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“Location, location, location!”
4 of 5 bubbles Review of Glacier Bay Lodge

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Glacier Bay Lodge
Ranked #3 of 5 Hotels in Gustavus
Lakewood, California
Level Contributor
10 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Location, location, location!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 June 2014

Barlett Cove is an amazing, marine-life rich location. The Lodge in isolation would only receive 3 stars but when combine with a 5 star location, warrants 4 stars.

Upon checking in with the amazing David S., we looked out of the windows overlooking the cove and immediately saw two humpback whales! A mother and her calf fed in the cove and were in view all five days we stayed at the Lodge. At times other whales joined in the feeding and their blows could be heard throughout the day and evenings. Other marine life within easy view were Harbor porpoises and river otters. occasionaly seals. We rented a kayak a few yards from the Lodge which was magical given the whales that kept swimming by and embarked on a full day glacier/wildlife cruise a short walking distance from the Lodge. We hiked various trails immediately outside the Lodge and saw a juvenile moose prancing on the beach, a male dusky grouse presenting, six Barrow's Goldeneye chicks following their mother, bald eagles, red squirrels and evidence of black bears but no close encounters.

The room was adequate with a comfortable bed, heating that we used only once, a great view of the cove, and plenty of hot water. Storage for clothing was minimal, with only two tiny desk drawers and no bureau. Only a few hangers served as any type of clothes storage which is inadequate. If we want to live out of our suitcases, we would stay in a hostel, hotel management! A chest of drawers would be so much more useful than a desk with two tiny stationery drawers. We did not spend much time in our room other than cleaning up and sleeping, so it was not a big issue for us by might be for others.

Be ready to schlep your luggage up and down multiple sets of wooden stairs as only a few room are accessible rooms. No help was offered to us in virtually any respect regarding our luggage. I prefer to carry my own luggage anyway, but it was still a surprise not to be offerered help, especially considering we were two middle-aged female travellers.

The main issue with the Lodge is meals. You have no refrigerator or means of heating food, so you have three options as of our stay in June 2014. 1) Bring your own food and an ice chest and only have cold foods; 2) try to coordinate getting in and out of Gustavus, which has a couple cafes and deli, using the complimentary hotel shuttle that only makes runs to pick up/drop off guest at the airport and ferry dock or hire a taxi; or 3) eat at the Lodge. We were able to use the complimentary shuttle for one trip into town and had GREAT lattes at Fireside, then a hearty breakfast at Clove Hitch, and bought sandwiches for a later hike at Sunnyside Market that were yummy.

So most of our meals were eaten at the Lodge, which was a spotty experience. First off, the breakfast was limited to one option, a buffet, and it was AWEFUL. We were there at the tail end and everything was dried out. And it is not cheap. With tip and tax, expect to pay $35 for two for a terrible breakfast. We never ate there again for breakfast and simply snacked on nuts and dried fruit from then on if at the Lodge. Being we stayed a the beginning of the season, we were served by newly trained staff, which was also a spotty experience. We were served by Mandy several times, and she was a joy! The other staff members that served us were not especially attentive or personable and very S-L-O-W. The fresh fish items, the salmon and halibut, were quite good. The soups were hit and miss. The spicy chili was great, the Mediterranean was meh, the salmon chowder was decent. The caesar salad was an aweful watery mess but the mixed green salad was decent. There is no informal service to get a coffee, ala carte breakfast items (non-existent) or any ala carte items at all, or an alcoholic beverage. You are limited to dining room service or outside deck service, all very slow and inattentive other than Mandy. Lackluster for the most part and unacceptable given most guests will be a captive audience. Also, they ran out of items that seemed to bother the other guests, likes fries and hamburger buns, but did not affect us. News of the Lodge's ordering woes traveled to town and were mentioned by the locals, which was funny.

However, the location CANNOT BE BEAT. You are most likely staying in the park to experience the park, and this is the best (and only) place to stay in a hotel in the park. Aramark needs to tighen up serving staff and provide OPTIONS for grab and go items. My understanding is that the buffet breakfast was not permitted by the park system yet still that was all that was available to we captive guests. Shame on you Aramark! We want to have coffee and breakfast on the go, grab a sack lunch to throw in the backpack to get into the park and you did not deliver in that respect. The refrigerated counter at the front desk was not functioning, and, therefore, no ala carte items. Really? Then make the items available through your kitchen. It's not that hard, it just requires coming up with an alternative and not just throwing your hands up in the air when one piece of equipment is not repaired in the weeks/months you had to repair it. You made that part of our stay, meals, frequently unenjoyable.

