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“This town feels alive!”
Review of Ma Johnson's Hotel

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Ma Johnson's Hotel
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersSilver level
Reviewed 22 August 2013

I've had to pleasure of staying at the Ma Johnson's at least once a summer for the past 3 years, as well as in many of the rooms in the hotel. One of my favorite parts of visiting McCarthy is walking into the town. Even though the Hotel provides a shuttle from the foot bridge, i prefer the 15 minute trek. Upon arriving in the town there has always been welcome activity, from dogs roaming the street to visitors hanging out on the porch of the Golden Saloon, or the Ma Johnsons, seemingly enjoying one anthers company.

Up until this summer I had never ventured up to the neighboring town of Kennecott, so, this time, I decided to check it out. It was great to see and I recommend it to all visitors of the area, but it was nice to return to McCarthy in the afternoon; it feels more like home than a tourist destination . if you can, take 20 minutes to pop into the visitor center and learn all about Kennecot while you're there.

My many trips to the area have also given me an opportunity to try out the food at the lodge. The bar is great for dinner or a late night snack; I'm a fan of the burger (bison - i think), and the fine dining is worth the drive all by itself, and has continued to be this way even as the offerings have changed over the years.

The closest thing i can compare this hotel too is some of the boutique hotels in the states. I've had the opportunity to stay at many Kimpton hotels, as well as the ace hotel in Seattle and find the experience to exceed those hotels. The rooms may be a bit tinier and the amenities less modern, but what i've learned from the town has made every stay more memorable than my trips out of Alaska.

If you are going to plan a trip to the area make sure you can afford to stay for two nights. it's worth it to travel from your starting destination straight to McCarthy and skip breaking it up. there isn't a lot between Anchorage and McCarthy that's worth stoping for, or any other destination you may be coming from, for that matter. If you can't make it for at least 2 night just try to arrive as early as you can. This is one part of Alaska you don't want to miss.

Room Tip: So far, my favorite has been upstairs in the front of the hotel. Even though it may be a bit noisie...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank swnsn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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112 - 118 of 241 reviews

Reviewed 18 August 2013

Experience of a lifetime...McCarthy,Alaska and Ma Johnson's Hotel!! From the first email ,to bidding Pattie adieu, everything was perfect. Professional handling of inquiries and reservations for both hotel and dinner at MCcarthy Lodge,friendly welcome upon arrival from Nicole and Patti,even the owner ,who happened to be in the hotel when we arrived ,couldn't have been more cordial! Every attention to comfort in the lovely,albeit small, rooms. Period decor and modern plumbing..what a delight! We had planned one night and two days in McCarthy and Kennicott but now wished we had alloted more time to the area...the ambiance and people were so delightful we weren't ready to leave after the second day. Truly unique and so worth the effort to get there!

Room Tip: Twin beds worked fine for us seniors...liked having lavatory in the room. Loved sleeping on ground f...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Jeepmom84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 August 2013

Absolutely wonderful. We planned a wedding at Kennecott mine, but the morning of it was raining. The owner Neil let us have it in their lobby. Patti and Nichole set out fresh wildflower and got everything ready for us. Neil stopped traffic into the hotel for the ceremony. It was a small wedding party, just 6 total, so the lobby was perfect. They were all so kind and helpful.
We plan on celebrating our anniversary there for years to come.

  • Stayed: August 2013
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1  Thank tracyleesoptick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 August 2013 via mobile

Enjoyed our stay here. Comfy room and lounge area. No electrical outlets in rooms but plenty in lounge (left my cameras in lounge overnight by mistake and were still there in AM). Convenient saloon across the street.

