It was a chilly, rain-soaked sort of fall day when I visited the Copper Whale Inn on L Street. I had circled the block a few times to find parking on this workday morning, and my temper was as short as my time at the parking meter.
I stepped across the little bridge crossing a bubbling man-made brook, and rang the bell at the Inn’s front door. Glen Hemingson, General Manager of the Inn, greeted me and ushered this wet, and by now chilly writer into the living room.
Soft classical music complimented the warm tones of modern couches arranged artfully around a fireplace, and the life-saving aroma of coffee and pastries drifted across the room. Ahhh, sublime meets trendy. I was hooked already.
Glen offered me a cup of coffee and explained that the Inn operates like a more European-style of B&B; pastries, fruit, and beverages are laid out in the morning for guests to enjoy at their own pace. Indeed, as we talked, a guest came in and made herself at home on one of the armchairs, gazing at artwork while sipping her tea in this peaceful environment that looks out over Cook Inlet.
“Are you sure you welcome families here?” I asked Glen. “Of course we do,” he replied. “Families find our Inn a nice change from the busy hotel chains.” Hmmm, maybe he’s got something there. While Glen answered an incoming call, I took a few minutes to read the Guest Comment book on an end table. “Fabulous!” gloated one comment. “Our family had a wonderful time!” said another. Some families had rented bicycles from the vendor on the Inn’s grounds, others had spent the day strolling downtown Anchorage or arranging a trip with another AKontheGO fav, Salmon Berry Tours. Everyone was busy and happy, and thrilled to have found such a gem right in the heart of the city.
I took a short tour of some of the 14 guest rooms housed in two buildings. In the main building, the one most visitors see from the street, there are cozy places to rest one’s head, with flatscreen televisions and complete bathrooms. Of the 14 guest rooms, 12 have a private bath; upstairs there are two rooms that share a bath, perfect for larger families. I agree.
Out the back door and through another lovely courtyard, Glen showed me the second building, built in the 1990’s due to the influx of visitors. Modern and yet equally cozy, this building has a small kitchen area for guests to warm up goodies or sip on a cup of coffee, and rooms that have the charm of yes, Europe, with views of the Inlet and close-by Coastal Trail sections. One room even has its own fireplace within, the perfect spot to take a romantic getaway (yeah, we do take getaways without our kids).
Glen is the perfect host; his wit and willingness to accommodate groups and singles and parents with kiddos of any age is just what the weary traveler should order, and expect. He explained that the summer season is usually pretty busy, but during the “non-summer” months (remember, we don’t talk off-season at AKontheGO) he has many rooms available at very reasonable prices. What fun to visit in the fall or winter and curl up beside a fireplace and read a story to little ones while sipping hot cocoa or tea. Take the kids to see Santa and the holiday light displays, or attend a winter concert and spend the night snuggled in your duvet-covered bed.
It’s a wonderful place with more than meets the eye from outside. Call Glen at 907-258-7999, or toll-free at 866-258-7999. I didn’t mention before that the Inn is set up for wireless internet; but with all the other good stuff at Copper Whale Inn, it doesn’t really seem all that important…I didn’t even care that my parking meter ran down to a minute. I was still basking in the Inn’s charm.