A decent hotel room under $150 a night is almost unknown in Anchorage in midsummer. To visit economically, choose a B&B or small inn. Those listed are judged to have character and reasonable prices. There are hundreds more, many of them just as good.
Dozens of B&Bs are listed on a website maintained by the cooperative Anchorage Alaska Bed and Breakfast Association (www.anchorage-bnb.com). You can search by area of town or preferred amenities, or browse alphabetically. Links go directly to the B&Bs' own sites. Many have online availability calendars. Without a computer, call the association's hot line (tel. 888/584-5147 or 907/272-5909), which is answered by hosts at member properties to offer referrals to places that meet callers' requirements.
Very Expensive -- Besides the Hotel Captain Cook, three other high-rise hotels downtown offer a similar level of service without as much character or quite as many amenities. Hilton Anchorage, 500 W. 3rd Ave. (www.hilton.com; tel. 800/HILTONS [445-8667] or 907/272-7411), is a large conference hotel right at the center of downtown activities. The Sheraton Anchorage, 401 E. 6th Ave. (www.sheratonanchorage.com; tel. 800/478-8700 or 907/276-8700), is comparable to the Hilton, but in a slightly less attractive area a few blocks away. The Anchorage Downtown Marriott, 820 W. 7th Ave. (www.marriott.com; tel. 888/228-9290 or 907/279-8000), has a nice pool and fabulous views from rooms with wall-size picture windows.
Expensive -- Here are a few chain-hotel options downtown for those who prefer national brands: Days Inn, 321 E. 5th Ave. (www.daysinnalaska.com; tel. 800/DAYS-INN [329-7466] or 907/276-7226), which has a courtesy van to the airport and rail depot; Quality Suites, 325 W. 8th Ave. (www.choicehotels.com; tel. 888/389-6575 or 907/274-1000), an all-suite building across from the Federal Building, with a small pool; and Clarion Suites, 1110 W. 8th Ave. (www.choicehotels.com; tel. 800/527-1133 or 907/222-5005), with similar facilities as the Quality Suites, plus a Benihana Restaurant on-site. The Rodeway Inn Voyager Hotel, 501 K St. (www.rodewayinn.com; tel. 800/247-9070 or 907/277-9501), was an excellent small hotel favored by business travelers before a recent sale and surprising rebranding with a budget chain. As of this writing, it was still a fine boutique hotel in a great location.
Inexpensive -- Hotel rooms reliably meeting most readers' standards are not available downtown for a price that most travelers would call "inexpensive," but there are several small inns or B&Bs where you can save money and may also have a warmer, more rewarding visit.
Besides those described in full, the Downtown Guest House, 1238 G St. (www.downtownguesthouse.com; tel. 907/279-2359), is a two-bedroom apartment, beautifully decorated and with many amenities, for $150 double in the summer. The owner is one of Alaska's most noted photographers.
These lodging choices are spread across Anchorage, with its long, wide commercial strips. As do most residents, you need a car to stay here. On the other hand, by leaving downtown, you can sometimes find larger, newer rooms for less cost, and you avoid downtown parking problems.
Inexpensive -- A cluster of new hotels has recently sprung up along the C Street-A Street corridor in Midtown, about 3 miles from the airport. They share the area with several national chain restaurants, including Outback and Applebee's. The north end is within walking distance of some shopping, Loussac Library, and the Cuddy Family Park; the hotels at the south end are frankly not close to anything. The least expensive option is Motel 6, 5000 A St., Anchorage, AK 99503 (www.motel6.com; tel. 800/314-0781 or 907/677-8000). Amenities are minimal; it's the only hotel on this strip without a pool, though they can provide a swimming pass to a neighboring hotel. Pets are allowed with certain restrictions, and the price is right (summer $140 double, winter $70); they accept all major credit cards. Check online for deals at the other hotels; the Fairfield Inn has had winter specials as low as $89 a night.
Rooms Near the Airport
Good, inexpensive, standard motel rooms near the airport are rare to the vanishing point, although upscale rooms and B&Bs are readily available. The prize winner in our search for reasonably priced hotel rooms is the Lakeshore Motor Inn (www.lakeshoremotorinn.com; tel. 800/770-3000 or 907/248-3485). The rate of $159 a night double, at peak season, includes continental breakfast, Wi-Fi, and use of a 24-hour courtesy van. Don't be deterred by the older concrete building: The rooms inside are clean and comfortable, if dated in their decor.
