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“a dream hotel” 5 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
Certificate of Excellence
Paris, France
Level Contributor
26 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“a dream hotel”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 21, 2007

this is not about a perfect hotel, this about pleasure. we arrived late in this afternoon, in january, it was cold outside, the hotel had a room available, at a bargain price ( MMM... 350 dollars!) we took it. I did not regret it. The rooms are not unforgettable, but the huge dining rooms, the giant fireplaces...all condidered, it was woth it. I think it is a better place for winter, but i will have to come back in the summer maybe.

  • Liked — the atmosphere
  • Disliked — the heating system in the rooms...
  • Stayed January 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
3 Thank claudes40
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Los Angeles
Level Contributor
17 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 16, 2007

Stayed just one nite at the Ahwahnee hotel. It was my Dad's bday and we were only spending two days in Yosemite, so I figured I'd splurge. This was probably the most we've ever paid for a hotel room and definitely wasn't the nicest place. I guess you can't expect to stay in a hotel that's 70 years old and expect the best.

The exterior of the hotel is made of granite, but looks like wood. Views from the hotel are great. Rooms are adequate, but ours had food left in the fridge and a dirty coffee maker. Bathroom was small with no namebrand soaps/lotions. Dinner at the main dining room is pricey, but the quality of the food is 5*. Since it was my Dad's bday, they sat us at the "queen's table" which is just a 4-seated table in the very back of the room. Breakfast buffet during the week was $18 and was fair at best. No omelet station. There was a hotel bar, but otherwise virtually nothing else to do past sunset. No in-room movies. No ranger talks. Nada. A bit disappointing. Staff were always very friendly and helpful - definitely 5*.

I haven't stayed at any of the other Yosemite hotels, so can't compare. But it's surprising that this is the best hotel in the area. At least now we can say, "been there, done that." no need to do again.

  • Stayed January 2007, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
9 Thank sandyhandz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
53 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 299 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 29, 2006

My wife and I have wanted to stay at The Ahwahnee for many years. Last Xmas (2005), we foolishly attempted to book a room…and that’s when we learned that it’s best to reserve rooms approximately 12 months in advance. So that’s what we did: My wife reserved our room on January 3, 2006 for our Xmas, 2006, visit. The hotel required a one night’s payment up front, so our credit card was charged at the time of the reservation.

We were very excited to visit this famed hotel. I had never been to Yosemite, so I was especially excited to see the sights. Once you arrive at the Yosemite main gate (approximately 30 minutes outside of the Fresno city limits), it takes between 60-90 minutes to get to the hotel. I was told that it “normally” takes 60 minutes…but, on the day of our arrival, it had been snowing and the cars in front of me were driving particularly slowly. So our journey lasted 90 minutes from the gate to the hotel front door.

(Note: In winter, visitors to the hotel are required to carry tire chains in their cars in case of snow. This is the law and enforced by the National Parks Service - NPS. If you do not have chains, you can be turned away at the gate or when stopped by a park ranger. Specifically, the NPS informs all visitors, “You can be required to put on chains anywhere, at any time.”)

The NPS signs guide you easily to The Ahwahnee’s front gate. The front gate is simple – made of stones – built shortly after the hotel opened in 1927. It announces your arrival. A short driveway leads you to the front entrance of the hotel where we were greeted by a bellman. Keep in mind it was snowing, so the bellmen are in snow gear! Rather amusing! We did not require any assistance (we packed light for our one night stay)…but it was offered to us in a polite manner. You have the option of valet or self-parking.

We proceeded to the front desk, where we were helped by a staff member named Jon. He was very friendly. I told him that my wife and I would prefer a quiet room, and he explained that all rooms are “preassigned, based upon the date of your booking.” He added, “You booked your room early, so you have been assigned a very nice, large room…but it is close to the elevator.” Jon encouraged us to look at the room before turning it down, so we took his advice.

I want to take a moment to correct some information that other posters have written: The Ahwahnee is not run by the Park Service. No, the federal government has given a 15-year management contract to the Delaware North Company (DNC), headquartered in Buffalo, NY, to run the hotel. I had never heard of DNC, but I read in a hotel history book in our room that – until the government granted DNC the management contract in 1993 – DNC had never run a hotel. I found that rather interesting…

So room 219 was directly across from the elevator. (Note: We had lowered our expectations after reading the reviews on this site. Thank you, fellow Trip Advisor users!) The room was nice…and there was plenty of room for two people. But we could hear the “ding” from the elevator and lots of ‘people’ noise…so we decided that we would pass on the room.

