Hotels and Motels
Bed & Breakfast
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Hotels and MotelsBack to the Top
The big hotels are usually located in the larger cities, and most of the time they are part of larger all-American chains. The familiar ones are Hilton, Sheraton and Marriott, and aside from them there is a long list of smaller hotels.
Alaska is also home to hotels run by cruise companies, mainly Princess. On the Up side, Princess is a quality enterprise that provides good service, and that they situate their hotels in some of the most beautiful places in Alaska (the Princess located near Denali has one of the best views of the mountain and its surroundings).
On the Down side, Princess operates with the all too well known corporate aggressiveness – they open a location, bring in the tourists, learn what the strong businesses are in the area, and then buy them out or create a strong competition and guide their cruise passengers there.
What does this mean? It means that if you are looking for a big hotel, not cheap but with great service and location, you a more then likely to end up in a Princess, and liking it. But if you a little more into social awareness, locally owned hotels are the better choice for you.
Most Alaskan towns are home to a variety of motels, here to with a large presence of American brands names. Best Western, Motel Six and Motel Super 8, to name a few. These are usually hotels for all intents and purposes, but at lower quality and cheaper prices. Smaller towns, mostly ones on main roads, also have the ‘old school’ version of a motel, with a small office surrounded by many rooms.
In terms of prices, during high season (July – August) large hotels (like Hilton for example) run at around 300$ a night, and smaller ones (like Best Western) run at about 160-220$ a night. If you are looking to spend 100$ a night you’ll find it but it won’t be worth the savings. We recommend you steer clear of those. Important: when checking lodging prices don’t forget to add taxes – usually between 7-12% of the prices (depends on the location).
LodgesBack to the Top
In Alaska, the term “lodge” usually refers to a not-so-big hotel outside of the city. A lodge will usually include a main building with the offices, dining room and rooms, and sometimes a number of cabins scattered around the main building. The main attraction here is the combination of high quality service (pleasant rooms, an “authentic” feel) with a proximity to nature.
A sub-genre of these is the Wilderness Lodge. A lodge located in a secluded location, reachable only by boat or plane. These are usually located near special outdoor attractions, and cater to those who are more interested in nature and outdoor activities – hiking, nature photography, fishing or hunting.
Staying at a lodge is always an adventure but not a cheap one. Prices for staying at a lodge change depending on the quality, locations and uniqueness. Some places do not allow one night deals and instead offer package deals for a couple of nights.
Another very common option is a cabin – instead of one building with many rooms, many buildings with one room. The quality, atmosphere and service variates from place to place and ranges from a basic room with nor more than a bed and a table, to a high-quality cabin with all the perks.
The main advantage here is the privacy – you won’t hear the neighbors brushing their teeth. Important: some of these places don’t have a bathroom in every cabin. Make sure to check this before booking.
Bed & BreakfastBack to the Top
Like in many other places in the world, B&B offers an alternative lodging option that includes a personal touch, good accommodations and decent prices. In some of the places there are cabins but not most of them (in the cities it is usually rooms in a house).
The biggest advantage – aside from breakfast – is the personal touch; as you will discover along your trip, Alaskan people are very warm and nice, especially when tourism is their main source of income.
Staying at a B&B in Alaska will usually be the best way to interact with the locals and hear about living in Alaska first hand.
Youth HostelsBack to the Top
Those of you that looking save money on lodging can choose youth hostels. The main advantages are meeting other travelers, and of course the low prices (average night is around 25$).
Disadvantages – privacy (non-existent), guarding your belongings (pack a lock), to name a few. But above all – most of the youth hostels in Alaska are run by educational associations with the goal of educating the youth to independence and values.
This means that most hostels (mainly the ones run by the AIH) have strict rules, like lights out at 10pm or locking the doors around 1am (be sure to remember that one while out at the local pub).
On the other hand, aside from camping – that has its own disadvantages – these are the only places in Alaska where you can stay for these prices. Just do yourself a favor and stay away from the AIH hostels if you can.
CampingBack to the Top
The cheapest option (and would say the best one – depending on your relationship with your sleeping bag), is camping in camp grounds. Camp grounds in Alaska can be split into three types: private sites, public sites and ‘wild’ camping (‘free range camping’ if you will).
The private sites are more commercial and cater mostly to RVs (offering draining and charging) but also hikers with tents. These sites are common but are crowded and tend to fill up really fast, so for anyone with a tent, I would recommend avoiding them.
The public sites are a lot more suited for tent camping – they are usually made up pf a dirt road with small inlets where you can park your car. Those traveling with RVs can stay the night in one of these inlets and others can pitch a tent behind their car. Most of the time there will also be a picnic table and fire pit. Most of the public camp site charge between 10-15$ a night and even if there is no one to collect the money, there will be a charge box available for payment.
As for ‘wild’ camping – even though there are many places in Alaska where you could pitch a tent without anyone knowing about it, be advised that most places near roads are privately owned and if there is something that Americans in general, and specifically Alaskans, don’t like, is someone trespassing on their private property.
If you are trekking and camping this is a different story – here you must consider the national park or reserve you are hiking and their rules (some places have organized camp grounds and in others you can just camp wherever).