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“Fell in love”
Review of Ma Johnson's Hotel

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Ma Johnson's Hotel
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersSilver level
Reviewed 27 March 2013

I had the opportunity to visit McCarthy in 2009 (yes it is a long time ago and I had to fill in 2012...) and I fell in love with McCarthy. We had dinner in the lodge and it was amazing. We did not stay in the hotel, but we did pay it a visit and it's a nice, beautyfull historic place... I am planning my next trip to Alaska right now for 2014 and I will visit McCarthy again....FOR SURE!!!!

Room Tip: One of the most magical places I have been
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  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled solo
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2  Thank Sabel1971
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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128 - 134 of 241 reviews

Reviewed 4 November 2012

In over 90 reviews, this is the first one I have rated as 'Terrible' When we checked into the McCarthy Lodge, we found our room to be tiny. The small ‘double sized’ bed was barely big enough to hold us and we are average size. There was nowhere to put suitcases except on the very small amount of room next to the bed. This required us to step over them every time we moved about the room. However, the worst thing about the accommodation were the thin walls which meant the footsteps woke me up every time other guests went to the bathroom, snored or walked around in the room above. Forget about TV or coffee/tea making facilities which are not necessary. The room did not even have bed lamps or power points in the room. The owner says this is to preserve the historical ambience of the rooms, but power points could be placed inconspicuously behind the bed. The cost was quite expensive- $US183 per night and it was also the only accommodation in the whole of Alaska where we were charged extra for the internet and for breakfast. I wished we had stayed at the Kennicot Glacier Lodge which Frommer’s guide recommended. I had originally booked at the McCarthy Lodge because the hotel website said that some rental cars are allowed on the McCarthy Road if booked through the Lodge. As it turned out, we had no problems pre-booking a car through Enterprise Rentals at the Airport and getting permission to drive the road, but by this stage, I had already paid for the room and when I raised the idea of staying only one night, we were told that no cancellation was possible. During the first night I hardly slept at all because someone next door was snoring. To be fair, the owner did offer to credit the amount for a future stay, but it is unlikely that I will be back into this part of Alaska. Obviously, some people must like the lodge based on the number of positive reviews and to be honest, I lost some confidence in TA which I had consulted before booking here. I admit that I am less interested in the history of McCarthy/ Kennicot than I am in the natural beauty of the park, and probably a history lover may find the lodge to be interesting but I just found it inconvenient, not conducive to sleep and over -priced. However the accommodation was clean, the park was beautiful, wonderful hiking trails abounded, the drives in and out were very scenic, and we were glad we had made it to this area. However, in six weeks of travel around Alaska and the Yukon area, this was by far the worst accommodation we experienced.

  • Stayed: August 2012, travelled as a couple
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9  Thank oliverAustralia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
AK400400, Owner at Ma Johnson's Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 5 November 2012

Dear OliverAustralia:
Thanks for taking the time to review our hotel. Although we are happy to hear you were glad to have made it to McCarthy, we are sorry that you were disappointed with the hotel. The Ma Johnson's is a "Living Museum". As such, it is intentionally kept as an authentic restoration of the original boarding house. There are no tv's, phones or electric outlets in the rooms. Our website makes it clear that the property is all about the area's past, and most of the reviews on Trip Advisor appreciate the authentic Alaska history. Ma Johnson's Hotel won a coveted spot on National Geographic's "129 Hotels We Love To Stay At" list for being "Authentic, Sustainable, and Memorable".

Here is what guests should know about staying in our historic hotel. Each of the 20 rooms are different. Although authentic, the boarding house rooms are small. We recommend packing for the few nights in McCarthy when possible as some of the rooms are not able to comfortably hold multiple large suitcases. The hotels' original brass double bed frames are 4" narrower than a queen size bed (all the mattresses and linens are new, high thread count). Most guests are considerate of others and noise is rarely a problem. The quietest rooms for light sleepers are rooms 6, 8, 14, 15, 16, 33 and 20. The largest rooms are rooms 9, 12, 8 and 15. The best views are from rooms 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. While there are no outlets in each room, for guests with sleep apnea machines, we can supply power outlets to rooms 6, 15, 10, 12, 19 or 20 (let us know if power is needed when making a reservation).

