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Alaska Hotels

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Alaska's Capital Inn
113 West Fifth Street
Juneau , Alaska
99801
Tel: 888 588 6507
innkeeper@alaskacapitalinn.com
www.alaskacapitalinn.com

This seven-room B&B is housed in a gold rush–era, Victorian-style house on the edge of Juneau's downtown. The building has been beautifully restored and tastefully decorated with Alaskana. The key word here is tastefully: Too many of the state's B&Bs don't stop until there's an igloo model or an ivory carving on every surface, but here, the period details—pedestal sinks, exposed brick or elegant wallpaper, Mission-style furniture—are done right. It's also one of the few hotels in Juneau with character—most are bland and chainlike. Many of the huge rooms have fireplaces and sitting areas, and the top-floor suite (the nicest room in Juneau, in our opinion), has a tub big enough to float a porpoise. The inn's proximity to the state capitol building (it's also within walking distance of everything else downtown) means that the rooms fill up, especially in winter when the legislature is in session. Reserve as far in advance as possible, and if it's booked, try the nearby Silverbow.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Alyeska Resort
1000 Arlberg Avenue
Girdwood , Alaska
99587
Tel: 800 880 3880
reservations@alyeskaresort.com
www.alyeskaresort.com

Since Alaska's premier groomed slopes and the most intimidating mogul fields in North America are right outside, skiers flock to the Alyeska Resort in winter; summer brings the mountain bikers. Alyeska's location in Girdwood, about 20 minutes south of Anchorage by car, means that you could drive down for the day, but then you'd miss out on some of the best views and nicest rooms in Alaska. Most of the 304 rooms have glacier views, and the decor (plush bedding, Alaskan artwork, cherrywood furniture) is a step up from what you'll find in most Alaska hotels. All rooms are nonsmoking and have a ventilated ski-boot locker; those on the higher floors are the biggest, with the best views and the priciest rates. After a hard day on the mountain, hang out in the pool or hot tub, or head for the Alyeska Spa for an incredibly soft and healing glacial mud facial, then reboard the tram for dinner at the swank Seven Glaciers restaurant.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Chena Hot Springs Resort
Mile 56.5, Chena Hot Springs Road
Alaska
Tel: 907 451 8104
reservations@chenahotsprings.com
www.chenahotsprings.com

During the gold rush, it wasn't uncommon for a hopeful miner to spend 18 hours a day in a dark shaft, shivering. But about 60 miles north of Fairbanks, there was a cure: Chena Hot Springs. Now a popular getaway for locals and travelers looking to experience the boonies without the inconvenience of a two-seater airplane and a tent, Chena is a classic gold rush–style lodge in the middle of nowhere. (Directions from Fairbanks are basically to drive toward the Arctic Circle and turn right.) Befitting the location, the 80 rooms are simple—similar to a budget motel down south. In summer, you can opt to sleep in one of the Mongolian-style yurts (bring your own sleeping bag). The real draw here are the tubs outside, which fill with mineralized hot water that's considered great for rheumatism, psoriasis, and generally lazing about. Unlike a lot of Alaskan resorts, Chena is open year-round, and winter is the best time to come: There are fewer day-trippers (passes are $10 per day); the contrast between the hot water and cold landscape is marvelous; and night after night, the aurora borealis lights up the sky.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Denali River Cabins & Cedar Lodge Hotel
Mile 231.6, George Parks Highway
near Denali National Park , Alaska
99755
Tel: 800 230 7275
rivercabins@doyon.com
www.denalirivercabins.com

A tent pitched in the backcountry is the best place to stay in Denali National Park, but if camping's not your thing, try the family-friendly Denali River Cabins & Cedar Lodge Hotel. Located six miles south of the park entrance, it's close enough to be convenient but far enough away to avoid the crazy hustle and bustle of lodging right at the park entrance. On a summer day, those hotels can feel more like Times Square than the Alaskan boonies, and are best avoided. Denali River Cabins & Cedar Lodge's 54 modernized cabins and 48 rooms in the lodge are fairly basic, but you're not here to be inside. Book a cabin with a view of the Nenana as it flows by, and you'll have all the luxury you need. The hotel is owned by Doyon, Limited, one of the Native regional corporations set up by the Native Claims Act; Doyon also runs the Kantishna Roadhouse, an inholding lodge more than a hundred miles into the park. The only way to get that far into Denali is to hike or to travel with this organization—they arrange day trips to places deep in the park where the Park Service won't take you on their buses.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

