In May 2021 the King Eider Inn was our base of operations for a three-day stay 330 miles (531 km) north of the Arctic Circle in Utqiaġvik, AK. The town of 5,000 residents that was formerly known as Barrow is the northern most settlement in the United States and one of the most northern points of continuous human habitation in the world.
Other posts from our Alaska trip in May 2021.
There isn’t much choice of accommodations in this remote outpost. The King Eider Inn is one of only three hotels and a couple of Bed & Breakfast and Airbnb options.
For this short top-of-the-world stay, we just wanted a basic room at a reasonable price in a good location. The King Eider Inn met all of those conditions, depending on your definition of reasonable price.
The inn is located cross the street form the airport within easy walking distance of the Alaska Airlines Terminal.
Getting to the inn is an easy one-minute walk. When making the booking, I was concerned about transportation from the airport. I shouldn’t have been because taxis wait outside the terminal when the daily commercial flight arrives. Still, not needing a ride to the airport for departure was one less detail to deal with. Taxi rides cost $5 regardless of distance.
King Eider Inn was built in 1998. It has 19 rooms including some suites. The published check-in time is 15:00 and checkout is at 11:00. We were able to check in when we arrived just after noon, but the room wasn’t ready. The clerk said it would be an hour. We used the time to explore some of the neighborhood on foot.
Eider Inn has a very homey lobby. Enjoy a waterfowl-themed game of chess. Take a load off in the comfy sofas and rocking chair. Watch TV and warm yourself in the glow of the stone fireplace.
Shoes aren’t allowed in the hotel. Slippers are available upon request.
King Eider Inn does not offer breakfast. Guests have access to coffee, tea and a microwave in the lobby.
The walking around town was fine in spite of the temperature in the 20s F. We found that most locals avoid walking. They drive, ride snow mobiles, or take taxis.
I assume the locals aren’t lazy or afraid of the cold. Polar bears come to town occasionally although in May they spend their time hunting on the sea ice. Nevertheless, we kept our eyes open.
The room was ready when we got back to the inn. We were assigned to a double room just off the lobby. It was a great location. It was easy to get to, and we noticed no noise from the lobby.
Our double room was the cheapest room type in the house. It was basic but came with nice features like a refrigerator and microwave as well as wifi.
The bath was no-frills like the rest of the room.
The room came with a hairdryer, and a heater that kept the room warm at all times. All rooms have access to the sauna onsite.
This is the cheapest room type in the house. This room occupied 300 sq ft. (28 sqm.) and cost just under $200/night. Other rooms are larger and have some have kitchenettes. Having a room with a kitchenette or at least a microwave and refrigerator was very useful as all restaurants were takeout or delivery only.
Reasonable is a relative term. Just about anywhere else I’d consider the price we paid for this room to be outrageous. But in Utqiaġvik, $200/night was “reasonable” in the sense that it was the lowest rate available.
So what is a king eider you wonder? I asked the same question, and the inn had a chart identifying some of the local waterfowl. King Eiders are sea ducks. Males sport colorful heads with black and white bodies. Females display a rusty brown and black plumage.
King eiders nest in the arctic tundra of the far north and winter largely at the edge of sea ice. Their return to breeding areas in spring is spectacular. In May, flocks containing several hundred thousand king eiders pass through Utqiaġvik on their way to Alaskan and Canadian breeding grounds. Our stay missed the migration unfortunately.
We were very happy with our stay at Utqiaġvik’s King Eider Inn. The location was superb. The staff was friendly and accommodating. The basic room met our requirements. Wifi that cut out a couple of times was our only issue, but the outages were resolved quickly.
I recommend the King Eider Inn to anyone planning a visit to this isolated hamlet on the North America’s northern frontier.