We returned to the front desk, and Jon worked with the manager on duty to give us another room: Room 340, much further from the elevator. This time, the manager – her name was Kristen – personally gave us our room keys. Kristen was exceptionally kind.

As Jon had indicated, room 340 was, indeed, smaller than room 219. It still provided plenty of space for just the two of us…and the noise factor was more important to us than space. What we really wanted was a good night’s sleep.

I did laugh as I opened a door connecting our room to the room next door; it made me think of a review that I had read on this site: The door on the other side was ajar, and it would have been easy for me to have pushed it open. I resisted the urge and instead shut the door on our side.

After dropping our bags, we immediately headed downstairs to make a dinner reservation in the hotel dining room. My wife had left three messages earlier in the month on the reservation line, but we never received a return call. Thankfully, they accommodated our dinner request – 8pm.

We then headed to the lounge (I think they call it The Great Lounge), where light food and drinks can be enjoyed. [There are only three ways to eat at The Ahwahnee: the main dining room; the lounge; and room service.] We ordered soup and cocktails. The cocktails were tasty; the soup was not. Service was good.

After a nap in our room, we showered and arrived on-time for our 8pm dinner reservation in the main dining room. The room is impressive, but it’s not as grand or spectacular as I had imagined. Perhaps my first impression was muted due to the dark lighting at dinner time. In any case, we were pleased with our table and service. Our waiter was Marty.

Marty is the former dining room manager, and he was a hoot. My wife and I shared an appetizer of pumpkin ravioli, followed by a caesar salad, the filet mignon entrée ($39), and the chocolate lover’s dessert. The pumpkin ravioli was rather forgettable – too doughy and not enough pumpkin. The caesar salad was run-of-the-mill – not memorable, but not terrible. The filet entrée was quite good, however. And the dessert presentation was truly impressive. (The pastry chef is apparently highly skilled.) We also ordered a bottle of wine, and we found their wine prices to be reasonable – i.e. no extreme mark-ups.

After dinner, Marty offered us a tour of the kitchen. It was 10pm, and we were one of the last guests. The kitchen is enormous, and the tour was a nice touch.

My wife and I returned to a “turn-down serviced” room: bed was ready for us, along with chocolates on the pillow. Again, a nice touch. We proceeded to have a great night of sleep. The walls are thin, however, and we were awakened in the early morning hours by one neighbor who was leaving his room and, later, by the neighbors on the other side of us who were enjoying some romance. We found neither noise offensive, but – if we had had neighbors who were fighting or had crying babies – I could see where noise could be a serious issue.

We had breakfast in the main dining room, and it was very good. Prices were average for a hotel of this type. Service was very attentive.

After hiking at Yosemite Falls, my wife and I returned to The Ahwahnee for the final time. I read much of the hotel’s history book (that can be found in each guest room) before we packed up and checked-out. We were sad to leave this lovely, historic hotel.

After exiting the park, we drove by the Tenaya Lodge…and I told my wife that I wanted to stop and take a quick tour. She agreed, and we were very impressed. The Tenaya Lodge is clearly designed for familes: sleigh rides; an ice skating rink; a great hill for saucer runs; close to Badger Pass ski resort; three restaurants (low-end; mid-range; and high-end); and even dogs are allowed. We toured a guest room. “All rooms were recently remodeled,” we were told by Linda at the front desk. Indeed, the rooms at the Tenaya are nicer than the rooms at The Ahwahnee.

Interestingly, Tenaya is also operated by DNC…the same people who run The Ahwahnee. After reading the reviews on this site, you get the impression that the two hotels compete against each other…but, actually, they are sister hotels.

While we are glad to have experienced The Ahwahnee, we decided that – on our next visit to Yosemite – we will bring the children and our dog and stay at the Tenaya Lodge. It makes more sense for our family.

The Ahwahnee is an impressive hotel with an incredible history. We are glad that we can say, “We have stayed at The Ahwahnee.”

  • Liked — The location and the incredible history of the hotel
  • Disliked — The price of the room; the need for updating of the rooms; and the lack of privacy (noise from adjacent rooms)
  • Tips/Secrets — If your desire is to experience The Ahwahnee, a one night's stay is plenty of time. We were glad that we had not booked the room for two nights.
  • Stayed December 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
20 Thank dcdude
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Huntington Beach
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2006

I tried to upload a bunch of pictures and lost my review....so here is my second attempt.......bottom line....

Higher prices deserve better service.