Closed mid-September through late May.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Favorite Bay Lodge
Admiralty Island , Alaska
Tel: 866 788 3344
myfavorite@favoritebay.com
www.favoritebay.com

Favorite Bay Lodge, on Admiralty Island (one of the state's most pristine islands, just west of Juneau), benefits from a simple truth: Humans are not at the top of the food chain here. Bears outnumber people by more than two to one, which gives the island a back-to-nature vibe. Like any great Alaskan lodge, Favorite Bay keeps the numbers small: The glass and cedar hotel houses 11 rooms. They're the best of Alaska comfort, with lodgepole furniture and plenty of windows with views of the bay's still waters and the lush Southeast Alaskan rain forest. Saltwater fishing excursions have been known to turn up 80-pound king salmon, 300-pound halibut, and cod bigger than the family dog; fly-fishers head for the island's lakes hoping to beat the state record of a 40-pound trout. If it's going to happen, this is probably the place, and the lodge is ready to help. But it's bear viewing in late July and August that's the biggest draw. Admiralty's brown (grizzly) bears don't get as big as the ones on Kodiak Island, but you're not likely to want to get close enough to measure the difference. Rates include round-trip transport from Juneau, all meals, and all activities.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

Closed early September through late May.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Forest Service Cabins
Alaska
Tel: 877 444 6777
www.reserveusa.com

If it's a true Alaska wilderness experience you're after, stay in one of the nearly 200 Forest Service cabins, located all over the state and mostly accessible only by charter plane or boat. The cabin accommodations are absolutely bare-bones: a cookstove (bring your own fuel—be sure to ask when you book if the stove takes #1 or #2 stove oil), a couple of sleeping platforms for six or eight people (bedding not provided), and an outhouse. You can forget about electricity, but for about $40 per night, you get a roof over your head, no one else around, and a million-dollar view. The beauty of the cabins is their location, on lakes perfect for fishing (there's usually a loaner rowboat) or inlets so still that the water mirrors birds taking flight. You can make reservations up to 180 days in advance (the most popular cabins, like the one at Anan or those in Misty Fjords, can book up immediately), but even if you start looking the day before your trip, you'll find an unforgettable place to stay. A couple of caveats: Always bring extra supplies, especially to fly-in cabins, and never book tight connections at the end of your stay. Alaska's weather is not interested in your schedule, and although the state has incredible pilots, there are occasionally days when they're grounded.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Hotel Captain Cook
939 W. Fifth Avenue
Anchorage , Alaska
99501
Tel: 800 843 1950
www.captaincook.com

Named for legendary explorer James Cook, the 547-room Captain Cook is Alaska's landmark hotel, and as the tallest building around, it's very hard to miss. Inside, the vibe is Old World meets Dallas, with doormen in top hats and lots of overstuffed leather furniture. The rooms are pleasant, if a little corporate in style, and quite a bargain for downtown, especially since the hotel is within walking distance of nearly all of Anchorage's main attractions. For the best views of Cook Inlet or the Chugach Mountains, spring for a suite on a high floor. There's a full-service athletic club (a rarity for Alaska hotels), and the top-floor Crow's Nest restaurant stocks over 10,000 bottles of wine (the state's most extensive selection) to pair with French-American fusion cuisine and spectacular panoramic views. The bar has plenty of comfy chairs and is quiet enough that you don't have to shout to carry on a conversation. Keep in mind that while the Captain Cook is the grandest of Anchorage's hotels and the first choice of visiting bigwigs, it also attracts a lot of package tours and can get very busy.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge
Fox Island (near Seward) , Alaska
Tel: 877 777 4053 (toll-free)
Tel: 907 224 8934
info@AlaskaHeritageTours.com
www.kenaifjordslodge.com

