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“Book a suite” 4 of 5 stars
Review of El Tovar Hotel

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El Tovar Hotel
4.5 of 5 Hotel   |   Apache Street and Center Road, South Rim; PO Box 699 10 Albright Street, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ 86023   |  
Hotel amenities
Chicago, IL
Top Contributor
149 reviews 149 reviews
49 hotel reviews
Reviews in 63 cities Reviews in 63 cities
156 helpful votes 156 helpful votes
“Book a suite”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 14, 2013

We reserved the Mary Jane Colter Suite--an AMAZING two and a half room suite with a full bathroom--a full year in advance. It has one of only 4 balconies directly over-looking the south rim in the entire park and is worth every single penny we paid. Those pennies equalled more than we've ever paid for any type of luxury accommodation anywhere in the world we've traveled, and we were SO glad that we splurged.

We spent copious amounts of time on the ginormous balcony, enjoying sunrises, sunsets, drinks, snacks and conversations with some of the most awe inspiring views ever. Judging from the other reviews, I'm guessing that our balcony was larger than most rooms.

Our room was equipped with a Keurig coffee machine and ample complimentary pods of regular and decaf coffee as well as tea. Also nice was the free coffee each morning just down the hall.

Our room consisted of a very large living room area with a full sofa, side chairs and a dining area. The bedroom area had two beds, a desk and a few chairs. Both rooms had TV's but we didn't watch them. There was a small room in-between these two rooms that had a large closet, the coffee bar area and a refrigerator.

The bathroom was large, well equipped and had amazing finishes.

On the down side: the carpeting was notably and terribly stained throughout to the extent that we didn't feel comfortable walking around without something on our feet. This really is unacceptable for a room of this caliber and cost. At this point, the damage appears to be beyond a need to be cleaned and instead needs to be replaced. It was honestly nasty, but given the opulence of everything else, did not diminish our stay.

The second thing is that the washroom had a full window in the shower. When we were outside after dark, it was very easy to see others with the same set up while showering. They seriously need to upgrade the curtains to allow for more privacy while showering.

The room above ours was set back, and its balcony was directly over our living room area. During our stay, the guests in that room dragged their abundant patio furniture all around during all hours of the night. Despite closing the doors between the sleeping area and the living room, the noise they made was both very audible and kept us awake. I was very close to going upstairs and knocking on their door. It was ridiculous.

Lastly, the parking situation is really a nightmare. You can pretty much count on parking a LONG way away from the hotel and walking to and from your car. That was a bummer, but given the magnificent views on the walk, not such a terrible thing.

As to the criticisms of other reviewers: the lodge felt like a lodge to us. We didn't think it was too dark at all. We also had wonderful experiences with the staff, who were all outgoing, helpful and very nice.

We ate in the restaurant once. The service was exceptional, the food good and the prices high. Not surprising. We enjoyed both of the gift shops in the lobby area, as well as all three common porches, some with rocking chairs.

Were we to travel to the south rim again, I'd stay here and would definitely recommend planning ahead and splurging on a suite to others.

El Tovar was definitely a highlight on our trip.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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Wheaton, Illinois
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed October 14, 2013

This will be my toughest review to write, as I am torn on how to rate the facility, however I will cover all in great detail.

13 months ago we made a reservation for one of the three suites that El Tavor offers with a balcony over looking the Grand Canyon. The cost for the suite was $440 a night. If you have read my reviews of The American Club at Kohler, you will know that the bar was set very high.

We arrived in the late afternoon and found the exterior of the hotel beautiful. It sits right on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Yes it is old and as some have said the lobby is rather dark but it is truly a very cool entrance and brings you back to a time past.

The check in process was very smooth and very friendly! But that is where the tide turned. There is no elevator to the second or third floors. There is a bell man that tells you where to park and how to get to your room and then as an after thought suggest that he may be able to help with you luggage, but you feel as you dare not ask him. ( Again, the American Club warm greeting at the car and you swept off your feet and don't even have to think about your luggage. ) Sorry but in all fairness this will be a $440 a night long review.

