, guide, and park warden – came for a drink with a live lynx strapped to his back (to sell to a zoo). 100 years later, Peyto’s trailblazing spirit lives on in Brazen’s creative menu and drink list.
Partnership Disclosure: Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection hosted us, but all words and opinions are my own (as usual).
Dishes are made for sharing (which we highly recommend so you can try all the things!), but you can mix and match large plates with snacks, small plates, and veggies. My favorite dish was the smoked beef tartare topped with cognac, garlic aioli, pickled onion, and truffle oil; and served with thin, perfectly crispy potato skins. The chicken pops and smoked sticky ribs with saskatoon chili glaze were amazing too. Blending sweet, savory, and smoky flavors is what Brazen does best. For veggies, you can’t go wrong with beet carpaccio and pears, or brussels sprouts with saskatoon orange glaze.
While the ambience is perfect for date night, they have a kids’ menu if you’re visiting with children. Favorites like mac and cheese, chicken fingers, and a burger will please the pickiest eaters. To top it off, all kids’ meals come with a beverage and ice cream sandwich.
The drink list is a nod to the past, celebrating local landmarks and people, like Bill Peyto. Try a Smokin’ Warden (Bearface 7YO Triple oaked whisky, pine, bitters, orange), or a zero proof B&B Shrub (blackberry, balsamic, simple syrup, soda) or Cosmo. Cocktails are created with local spirits, homemade syrups, and unique toppings – and are damn delicious. Enjoy Happy Hour daily from 4 pm to 6 pm (5 Negronis, $6 Pursuit wines and $7 draft beers).
Dessert is a must-have, so save room! The crème brûlée, made with Banff Roasting Company Coffee, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and hazelnut powder, was one of the best we’ve ever had. Presentation was unique too; it came in a glass ashtray with white chocolate cigarettes, so cheeky photos ensued.
In addition to the bold flavors, impeccable service, and stylish décor, I love that Brazen has gluten/dairy/nut free/vegetarian options so there’s something for everyone. As a celiac (with other dietary intolerances), it’s nice to have lots of safe and tasty options. We will definitely be back!
Reservations are recommended for this popular dinner spot. Book a table at Brazen now on OpenTable.
Nightrise at the Banff Gondola
After dinner, we head to the Banff Gondola for Nightrise, an immersive multimedia experience at the top of Sulphur Mountain. With storytelling, lights, sounds, and projections, night comes to life and all your senses are awakened (including taste if you get a hot cocoa at the café, or roast marshmallows).
The experience begins on the gondola ride as you soar to the summit. A soothing voice welcomes you, setting the mood for what awaits. At the top, visit the Four Wonders (Cosmic Rays, Diamond Dust, Alpenglow, and Frosted Waves) at your own pace and feel free to re-visit your favorites. It’s worth bundling up so you don’t miss the interactive projections outside on the main level; or sounds, igloo dome, and marshmallow roasting on the rooftop viewing deck. Aurora the mirrored bear is up there too!
For more details on what to see and do, read our story Nightrise lights up the night at the Banff Gondola.
Nightrise is open evenings from December 2, 2022 – March 31, 2023. See Banff Gondola | Nightrise Hours for more information. Book tickets online over 48 hours in advance for the best prices!
Nightrise: Know Before You Go
- A Parks Canada Discovery Pass / daily admission fee is required to stop in Banff National Park.
- Strobe lighting, digital projections, and artificial smoke machines are used in Nightrise.
- Dress warm – it’s colder at the top of the mountain.
- Last ride down: 10 minutes before closing time.
- The Banff Gondola and gondola facilities are wheelchair accessible, but the outdoor boardwalk is not (has 368 stairs).
- Strollers aren’t recommended due to limited space in the gondola and at the Upper Terminal.
- Dogs are not permitted on the Banff Gondola or in the terminal buildings unless they are service dogs.
What to Bring
Disclosure: This section includes affiliate links through which I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our small family business!
Good hiking boots, a down hoody/fleece, toque, gloves, and windproof/waterproof shell are recommended year round.
For cold weather, we recommend insulated winter boots, a down jacket / insulated ski jacket/ parka, gloves or mittens, and a toque. See our fall/winter hiking gear guide and Best Winter Gear for Kids for product recommendations.
Where to Stay
The top rated Mount Royal Hotel is located in downtown Banff and boasts well-appointed rooms with mini fridge, junior suites with kitchenette, a rooftop lounge and hot tub (18 & over only), and fantastic onsite dining at Brazen. For mountain views, book a Centennial Room – View or Junior Suite! We love the rooms, view, and location; being in the heart of downtown means you can park the car and walk everywhere or take public transit to easily get to the Banff Gondola and Upper Hot Springs.
Book the Mount Royal Hotel now on Pursuit or Expedia (affiliate link).
Click links for Google Maps directions: The Mount Royal Hotel (& Brazen) is located in downtown Banff, 1 hour and 15 minutes from Calgary. The Banff Gondola is located 10 minutes from the hotel by car, or 11 minutes by public transit (ROAM Bus Route #1).
For More Information/Tickets
For information, or to make reservations now, visit:
- 5 Tips for Visiting Banff Gondola’s Mountaintop Christmas with Kids
- 10 Fun Things to Do in Banff this Winter
- Hiking Johnston Canyon, Banff
- Fun Things to Do in Lake Louise this Winter
- Fun Things to Do in Canmore this Winter