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“It sets the scene...go for it!” 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, Illinois
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
29 hotel reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
73 helpful votes 73 helpful votes
“It sets the scene...go for it!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 16, 2013

My husband and I stayed at El Tovar for two nights in March 2013. (Forgive my posting delay!) The hotel is kind of in its own category, because, you know, there aren’t really any other options. We were on the ground floor and didn’t have much of a view, but could definitely see the canyon edge and path from our room. We could easily step out onto the side porch to see sunset and stars, and drink a beer procured at the Market Plaza. (Or get drink at the little bar, and carry them off anywhere you’d like.) In the morning, it was amazing to have a few blissful hours all to ourselves. Staying at Tovar and starting early we were actually alone at many of the best views. (Plus, it was March.)

The room was tiny, but very clean, and the hotel is bustling so expect some noise in the halls. Staff was friendly, and there are lovely, if somewhat crowded, classic old sitting rooms in the lobby and upstairs. (One imagines they are just the spot for drinking scotch after shooting a bear.) Overall it seemed much more atmospheric than the nearby Thunderbird & Bright Angel. The El Tovar Dining Room is gorgeously old fashioned and rustic/elegant, and also a huge step above the other lodge dining rooms. We ate there both nights and enjoyed it immensely (Particularly the quail!). (Make reservations when you make your booking. It’s your best (and only) nice option.) We also ordered a pancake breakfast room service our last morning – which was very affordable, delicious and highly recommended. Nearby parking is available but fills quickly, so be prepared to circle as you try to unload your suitcases. Visit the lobby concierge who is loaded down with maps, guidebooks, and lecture opportunities. If you aren’t a Grand Canyon veteran, if you go out the front and turn right past the Hopi House (nice jewelry) you are about 100ft from the Verkamps Curios shop, which is actually a good information center.

Overall everything in context, you know. One thing I can assure you is that there is no ritzier option that you are going to stumble on...you aren't going to uncover some out-of-the way Rosewood boutique hotel in the park. Once you recognize that and roll with it, you have to admit its really quite charming.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
    • 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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Atlanta
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 16, 2013 via mobile

We bit the bullet and booked a suite at El Tovar for our stay. We had the best time. The lodge is dark but a nice respite from the sun. We knew it was an older place and adjusted our expectations accordingly. Overall, the experience was great. Staff we're very nice and happily carried our bags up and down the steps. Our suite was comfortable and pretty dark but who cares? Our balcony could easily accommodate 30 people for a cocktail party and overlooked The Village and the sun setting over the Canyon in the West. Fabulous!

We are at several of the restaurants and found most of the food good not great. Liked The Arizona Room a lot. Ate in the El Tovar Dining Room one night. A little heavy on the sauces but a great, friendly and tasty evening.

After 4 nights, seeing wonderful elk, mesmerized by the ever changing Canyon views, a few gift shop purchases, and a hike 3 miles into the Canyon - we couldn't have been happier and HIGHLy recommend every one visit El Tovar to see this wonderful place.

  • Stayed September 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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XanterraCorporate, Director of Sales at El Tovar Hotel, responded to this review, October 23, 2013
Thank you for your positive comments on your atsy at El Tovar. We are prouid of the history and strive to live up to the Fred Harvey tradition of fine food, clean comfortable rooms and great hospitality. And you were able to stay four nights in a suite. What a special trip. I am especially glad to hear that our staff was accommodaing and helped make your stay pleasant.
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perth
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 16, 2013 via mobile

The decor is rustic and quaint but frankly unless you get one of the 4 suites that face the south rim of the canyon , better of going to another hotel that offers a view
We had dinner there too, nice ambience and although the food is nice it is not fantastic although compared to what is offered in most American hotels, it is very good.
Wines and drinks are a tad pricey , however it was an enjoyable evening

My advice stay at a nearby lodge and if you want a nice meal with ambience book the el tovar restaurant - BUT book earlier

Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
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Chicago, IL
Top Contributor
150 reviews 150 reviews
50 hotel reviews
Reviews in 63 cities Reviews in 63 cities
160 helpful votes 160 helpful votes
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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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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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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Katy, Texas
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
13 helpful votes 13 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.

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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:
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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