Two good chain hotels stand near the airport, with higher rates: Courtyard by Marriott (www.marriott.com/ANCCY; tel. 800/314-0782 or 907/245-0322), with many amenities and a pool, at $199 double in summer; and the Holiday Inn Express (www.hiexpress.com; tel. 800/HOLIDAY [465-4329] or 907/248-8848), at $199 to $229 double in the summer.
A large, full-service hotel stands lakeside near the airport, Millennium Alaskan Hotel Anchorage (www.millenniumhotels.com/anchorage; tel. 800/544-0553 or 907/243-2300). It might be a huge fishing and hunting lodge judging by the large lobby, with its warm colors and fly rods and animal mounts on display, but the rooms, on long corridors in a wooden building, are loaded with comfort and amenities. The hotel has two restaurants and offers many services. High-season rates are $239 to $339 double.
We also recommend Lake Hood Inn, Elderberry Bed & Breakfast, and Spenard Hostel International, all of which are handy to the airport.
Choose from two hostels downtown and another nearer the airport. Anchorage International Hostel -- Downtown, 700 H St. (www.anchoragehostel.org; tel. 907/276-3635), occupies a centrally located concrete building with an urban feel, with a coin-op laundry, kitchen, and free Wi-Fi. Dorm rooms are small, with just a few bunks each, totaling 82 beds. A bunk is $25, a private room $65. Dorms close between 10am and 2pm daily. The curfew is midnight and checkout is 10am. A much homier hostel that lies in a slightly seedy area just east of the downtown core, although still walkable, is Alaska Backpackers Inn, 327 Eagle St. (www.alaskabackpackers.com; tel. 907/277-2770), which opened in 2007. The atmosphere is friendly and vibrant in rooms with murals painted on the floors and walls; large, well-equipped gathering places; bathrooms, and a kitchen. The hostel offers Wi-Fi and four Internet terminals (for a fee) and a coin-op laundry. There is no curfew or lockout period, but only guests with key cards can enter the building and the rooms. Smoking and alcohol are not allowed. A total of 94 beds and bunks fill 37 guest rooms, renting for $25 a bunk or $60 for a private room for two.
Spenard Hostel International, 2845 W. 42nd Ave. (www.alaskahostel.org; tel. 907/248-5036), is a friendly place near the airport, with free phones, inexpensive bike rental, storage, free Wi-Fi and pay computer kiosks, and laundry machines. It feels more like communal housing than an impersonal hostel. There are three lounges for different activities and three kitchens. The owner has installed heat exchangers in the bedrooms to keep the air fresh. You can come and go 24 hours a day. The office is open daily from 9am to 1pm and from 7 to 11pm in summer, 7 to 11pm winter. Beds are $25 by cash or check, $27 if you use a credit card (Visa or MasterCard). Tent camping is also available for $20 a night for one tenter, $15 for a second person, a dollar extra if you pay with a credit card.
Anchorage is a big city, and to find natural camping, one should go beyond the urban area. The two closest state park campgrounds to Anchorage are at Bird Creek, to the south of town, and Eagle River, just to the north. The Bird Creek Campground is a favorite. It sits next to Turnagain Arm and the salmon-filled creek. A paved pathway passes by under the large spruce trees. There are 28 sites, and the fee is $15 per night. From Anchorage, drive 25 miles south on the Seward Highway to milepost 101. The 57-site Eagle River Campground sits in a thickly wooded riverside spot, and it's well developed with paved roads and large sites with lots of privacy. It costs $15 a night, and sites can be reserved in advance. Book up to a year ahead at (www.lifetimeadventures.net; tel. 800/952-8624 or 907/694-7982). They also have a couple of tents with cots for rent. Take the Glenn Highway 12 miles north from Anchorage and exit at Hiland Road. Both Bird Creek and Eagle River tend to fill up, so it's wise to arrive early in the day, especially for weekends. The Municipality of Anchorage's Centennial Park Campground is on the edge of the city, but getting one of the 100 sites -- only 6 are drive-through -- can be iffy for much of the year, and reservations are not taken. The cost is $25 a night. The address is 8300 Glenn Hwy., but turn off Muldoon Road onto Boundary Avenue just before the Glenn Highway exit; if you miss the frontage road, it's a long way to the next exit. Information is available at tel. 907/343-6986, but only during the spring and summer. The next closest public campgrounds to the south are at Portage Glacier and to the north at Eklutna Lake.
If you seek a place to hook up your RV in town, Anchorage Ship Creek RV Park (www.bestofalaskatravel.com; tel. 800/323-5757) is nearest to downtown. The site is in an industrial area a short drive from town but a little too far to walk to the attractions. Sites with water, sewer, and power are $47 in the summer.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.