  • Stayed: August 2013
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Thank DocLeJeune
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 August 2013

We agonized over whether to stay at this hotel or at the Kennicott Lodge in the nearby town of Kennicott. We made a mistake. We made the reservations only a day in advance and were surprised to even be able to get a room. We made a mistake in that we did not ask about the bedding arrangements and ended up with a room with two twin beds. Lesson learned: ask about bedding arrangements. The young lady that checked us in said that they were completely full and there was nothing that she could do. OK. However, the manager had been setting at the front desk and was able to change us to a room with a double bed. Great - thank you. We knew that the rooms would be small and they really, really are small! The shared baths turned out not to be a problem as there are a lot of baths to share. So far, so good. The problem began that evening. There was to be a party at the bar across the street. Great. We went to the party and left about 11:00 or so. We went to our room to find that the music seemed louder there than in the bar! The party went on and on.The music stopped at about 2:00 in the morning, but the party simply moved outside and was louder and the cursing got more creative. Around 4:00, it started calming down so that we were able to get a couple of hours of sleep. So, if you like to party, this could be the place for you.Now we know that this is not the fault of the hotel, but it is a fact of life. We were told by locals that this is not a once a year occurrence, but happens many nights. Strange, there were two rooms next to us that remained unoccupied for the night. So, unclear how it was "full".

Room Tip: Ask about bedding arrangements and make for sure you get the type of bed you want. Try to get room...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank TexasTravelerGoGo
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 August 2013

Dear TexasTravelerGoGo:

Thank you for taking the time to review the Ma Johnson's Hotel in McCarthy. We are glad you enjoyed the town and hotel, and sorry to hear about the late night disturbance from the Saturday night “prom” party at the saloon.

Two nights a week, there is a party in town. The Golden Saloon has Open Mic on Thursday’s and a band or party every other Saturday night.

You note in your review that the room configuration you expected was not offered to you right away. The reason you were first shown a room with two twin beds is because these are quite rooms in the back. We do not sell front of the house rooms on party nights unless the guest is informed (or they are in town for the celebration) That night, the only available rooms with one large bed was in the front of the hotel. The policy of holding back these front rooms is also why it seemed unusual that the “Full” hotel would have other “empty” rooms next to you. These four front rooms are the last rooms used on bar party nights (rooms 1,2,3, & 4). Indeed, if we had known that you were not getting a restful sleep, we could have changed you back to the quite room in the back of the hotel. Again I apologize for the disturbance.

If you do get to return to McCarthy, please let us know if we can make this up to you. I would be happy to give you another night complimentary to make up for the disturbance.

Kind regards,
Neil

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 August 2013

Cool digs. Ma Johnson's (and all of McCarthy) is really cool. The rooms are small, with shared baths, and there are no electrical outlets in the bedrooms. However, the staff could not be friendlier, the bed was comfortable, the lobby had plenty of outlets to charge the electronics and to serve as a place to meet other guests. The showers were good, the full bathrooms were equipped with hair dryers, everything worked well. A quick stroll across the road, was the Golden Saloon where meals could be purchased. The hotel staff picks you up from the bridge (you have to leave your car on the other side of the river) and will deliver you back there at the end of your stay.
We enjoyed our stay, and loved the town.

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank weezie711
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 August 2013 via mobile

Great place and experience! Was a very fun stay in McCarthy, with lots of fun activities and people to meet. Is a town with a population of 45, so lower your expextations for modern luxury and prepare for a trip into Alaska's wild past! The hotel, saloon, and fancy restaurant are all same owner and very well taken care of and high quality. We stayed in the annex(old brothel lol). The room is completely authentic, which means very small, but the beds were comfortable and there were nice shades( critical with midnight sun). Place was very clean, but no power outlets in room. Shared bathroom was meticulously cared for. Staff were very nice and accomodating. We ate at both the saloon and fancy restaurant, both were great. The fancy restaurant is a real class act. I had some of the best salmon ever, a big surprise in such a small place. Both food and service were world class. If you want an authentic Alaskan experience look no further. This is the place!!

Also, the whole town runs off copper valley wifi, which sells Internet on a daily/weekly basis directly from your device. Not sure how I did it but I got free wifi the whole time!! I made a login name/password with the company, then when it took me to the page to select a payment plan, I just closed my browser(without selecting one or paying). Then when I logged in using the username/password I created I had free wifi the whole trip!! Not sure if it was a temporary thing or not but give it a try!!

  • Stayed: July 2013
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Thank Billpov
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: £80 - £145 (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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