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“10 out of 10 for 1st time Alaska Travelers”
Review of Black Bear Inn

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Black Bear Inn
Ranked #1 of 18 Ketchikan B&B and Inns
Waterville, Maine
1 review
“10 out of 10 for 1st time Alaska Travelers”
Reviewed 26 August 2012

We stayed here the first 3 days of our month long Alaska vacation. Having never been to Alaska these first 3 days were a wonderful introduction to both the beauty of Alaska and the warmth and hospitality of the people. The location is "Alaska Beautiful", the Inn is beautifully decorated, and the quality of the furnishings are first rate. Jim and Nicole were perfect hosts; offering to provide information about where to go and what to do in Ketchikan while at the same time leaving us to our privacy. Upon our arrival Nicole introduced us to our neighbors which was great because we had side by side decks and spent time sharing stories about our day with our new friends. When the guys were napping my neighbor, Nicole, and I sat in the kitchen and visited for hours (like you do with your girlfriends in your own home). My husband enjoyed visiting with Jim so much I had to practically drag him away when it was time to go. We are early risers and the fully stocked kitchen was always ready with an array of healthy breakfast choices; hot and cold cereals, toast, bagels, hot coffee, juices, pastries, and fresh fruit and berries. We were picked up from the ferry terminal by Jim and our rental car was delivered to the Inn the next morning. Nicole had previously booked a Misty Fjords flightseeing tour for us with Island Wings Flightseeing. Island Wings was recommended by Nicole as the best and it was the highlight of our 3 days in Ketchikan. Restaurants and shops were also recommended and greatly appreciated. Nicole did everything, all we had to do was show up on time and pay for it!!! We plan to go to Alaska again and if we find ourselves in Ketchikan the Black Bear Inn is the only place we will stay and will recommend it to friends. To give you some feeling for how I felt while at the Black Bear Inn I am sharing the following entry from my vacation journal: "July 26, awake at 4:40 with the sun, the horns from the boats, and the fish jumping. Nicole had hot coffee & breakfast pastries ready and as the fog lifts slowly I can see the outlines of objects in the water. It's cool here outside, fresh air like I have never breathed before and I still can't believe I'm in Alaska! Hubby is comfortable in bed and I hope will come outside and join me soon. Birds sound just like at home. It's not 5:30 yet and I already love today!"

Room Tip: I saw every room and there isn't a bad one. Really depends on how much room you need for the nu...
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  • Stayed July 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank NadeauNan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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144 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
  • Location
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (39)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Austin, TX
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 August 2012

My husband and I stayed at Black Bear Inn for only 2 nights. It was part of our 24-day Alaskan trip to Mainland, Kodiak, Inside Passage and Denali NP.
POSITIVES: We stayed in the Bunk House after talking to Nicole. We do not like to be on a schedule when we are on vacation and this particular efficiency is perfect for that. It is separate from the main house. We were pleased with its privacy, comfort of bed, large shower and the very small but well-equipped kitchenette.The BH is small but cozy. The location is great if you have a rent car, which we did, but the view and quiet make up for it. Nicole booked the Misty Fjord trip for us, which was great. Jim was so kind to give us a battery jump one rainy morning when rent car would not start. It was rainy and she did ask us to take off our shoes but she was polite about it and we had no problem with it. Most places we stayed in Alaska did the same.
NEGATIVES: As soon as we enter the BH she delves deeply into political conversation because of our home base. We politely tried to keep the conversation very general so I do not think she realized how surprised we were. We own a business also and talking politics to our customers is out of the question! Vacations are an escape from that! She indicated she has talked politics to several guests in the past. Has nothing to do with political persuasion, just very improper. Minor negatives would be the TV is small and placement is not convenient to watch. There was dust on the small tables and an odor, dogs or musty, not sure, but there. The towel rack in the kitchen was broken. If these negatives were corrected it would be further up on our list of the seven places we stayed in Alaska.

