This is a very clean, functioning, fairly well-kept hotel. We were here for aurora viewing in April, and so it was pretty much just a place to nap in the late morning after a night out of chasing auroras. The suite we had was long and narrow, with two full beds at one end, and a sitting area with a big couch and a desk and kitchenette at the other.
The hotel is downtown, and so you can walk to some of the better-known restaurants in Fairbanks, including one right in the hotel, Lavelles, which was excellent. Lavelles however has very limited hours, and was only open at dinner time when we were there, and there was not any other place to eat at the hotel.
The hotel provides continental breakfast of the type that most chains do, which was included in our rate, but since we were aurora watching, we were never up before 930 am when the service stopped. The breakfast included hot items such as a waffle machine waffles and oatmeal and yogurt, fruit, etc. I think that to the extent that this hotel caters to aurora watchers in the winter, who return around 3-4 in the morning, it ought to adjust its breakfast schedule to end a little later, especially since there is no coffee house or cafe at the hotel. (There were coffee pots and coffee in the kitchenette, however)
The hotel is downtown, not really close to residential areas, so there are some things that aren't so convenient, such as a grocery store (the nearest is a Safeway, which is about a 15 minute walk). Also, there's no chain fast food to speak of close by for a fast bite so off hours meals are an issue, though there are some very nice eating establishments within walking distance (Lunch, Diner, (yes, these are really their names!) Fudge Pot, Bobby's were ones we went to) that serve during normal business hours. Diner was a couple blocks away across the river and was well, basically, a standard roadside diner. Lunch is also a couple blocks away and had great vegetarian, organic and gluten free items, including great baked goods! The kind of place you'd expect to find in California, but not in Alaska!
I noted when our tours went to other hotels for pickups that some of them were much better situated to strip malls, retail stores, grocery and fast food, so if that is a concern and you won't have a car, and don't want to walk too far to get food, you may want to consider that factor in your choice of hotels, and check out google maps to see what things are in the area of the hotels you are considering. Having no car, we would have liked to have stocked our kitchenette after a trip to Safeway or gotten a quick late breakfast at a fast food chain after having missed breakfast.
It seemed like there were a lot of stores/restaurants not open during the winter in downtown that may open when the high tourist season hits, so the restaurant situation may be totally different in summer. One store that was open and in which we enjoyed shopping at was Big Rays, which has tons of outdoor clothing and equipment and is right across the street from the hotel.
As for the amenities, the gym has a free weight rack and two treadmills and two ellipticals.
There is an indoor hot tub and also a pool that is more for dipping and not big enough for lap swimming.
The service people were all pretty much robotic and rarely very effervescent or friendly. They were all pretty perfunctory and didn't really seem to go want to out of their way to be helpful, like I've experienced at higher end hotels. It wasn't uncourteous but it was such that you hated asking for anything for fear of having them sigh or look at you askance. Hard to pinpoint generally what the feeling was, but its clear that the management has not drilled these folks on the basics of a welcoming warm smile and greeting, like they do at other hotels.
One significant annoyance related to the shuttle. Though we were informed that the free shuttle would provide transport to and from the airport, when we tried to arrange the shuttle the day before our departure for our flight back to Seattle at 7 am the next morning, we were told we either had to leave at 600 am (too late) or 505 am (too early) because it was for a Horizon flight that left before ours. Since Fairbanks is a small airport we wanted to get there at 6 am. We ended up getting a taxi, which cost a little over $20. Given that the morning Alaska flight out to Seattle is probably a major flight out for hotel guests, I am not sure how that airport pickup schedule was set, and whether it was because others had booked the shuttle for the Horizon flight before we did and they got priority or if this was a set schedule. But in any event, this is not like most hotels where airport pick up is on demand or available every 15 minutes or so, so be aware of that. On the upside, the hotel did provide free transport to certain attractions and we took advantage of that to go to and from to the ice championships, which was about three or four miles away.
A decent hotel - not one to complain and ask for money back, but not one I'd go out of my way to recommend due to a particular trait that makes it stand out. Purely average.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Come stay in downtown Fairbanks next to the Chena River. Featuring separate areas for sleeping, eating and working, SpringHill Suites provides guests with a microwave, mini-fridge, desk and pull-out sofa bed. Enjoy complimentary continental breakfast buffet and airport shuttle, as well as pool, whirlpool, exercise room and wireless. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Springhill Suites Fairbanks Hotel Fairbanks
- Fairbanks Springhill Suites
- SpringHill Suites Fairbanks Alaska