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When it comes to planning an Alaska trip, it’s a fair understatement to say there’s a lot to consider. From choosing when to visit and how much you can afford to spend to working out the finer details of different towns you want to visit and stringing together an Alaska itinerary… I feel a bit overwhelmed just typing that all out!
One of the most important parts of planning your trip is choosing where to stay in each place you visit. Alaska has a different standard of accommodation than you might expect, and a high price-point doesn’t necessarily mean a five-star stay. However, there are a few tried and true hotels, inns, and B&Bs that are worth booking at whether it’s your first trip or you’re a return visitor.
To be honest, I didn’t stay in hotels very much while growing up in Alaska – why would I? – but I have stayed in many Alaskan hotels since my family moved away, and I began traveling back to Alaska 1-2 times per year. The ability to compare different hotels in the same area is a unique perspective I can offer over Alaskan locals giving advice – or other folks who might have only visited Alaska one time.
Having run this site for almost a decade, I’ve learned a lot about the places people want to stay in Alaska – and I’ve finally begun to dive into that data to help provide better suggestions for you. Below you’ll find a list of the 10 most popular hotels in Alaska, based on readers like you who booked hotels through my site last year. All of these hotels – well, almost all of them – are great options to start your Alaska hotel booking process.
In this post, I promote travel to destinations that are the traditional lands of many Alaska Native groups, including the Aleut, Athabascan, Haida, Inupiat, Tlingit, and Yuit peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
Determining the Most Popular Hotels in Alaska
For this post, I wanted to do something different and create a list of the hotels most booked through my site/social media that was unique compared to any other source on the internet.
My primary data source for determining the most popular hotels in Alaska is booking data I can see through the different websites people use to book their hotels that are linked on my site; the two primary websites people book through (other than hotel websites directly, which I can’t see) are Booking.com and Hotels.com.
I collected all of the data for bookings made (not bookings stayed) in 2022, and combined it to come up with this list. I then also submitted a poll in my Alaska Travel Tips Facebook group to compare my actual booking data with another source.
In the end, people booked a lot of different places through my site in 2022, which is very different than in 2021. Here’s the data from my spreadsheet analysis:
This chart shows that, though the hotels listed below are the ones most booked, there are plenty of other ones to book if you don’t like what you see (or they aren’t available on the dates you’re traveling).
The Most Popular Hotels in Alaska
Before jumping into my list, I thought it might be helpful to share all top 10 hotels in one place. The table below shows the most popular hotels in Alaska based on 2022 bookings, and how much the list has changed since I first collected data in 2021. (I didn’t publish a list like this for 2022.)
|1||Grande Denali Lodge||↑6|
|2||Chena Hot Springs Resort||New!|
|3||Harbor 360 Hotel Seward||↑5|
|5||McKinley Creekside Cabins||↑4|
|6||Denali Park Hotel||↑4|
|7||Denali Bluffs Hotel||New!|
|8||Seward Windsong Lodge||New!|
|9||The Lakefront Anchorage||New!|
|10||Susitna Place B&B||New!|
There are some hotels that I’m surprised are not on my list this year: McKinley Chalet Resort in Denali, the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, and the Van Gilder Hotel in Seward didn’t make my list – but that’s likely a result of the way my data is collected. If a hotel decides to stop using Booking.com or Hotels.com, I have no way of knowing if you – my readers – book through them.
So just because a hotel didn’t make my list this year doesn’t mean it’s bad or not worth staying at. It just means I don’t have a good data source to understand whether it’s popular with my readers.
Okay, ready to dive into the hotels that did make my list of the most popular hotels in Alaska?
1. Grande Denali Lodge
Looking for the hotel people who visit my site are most likely to book in Denali – and Alaska as a whole? The Grande Denali Lodge takes the #1 spot on my list this year!
Like many hotels on this list, I have stayed at the Grande Denali Lodge, but it’s not the only place I’ve stayed in Denali – so it says something that this property stands head and shoulders above the rest on my list. (It has more than twice as many bookings than any other hotel on this list.)
What makes the Grand Denali so special is its position; it sits high on the slopes of Sugar Loaf Mountain, with expansive views of the Nenana Canyon (aka “Glitter Gulch”) where the rest of the hotels are located. It even looks down on its sister property, the Denali Bluffs Hotel (which is #7 on this list).
My favorite part of the Grande Denali are the six cabins. These are well worth the extra cost per night to stay in an authentic Alaska log cabin with all the creature comforts and plenty of privacy. We stayed in the Bear cabin in September 2021, and it was such a lovely stay – I wish we had longer than the one night (especially as it was interrupted by the northern lights!).
