The city of Fairbanks, the second largest in Alaska, is known for its gold rush history and position all the way up in the state’s interior. It feels wild. And that sense of place is immediately apparent when you step out onto the deck of the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge overlooking the river, watching a beaver build its dam in the midnight sun or a float plane go by.
The hotel, which features 328 rooms, sits on the banks of the Chena River and takes full advantage, allowing guests to dine overlooking the water when it’s warm enough and roam the 15 acres through a series of trails.
The lodge is often a jumping off point or endpoint for Princess Cruises’ cruisetours. Because of that, it has a slightly more transient vibe with people coming and going, rather than hanging out as they tend to do in some of the company’s other Alaskan lodges. That said, between the activities travelers can book and the close proximity to the Fairbanks airport, the lodge ends up being a great spot to start or end a journey.
The lodge is spread across one large building with the public spaces in the center and rooms in three separate wings. In total, there are 328 rooms with either a king bed or two double beds. There are 160 rooms with king beds and 168 rooms with two double beds. Of those, 12 are ADA-compliant and are dispersed throughout the lodge.
In most rooms, travelers will find a TV, a dresser, a desk, a night table and bedside lamp, and a coffee maker with paper cups. The rooms also feature USB plug-ins by the beds to charge devices and complimentary Wi-Fi both in common spaces and in the rooms (unlike some of Princess’ other Alaska lodges that don’t offer it in the room).
In the bathrooms, guests will find a sink area with a hair dryer hanging on the wall, and then in a separate room, a tub/shower combo and a toilet. The shower has dispensers for shampoo, conditioner and body wash. The separation makes it convenient for travelers who share a room who want to get ready at the same time since someone can be taking a shower and someone else can be using the sink without being on top of each other.
The room is decorated in various shades of brown (brown carpet, brown curtains, taupe walls) and may not be the most gorgeous, but the views from the rooms facing the river more than make up for it. The one detraction from the view is the fact that the curtains aren’t exactly blackout and Fairbanks’ location so far north means the sun pretty much never sets during the summer.
The lodge aims to place Princess Cruises Connoisseur guests in river view rooms, but not necessarily in a specific wing of the hotel.
The lodge has several dining options on the property, but it is noticeably smaller and more casual than some of Princess’ other lodges. The area is also a bit more spaced out and therefore off-property dining isn’t as easily walkable from the lodge (especially compared to lodges like the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge).
These are the dining options at the lodge.
Edgewater Dining Room: This is the nicest of the lodge’s restaurants (but still doesn’t quite live up to the higher-end restaurants at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge). It serves both dinner and a breakfast buffet, and overlooks the Chena River with vaulted ceilings that give the space an airy feel. For dinner, the restaurant serves dishes like Caesar salad made with greens sourced from the lodge’s own garden as well as seafood-forward dishes like birch glazed salmon (birch is a popular sweetener in Alaska), fish and chips made with panko-battered cod and Alaskan crab cake sliders.
For breakfast, a basic buffet is available with scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon and sausage, biscuits and gravy, oatmeal and more.
The restaurant is open from 6 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and then again from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Trackers Bar & Grill: With a British pub-style vibe, this restaurant serves up casual fare like reindeer nachos, pretzels with beer cheese, smoked salmon chowder and more. Wash it down with a great Alaskan beer.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and for cocktails until 11 p.m.
Riverview Deck: This open-air deck sits right off the Edgewater Dining Room and overlooks the Chena River, offering an expansive seating area from which guests can watch passing wildlife or soak up the midnight sun. The tables feature umbrellas for comfort and the deck includes a covered area to protect from the elements.
The deck is open, weather permitting, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner and cocktails.
Seasons Gifts & Coffee House: This shop doubles as a place to pick up souvenirs as well as specialty coffees, small snacks (think: candy bars or pastries), and Alaska-specific treats like gold nugget birch cream caramels.
The shop is open from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Guests who prefer to eat off property can head into downtown Fairbanks, which is about a 10 minute taxi ride.
Fairbanks is often either a starting or ending point on the Princess cruisetours that go there. Not every cruisetour will visit this lodge, but those that do range from 10 nights to 17 nights in length.
There are many excursions available to take from the Fairbanks lodge (for an extra fee) from midnight sun ATV rides to arctic circle flight tours, visits to the Chena Hot Springs, salmon bakes and more. The Riverboat Discovery Cruise is a highlight aboard a large paddle wheel boat that takes guests on the Chena and Tanana rivers past riverfront homes, float planes, a sled dog training facility and to a replica Athabascan Indian village.
The lodge is set across 15 acres and features plenty of outdoor activities like walking paths, a spot to play bocce ball and horseshoe, and the chance to check out the hotel’s own waterfront chef’s garden and see what is growing.
Inside, a front desk and seating area lies at the center of the lodge while a large fireplace welcomes guests to relax after a long day of activities or travel. Over to the side is a guest services desk at which travelers can find excursion pamphlets and other information.
The lodge features a game room where guests can help themselves to popular games like Jenga, Taboo and “Alaska Opoly.” The lodge features complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi in all guest rooms and public areas. Travelers can request a northern lights wake-up call starting around Aug 15.
The lodge includes coin-operated laundry and ironing facilities on the lower level of one of the hotel’s wings (closest to the Riverview Deck). Laundry soap is available to purchase in the gift shop.
The lodge also features a fitness center, but it is closed for summer 2023 as it undergoes upgrades.
Travelers hoping to stock up on souvenirs can check out the Seasons Gifts & Coffee House, which features everything from Christmas ornaments and magnets to stuffed animals, books on Alaska, clothing, sweet treats and more.
Kids are entertained with an activity sheet featuring photograph-guided questions on gold panning in Alaska and a property scavenger hunt.
Twelve rooms on the property are ADA-compliant. The building also includes elevators throughout.