The Alaska cruising crowd has met its match in Juneau.
The capital of America’s Last Frontier has morphed into an unofficial cruising capital having the state’s busiest cruise port, and to boot, Juneau boasts a snazzy new cruise terminal as well as one quirky sleepover spot named the Silverbow Inn.
The hip happening hotel in the heart of downtown is aimed at the edgy granola rain boot crowd — after all, you are in a rain forest 😉 — the kind of folk who wanna hang out in a vintage gold mining town where wildlife spotting happens daily. We saw bald eagles, ravens, a statuesque humpback whale and zoomed in on mountain goats. We used the free stationary binoculars anchored at the revamped waterfront to see these herbivores dine on the slopes of Mount Juneau before we turned in for the night.
Last month after an UnCruise adventure on the S.S. Legacy that comes highly recommended for killer whale views which occurred literally 30 minutes after we started our 7-night Alaska Glacier Country/bird cruise with ornithologist extraordinare Gwen Baluss we were game to get some shut eye at this unique locale.
Rated #2 by TripAdvisor for “Best Value” in Juneau Hotel Stays the 12-room urban boutique hotel is literally a hop and skip from the UnCruise Adventures dock giving cruisers who don’t have wheels an easy 10-minute walk or cab ride. We hoofed it.
Sure it was a blistering hot summer morning as we schlepped our carry-on bags to the Silverbow Inn but we soon tucked into our air conditioned King Room as Juneau was raging through an uncommon heatwave. “We’re really hating this heat,” later quipped one local at a gallery down the street.
We slept in cool confines, ate Italian at the neighboring resto, and hung out at the rooftop hot tub anticipating the dancing Northern Lights.
Now why should you go?
Silverbow Inn Highlights
A quirky Airbnb vibe but with full concierge services and someone to make a waffle for you. LOL – a paleo one to boot, breakfasts are free here as are other extras. Find free cookies, cocoa and coffee plus free Wi-Fi in a town that at times feels like you’ve dropped off the earth (Internet and cellphone service are pretty much nonexistent outside Juneau) so we welcomed the use of both once we got back on terra firma.
The hotel also has a stellar three mountain view roof deck hot tub.
Love the nod to Star Trek in the lobby. See a pic of hotel owner Jill Ramiel sitting at the Star Trek bridge.
For a 12 room boutique hotel, there sure is an array of room choices. Choose from six styles like the City King Room, Family Room and there’s even budget friendly ‘Economy’ rooms.
We stayed in the Urban King on the first floor which is the hotel’s newest renovated room to join the inventory roster. The air conditioner was a big plus during the heatwave.
In the bathroom eco-friendly toiletry dispensaries were mounted on the shower wall. There’s a flat screen TV with Direct TV available throughout all rooms. Crisp 450-thread count sheets and linens on a cozy king sized bed.
The guests who book here tend to be the cruisers like us to family vacay types to yes even the office crowd (mining execs and civil servants) who visit this final frontier state.
Enjoy the food and beverage scene with its round the clock complimentary coffee, tea and snacks. Happy Hour here translates to freshly baked cookies and cocoa served daily (a.k.a. free). Your sweet tooth will be happy with the complimentary “Candy Bar” with its array of candies you can snack on as you enjoy reading the comp newspapers in the stoked gas fireplace lobby lounge.
Free Wi-fi, free parking and conveniently sandwiched between two James Beard nominated restaurants.
Hit the streets with a mouthwatering foodie tour helmed by Juneau Food Tours. With a choice of 1.5 hour to 3 hour walking tours, you learn about the history of the fishing industry as you sample some of the finest fare that’s been bragged about in top culinary journos.
Local arts and culture gets top billing. Head to the Alaska State Museum of Science and Nature, a hidden gem housed in a new $139 million venue. We saw dinosaur fossils discovered nearby and in an ode to the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing, stared at a speck of the Moon Rock on display. You can see rare artifacts from the people of the Northwest Coast and historic items from the state’s Russian colonial era.
And every first Friday of the month, Juneau soaks in the arts scene with a city wide art walk dubbed “First Friday.”
For super outrageous sick views the Mount Roberts Tramway is a must. Often compared as Juneau’s answer to the Eiffel Tower you board this gondola ride for panoramic views of the city, the channels and islands, the cruise ships and maybe an Orca if you’re lucky enough to zoom your binoculars.
Everybody’s got to experience glaciers while in Juneau. If you haven’t had the glory days in cruising by them as we did aboard UnCruise’s S.S. Legacy that gets you to isolated No Man’s Land in the heart of uncharted territories to see the “bergie bits” from the Dawes Glacier then go for the next best. Head to the magnificent Mendenhall Glacier about 12 miles from downtown by shuttle bus. Don’t wait too long, the giant white sheet of ice is slowly spilling into Mendenhall Lake.
For breakfast go hearty. Served 7 am – 10 am hot and cold menu items are served. Go for the protein packed whole wheat waffles with organic syrup or try the organic chicken sausage with Bobs Red Mill Organic steel cut oats. Nothing beats Dave’s Killer Bread (if I told you the secret recipe I’d have to yes, you know do the inevitable).
The ground level has an attached resto, the town’s only James Beard nominated Italian dining spot called In Bocca Al Lupo which roughly translates to ‘in the wolf’s mouth.’ Like so many other local finds that verge on the weird or eclectic the popular Italian resto’s name in English means ‘good luck.’ House specialties are handmade pasta, wood-fired pizza and seasonal specials. It’s warm casual with a shareable family style atmosphere where diners converge around hemlock hewn long tables with no-frills attached. Chef Beau Schooler who sharpened his culinary chops while living in Calabria, Italy uses semolina dough and egg yolks in this pasta paradise.
Located beside Silverbow there’s another foodie favorite, a culinary rival to the wood-fired pizza next door. Folks who want high quality local seafood and ingredients foraged from the forest surrounding the capital enter SALT. Under new chefdom, Chef Travis Larsen who left his post after a successful run at Matt’s in the Market in Seattle has dropped in to try his magic here.
An urban escape hatch in the nation’s Final Frontier capital, city dwellers will immediately feel at home with all the familiar creature comforts.
You can make your booking at the Silverbow Inn website. Summer room rates are from $189-$329 depending on room type and dates. You can also make a reservation at Hotels.com, Expedia or other online booking sites.
Photography by Stephen Smith/mycompasstv and supplied.
Ilona Kauremszky was a guest of Silverbow Inn which did not approve this editorial.