Old-timers say that the good thing about Anchorage is that you're only a half-hour from Alaska. The state's largest city is an urban mishmash but wilderness is only a short drive in any direction. While Anchorage is short on charm, it has more hotels than the rest of the state put together. Near the corner of Denali and Northern Lights -- site of that Anchorage favorite, the Sears Mall -- you may not find the Alaska getaway of your dreams, but you will have a wide range of accommodations.
The Embassy Suites in Anchorage is an up-scale, accommodating chain hotel, perhaps the nicest Anchorage has to offer. The 166 suites are spacious and well-appointed, but don't forget the swimming pool (yes, of course it's indoors) fitness center, whirlpool, restaurant and lounge. Free breakfast and evening manager's reception with wine and snacks. A nice touch is the free shuttle, not just to get you in from the airport, but also to get you around this rambling city. The most expensive hotel of the group, but probably worth it.
Extended Stay Delux Midtown
A functional, budget version of the Embassy. The studio apartments have newer beds with pillow-top mattresses and kitchenettes. A small indoor pool is available for guests, as well as a laundry and a fitness center. Noise levels suffer with the Seward Highway close by and inner walls not entirely soundproof, but all-in-all a fairly convenient address at a reasonable price. Note that "business services" are limited to copies and faxes (for fees) and that housekeeping cleans only once a week.
Springhill Suites by Marriott
The Springhill Suites is a Marriott hotel, top of the midscale, with typical advantages and limitations. The 101 kitchette suites are spacious, with large work areas, multiple data ports and free wifi. A family of five can get by in a double room with two queen beds and a pull-out sofa bed. The heated pool is nice but small, or try the whirlpool, treadmill or stair machine. Complimentary breakfast buffet, train and airport shuttle. Everything you need except excitement.
Bent Prop Inn and Hostel
The odd bird in the group is definitely the Bent Prop Inn and Hostel, and it's nice to see something interesting and different in midtown Anchorage. The Bent Prop is not for everybody, but budget travelers willing to share hostel-style with three others can get a super-comfortable suite with kitchen, living room and bath for less than you'd pay to take a cab to the airport. Very attractive monthly rates, parking and phone included. Non-hostel types can check out the private suites.
- Chugach Mountains image by Robert Ulph from Fotolia.com