2. Chena Hot Springs Resort
Chena Hot Springs Resort is polarizing among both Alaskans and guests – but it is another property I’ve both stayed at and recommend to travelers, so that’s part of why it made my list this year in the #2 spot.
In the Fairbanks area, there are plenty of options for where to stay, but if you want to get out of the city, enjoy the area’s most famous hot springs, and have a chance to spot the aurora in the shoulder season, there’s no better place than Chena Hot Springs Resort.
The most common negative feedback I’ve heard from guests and visitors is that the rooms are dated and the facilities could be cleaner, but I didn’t have any negative experience with these issues during my own visit in February 2020. (Perhaps for some people, Chena Hot Springs is their first experience with the generally rustic nature of Alaskan accommodation!)
In any case, I still highly recommend staying at Chena Hot Springs for at least part of your time in the Fairbanks area.
Chena Hot Springs Resort is open year-round; summer packages are all-inclusive of meals and hot springs pool access. Book on Hotels.com.
3. Harbor 360 Hotel Seward
In the #3 spot, Harbor 360 Resort is the first hotel on this list that I have not stayed at personally – but I have taken a tour of the property and recommend it based on that plus the fact that it’s hands down the best place to stay in Seward and has the best location.
Harbor 360 Resort is located right on the Seward marina, literally steps from the Major Marine Tours boats that are operated by its sister company. This means you can stay at the hotel, wake up, check in, and walk right onto your boat for an incredible cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park.
The Harbor 360 Resort was formerly a Best Western (if memory serves), but was bought and refurbished to a much higher standard than many hotels in Alaska given the price point of rooms here. If you’re looking for somewhere comfortable, clean, and convenient to stay in Seward, Harbor 360 is it! (If they are totally booked, take a look at their sister property, the Gateway Hotel.)
The Harbor 360 Resort is open year-round and rooms start from $129 per night in the off-season. Book on Booking.com.
4. Ski Inn
Representing the small town of Girdwood (pop. 1,037ish), the Ski Inn is a great option if you want to spend some time in this ski town – even if you’re visiting in the summer months when skiing isn’t an option anyway.
After I decided to stop promoting (or should I say start promoting against) staying at the Alyeska Resort, I needed a new spot to recommend, and as I’ve stayed at the Ski Inn, it definitely fit the bill. The Ski Inn isn’t a traditional hotel; it sort of straddles the line between hotel and hostel but calls itself a B&B. You book a private room and bathroom, but rooms are cozy (like European-style efficiencies) and common areas are shared. However, you didn’t come to Alaska to sit in your room, right? You came to explore!
The Ski Inn is a great option for explorers since rooms come in at a better price point, and you can use it as a base to rest in between days of hiking, soaking in the Alyeska Resort’s new Nordic Spa (which I do recommend even though I don’t recommend staying at the property), and riding the Alyeska Tram up the mountain for a meal or taking in the views.
The Ski Inn is open year-round and rooms start at $99 per night. Book on Hotels.com.
5. McKinley Creekside Cabins
Here’s another hotel I haven’t personally stayed at – in fact I don’t even recommend McKinley Creekside Cabins, so I’m pretty impressed that it received enough bookings to take the #5 spot on my list!
Don’t mistake me though: I don’t not recommend McKinley Creekside Cabins; I’ve just never stayed there or even been on the property*. I do know of it, and know it’s a good option if you don’t want to, can’t afford to, or there isn’t availability to stay in the Nenana Canyon area during the Denali portion of your Alaska itinerary.
(*I probably have been on the property back during the days when I worked for Holland America Line, but that was – checks – over a decade ago, so…)
In any case, McKinley Creekside Cabins is a great alternative to some of the other properties on this list. It’s located south of the Denali National Park entrance, and is self-contained with a restaurant and tour operators on site. Guests stay in their own cabins, or lodge rooms depending on availability (go for the cabin!). Since the property is right along Carlo Creek, it’s also a great spot to stroll or relax with the babbling brook for a background soundtrack to your Alaskan experience.
6. Denali Park Hotel
I’m actually delighted that the Denali Park Hotel has made this year’s list of the most popular hotels in Alaska; it’s somewhere I haven’t stayed, but is currently my bonus recommendation for where to stay in the Denali area. This is because – despite being up in Healy, about 10 miles north of the Nenana Canyon area and park entrance – Denali Park Hotel has a long heritage: it was built with part of the old McKinley Park Hotel.
