As Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage is the biggest entry and/or exit point for Alaska travelers. While some people disparage it for having too much “city” feel, I love Anchorage and think it’s worth at least a day or two during your Alaska itinerary. After all, I grew up in the Anchorage area and spent 15 years getting to know its different neighborhoods and things to do.
Since so many – aka all – of my Alaska itineraries recommend staying at least one night in this “big” city, you might wonder where to stay in Anchorage. I usually provide recommendations right in the post, but wanted to put together a separate list with a few extra options. This is a helpful compliment to my guides for where to stay in Denali and Fairbanks, two other popular Alaska destinations.
So whether you’re starting to plan by booking hotels or have left it to the last step, you’ve come to the right place. This post will guide you to the best neighborhoods to stay in – and which ones to avoid – as well as the seven hotels I recommend. If you have any questions about these or other Anchorage hotels, let me know in the comments.
In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Dena’ina Ełnena people. 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.
Areas to Stay in Anchorage
When I sat down to write this post, I was a little apprehensive: I knew I’d have to include suggestions on which areas to stay in Anchorage – and which to avoid (next section). This is a polarizing thing to do; there are local Anchorage residents who live in the areas I’m going to recommend and encourage you to avoid. But I want to give you the best advice I can, so hopefully this will help you pick a hotel in the right area for your travel style and plans.
First off, if you can afford it and there’s availability, stay in Downtown Anchorage. Downtown is on a grid system, so more specifically, stay somewhere in the area between 3rd and 9th Avenues, and from C St. to L St. This is the downtown core with the majority of tourist-oriented businesses and shops. It’s also where the best hotels are located. This is my top suggestion for where to stay in Anchorage.
If you don’t want to stay downtown for some reason, you might wonder about staying near the airport. This area is called Spenard, and on the whole, I don’t recommend it (more below). But, sometimes you need to be near the airport, and this makes it tricky to know which hotels are good and which are awful (and there’s basically nothing in between). If you need to stay out near the airport, I recommend only the two properties listed below. (You can always ask me about others in the comments!)
Areas to Avoid in Anchorage
So as mentioned, recommending areas to stay means there are also areas I don’t recommend. Let’s start off with Spenard. Spenard has changed a lot since I was a kid growing up in the Anchorage area, but it still has some rough edges. The only two hotels I recommend in this area are listed below; all others should be avoided unless the city does some major cleanup and the hotels improve their standards.
Another area people often ask me about is Midtown. This is another area I personally wouldn’t stay, even though there are a number of chain hotels there; it’s not tourist-oriented, and not as safe.
I’m sure calling out these areas is going to irk some Anchorage locals, but I have to stay true: I wouldn’t stay in either of these areas unless I have to. When in doubt: stay downtown!!!
The Hotel Captain Cook
The Hotel Captain Cook is my absolute top recommendation for where to stay in Anchorage. Located right in the heart of Anchorage, this place is all about location – and history (evidenced by its name, which pays tribute to Captain James Cook who explored this area in 1778. There are lots of great restaurants in the area and is within walking distance of numerous trails and attractions.
The rooms are spacious, clean, and comfortable. Plus, they enjoy gorgeous views of the Cook Inlet or the Chugach Mountains. The bathroom lacks a few amenities but still is comfortable to fulfill basic needs. As a heads up, the hotel is a bit dated. The hotel is older and so are the furnishings, but in my opinion, that adds to its history and charm.
Coast Inn at Lake Hood
If you need a hotel near the airport, Coast Inn at Lake Hood is my top choice. This hotel is functional and comfortable, but then again, not very visually appealing. The rooms are on the traditional side, with lots of brown hues and wood furniture. They are comfortable and clean and pretty spacious. You’ll also enjoy beautiful views of Lake Hood, and even watch the Seaplanes docked in the water.
The best selling point of the hotel is Pipers, a solid little bar and grill where you can grab a bite after a long day. Breakfast is offered at Piper’s for a small fee, too. The hotel also offers a very handy airport shuttle as well.
Copper Whale Inn
Famous for its homey feel, the Copper Whale Inn is one of the best small hotels in Anchorage for travelers who love places that feel like a home away from home. Despite being a hotel, this property has gone to great lengths to preserve a familiar environment. The staff is attentive and treats the guests like family, making sure you are comfortable upon arrival.
As for the rooms, they’re cozy, clean, and warm and have great amenities – they have a kettle, very important for tea lovers! There is shampoo, conditioner and body wash available. Plus, body lotion and a hair dryer in the room. The rooms also have a microwave, fridge, and Keurig machine.
The Inn also provides continental breakfast for their guests which includes assorted bread and spreads, cheese, kielbasa, fruit, cereal, yogurt, oatmeal with assorted toppings available, muffins or pastries, hard-boiled eggs, juice, water, and coffee. You’ll start your day with energy for all the activities.
Book on Hotels.com
If you don’t like risks, the Hilton Anchorage is a reliable choice for where to stay in Anchorage. This chain hotel covers all the basics of a good stay, offering attentive staff, clean rooms, a good location, and affordable prices. Hilton Anchorage is right in the middle of downtown, so it is very walkable and convenient. The hotel is located near lots of restaurants and even a museum.
Rooms are modern-looking and comfortable. They’re pretty spacious, especially if you’re coming with a family, you’ll find plenty of space for all of you. If you like to work out on vacation, you’ll enjoy the fitness room. The fitness room has a nice selection of equipment, and, not to mention, one of the best views.
Historic Anchorage Hotel
Built in the 1930s, the Historic Anchorage Hotel is a picturesque hotel in downtown Anchorage. As the name suggests, the hotel has preserved its historic appeal, which is reflected in the décor, room style, and lobby. The rooms are spacious and comfortable. They boast a traditional style, with lots of carpeted floors, chunky armchairs, and flower bedding.
The hotel offers a delicious continental breakfast every morning and there’s even a pancake-making machine if you’re craving a sweet treat.
Last but not least, the Historic Anchorage Hotel is rumored to be haunted. So, if you’re after new ghost stories, this is a great option!
Holiday Inn Express Anchorage Airport
The Holiday Inn Express Anchorage Airport is one of the best hotels in Anchorage if you want to be close to the airport for an early or late flight. Rooms are fantastic, offering comfortable beds, and spacious bathrooms with toiletries and amenities. The only downside is that the rooms don’t have coffee and machines or kettles. So definitely have that in mind when you book.
The hotel offers a free continental breakfast, with fruits, different types of bread, juice, and even hot cinnamon rolls. Given it is a bit far away from downtown stores, the hotel also offers a small store to purchase snacks, ice cream, drinks, and simple toiletries.
Marriott Anchorage Downtown
Another safe bet, the Marriott Anchorage Downtown won’t disappoint. The chain hotel offers comfortable rooms, elevators, a great central location, decent prices, and beautiful views.
Let’s start with the location. Marriott is right in the heart of Anchorage- walkable to many restaurants, shops, close to the airport, and freeways. The rooms are comfortable; they have new furniture updated with super comfy beds and lots of pillows. There’s a huge shower with nice shower/bath products. You’ll also have a mini fridge and coffee maker.
The Marriott is located in a slightly different area of downtown Anchorage, which may mean you encounter more, erm, locals, out on the street – just be aware of your surroundings and you’ll be fine. (Less obliquely, there is a homelessness problem in Anchorage like most large cities in America, and you may encounter members of the unhoused community.)
Have any other questions about where to stay in Anchorage? Let me know in the comments!
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