Room Tip: The Bunk House is great if you want privacy and your own schedule. Nice view. You will need transpor...
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  • Stayed May 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
4 Thank mil1lil
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Msdetail, Owner at Black Bear Inn, responded to this review, 29 August 2012
Thank you for your feedback. It is always helpful to learn about our place from our guests prospective. It also gives us a chance to explain things that our guests may not know. Because we are a small Inn, my husband Jim and I are available to get to know our guests and they intern to get to know us. Most of our guests select a place like ours because they want to learn more about Alaskan’s and how they live, and to exchange stories and information.

Being a fairly conservative state with very strong interest in America’s Future most Alaskan’s are eager to learn how fellow Americans view the political scene and what they think will happen in the upcoming election. Because we are so far removed from America’s major population bases and with all of the turmoil going on in the USA and around the World, we are much like early Alaskan settlers in that we want to hear first hand news from our visitors.

Jim and I spend a lot of time reading and learning about World Affairs and have always talked politics with our guests, just as we would with friends that visit our home. We do not expect our guests to hold our same viewpoint and would never continue a conversation if we had any idea that it was a subject that they did not want to discuss. In most cases our guests bring up Alaska Politics first, wanting to know what we think about ‘Sara’ or the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’.

We intentionally put a small flat screen TV in the Bunkhouse cabin, because we have designed it as romantic, privet, get-a-way. Some of our guests even ask that we take the TV out while they are there. For this reason we also provide Sirius Satellite Radio. The Cabin odor that you mentioned can only have been the smell of the whitewashed ruff cut, tong and grove red cedar paneling on the walls. We were able to find cedar that was cut locally around 1920 and that had been stored in an attic for all this time. It is very beautiful and still has a faint cedar smell.

When you left we saw that the towel bar in the Kitchenette was pulling loose from the wall on one side. If we had known this before you arrived or if you had mentioned it to us, Jim would have fixed it right away. I am surprised that you found dust on any of the tables. Jim and I clean each room ourselves and room cleanliness is something that we are very particular about. Many of our guests like to keep the large Ocean view cabin windows open, to feel and smell the breeze, so I know that everything has to be dusted carefully, before each new guest arrives. I am sorry, if I overlooked something this time.
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Durant, Oklahoma
1 review
Reviewed 15 August 2012

Well decorated, very clean & comfortable rooms with outdoor decks for each room. The views of the backyard & ocean were extraordinary. On a clear day you can see forever....but clear days are a rarity in Ketchikan......however we LOVED seeing the rain and experiencing the cool weather as we live in Oklahoma and we were there in August......need I say more? The owner was very helpful in directing us to a reasonable car rental agent (who was also very helpful and had our car waiting at the AMHS dock and allowed us to leave it at the dock upon our departure). My husband was able to do some great fishing and our overall experience in Kethcikan and Southeast Alaska was "great."

  • Stayed August 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Mary Ann R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lemitar, NM
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 August 2012

We were especially comfortable and happy with our stay at Black Bear B&B. There were special perks that we enjoyed which included making your own breakfast with the healthiest of foods for a breakfast, with fresh fruit, and a full kitchen to use at our discretion, and our own refrig next to our room on our own deck with beverages for our taking, at no cost, on our own private deck. The house provides each room with large spa tubs, a spa tub outside to watch the wildlife and water activity. We will recommend to all of our friends to stay here as Nicole and Jim were so natural and caring about all of our comforts. This couple's knowledge about the area was most helpful, informative, and benefited us for our length of stay for us to get the most of each day. These educated folks had good books to read and enjoyed interacting with us. They were excellent communicators. We will return!