Room Tip: A room with a view of the cove is great, especially one on the end like we had, room 21 I believe.
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank spowellakasw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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202 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (51)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 June 2014

We spent 5 nights here in early June. Everyone we met was friendly and accommodating –the driver who greeted us at the airport, the front desk staff, and the servers at restaurant. The rooms are clean and basic but perfectly fine for a national park setting (our room has 1 queen bed and 2 twin beds, phone and coffee maker, no TV). There is a fire place in the lobby where guests can relax or use WiFi. And I agree with the other review – you don’t come to Glacier Bay for 5 star hotels. Instead enjoy yourself in the middle of nature and the unbelievable scenery.
The location is superb sitting right by Bartlett Cove. Every night we took a walk along the beach. We saw abundant of wild lives – whales, dolphins, bold eagles, sandhill cranes, and other birds we can’t name.
The onsite restaurant deserves its own review. The foods we had there are better than plenty of high priced restaurants we have been to. Fish & chips, salmon chowder, seafood pasta, Glacier Bay Burger and Fairweather salad are among our favorites. Best of all, both the deck and the dining room have an unobstructed view of the cove. We often see whales cruising along or flipping their tales right from our dinner table!
Some people ask how many days they should spend in Glacier Bay. IMHO one needs a minimum of 3 full days to explore what GB has to offer – take a boat day trip into Upper Bay where you see the magnificent glaciers; a second day for whale watching or sea kayaking; another day to hike in the nearby rainforest; and then try to drop by the visitor’s center and join one of the many Park Rangers’ programs during your “spare” time. Sure accommodations are expensive here but so are the travel costs to get in and out of Glacier Bay.

Room Tip: There are some stairs getting around the lodge, so request a room closer to the lobby if you don'...
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank jy123188
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
66 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 June 2014

If you're going to Gustavus for fancy hotels, you shouldn't come at all. Glacier Bay is a beautiful, unspoiled sanctuary for nature, animals, and a few of us adventurist tourists. The lodge's staff could not have been nicer and the food was surprisingly good. Yes, it's still a simple, national park-esque room, but it's all you need: shelter, heat, and a shower.

A few helpful tips:
No cellphones work at all.
Call the lodge and arrange a shuttle to come get you and take you back to the airport in advance of your arrival.

A pleasant stay in a glorious place. My wife and I will be back someday!

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Tom P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ontario Can
Level Contributor
59 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 February 2014

I spent 2 days last July at the lodge. Very friendly staff, clean and good food. If your coming for a Hyatt or a Hilton, this isn't it. What you get is a Beautiful National park with rooms. Rustic could be a word, but it isn't rundown. I was comfortable and enjoyed myself. Who would stay in their room here anyways during the day? I went kayaking, hiking, went on the boat tour. The room is to sleep in. During the day go outside, you won't be disappointed! Would I recommend the lodge....Yes I would. I saw a moose outside of our room window. You don't get that view a Hyatt or a Hilton!

ps, The shuttle too the lodge and back to the airport was uneventful. Timely, comfortable and the bus driver did his best to give a guided tour of the area as we drove along.

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Sea_Kayak_Kid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 September 2013

Great wildlife, excitement and peace. Lodge needs updates. Proximity to water and trails a great asset. Friendly staff.
Kayaking and whales in abundance. Knowlwdgeable park service. All safety precautions discussed. Care and concern for not only the natural neauty of the parks ecosystem but for the guests visiting.

  • Stayed July 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank mntnrider
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Coldwater, Ohio
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 September 2013

We stayed at the lodge in August 2013. There was not enough seating on the old bus to take us to the lodge. People were told to crouch down or sit on the floor for the 15-20 minute drive. The rooms were adequate. Keep in mind no TV or radio. The dining room was sadly understaffed and some food and drink items were unavailable because it was close to the end of the season. There is no shuttle into the village unless you hitch a ride on the bus going to the ferry which only happens once a day. And was told to flag it down it you want them to stop on the way back. The worst!! - They take you back to the ferry 2 hours before ferry departure. The ferry does not let you board until 15 minutes before departure. There are no shelters or restrooms. We stood in the rain for nearly 2 hours!!! The shuttle driver said if we needed to use a bathroom -- use the trees or bushes!!! The lodge is in a very beautiful setting and the rangers offered informative programs.

