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Puffin Inn, Anchorage

One summer, shortly after we were married, my husband and I spent a week driving around Alaska, looking at property and bare lots, hoping to find our first home. After days of camping in the rain, we arrived in Anchorage, a day earlier than expected, and decided to splurge on a hotel. After visiting five or six budget hotels, none of which had any rooms available, we tried the Puffin Inn. They had a room available and though it was more than we wanted to spend, we decided to take it. While we were thankful for the hot showers, that’s about all we were thankful for. The room was cramped and dingy, the bathroom little more than a closet. We never stayed there again.

In the last few years, however, the Puffin Inn has added to its properties. Its round lobby building with big windows catches is distinctive amongst the airport area hotels on Spenard. The Puffin Inn consistently has some of the cheapest single night rates during the winter (as low as $49!), so on a recent trip to Anchorage, I decided to give it a try again.

The atmosphere as one enters the lobby is warm and inviting. The lobby is spacious, with a fireplace and sitting area, as well as a well laid out breakfast area. On this particular trip, the hotel appeared to be very busy (I arrived several days before the Iditarod start) – there were several people sitting in the lobby, as well as some at the desk. The desk staff was friendly and efficient, and I got checked into my room very quickly. On this occasion I stayed in a deluxe queen room, which is in the main building (the new part of the hotel). This was not one of the cheapest rooms, but I knew I wanted to avoid those rooms located in the original building and thus avoid a repeat of my original Puffin Inn experience.

The room was very spacious and well laid out. There was a closet and an extra full-sized sink, in addition to the sink in the bathroom., a large desk, a comfortable chair, and two queen sized beds. A small refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker filled out the in-room amenities. The room was clean, though the stains in the carpet and chips and dings in the wallboard were evidence of hard use. Despite the fact that this is a non-smoking hotel, this particular room seemed to harbor the lingering odor of smoke and left an impression of an older, musty room. Walls are thin, apparently. I frequently awoke during the night to the sound of people walking and doors slamming, despite the posted “curfew” of 10 p.m. For those of you who like soft mattresses, the beds will be perfect.

Hotel amenities include free wireless internet, a business center, a fitness center, hotel shuttle, and complimentary breakfast. The breakfast includes a waffle bar, in addition to standard continental breakfast fare. A Village Inn, McDonald’s and a coffee shop are within walking distance. Gwennie’s Old Alaska Restaurant is less than a mile down Spenard.

Although my stay this time was much more pleasant, I will probably not stay at the Puffin Inn again unless my budget absolutely demands it. They have done a nice job updating their facilities and offer a lot of amenities for a very reasonable price, but somehow, I couldn’t shake those first impressions made years ago, and checked out with a sigh of relief.

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