We lugged our luggage up the stairs to the room and were ready to be overwhelmed with the experience. Instead the room was dark however, you couldn't miss the dark dirty path worn into the carpeting. It was really disgusting! The rest of the room was tremendous, including a spotless bathroom, but the carpet was so bad you just felt dirty. That's were things take another turn. I called the front desk and asked to speak with the manager Kathy Charles. I explain to her about the carpeting and given the cost of the room am very disappointed. Her response was I'm sorry that your not happy, we are full, and I will refund your deposit and feel free to leave!! My response - and where am I suppose to go? Well let's say the we spent the three days in the room wearing our shoes at all times as white socks would be filthy just walking on the carpet.

The picture I attached is the view from the room we stayed in.

The first night we had dinner in the Arizona room. Great service, very good food, and reasonably priced. Short walk from El Tavor at the Bright Angel Lodge. They do not take reservations so plan on a wait but cocktails are available. We had a very nice server and it was a nice evening. Ribs were very good!

The follow morning we had breakfast in the dining room of El Tavor. Great breakfast choices, reasonably priced and excellent service. That's why I said at the start this is a tough review. Except for the room and the attitude of the hotel staff in some ares it was a nice stay. But in all fairness, given the cost, you must beware of the tired nature of the rooms and lack of room maintenance. A must have is the blackened trout with eggs!

We spent day on the shuttle bus visiting all the various views of the south rim of the canyon. The shuttles are great, free, easy to use, go every where and come every 10 minutes. Excellent adventure! That night we had dinner reservations at the dining room of El Tavor. You must make reservations far in advance as they are totally booked every night! Had the sea bass and it was fabulous. However, the server left a little to be desired. I asked what is the most popular dish and his response was tourist. Many of the hotel staff seemed tired at the end of a long season and it appeared that the hotel management did not offer the reward or motivation to deliver a high level of service but rather smile and they'll be gone tomorrow. And in most case that is true!

The third day we chose to drive to the north rim of the canyon! My wife was convinced it was bt a mere 2-1/2 hour ride. NO-WAY! 4 hours 15 minutes at 80 mph going up and down hill after hill! Was it worth it I guess! The lodge at the north rim is no big deal and lunch there was ok. The big thing is that you do get a different perspective of the canyon. That night we had had reservations at the dining room of El Tavor but were so tired we just ordered pizza and picked it up. Good pizza, a medium crust very reasonably priced!

So check-out was very good and this is what makes this review even more challenging! Because of our unhappiness with the room she did credit us $440 for one nights stay!!

So magnificent old hotel, extraordinary views, very good food, expensive room, dirty carpeting, tired hotel staff, beautiful park, very clean, great shuttles, some fantastic Elk ( early evening all over the place) - I could have given it an average rating as most likely my wife would, but for $440 a night my expectation was The American Club at Kohler. Read all the reviews and just be prepared for one of the seven wonders of the world!

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
XanterraCorporate, Director of Sales at El Tovar Hotel, responded to this review, October 28, 2013
Thank you for your thorough review on your stay at our El Tovar Hotel. Overall it seems you were satisfied with your stay. I apologize for the poor response from our front desk staff when you mentioned the carpet. The hotel does have high occupancies and takes a bit of a beating. This is not an excuse for poor customer service however. I will forward your comments to the Rooms Director for follow-up. We will be closing the hotel in January 2014 for a major renovation, including the guest rooms. We look forward to reopening in April 2014 with a fresh and updated hotel.
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Coral Gables, Florida
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 14, 2013

Majestic historical lodge is perfectly situated - plus they are adding an outdoor patio area that is close to the rim. We had a wonderful time!! Take the Maverick Helicopter tour of the canyon and the mule ride along the rim (if you don't have time to ride to the bottom of the canyon) - this team was terrific!!

