When Jay McElroy bought this little Anchorage hotel in 1984, it was comprised of just 23 rooms, which dated back to the 1950s. He named it the Puffin Inn—because, as he said, it was an adorable little bird.

Five Buildings, Lots of Individual Charm

His delightful little inn has expanded quite a bit over the years. Today, the Puffin Inn has 85 rooms spread over five buildings near Lake Hood. It has become a magnet for both leisure travelers and business travelers who want a clean, comfortable budget option and prefer a more personal and local experience.

Choose Your Level

The Puffin has four levels of rooms, from super-basic single accommodations to bigger suites where a family can spread out. The oldest are those 23 original, small rooms—with just a queen bed (or two twins) and a bathroom. The Moderate building, meanwhile, features larger rooms that are a little newer, with exterior entrances. The Puffin’s Deluxe building has 30 rooms, built 14 years ago: its rooms are especially large and comfy, with updated décor, and the building has an elevator down to the hotel's main lobby.

Alaska Flavor in the Decor

And then, a half block away, there’s the Boutique section, with 14 rooms that are getting a makeover for the summer of 2015. That update will come with a personal touch: The owner is a photographer, and will be hanging black and white prints of his favorite shots of Alaska in the rooms.

Each level, otherwise, has its own take on contemporary décor. Except for the original section, all levels of rooms come equipped with microwaves and refrigerators. All deluxe and moderate rooms feature 42-inch flat-screen TVs (the original and boutique sections have 32-inch flat screens). In the latest round of updates, all room levels will soon feature pillow-top mattresses, too. In the meantime, all rooms already have free wifi and access to guest computers, a fitness center and guest laundry. And, perhaps most important, all guests can enjoy a nice hot continental breakfast in the lobby each morning—featuring selections such as waffles, muffins, bagels and coffee.

Setting Out for Anchorage and Beyond

From the Puffin Inn, it’s just a short walk down to Lake Hood, and an easy walk or drive to many of the best sites in Anchorage—such as Chugach State Park and the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. So while the Puffin Inn makes a great home base for exploring the city, it also make a convenient springboard for going farther afield. Guests can use with the hotel’s free airport shuttle, and you also have straightforward access to some of Alaska's best road-trip routes, such as the Seward Highway.

Indeed, for a little bird, it covers a lot of ground.