Kind regards,
Neil

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Reviewed 7 October 2012

Ma Johnson's was a boarding house built in 1923 for a mining town. A hotel now, it is the original building and the whole experience 'a blast'. It has a rustic charm and friendly helpful owner and staff. There are shared bathrooms (which are spotless) - remember there were no ensuites in 1923. The rooms tend to be on the small size (relevant to the era) but this is outweighed by the 'whole' McCarthy experience and adds the boarding house ambience. This is the reason I gave it 5 stars. Dining is across the road at the Golden Saloon. We've been before and will stay again....

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled with friends
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Thank BongoBickford
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 September 2012

The rooms in this old Victorian hotel are indeed tiny - large enough for a double bed and small stand with a mirror. The newer rooms to the rear of the hotel are slightly larger. But if you consider the place as a whole, you definitely get a feel for what it might have been like to live in an old mining town, except perhaps for the flush toilets and hot shows. The rooms are clean, the beds comfortable, the lobby colorful and full of Victorian memorabilia, the staff down home friendly. If you want spacious and plush, the whole area of McCarthy should go off your list of must-sees.

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled with friends
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Thank Howlingbluewolf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 September 2012 via mobile

Very clean.
The room is small even when compared to european standards.
Shared showers and batrooms.
It is more a bed without breakfast than a 21 century hotel.
The owners were very nice and helpful but that couldn't cover for the level of accomodation.
If you can avoid, camp, take a day into McCarthy and sleep elsewhere.

  • Stayed: September 2012
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Thank ShlomoYokneam_Israel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
AK400400, Owner at Ma Johnson's Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 12 September 2012

Thank you for taking the time to review our historic hotel. We provide an historic property based on artifacts from town, re-purposed for use by visitor's seeking an authentic bit of history. The rooms are small in this post Victorian boarding house. While it is not a B&B, there are several options in town and in Kennicott for breakfast. Alaska's 100 day visitor's season and remote location means that rates are typically 20% higher throughout Alaska than comparable hotels in the lower 48. We are sorry to hear that you were unsatisfied with your stay, and hope that we can make it up to you on a future visit.

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Reviewed 24 August 2012

Ma Johnson's is a great place to stay and quite lovely for an out of the way town like McCarthy. We loved the atmosphere. The hotel is clean, they have handmade soaps and lotions, the beds are comfy with quilts. Yes the baths are down the hall, but they are clean.

Room Tip: Ask for a room on the first floor. Book early, it is very popular. If you stay at this hotel, take...
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  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled with family
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Thank travelersanonOregon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 August 2012

A special rustic hotel in McCarthy at the end of a 3 hour drive on a bumpy road from Glenallen. Neal and his staff were pleasant, informative and accommodating. The hotel had lots of interesting relics from the old town and Kennicott Mine. We stayed 4 nights there and loved it. We were encouraged by the staff to wander around town, visit the General Store (Community Center), etc. and by doing that we met many of the local residents and got a good feeling for the relaxed atmosphere and warmth of the town McCarthy. The staff at the hotel helped arrange a special surprise birthday dinner at the McCarthy Lodge.

Room Tip: The two rooms directly above the entrance of the hotel provide great views of the main street.
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Stayed: July 2012, travelled with family
2  Thank PosyDot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Ma Johnson's Hotel

Address: 101 Kennicott Avenue, P.O. Box MXY, McCarthy, Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve, AK 99588
Phone Number:
Region: United States > Alaska > Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve > McCarthy
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 7 Speciality Lodging in McCarthy
Price Range: £83 - £151 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Beautiful Scenery, Fine Cuisine, and True Alaskan History all rolled into one – Perfect for a weekend gateway!Our accommodations and restaurants are in the very center of the largest protected wilderness on earth. McCarthy is surrounded by more mountains and glaciers than anywhere else in Alaska! Experience the unexpected; unique tasting menus with casual style at McCarthy Lodge. The Golden Saloon offers a hearty menu of family favorites. Our greenhouses provide fresh produce for our restaurants, our Copper River Red Salmon is wild-caught by locals. Best of all, the fully restored Ma Johnson’s Hotel is the only authentic historic hotel in the park. Spend a few minutes in the Golden Saloon and make friends instantly. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Ma Johnson's Hotel McCarthy, Alaska

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