Stayed September 2013, traveled with friends
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Katy, Texas
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 14, 2013

OK - What can you realistically expect from a 108 year old hotel? I mean, really! This sits on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon; there isn't a better view in the United States. Yes, the lobby is dark and the rooms are small. When I unplugged my computer from the desk lamp the plug came out of the lamp with it. The refrigerator froze my sodas and it took three tries to get it changed out but then I stepped outside and set up my camera. You normally have to reserve a year in advance to even get into this place. I lucked out. I had spent the week before with a group of photographer friends who had planned to photograph the canyon but it was the week the national parks had been shut down. The day before we were supposed to leave they announced the Grand Canyon would open the next day. Being newly widowed, and retired I changed my flight, rented a car and called for a reservation. The recorded message said they were currently taking reservations for October 31, 2014. But I stayed on the line figuring they would have some cancellations due to the closure and I was right. Things were a little dusty and discombobulated from having been shut down for ten days. Housekeeping was a little lax and not all menu items were available or all restaurants open but the staff was exceedingly friendly and helpful and the setting was worth it all.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Esher, Surrey
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed October 12, 2013

My first impression of this hotel was the darkness as soon as you walked in through the door, you could hardly see at all! Our room was small, so small you could not open a suitcase. However worst of all was the dining room and its very peculiar staff. The food was awful, and the bar area could do with an uplift. All in all it was very depressing. Even worse were the two eateries nearby, old fashioned, smelly and with very strange staff. The only mitigating circumstance was the beauty of the canyon itself, the excellent trails and the wonderful drivers on the brand new buses along the trail road. What is needed here is some competition, but of course that will never happen. If not, gut the whole of the South Rim buildings and start again and employ some intelligent and personable staff who look as though they had showered that morning! One of the worst hotels I have ever stayed in. I also note that the El Tovar only replies to positive feedback, which shows how much they do not care! A previous contributor mentioned The Shining and he was not wrong!

Room Tip: Check out the AC before you accept your room, ours sounded like a combine harvester!
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
XanterraCorporate, Director of Sales at El Tovar Hotel, responded to this review, October 28, 2013
Thank you for your comments about our El Tovar Hotel. I am happy to say that they are not the norm. El Tovar was built in 1905 and has undergone many renovations over the years. The dark character of the public spaces is the way it was built, and we strive to retain that look and feel. The rooms have been renovated many times, and had private baths added through the years. This resulted in many different shapes and sizes of rooms, and I suspect you had a standard double room. These are indeed small.
The quality of the food yoiu experienced is not our standard, nor is the attitude of the staff. In fact, we still srive to maintain the standards of the Fred Harvey Company, and Fred was an Englishman! I apologize that the hotel did not meet your expectations and I will forward your comments to the GM and F&B Director.
We will close the hotel in January 2014 and will reopen in April 2014 with newly refurbished rooms and public areas, but the hotel will retain its historic look and feel.
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Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 11, 2013 via mobile

Four of us stayed here after spending a week in Dories running down the Grand Canyon.
It was welcomed comfort. Our room was somewhat small and cluttered by too much furniture, but clean. The bathroom was very nice and almost half the size of the room itself. Our friends room was much larger and seemed to be enjoyed.
The dining room offered us an extensive menu, and in the end a beautiful meal.

Take the opportunity to sit on the veranda with your coffee when the sun comes up. Stunning.

Stayed September 2013, traveled with friends
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Baltimore, Maryland
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 7, 2013

First let me start by saying that the El Tovar is in an unbeatable location in the Grand Canyon. For the location alone, it is worth the stay. I know the hotel is historic and there are always challenges with older properties. Overall the room was just OK. I paid a bit more for a suite and was given a "partial view." It is not worth paying extra for a "view" as the architect of the hotel did not really build any rooms to have a view but rather wanted to get you out of your room to see the canyon. I also would pay extra for a suite again. The room was very strange. You can enter directly into the bedroom or the sitting room. The sitting room has so much furniture in it that is really isn't useable. Then you had to walk through the bathroom to get to the bedroom. So, we just ended up only using the bedroom half of the suite. The bathroom was nicely renovated and had some character. But the bedroom was boring and standard, but very clean. Overall, worth the price for the location but don't expect anything special about the room itself.

Room Tip: Don't pay extra for a "view" or a suite. Not worth the extra price.
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about El Tovar Hotel

Address: Apache Street and Center Road, South Rim; PO Box 699 10 Albright Street, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ 86023
Location: United States > Arizona > Grand Canyon National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 hotels in Grand Canyon National Park
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — El Tovar Hotel 4.5*
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
El Tovar Hotel Grand Canyon
El Tovar Grand Canyon
Hotel El Tovar
El Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon El Tovar
El Tovar Lodge

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