Where to Stay in Alaska for a Local Experience
Meier Lake Resort is, as the name suggests, right on the lake | Courtesy of Meier Lake Resort / Expedia
Bed down in a luxury camping retreat with views of the Northern Lights, or stay in beachside cabins with a nautical theme. You’re spoilt for choice with these away-from-it-all hotels and hideaways in Alaska – bookable on Culture Trip.
Alaska is as elusive as it is exceptional, making it a fixture on many bucket a list. Yet, even here in the far-flung 49th US state, it’s sometimes hard to get away from the hum of tourists. If you’re looking for a more authentic experience in this most extraordinary of destinations, you can easily find zero-mile food, cabins crafted from wood felled in the back garden, or a locally brewed beer (or two) with a plaid-shirted Alaskan. Discover that kind of tranquillity by using these homespun hideaways and places to stay as a convenient base.
4.3/5 (44 Reviews)
Courtesy of Aurora Villa / Expedia
You wouldn’t blink if someone told you that this opulent set of villas was a holiday home for a (very stylish) Bond villain. With floor-to-ceiling windows where you can bathe in the magnetic beauty of the aurora borealis, this is the place to hunker down, curl up in front of the fire, and open a bottle of red. There’s a luxurious finish everywhere you look, including towering stone fireplaces, designer furniture and heated floors. You’re less than half an hour’s drive from the heart of Fairbanks, yet the natural wonders of the Alaskan wilderness are on your doorstep.
4.5/5 (24 Reviews)
Courtesy of Borealis Basecamp / Expedia
The Northern Lights loom large over this luxury camping retreat, which is made up of igloo-style geodesic domes typically used on polar expeditions. The best bit? Each of the snowy-white pods has a transparent roof for glimpsing the aurora (from your snuggly double bed, of course). Plus, they all come with a shower, toilet, sink and a breakfast bar for whipping up cocoa – impressive considering they’re so off the grid. Besides the fresh local flavours in the yurt-sited Latitude 65 restaurant (with more windows and even more wowing views), experiences aim to take you behind the scenes of Last Frontier life with aurora photography, and snowmobile and husky-mushing tours.
Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
Courtesy of Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge / Expedia
The enormous logs in the Great Room are from beetle-killed spruce trees from the Ninilchik area. The trims are crafted using birch from Trapper Creek. The ceiling in the Great Room is constructed using knotty pine. The rocks in the towering fireplace are from the Matanuska River, collected by the high school football team in exchange for help with new uniforms. This luxury accommodation is born of the local landscape, as is the food in the Foraker Dining Room, where a menu of wild Alaskan seafood swims alongside views of the Denali range.
Meier Lake Resort
4.5/5 (11 Reviews)
Courtesy of Meier Lake Resort / Expedia
Only 160 acres (65ha) of Alaskan wilderness surrounding this boutique resort, you say? Sounds like an awful lot of space for an adventure. The focus of this extensively remodelled summer camp with a luxury twist is seclusion and serenity. The owners found Meier Lake and fell in love instantly, and so will you – especially with no TVs, phones or whirring A/C units to distract you. Indeed, when you’re not off stand-up paddleboarding on the lake waters, there’s a real danger that you may be able to hear yourself think.
5/5 (25 Reviews)
Courtesy of Colony Suites / Expedia
Situated in downtown Palmer – an Alaskan farming town on the doorstep of Pioneer Peak, the Knik Glacier Valley and the Talkeetna Mountains – these beautifully furnished cabin-style suites are superbly located for hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. Despite the rugged wilderness, you’re very much in the middle of a community here: enjoy coffee at Vagabond Blues, scoff a slice of gourmet pizza at Humdingers, have a pint at Matanuska Brewing, or relax on the lawn at the Palmer Alehouse and grab a burger. Suites are geared up for self-catering, but all that nearby, you can choose when to lift a finger.
Hotel Captain Cook
4.5/5 (889 Reviews)
Courtesy of Hotel Captain Cook / Expedia
More than 50 years ago, Walter J Hickel, a former governor of Alaska, invested in the future of Anchorage by erecting the first tower of Hotel Captain Cook. This stalwart of the city is still under family ownership and going strong, offering classy accommodation with uninterrupted sea views over the Cook Inlet. It’s in the centre of Anchorage, Alaska’s main city, so you know that culture is right on your doorstep. Enjoy hikes in the Chugach Mountains, salmon fishing in the riverine city of Kenai, and all manner of adventures bookable from the tour hub of Talkeetna.
Denali Overlook Inn
Hotel, Bed and Breakfast
Courtesy of Denali Overlook Inn / Expedia
This rustic, Alpine-lodge-style B&B is open all year round. But, you can still visit in the summer months. You’ll be hosted by owner Tim Costello, who first arrived in Talkeetna in 1992, while visiting his daughter Trisha. They were both captivated by the local culture and stunning natural surroundings, so purchased the nearby Talkeetna Roadhouse restaurant and bakery in 1996. They’ve been members of the community ever since. With six unique rooms to choose from at the inn, you’ll be spoilt by idyllic views and warm Alaskan welcomes.
Homer Inn and Spa
4.7/5 (30 Reviews)
Courtesy of Homer Inn and Spa / Expedia
A perfect fit for your Alaskan odyssey, the rooms of this oceanfront boutique hotel look out over Kachemak Bay. You’ll get vistas of rugged mountains, ancient glaciers and – twice a day – 30ft (9m) tidal swing. Owners Paul and Mary Hueper are adopted Alaskans eager to share their love of this most northern of states with you. As a result, you get striking views from all rooms, hot tubs and even a thermal spa. It’s a little piece of paradise.
The Lakefront Anchorage
4.2/5 (834 Reviews)
Courtesy of the Lakefront Anchorage / Expedia
The only hotel in Anchorage located on a lake, the Lakefront has daily flightseeing and fishing pickups from a private dock. You can watch floatplanes drifting into view against the striking Chugach Mountains. The staff’s local knowledge will propel you into plenty of surrounding activities, including trails through Earthquake Park, hikes along Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, and snapshot-seeking missions in Kincaid Park, home to views of Mt Denali and the Cook Inlet. On return, rooms are pleasingly luxurious, with cozy leather armchairs and crackling hearths ready to warm your bones.
Between Beaches Alaska
Courtesy of Between Beaches Alaska / Booking.com
Luxury beach cabins are the name of the game here, washed over with nostalgic maritime design. Despite their rustic fisherman’s-cabin look, everything has been carefully considered here. There are Adirondack chairs and hammocks for lounging, kayaks with paddles for exploring, and even a small rowboat with oars for each cabin. Knowledgable local staff, in everything from local activities to the tide patterns, aim to give you an Alaskan experience like no other. You can fall asleep to the sounds of the surf and wake to eagles calling; watch the sunrise over one beach and see it sink on the other. You can even experience all of this from the bubbly comfort of a wood-fired hot tub. Run by an artist, there’s also a studio with installations on site.
Cape Fox Lodge
4.2/5 (250 Reviews)
Courtesy of Cape Fox Lodge / Expedia
Foxy by name, foxy by nature. This beautiful lodge, set amid the Tongass National Forest, takes advantage of all the sylvan vistas that surround it, and each room offers either a sea or mountain view. Cape Fox Lodge is also committed to supporting the native Tlingit community’s economic and educational wellbeing – whose skills helped build the lodge back in 1990. It preserves their art heritage, via displays of clan artifacts and artworks, which you’ll spot throughout your stay.
These recommendations were updated on May 28, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.