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“Way up or Way down” 3 of 5 stars
Review of The Ahwahnee

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The Ahwahnee
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   9005 Ahwahnee Drive, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389   |  
Hotel amenities
Asheville, NC
Top Contributor
280 reviews 280 reviews
42 hotel reviews
Reviews in 66 cities Reviews in 66 cities
105 helpful votes 105 helpful votes
“Way up or Way down”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 3, 2013

This was a bucket list stay for my wife and I. I had seen the Ahwanee in books and magazines, so when we planned a trip to Yosemite, this was our place! Upon arrival, we were awed by the beauty of the exterior. When we got to our $700 room, we were less awed. It was dated, not too clean and tiny. We expected dated, having stayed at The Grove Park Inn many times. However, this was way dated, with scarred furniture, old carpet, dirty bathroom, a tiny toilet that I won't go into the difficulty of using as a male, stained furniture and more.

The dining room, great hall etc., are truly amazing to see, but it's kind of like Main STreet USA at Disneyworld. The facade is beautiful, but there's no substance behind the facade.

We ate in the dining room our first night and when we asked for a window table, of which there were at least five available at 8:00 pm, the host acted like it was an imposition. The rules said that a jacket was required for men and that there was a dress code for men and women. When we arrived, we saw people in jeans. WHile not snobs, we were dismayed to see that the standards had been dropped, as we made the effort to dress nicely.

Our server was good but there were two tables who were seated after us who were approached first. While we were not in a hurry, it was irritating. The piano player was a nice touch. I ordered the pork chop special and my wife had prime rib. Both were good but not great. I ordered a bottle of nice wine. The meal was not worth the price. The food was about what I'd expect at a middle of the road restaurant, not a very expensive restaurant. Especially after eating at The French Laundry last week.

The next morning we wanted a quick bite following a birdwatching hike. When we got to the hike site, we found out it had been cancelled. This was after getting up at 6:00 am specifically for the hike. Upon walking back to the hotel we notified the concierge, a rather large black man, that they should not have cancelled the birdwatch without notifying people. He told us that he had no control of that. When I tried to tell him that if the flyers in his hotel were announcing the event, he had an obligation to have control, he blew me off. He obviously didn't give a s_ _ _ _.

We walked about one mile from The Ahwanee to Yosemite Village to get breakfast sandwich. Because we were hiking we didn't take a wallet. Upon ordering and receiving our food, we also ordered coffee and then were told we couldn't charge to our room. SO... we had to walk back to the hotel. We tried the casual venue but didn't want sweet rolls so we went to the dining room. When we asked the manager if we could just get a bagel and cream cheese, as we were not big buffet eaters, he couldn't answer our question and handed us a menu. I asked again, and he mumbled something. We asked to be seated and ordered our bagels. The server was nice and attentive.

Overall, this is a tired and old hotel that needs an infusion of cash and love. The employees were either very friendly or surly. They did not speak to you unless you spoke to them first. Not a first-class experience and certainly not worth the money this place commands. I've stayed at better Marriotts. I'm not sure who runs this place, but they need help. I guess they are living on their reputation. We like to stay in Westin, St. Regis, Ritz Carlton properties and price is not an issue. This was not in any way, shape or form, the same type of experience we receive when staying at the alternative hotels. I am in the hotel business and I know how hard it is to find good help. This hotel needs help!!

Room Tip: Stay somewhere else
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GnrlMgr, General Manager at The Ahwahnee, responded to this review, May 6, 2013
Good afternoon iamstoked22,

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts in regards to your stay with us. Needless to say, I am very embarrassed and disappointed that this is what you experienced. I am so very sorry that we let you down.

As someone in the business yourself, you know the importance of constructive feedback. I would love the opportunity to get more details such as the room in which you stayed as as well as the description of the manager with whom you interacted the morning you simply wanted a bagel. With this information, I can do some homework and then coach and correct those responsible. You can reach out to me at barcher@dncinc.com.

I can certainly appreciate the perception you have of us "living off our reputation," but know that is not the case. We have just hired a new interior design firm and look forward to working with them to make some changes to the furnishings and fixtures. I hope your experience doesn't discourage you from returning to Yosemite in the future; if you do, I would love the opportunity to show the changes and improvements.

