This is a basic hotel, with good food and basic accommodations. It is relatively expensive. BUT you are in the arctic with the chance of seeing up to 60 polar bears. The owner is great and the food plentiful. They also help with your flights and are just great. The Waldo Arms is a special experience.
When I decided to write a review of this lodging I was planning to give it one star. After mulling it over and thinking of where it is and how remote it is I upped the ante. This place is a series of structures haphazardly attached. When arriving I saw no sign telling you where you were but later discovered it was hidden by a repurposed school bus. We greeted by the caretakers with a warm invite. When shown to our room we went through a maze of hallways through a bathroom/laundry/storage area and arrived at our room with a door that had no lock. Inside the room, there was a closet with a tv sitting on two milk crates and another area to hang clothes. No light switch for the bare bulb overhead light, but it had a string to pull. An extension cord running from it to the tv. There are no plugins except for a single plug under the wall-mounted bed light. All in all, it worked to charge camera batteries, phones, and computers. There were two twin beds and except for thin pillows we slept ok. I have to mention this...apparently the window had been replaced with a smaller one and around the inside, there was no molding and a large gap with insulation hanging out. The food was great and there was always plenty. Good coffee! Be sure to understand the pricing it is per person and not per room, and food is additional. It can be shocking if not prepared. I could go on but by now you should get the idea. There is another place in Kaktovik to stay that is much nicer and the price is about the same but when we booked it was full.…
I read many reviews of the Waldo Arms before traveling to Kaktovik, and was left wondering if I should pack a roll of duct tape, LOL!! Let me assure you, it is a fine place to stay while visiting the Alaskan Arctic. We were warm, well fed, and the staff was very nice. Our stay was arranged as part of an all-inclusive polar bear tour, so I can't speak to the costs of food and lodging. The quality, and quantity, of food was great, and I slept soundly each night. I don't know anything about other lodging options in Kaktovik. I found the Waldo Arms to be just fine and would stay there again, should I find myself in Kaktovik.
I only spent one night the hotel is what you expect for remote Alaska. The food is good for everything thing being flown in, I was happy and surprised to even have a salad. But what really made the stay was the staff. Everyone was extremely helpful and kind! I can’t compare to the other hotel in terms of staff or quality but it was cheaper.
The Waldo Arms Hotel has been in Kaktovik for years and it shows it's age both inside and out. But everything works(well almost everything, our bedroom ceiling light didn't); the plumbing, tv, heat, etc. worked well for the 4 days we were there. Overall, very clean and comfortable. But not for the shy, bathrooms/showers and dining room all shared with other travelers. Had good weather for polar bear photography, but be warned, good weather for photos does not translate into good flying weather (for the small planes on the town's small private airway). For a trip up north you have to have traveler's insurance because things can get way expensive quickly. Great food and service by the way.
The food was yummy and the cook was pretty flexible. Marilyn was very hospitable with some super awesome stories. The hotel was nice and warm and provided everything we needed. I stayed here while I was touring with Akook Arctic Adventures - which I highly recommend. All rooms are basic, but they are basically for sleeping only. The rest of my time at the hotel, I spent in the common areas, socializing with other travelers. I would recommend this hotel to anyone visiting Kaktovik.
We spent our 5year wedding anniversary out in Kaktovik this past September. We read the trip advisor reviews and saw the photos. The photos can make anyone a little questionable. We were ready for an adventure and an adventure we got, but not with the hotel! The hotel was fabulous! The food was delicious! The cooks very accommodating and everything was truly yummy. One of the nights the food was served buffet style and the other nights it was made to order. We would get back from our boat tours with Akook Arctic Adventures (which I definitely recommend!) and the chef, Roger, I believe, was there to take our order on how we wanted our meat cooked. The dining area is family style and we were able to talk to other travelers/adventurists/photographers. If you aren't the social type, they also had a few solitary tables to accommodate you as well. Some locals from Kaktovik would also come to Waldo Arms for the food during lunch and dinner hours. It was great meeting people who call Kaktovik home. The rooms were very basic but comfortable! We didn't go to Kaktovik to watch television but the television there had more channels then we have at our house in Fairbanks! The outlets all worked and we were able to see the water from our window. All the people working the hotel including Merylin and Walt were fabulous. Ravn air also has an office in Waldo. Ravn employees were so helpful and friendly. We ended up getting to spend an extra day in Kaktovik due to a flooded runway. The only real negative was that we didn't have another boat trip to see more polar bears! I would definitely recommend everyone going to Kaktovik to pick up travel insurance for this trip. We were able to be partially reimbursed for the extra night! If we were to do the trip again, we wouldn't change a thing! We hope to head back, when we save up more money! We will definitely plan on staying back at Waldo Arms, it was a perfect stay! :)…
This is my third year in a row at the inimitable Waldo Arms in Kaktovik, Alaska...and it just gets better and better every time. As someone else wrote...you don't go to the Arctic for a luxury resort vacation, but Waldo's is the closest you can get to that. The food is never ending and great...I cannot understand how they manage to present fresh fruit, salads and veges every day in this extremely remote location. The rooms are clean and warm, there is always plenty of hot water in the showers, and the polar. Ear viewing is the best in the world! Thanks Walt and Merylin...and Roger the chef for the great food and service!
If one wanted to be pithy, one could say it is a shanty, small, dated, and far from what most would call a Hotel. But the story and adventure is not about the building, it's about the wonderful people, amazing hospitality, and the delicious food. If you're in Kaktovik, and are not from Kaktovik, it is a 99% chance that you are there for the polar bears. You will get wonderful photos, they will be amazing, but the stay at the Waldo Arms will be just as memorable if you relax, shrug off possibly preconceived negative ideas, and just enjoy the staff and other travelers. Be advised: Plan on being potentially stuck for 1-3 EXTRA days (that means have extra money per day) due to weather or runway conditions. Due to runway conditions when I was there, Ravn Air's usual Beechcraft 1900 was too large to land on the shortened runway, and we had to fly to Deadhorse and back on a Cessna Caravan. I was stuck 1 extra day due to the use of the smaller planes and a backlog of people getting out. Made it out on a twin engine Navajo.…
Wow! I just spent 4 nights in this wonderful hotel. The outside of the hotel no way reflects the inside. It is an incredibly original Alaskan experience with Waldo, a famous Alaskan pilot and his lovely wife Merlyn who has her tap on everything going on in Kaktovik and they both genuinely care about the people and the bears. This is one of the most welcoming hotels I have ever stayed in and the food is incredibly good. If you want to experience Alaska and see Polar Bears, this is the only place to stay!!!