Today, the hotel is pretty rustic; expect nice, cozy rooms with wood furniture and quilts for warmth, but nothing super fancy. Luckily, the Denali Park Hotel also offers their accommodation at a reasonable price. You’ll need a car if you want to stay here while visiting Denali (as opposed to taking the Alaska Railroad), but if you have that as part of your Alaska travel plans, this is a(nother) great option in Denali!
In 2023, Denali Park Hotel will open for their summer season on May 23rd; they haven’t yet released when they’ll close at the end of the season. Rooms start from $184 per night. Book on Booking.com or Hotels.com.
7. Denali Bluffs Hotel
Of the top 10 most-booked hotels on my site in 2022, four of them are in the Denali area. What that says to me is that Denali is one of the most popular destinations in Alaska (no surprise there), and that it’s absolutely bonkers to suggest skipping Denali because of the road closure (which some bloggers do!). I love Denali, I spent a summer working in Denali, and I want everyone to visit Denali – it’s totally worth it!
Back to where to stay in Denali, the Denali Bluffs Hotel also made my list this year. “The Bluffs” is a sister property to the Grande Denali Lodge, and a nice option if you can’t get a spot up on the hill. Rooms are spacious and have lovely views of Mount Healy across the Nenana River. There are several restaurants on-site; the Mountaineer Bar & Grill has awesome salmon chowder. It’s also a relatively easy walk from the property into the main commercial district of Glitter Gulch if you need to pick up some souvenirs or meet a tour guide for something like rafting or flightseeing.
8. Seward Windsong Lodge
Looking for another option in the Seward area? The Seward Windsong Lodge is a long-time favorite, and continues to be among the most popular hotels in Alaska. It’s located a short drive out of town, which means you’ll either need to be patient and use the shuttle to transport to-and-from the harbor and downtown areas of Seward, or have a rental car and try to find parking spots.
In any case, the Seward Windsong Lodge is a lovely hotel I hadn’t stayed at until my most recent visit in August 2022. Their newer buildings are beautifully designed and have balconies looking out over the forest; I spent my whole trip secretly hoping a moose would wander across the motif through my glass sliding doors.
Like most Alaskan hotels, the Windsong Lodge also has an on-site restaurant and coffee bar, so you can fuel up (or refuel after) your Alaskan adventures. The Resurrection Roadhouse has a really nice range of American classics and Alaskan specials.
9. The Lakefront Anchorage
I hope you know by now that I’m gonna keep it real for you with my Alaska advice, and given that, I want to say that I do not recommend staying at The Lakefront Anchorage and would love to see it drop off this list of Alaska’s most popular hotels next year. I’m not even going to include pictures, though I have video proof of my assertions below as to why I don’t recommend this hotel if you want to see them.
For a little context, my family stayed at The Lakefront Anchorage back in 1992 when we moved to Alaska (it was called a different name at the time). Given that it’s close to the airport and – I assumed – pretty nice, I decided to stay there again in 2022 so I could review the property and update my recommendations. I was gravely mistaken in my assumption.
The Lakefront is probably the worst place I’ve stayed in Alaska in a while; the lobby was… not underconstruction, per sé, but there was a giant hole in the ceiling and no repairs seemed to be in progress. The room was marginally cleaned, the towels had lint and hair on them, the toilet paper roll holder and one towel rack were broken, the windows were leaking in cold air… need I go on?
Please do me a favor: don’t stay at The Lakefront. Let’s get it off the list next year.
I’m not even going to include links to book this property. Check out my list of where to stay in Anchorage and choose a different hotel near the airport instead.
10. Susitna Place B&B
Photos courtesy of Susitna Place B&B
On a cheerier note, let’s round out my list with the 10th most-popular place to stay in Alaska. To be honest, I had never even heard of Susitna Place B&B, and I’m really excited to book a stay here on my next trip – if past Alaska travelers have enjoyed it enough to book here that often, I want to try it myself and improve my recommendations with this more homey, less hotel-y option.
Based on my research for this post, Susitna Place B&B is a lovely option on the edge of Downtown Anchorage; it’s within walking distance of the main sites but a little further out from the hustle and bustle of 4th, 5th, and 6th Avenues. In addition to cozy, home-like rooms and your welcoming hosts, Steve and Monica, the property has stunning views across Cook Inlet that you can enjoy while having breakfast – on a clear day, you can enjoy a bite with a side of seeing Denali!
Susitna Place B&B is open year-round; in the winter, rooms start from $110 per night and start from $180 per night in the summer. Book on Booking.com.
Which of these hotels will you be staying at during your Alaska trip? Let me know any questions in the comments below!
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