Room Tip: All rooms appear to be well designed and furnished elegantly with Alaskan art.
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  • Stayed August 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Janet B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 August 2012

I have mixed feelings about the Black Bear. The property is very nice and the rooms well decorated. The hot tub is nice too. Nicole is also very helpful. She is willing to book excursions for you and rent a car for a good price. But... there is a passive-aggressive and awkward side to all this. The property is nice, but... when we wore our shoes into our room (carrying our very big bags) Nicole condescendingly told us that we need to respect the fact that Alaskans take off their shoes at the door (as if this was some special rule in Alaska) and that we need to respect the $2000 rug on the floor. I don't mind taking off my shoes, I do mind being spoken down to. And if you're worried about an expensive rug, don't put it in a room you rent to strangers! Similarly, there is a laundry service, but Nicole insists on doing it herself (creepy) and doesn't let you know when she'll get it back to you. Again, although she offered to do the laundry, she kept complaining about how much she had to pay for water... Why should I care about her operating costs? If its a burden, don't offer the service. I'd rather go to the laundromat. Again, very nice service, but she makes you feel guilty/weird about the whole thing. In general, Nicole seems to forget that you are paying her to stay and instead acts like she is doing you some miraculous favor.
She will book activities for you, and constantly remind you that "she doesn't charge for this service." It is nice, but my iphone also doesn't charge for the service.

Another kvetch: the website states that they'll pick you up from the airport/ferry. It turns out this is only true if the time is convenient for Nicole. When I made the reservation (6 months in advance) I mentioned our ferry's arrival time. Twice in the two weeks before our arrival I emailed Nicole and requested a shuttle from the ferry. No response. Then I called when we arrived and Nicole was annoyed and told us to rent a car. When we arrived she repeatedly told me, in a condescending way, "if you only contacted me we could have picked you up". Ugh

Some people really love this place (there were multiple repeat guests when we stayed.) But I found Nicole to be very rude; and I didn't feel comfortable there. Not worth the money.

Stayed July 2012, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
9 Thank CBD85
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Msdetail, Owner at Black Bear Inn, responded to this review, 13 August 2012
I apologies if my comments to you seemed rude or my suggestions made you uncomfortable. That was certainly not my intent. I am a very honest, straight forward person who you can always count on to tell you how I think and feel about things. I am here to make sure that all of our guests needs are met and I would have been happy to help you find another place to stay if you were unhappy with me or the Inn.

When the weather is bad, which in Ketchikan is a lot of the time, we always ask our guests to take off their outdoor shoes when they are in their bedroom. Because we ask them to do this, we are able to put $2000 handmade wool throw rugs and expensive bed linens in the bedrooms. We are not interested in providing standard hotel furnishings. We want guests to feel like they are someplace special. Mud, pine needles and ground slugs are best kept outside. That is why many Alaskan’s have a ‘Shoes Off in the House’ policy.

My main concern about water is not the cost for us to buy it. If I told you how expensive it is to buy water here it was because it is and most people would not know that, since we live in a rain forest. Ketchikan is on a giant rock and that means we are not in a water district. Instead we have to collect rain water and buy it. If we hit a dry spell the bill can be well over $10,000. Because there is no sewer system we have a septic system. Since we are on the Ocean we are very careful about the amount of gray water we discharge into the water. We are a green friendly Inn and combine laundry loads when we can. I have always offered to do our guests laundry, so they have more time to vacation and not have to set in a Laundromat. They are not the place I would want to spend my afternoon. That does not seem weird to me. I always make sure that guest’s laundry is returned to them the same day.

Jim and I have always been happy to provide extra services to our guests and do feel like we are doing them a favor, because we want to. Helping our guest plan their stay and booking their fishing and adventure activities does take a lot of my time. I know that most people charge for these services so I always tell people that I am doing it for them for free so they do not think they will end up needing to pay me for my time. It is my gift to them to help assure that their trip to Ketchikan is a success.

I did not get your emails about your arrival time. We do provide ferry pick up, but must know in advance since only Jim can provide pickup. It was after you arrived that I suggested that you rent a car so that you would be able to see more of the Island and not end up spending a lot of money on cabs.