Warm regards,

Brett Archer, General Manager
The Ahwahnee
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
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Germantown, TN
Senior Contributor
47 reviews 47 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2013 via mobile

There were no rooms available in the main lodge, when we booked, so we opted for a cottage. We checked into the room. It was a warm spell and the room was very warm. We asked the bellman if he could instruct us to how the air conditioning operated. He could not get it to work and said he would let "maintenance" know that it was not working and would not turn on. An hour and half later we contacted the front desk and were told that the air to those units had not been activated yet. UGH! So I mentioned that sleeping warm was not my idea of fun at the Ahwahnee.

They did call and found a room in the main hotel.

Nicer and cool! Still this is just an ok hotel. Poor bathroom. Tiny toilet. Feels old and tired.

Tonight after a long day of shooting photos, we went into the lounge for an adult beverage. At $11 each, we ordered vodka on the rocks. Out came a double old fashioned glass, with ice, the glass is probably 3.5" tall. The vodka filled the bottom 3/4" of the glass, no joke!! This is the first time in my life that my husband went to the room and brought in a flask, so we could relax. The food in the lounge is only ok. For what we are spending, it should be awesome, and it is not.

This hotel and staff should thank their lucky stars for this hotel's location.

  • Stayed April 2013
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 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.
San Francisco, CA
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
33 hotel reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 30, 2013

Just came back from a three day stay at the Ahwanee in late April 2013. Overall: yes, the hotel is expensive, but the location and service might be worth it to you. Staying outside the park might be less expensive, but it's also alot more inconvenient (min 30 min drive each way in/out of the valley, alot more in busy traffic).

Hotel: elegant and rustic at the same time, everything in tip top shape. All the employees, from the desk to the restaurant to the housekeeping people, are friendly, helpful, and professional. The restaurant and main hall are huge and elegant. The bar is a mite undersized and gets busy, and outdoor seating is scarce in nice weather. On the other hand, you don't need a reservation to eat, and it's slightly less pricey than the restaurant.

Rooms: slightly tired, but in decent shape. We had room 340, a standard room (the smallest category) and paid $499 per night excluding tax. Our room had a face-on view of Yosemite falls (we could watch it from bed in fact). Note: try and get a room on the 3rd floor or above so you get a view over the trees, although any room facing any way probably has remarkable views. Standard rooms are cozy but not too small, with a table and two chairs in a corner. Classic rooms are slightly larger with a small couch and table (and about $40-60 more). The bathroom, while cozy, was space-efficient, looked charming, and didn't feel too small to me. The room also had a large closet with a safe, and a large flat-screen TV. In-room Wifi was free and most of the time worked pretty well, though it was slower in the evening.

Restaurant: expensive, with very good service and food. The dining room is certainly the most dramatic room in the hotel. Note: you will want to pre-reserve your dinner reservations ahead of time, and probably also your breakfasts too (although you can also order room service too). They have a very elaborate breakfast buffet in Sunday for $45 per adult, which was also very good and definitely needs to be pre-reserved.

Bar: On the other side of the hotel from the restaurant, by the lobby. Nice, but nothing extravagant. Prices were fair, and they have a decent menu abbreviated from the restaurant. Can get busy at peak times, and sometimes a table might not be available.

Other: the hotel serves tea and cookies to guests between 4-6 daily on the mezzanine, and you can take your tea down into the ground-level great room and enjoy it there (which we did).
The hotel has free valet parking, and there is a limited amount of self-parking. Do take advantage of the park's free shuttle service, which get's you all around the valley for free, and runs about every 15 min or so, with a stop right near the Ahwanee entrance. Keep driving to a minimum, as traffic can be pretty bad at times and you might not be able to park where you intend to go anyway. In nice weather do take advantage of the bike rentals at Curry Village or the Lodge at the Falls. $31.50 all day, and the bike trails are paved and very scenic. Note: in warm weather there are alot of walkers in areas which might mean you have to walk your bike.

Side note: We also ate dinner the the Lodge at the Falls, which was excellent. The hotel itself, while less expensive and right near the village (and where all the tour buses leave from) looked depressingly tired, like an underfunded rural high-school. IMHO, spend a little extra and book at the Ahwahnee.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vail, CO
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 30, 2013

The hotel was built in two years for a price of $1.5 million,opening in 1927. It has a lovely synergy with the surrounding walls of granite and waterfalls, but our room was quite warm without air conditioning (in April!), and the bathroom very small. Historic has its charms, but you might not want to stay for an extended time.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Claremont, California
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 29, 2013

OK, first off: You're in Yosemite. It's stunningly beautiful. Everywhere you look: gorgeous. Can't beat the Ahwahnee for location, as previous reviewers have said.

