The railway hotels are often much more than a hotel, playing the role of landmark, civic icon and dominant feature.
The Bessborough Hotel is yet another in one of the most magnificent hotel chains to ever exist.
Developed as one of Canada National Railway’s grand hotels, this epic, castle-like hotel on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River has looked over Saskatoon since 1935.
Part of what makes these hotels so picture-perfect is that they’re each unique in their architecture. They’re all siblings, but not twins. And they each dominate the place they’re built, like Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City and Lake Louise on the shores of Lake Louise.
Not to discount how impressive Bessborough Hotel (or ‘the Bez,’ as the locals apparently call it. This ten-story hotel was the tallest building in the prairie city for decades, and while it aged for a while, recent renovations have brought that classic spirit back.
The building is designed in the classic chateau-style with towers and epic size, a somewhat unique style to Canada. One thing I’ve noticed (which is uncommon in more recent buildings) is the attention to detail in brickwork that appears in older Canadian structures, and this is a prime example. It may sound boring, but that detail is part of the charm, with the red bricks outlined in white.
Getting to the Bessborough is pretty simple since it was designed to be easy to find by tourists in the 1930s. Located in the center of Saskatoon, there are a couple places to take photos from. Up close you can get the great big towering shots, while from across the river it stands above all else in its domain.
There’s no admission to see this sight, and being that it’s in the middle of Saskatoon, I’m saying it’s essentially free, so long as you’re in Saskatoon for some reason. If you want to stay overnight prices start around $100-$150 depending on the time of year and day.
For some reason it’s not listed as a registered historical site on any of the major registers. TripAdvisor does rank it as a pretty decent hotel, but because of that it doesn’t register as a thing to see, like the others. Here’s its official website (a note — it’s owned by Marriott now, not Fairmont like other railway hotels). The local newspaper did a relatively recent photo-retrospective of the hotel, if that interests you.
Editor’s Notes —This is an updated version of the post I published last year when I took the first swing at this project.