So you’ve decided that Fairbanks, Alaska is your next big adventure. You ask yourself, “Where would be a fun and unique place to stay? Is there a place I can stay and view the Northern Lights?” Below I’ve listed some unique and fun accommodations that would make a stay in Fairbanks memorable for years to come!
1. Chena Hot Springs Resort
Chena Hot Springs Resort has to be my favorite place to stay in Fairbanks. Even though it is a “resort”, it definitely has that rustic Alaskan feel that you can’t find anywhere else. Remember, you’re in the Last Frontier, so don’t expect marble floors or chandeliers. Instead, trade those for timber wood and nature’s Northern Lights. It takes approximately an hour and 15 minutes to get to the resort from Fairbanks, weather permitting. There are an abundance of things to do once you have arrived, with the most popular of course being the natural hot springs.
Check out my post 5 Items to Bring to Chena Hot Springs to help you with your packing. (Please note: that blog post was written while taking a day trip to the springs, and not staying at their lodging)
There are an abundance of activities around the resort and you’ll want to head to the activity center to book any ahead of time. My personal favorite is the Ice Museum where you can purchase an appletini prepared in your very own ice glass! Other activities include dog sledding, snow mobile tour, and snow cat tour (a cool way to view the Northern Lights). All activities do cost extra, but I think there is something for everyone’s budget.
We stayed at the resort just after this past Christmas and opted for a “Fox Room”, which is the most budget friendly at the resort. The room was basic, but was most importantly clean and cozy. Fox Rooms have two double beds, and they were surprisingly comfy. The Fox Rooms are located very close to the hot springs, so if we dared we could have packed up our things and quickly dashed back to our room without changing.
A great perk about staying at the resort is the unlimited swim pass you receive during your entire stay (the hot springs costs $15 per person when visiting for the day). Even though checkout was at 11:00 a.m. the next morning, our pass lasted until 3:00 p.m. that afternoon.
2. Borealis Basecamp
Borealis Basecamp is located approximately 45 minutes outside of Fairbanks, which is heading north on the Dalton Highway. If you are wanting to see the Northern Lights during your stay, this has to be one of the best and unique places to catch them. Borealis Basecamp consists of ten “domes” and an activity center. Just like at Chena Hot Springs Resort, activities such as dog sledding and snowmobiling are available for an additional cost.
The dome’s toilet was not connected to a sewer or septic system and the temperature inside our dome fluctuated often with the gas stove, which gave our stay a glamping vibe. We had a massive king-sized bed though with extremely warm bedding. A friendly staff member also came around with hot water in the evening so we could make hot chocolate or tea.
We only booked the dome for one night as it was expensive, but the unique experience was worth the charge. As soon as we stepped into our dome and turned off the lights, my husband and I both said, “WOW!” We were met with billions of stars and it felt like we were in a space station moving through the endless universe. We were fortunate enough to book a night that had clear skies so as the evening progressed, the Northern Lights appeared and danced for hours and hours.
We didn’t opt for any of the paid food options at the resort as we weren’t too keen on the steep prices, so I recommend stopping by the Farthest North Truck Stop just down the road for a hearty meal if you are on a budget. Remember to check out their famous pie for dessert!
3. Pikes Waterfront Lodge
Pikes Waterfront Lodge is a fantastic hotel that is located alongside the Chena River and close to Fairbanks International Airport. (Note: Free shuttles run from the airport to the lodge and the Alaska Railroad train depot.) I’ve only stayed in the standard rooms while at the lodge, but they offer unique stays in rustic cabins or rooms with fireplaces overlooking the Chena River. How cozy!
Pikes Landing is their riverside restaurant that brings in tourists and locals alike. They offer a fantastic Sunday brunch that I highly recommend, whether you are staying at the hotel or not. Sample local cuisine such as the fresh Alaska salmon, and don’t skip the amazing creme brûlée, the decadent chocolate fountain, or my mum’s favorite: unlimited mimosa’s!
If you are visiting during the summer months opt for the seating on the outside deck and watch people boat and kayak along the Chena River. Pikes has a small golf driving range cage on the deck that allows one person at a time to tee off and hopefully hit the hole-in-one across the river. Don’t forget to snap a photo in front of the “Love Alaska” sign before you leave!
Where would you want to stay during your Alaskan adventure? Are there any other unique places to stay in Fairbanks that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear about your own experiences while staying in Interior Alaska!