In the early 20th century, the artist Rockwell Kent set up housekeeping on Fox Island (an hour or so from Seward by boat). He quickly became famous for sunbathing nude in snowbanks and waving at fishing boats as they passed. Now, with everybody much better dressed, the island is home to a small lodge. Its eight cabins, scattered along the shoreline, are popular with families and upstate locals looking for a coastal vacation. During the day, the main dining room fills with day-trippers out for a salmon bake. Once they leave, guests have the island to themselves and plenty of peace and quiet to enjoy a walk around the pond or an evening paddle in a kayak, either on their own or with one of the lodge's guides. The rustic cabins—plumbed for more-than-ample hot water and wired for electric lights (there are no outlets, so leave the plug-in toys at home)—are clean and sparse and have uninterrupted views of Resurrection Bay. Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge really is a wilderness experience, although the edges have been softened a bit.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

Closed early September through late May.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Pike's Waterfront Lodge
1850 Hoselton Drive
Fairbanks , Alaska
99709
Tel: 877 774 2400
www.pikeslodge.com

The Chena River weaves through the center of Fairbanks, wide and full of salmon and paddle-wheel boats. On its banks is Pike's Waterfront Lodge, a favorite destination for Alaskans celebrating special occasions and travelers looking for a reasonably priced hotel with a touch of personality. Fairbanks has a lackluster hotel scene; the nearby River's Edge Resort is comparable to Pike's, but you'll mostly find budget-friendly chains and hotels with higher price tags that are equally generic. At Pike's Waterfront, the 180 rooms in the lodge (some with gas fireplaces, others with Jacuzzi tubs) and 28 cabins built of local Nenana spruce logs are done up in Alaska modern without veering into trapper cliché. One of the first hotels in Alaska to really start going green, Pike's Waterfront has a hydroponic garden and solar panels on the roof that take advantage of midsummer's 20 hours of daylight. Two dining rooms—one casual, one a little fancier—and the area's best local brunch makes Pike's Waterfront Lodge a great place to linger and watch the world float by.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Princess Copper River Alaska Lodge
1 Brenwick Craig Road
Copper Center , Alaska
99573
Tel: 907 822 4000
www.princesslodges.com/copper_river_lodge.cfm

How much wilderness are you looking for? The Princess Copper River Alaska Lodge is on the edge of Wrangell–St. Elias National Park, which, when combined with a couple of adjacent parks on both sides of the U.S.–Canada border, makes up the largest roadless area left on the continent. The tiny town of Copper Center (don't miss Chapel on the Hill, a log cabin church where the pews were originally made from packing crates) is the gateway to the park and the departure point for rafting trips on the Copper River, which flows through one of Alaska's most dramatic birding areas to Prince William Sound. The hotel's 85 rooms are neither large nor fancy, but the beds are great, rates are reasonable ($179 for a double), and you won't be spending much time inside, anyway. Even Two Rivers restaurant, with its picture windows, capitalizes on the reason why you're here: what's outside. This is the place to get some comfort—and perhaps a cappuccino at the Dragonfly Espresso bar—before (or after) jumping off into major wilderness.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

Closed mid-September through mid-May.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Zachar Bay Lodge
Zachar Bay
Kodiak Island , Alaska
Tel: 800 693 2333
Linda@zacharbay.com
www.zacharbay.com

If you won't be satisfied with bear sightings until you've seen the biggest grizzlies in the world, this is the hotel for you. Zachar Bay Lodge, which allows no more than 22 guests at a time, is in a remote part of Kodiak Island (which is good, because the town of Kodiak is really best suited for its standard traveler: commercial fishermen straight off the boat). Many of the communal buildings were once part of a cannery that went out of business in the 1920s; the guest cabins, most of which were built since the lodge opened in the 1980s, are well kept up and comfortable, but pretty basic. But nobody's staying inside. August is the best time to spot bears that leave footprints bigger than dinner plates (they know to avoid the lodge, but you can seek them out on foot, by boat, or by plane, and you'll likely see them on any of the lodge excursions). There's also prime fishing all summer (the ideal timing depends on which of the five species of salmon you're after). But no matter what time of year you visit, you'll get an ultimate Alaska wilderness experience in a corner of the state very few people will ever see. Rates include transport from the town of Kodiak, all meals, all day trips, and fish packaging.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

Closed early September through late May.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.