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“"The Real Alaska Experience"”
Review of Ma Johnson's Hotel

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Ma Johnson's Hotel
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersSilver level
Goshen, Indiana
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“"The Real Alaska Experience"”
Reviewed 16 December 2013

I have been on every road in Alaska even the ones rental cars are not allowed and been to most of the towns including Barrow, Nome, Sitka, Juneau, Cooper Landing, Seward, Homer, Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay, Bethel, Chitina, etc and nothing comes close to the "Real Alaskan Experience" as does McCarthy specifically McCarthy Lodge and Ma Johnson's Hotel. I have been coming to this hotel since 2008 and the experience that Neal Darish provides is nothing less than exceptional! It takes you back to an exciting era but with all the modern amenities. Go ahead and spend your days in Kennecott but your mornings and evenings should be spent in McCarthy spending at least two nights at Ma Johnson's and enjoy the fine dining across the street or grab a pint or two in the pub with great pub food. It doesn't get any better than this. After dinner walk around town or down by the river. You will not find a better representation of the real Alaska than this. My brother and I enjoy it so much that we purchased ten acres of land this year and will build a house but spend our evenings in McCarthy.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Michael H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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239 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (50)
Date | Rating
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English first
Davis, California
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 November 2013

What a treat we found awaiting us at the end of a long drive from Anchorage! The staff at Ma Johnson's was incredibly friendly from the moment they picked us up at the footbridge to the moment they dropped us back off. This historic hotel is clean and full of antique treasures. They provide robes and slippers, so heading down the hall to use the shared restrooms (which are kept nice and clean) is comfortable and easy. The beds are comfortable and the sheets are amazingly soft. The rooms are small, but there is a lovely lobby and two great porches to spend some time relaxing, plus with millions of acres of wilderness to explore, there really wasn't much down-time for us at the hotel. The only electrical outlets in the hotel are in the lobby, so it's a great chance for you to unplug from your electronics addiction ;)
The restaurant at the Lodge directly across the street (same owner) is a fine-diner's delight! Make your reservations early each day, because it is a small establishment and you won't want to miss the chance to eat there. The food and the service at the Lodge were simply amazing. We did not expect to be eating such delicious food while in McCarthy. There are a couple other spots to grab food in town, and the friendly folks at Ma Johnson's will give you all the tips (we loved The Potato, but be prepared to wait; were not thrilled by the food or service at the Saloon). As for Ma Johnson's and the Lodge: treasures!

Room Tip: Some rooms that sleep two have two twin beds while others have a full, so be sure to indicate if you...
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  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
2 Thank Kris G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Angeles, California
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 November 2013

Lodging in a renovated 1920s hotel in remote Alaska might be challenging, but this place pulls it off nicely. Don't expect luxury accommodations, but do expect a clean environment and friendly staff. It is right in town and just 10 minutes from the Kennicot Mine buildings. Don't forget to walk across the street to the saloon.

Room Tip: None of the rooms have electricity, but it is available in the lobby.
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  • Stayed July 2013, travelled as a couple
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank aiscifi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 October 2013

I loved staying at Ma Johnsons ... A very quaint old world wooden hotel in keeping with the nearby abandoned Kennicott Mine. We were offered to look at all the available rooms and chose. Each room had a basin, towels, soaps, dressing gowns and slippers. The bathrooms are shared but right there and as the hotel was quiet so we had our own. ( 2 on our floor ). The owner Neil was very helpful and picked us up from the bridge as you can't take your car into McCarthy.
I would definitely stay again if ever possible ... Thanks.

Room Tip: Ask to look at them ... the rooms with single beds have more space.
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  • Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank LZEH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 September 2013

Very friendly staff at the Hotel, Saloon and restaurant. Stairs are quite steep to the 2nd floor rooms but this destination is for the more mobile traveler anyway.
Shared bathrooms but the rooms have an old style charm that is endearing. My room had a sink, soaps and towels which meant I could clean up before dinner without relying on a bathroom slot.
The restaurant was very good and although it was the day before the produce delivery they were able to make me a very tasty vegetarian option to the published menu. Probably better to let them know in advance if your Vegetarian though.

Room Tip: Some rooms have a sink which is very useful with the share bathroom situation
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Helpful?
1 Thank Jamie B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Iowa City
Level 6 Contributor
131 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 September 2013

Lobby is very quaint and the staff nearby. Tiny rooms and adequate beds. With two beds, I had a place to put my duffel. Beware, there in NO heating. I got back to Glennallen with a terrible cold. The only outlet(power strips)for charging is in the lobby. Only two bathrooms, one on each floor.
For two nites, I should have spent $100 more and stayed at the Kennecott Lodge. Dining at the Golden Saloon cost way more than their meal package. All the tours are out of the Kennecott Lodge area. The muddy bumpy shuttle ride to and from McCarthy is infrequent and can cost extra.

Room Tip: Choose Rms. upstairs and in the back is quietest, especially in warm weather. Avoid rooms by the ba...
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Doc1950
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 review, 4 October 2013
Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience here in McCarthy. We are sorry to hear the hotel did not meet your expectations.

Most visitors to McCarthy plan well in advance and have ample opportunity to learn about our living museum hotel. When a guest arrives as a "walk-in", (very rare in this remote location) they may not realize that this original boarding house is filled with re-purposed artifacts of McCarthy.

The premise of this hotel is that our small community of locals, can socialize with visitors, often in our parlor - kind of like in the heyday, but without pretending to live in the past. We are a real community of a few dozen people who respect the past but do not "dress in costume" - still we enjoy sharing the original artifacts and stories of the past. That is why most of the other reviewer's perspectives on Tripadvisor are quite the opposite. Instead of descriptions like "Basic Rugged" in your review, others find the experience an "Authentic, Sustainable, and Original" as you can read in the vast majority of other Tripadvisor reviews for this hotel.

I want to point out that we do indeed have heat in the hotel (a modern, high efficiency baseboard heating system, set at 68 degrees as per our GreenLeaders commitment). There are seven bathrooms in the hotel (the original 5-panel doors look the same on the outside, but usually the bathroom doors are open when available. There are no outlets in the bedrooms. Electrical plug-in appliances were absent in the heyday. Guests have plenty of charging stations in the lobby and office.

I see by your comment regarding infrequent shuttles that you must have arrived in September, the last week of the season. Shuttles normally run every 30 minutes, but only 4 times a day during the last week of the season. I apologize that we did not pick up on your frustration.

Our mission is to make your visit to McCarthy the highlight of your Alaskan vacation. We failed you, and we want to make it up to you. My staff are empowered to solve any issue on the spot, including a 100% refund if they only knew we had not exceeded your expectations. If you do get to visit again. please ask for me and I will comp you a stay so we can try again!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Decatur, Alabama
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 September 2013

BEST experience of our trip. I'll admit that I had concerns but each & every one was unwarranted. I'd go back tomorrow !! The facilities were great and the atmosphere was wonderful. Everyone was so friendly and helpful.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Helpful?
Thank yzypkfnd
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

Property: 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 (Based on Average Rates): ££
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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