Room Tip: It is a long walk outside to many of the rooms. Ask for one close to the lodge.
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  • Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank wkettler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
31 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 September 2013

Lodge: We did the all-inclusive package with the lodge and boat tour - two nights at the lodge, breakfast and dinner included, and a day cruise around Glacier Bay. The rooms were simple, and probably fairly described as "campy" (as we saw in another review), but clean and spacious with a large view window (we had a "forest view" room, which mainly looked at trees, but you could see the water through them). The bed was fine, the shower had good pressure and temperature. When you're there for hiking and the nature, what more do you need?

Restaurant: One thing that actually exceeded expectations was the lodge restaurant. The view over the bay with the many snowy peaks in the background was absolutely stunning, and the food surprisingly held its own. The breakfast left something to be desired, but the dinner was pretty good. (Particularly after spending a couple of days in Juneau, where we had to beg restaurants to cook our fish less than medium - what?!) We had the special salmon both nights, and it was totally enjoyable. Their salmon chowder is also really tasty. And the service exceeded expectations – we had read less than great things on tripadvisor, and were pleasantly surprised during our stay. My favorite – and I wish I could remember her name – was the woman

Cruise: Worth every penny. Great, friendly staff on board, including a ranger to educate you about all the wildlife. Bottomless coffee included – a must with a 7:30 departure. Also a great touch, they brought along a pot of the restaurant’s delicious salmon chowder, which they served an hour or so before lunch (the lunch left much to be desired – a simple dry turkey or ham sandwich – I would have preferred another bowl of the chowder). The schedule is organized with enough flexibility that the boat can pause and hang out when there’s a unique sighting (like a mountain goat, a grizzly or a whale). The boat also stopped on a couple of islands to pick up and drop off a few travellers who were camping in the wilderness, if that sounds interesting to you. Loved that we saw only a couple of other boats the entire day – one, a tiny little boat that you could only detect with binoculars in front of the Johns Hopkins Glacier, and the other, a cruise ship, which was too big and had to stay several miles back from the glacier. Watching/hearing the glaciers calving is truly spectacular experience. As a general tip, BRING GOOD BINOCULARS. The wildlife is amazing, but it is often too far for the plain eye, and you’ll miss a lot if you depend on the old shabby ones provided on the boat.

Hiking: We highly recommend the hikes around the area. We did the forest loop and the Bartlett River trail, both of which were pretty flat, east hikes (much of forest loop had a raised, wooden path that you could probably push a stroller or wheelchair if you wanted). Incredibly well-maintained trails, although there are a lot of rocks and roots on the river trail so you need to watch your step. The Bartlett River Trail was by far the most charming hike we have every been on – the moss-coated forest floor, the millions of mushrooms, the river otters – half the time we thought we were on the set of Alice and Wonderland. Important note: Mileage is clearly in a different language up there (and whose language, we have no idea). We were nearly discouraged from the Bartlett River trail, which the literature told us was a 4-5 hour hike, but did it anyway and it took us only 2 hours round trip from the lodge. We had a similar experience climbing Mount Roberts in Juneau. I’m sure this varies from person to person, but this happened to us on every hike we did, so be sure to do the math between the mileage they state versus the estimated timing yourselves before you let their time estimates discourage you.

Cons: Zero cell service at the lodge, which I could categorize as a pro about the place, except when we found that the wifi (which was advertised) was practically nonexistent. There were a couple of periods where we could contact the outside world, and even saw a woman talking on facetime at one point (I still don’t know how!), but for the most part, we were incredibly frustrated when trying to connect to something, anything, to no avail. This was particularly annoying when we tried to find trail maps and other area info – the resources at the lodge are pretty pathetic (such as the cartoon map of the trail we wanted to go on, which cutoff a portion of the trail), and we were never able to get online to find the additional information about the area we were seeking. We wish we hadn’t been misled by the existence of Internet in the lodge, as we would’ve done more research beforehand had we known how unreliable it is.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank BayAreaTravellers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Glacier Bay Lodge

Property: Glacier Bay Lodge
Address: 179 Barlett Cove, Gustavus, AK 99826
Phone Number:
Region: United States > Alaska > Gustavus
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 5 Hotels in Gustavus
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:3 star — Glacier Bay Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 48
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Glacier Bay Hotel Gustavus
Glacier Bay Lodge Gustavus, Alaska

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