On to the hotel itself: It is not a modern luxury resort. Let me repeat: If you're expecting an ultra-premium resort -- as well you might, given the rates -- you will be disappointed. What the Ahwahnee is: a beautiful historic hotel. (Again with the beautiful.) Personally, I waaay prefer historic to modern, as long as "historic" is combined with "well maintained," and at the Ahwahnee that surely holds true.

My family visited in early April for the first time, so I can't compare the Ahwahnee before and after its recent renovation. All I can say is that as a property, the hotel is fantastic, maintaining its original (now historic) flavor while still seeming fresh. It's a Craftsman fan's dream! The public areas are fairy-tale pretty, and our room was great -- enough space around our bed and a pull-out sofa (not, mind you, extra space, but enough), clean, nice bathroom and, of course, a lovely view.

Downsides: Every hotel has 'em. At the Ahwahnee, they include: (1) Thin walls. Fortunately the guests tend to be early-to-bed and early-to-rise (not many nightclubs in Yosemite), so that wasn't a big problem, and I'm a light sleeper. (2) In our bathroom, the bathtub faucet was not affixed to the wall, which wasn't a problem (it still worked), just kinda off-putting. (3) The bar (try the chili -- it's pretty good) could use a little more atmosphere. It's the one public area I didn't find charming. (4) The service was fine, but some of the staff were _too_ friendly -- a trap I've noticed semi-pro service workers falling into more and more often. Note that other staff, especially those manning the daily afternoon tea station, were great.

Speaking of food, we tried the bar (good, albeit predictably overpriced; beer selection could be better), the dining room (overly friendly waitstaff, good food, but not really that much better than the other options) and room service (tasty). Actually, I'd say room service is the best option -- decent choices, fast delivery and quick tray pick-up. Tip: We brought our own food for breakfasts (supplemented with the free coffee available every morning) and hiking picnic lunches.

Bottom line: The Ahwahnee is a picture-perfect place to stay in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. What's better than a day of hiking, followed by complementary afternoon tea and relaxing outside or in one of the hotel's lovely rooms? Ahhh...

Disclaimer: During the busy season, your experience may be significantly degraded by all the crowds. In fact, forget everything I just said. Please don't visit Yosemite at all, and tell all your friends to stay away, too. Thank you.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2013 via mobile

We stayed in 502, which had access to a huge deck shared with 507. The views from deck were fantastic (half dome and glacier were so close it was scary:))) for $551/night I expect everything to be included---not so. I had to ask for turndown and coffee maker in room, but both were delivered cheerfully. The big problem with our room was no window (just a screen door) which wouldn't stay shut when we were on the deck and it is quite dark in the room. USA today was delivered in the morning, there's free coffee from 6 am on Mezzanine and tea and cookies in the main lodge area from 4-5 pm with live piano music. The king bed was comfortable, wifi worked, huge tv screen, small bath with modern fixtures, small closet but deck made up for tight quarters. The concierge was very helpful, hotel staff pleasant and bar just wonderful for outdoor casual dining with views....

Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
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San Clemente, California
Top Contributor
104 reviews 104 reviews
27 hotel reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
51 helpful votes 51 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 26, 2013

No need to ramble on endlessly about this great hotel. It has charm, history and excellent service. Sure it is pricey, but paradise usually is! Besides, it is not like one visits there every month. Sure you can stay at The Lodge (which I have done), but why would you when you can basque in all that is The Ahwahnee. The food is good and better than most National Park dining we have experienced. When in Yosemite, we cannot imagine staying elsewhere!

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about The Ahwahnee

Address: 9005 Ahwahnee Drive, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
Location: United States > California > Yosemite National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Ski-In / Ski-Out Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 hotels in Yosemite National Park
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — The Ahwahnee 4*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Tuesday August 27, 2013 - With the exception of White Wolf Lodge, all lodging and services are available in Yosemite National Park. Yosemite Valley and Wawona are largely unaffected by the Rim Fire and air quality is good. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Ahwahnee Hotel Yosemite National Park
Ahwahnee Yosemite National Park
Ahwahnee Hotel Yosemite National Park

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