Where to Stay in Alaska for a Local Experience

Meier Lake Resort is, as the name suggests, right on the lake
Meier Lake Resort is, as the name suggests, right on the lake | Courtesy of Meier Lake Resort / Expedia
Matt Charlton

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 hideaways and unique places to stay 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 unique Alaskan places to stay as a convenient base.

1. Aurora Villa

Villa

Rustic lounge area at Aurora Villa with wooden floor, leather sofas and a view of snowy trees
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.

2. Borealis Basecamp

Glamping, Luxury

The Northern Lights putting on a show outside a Borealis Basecamp hut
Courtesy of Borealis Basecamp / Expedia

The Northern Lights loom large over this luxury Alaska 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.

4. Meier Lake Resort

Resort

Bright room at Meier Lake Resort with a double bed, armchair and wall art
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. Colony Suites

Apartment

Bright room at Colony Suites with a wooden floor, comfy chairs and a table and chairs
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.

6. Hotel Captain Cook

Hotel

Large dining room at Hotel Captain Cook with set tables and views of Anchorage through large windows
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.

7. Denali Overlook Inn

Hotel, Bed and Breakfast

Cosy room at Denali Overlook Inn with two beds with patchwork quilts, a wooden floor, a rug and a view of forest
Courtesy of Denali Overlook Inn / Expedia
This rustic, Alpine-lodge-style B&B is open all year round. 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 this Alaska stay, you’ll be spoilt by idyllic views and warm welcomes.

8. Homer Inn and Spa

Hotel

Room at Homer Inn and Spa with a double bed, wooden headboard and welcome basket
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.

9. The Lakefront Anchorage

Hotel, Luxury

Restaurant at Lakefront Anchorage with set tables overlooking an outdoor terrace and a large lake and some small prop planes
Courtesy of the Lakefront Anchorage / Expedia

The only hotel in Anchorage located on a lake, the Lakefront has daily flight-seeing 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.

10. Between Beaches Alaska

Guesthouse

Interior of a rustic wooden cabin at Between Beaches Alaska with a single bed, table and views of the sea
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 at this Alaskan property. 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.

11. Cape Fox Lodge

Lodge

Cosy double bedroom at Cape Fox Lodge with warm lighting, cream walls and a view of water, mountains and trees
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 artefacts and artworks, which you’ll spot throughout your stay.

For an affordable stay, check out our pick of the best cheap hotels in Anchorage, Alaska, bookable on Culture Trip.

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