Bed and Breakfasts are a wonderful choice when traveling. I hope that you will continue staying at them, even though you were not completely satisfied with your stay here.
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Augusta, Ga
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 July 2012

Stayed for 4 days. 70's style middle-class home converted to rooms to rent. Brkst disappointing. We went out rather than eat paltry offering of walnut bread and melon and strawberries. Scolded rudely and at length by matron/ owner for using wash machine to wash VERY foul smelling towels in our bathroom. It was very weird and awkward. Would never recommend to friends.

  • Stayed July 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank JimAE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Msdetail, Owner at Black Bear Inn, responded to this review, 26 July 2012
We have been told by other Inn owners to expect a poor review once and a while. Even so, I am surprised by yours. We built our property in 2005 as a private Inn at a cost of way over a million and a half dollars. It is not a 70’s conversion. The beds, linens and furnishings are very high quality and we maintain superior cleanliness standards throughout the Inn. Our room charges are very reasonable and quite a bit less than the hotels in the area.

As for your towels they were freshly washed and put in your room just before you arrived. I am sorry but we live in a rain forest and things often have a damp smell due to the weather. You took it upon yourself to take all of your towels into my laundry room and use the washer at a time when I needed to be washing the linens for other guest rooms. I am sure you would not go into a hotels laundry and start washing your own towels. If you had told me that you wanted your towels rewashed, I would have happily done so and given you new towels right then. You rented a room in a B&B not the entire Inn. The laundry room has a private sign on it because it is for staff use.

We make it clear that our breakfast is a self serve. We provide the following for our guests to use in preparing their breakfast; Dry cereal, oatmeal, rice, fresh fruit (4 or 5 different kinds), dried fruit, sweet rolls, nut bread, bread, English muffins, bagels, eggs, cottage cheese, cheese, milk, several fruit juices, yogurt, peanut butter, jams, coffee and tea. There is even pancake and waffle mix. We also tell you that you can bring in other thinks for your breakfast, if you are on a special diet.

Your group received my complete attention while you were here. I spent a great deal of time arranging for your activities and helping you plan your time. I even did the group’s laundry before you left so that your things would be clean when you arrived at your next stop. We try very hard to make sure that all of our guests are happy with us and their stay at the Black Bear. I am sorry that you were not.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dripping Springs, Texas, United States
Level 5 Contributor
58 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 July 2012

This was our hands-down favorite place to stay in Alaska. Beds incredibly comfortable; had the run of the kitchen and made rhubarb pies for dinner and for our hosts. The breakfast and other foods available were incredibly generous. Location wonderful - not right in town with cruise ship tourists, but right on the water nonetheless. We loved watching the tide go in and out from the hot tub. Hosts Nicole and Jim went completely overboard making sure we caught the highlights, had excellent meals, and experienced local culture. Blackout curtains (a must in summer), huge tub in the bathroom, all amenities including tub salts, many towels, and our personal small fridge on the back deck. Very luxurious, very cozy, and home-like. Absolutely the best.

Room Tip: Upper floor has a deck from which the view of the narrows are better. Lower floor rooms extremely l...
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  • Stayed July 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank KLangsley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Black Bear Inn

Property: Black Bear Inn
Address: 5528 N Tongass Hwy, Ketchikan, AK 99901-9008
Phone Number:
Region: United States > Alaska > Ketchikan
Amenities:
Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly )
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 18 B&Bs / Inns in Ketchikan
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:3 star — Black Bear Inn 3*
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Elegant waterfront Bed and Breakfast and 2 vacation Rentals built for guests who want privacy and expect the finest furnishings and amenities. Rent one of the 3 B&B suites, the whole house as a Vacation Rental, the one bedroom luxury Vacation Rental Apartment or the 2 bedroom Vacation Rental Cabin. No minimum stay required in the B&B. A 2 night minimum stay is required in the Vacation Rentals. All of the Bedrooms in the Inn have private closed in porches and entrances overlooking the ocean, large baths, fireplaces, refrigerators, cable TV, and free high speed wireless. The Inn Can accommodate up to 16. There are beautiful gardens, viewing decks and a Covered Spa and Summer Kitchen on the waters edge. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Black Bear Hotel Ketchikan

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