The property owners have a monopoly on everything in the village, so I guess they do not feel the need to maintain the original theme of the Ahwahnee....a luxury hotel. Paint baseboards and repair areas as needed.

Hire more staff in the bar/cafe...expand the menu....don't serve wine 1/3 full for $9.75. Especially charging $394 dollars per night.

Do keep the fruit tray stocked at the $17.50 breakfast buffet, do have eggs and don't make the customers wait for prolonged periods for fresh food.

Run promotional stay specials for those of us who would never return unless the price matched the experience. In fact, the hotel lost a night's stay from us....we left early....not worth the price....However, the hotel is amazing from a 1927 time period and the nature outside is something to behold....If you want to experience a newer version, stay at the Disneyland California Grand which was inspired from the Ahwahnee design. At least that hotel is cleaner and well managed.

  • Liked — The idea that the original builders had for this property....a luxury hotel closest to half dome
  • Disliked — Lack of service in the bar/cafe/breakfast buffet....price not worth the stay
  • Tips/Secrets — Bring a cooler with your own wine, sandwiches for after hiking, etc.
  • Stayed November 2006, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
8 Thank cabradf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2006

I stayed at the Ahwahnee for two nights and I can honestly say it was the most disappointing experience I have ever had with a hotel. Of course, the location and architecture is fantastic, but it's a disgrace how poorly this hotel is managed. The premises are horribly run-down, the rooms were among the dirtiest I have ever seen (and that includes jungle accomodations in third world countries for 5 bucks a night). When we arrived in our $400 cabin, we were greeted by dust, dead insects, nasty stains on pretty much everything, and a smell reminiscent of a pit latrine. I understand it's a historic building and I didn't even mind the numerous cracks in the walls, or that the heating didn't work. But I don't think the mold on the tiles and the toothpaste crusts on the glasses had to be historically preserved. It was just completely unsanitary... Since the phone didn't work either, I had to walk up to the front desk to file a complaint which was met with an empty promise to fix things and the usual excuse that "it's a historic site" blah blah. I know 80 years is really old for US standards, but come on - I've been in European hotels that were some hundred years older than that, but they still can be cleaned!

In the meantime, we had an equally disappointing dinner at the restaurant. The host was unfriendly and incompetent, so that we had to be reseated even after ordering. The waiters were lame, the menu unimaginative, the lamb chops cold, the vegetarian dish so ill-seasoned and overcooked that I had difficulties identifying what it was. The wine glasses were dirty (no surprise there...). The only outstanding thing about it was the price.

When we got back to the room, at least the heating and phone had been fixed, but the filth and smell was still there. My special friend, a dead blowfly, still rested in peace on the window sill. I complained about the unsanitary conditions again the next morning, but in the evening everything still was the same. I was too disgusted by the bathroom to even take a shower. And I was tired of complaining, too. Before we left on the third day, I just carried the dead insects, the dirt-encrusted glasses, and stained towels up to the front desk and left them there. To their excuse, the management at least offered to drop half of the total bill.

Nevertheless, it was an entirely unpleasant experience. I wish I had stayed at the Yosemite Lodge instead. The restaurant there may not be as historic, but it's definitely better and offers really good value for the money. My advice: Stay at the Lodge, eat at the Lodge, just visit the Ahwahnee for a photo opportunity. Everything else is not worth it.

  • Liked — location
  • Disliked — everything else
  • Tips/Secrets — don't go there
  • Stayed November 2006, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
32 Thank travel3001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 9, 2006

My husband and I went for two nights for our wedding anniversary, with our 10 month old daughter in tow. We had a great time, and really liked our room -- cabin 718. The cabin had a separate alcove (with a door) for the baby's crib, so we could put her to bed and sit up with the lights on in the main room. The bathroom was a bit dated, but totally fine, and the rest of the cabin was very attractive. We had a lovely view out the windows of the cabin, and could sit out on our own private patio which faced into the woods. We had a lovely dinner and two very pleasant breakfasts in the main dining room, which is beautiful. We found the staff very attentive -- for example, they brought us a crib very quickly when we requested one. The waitstaff in the dining room were extremely friendly to our daughter. The big lounge with the fireplaces was quite pleasant to sit in.
I really don't understand the negative reviews. The rooms were not as modern or as large as a new hotel, more comparable to the kind of rooms we have had in some older (but still fancy) hotels in Europe to be honest. But I found it very charming.

  • Stayed November 2006
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
7 Thank JM35
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bedminster, NJ
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 5, 2006

The location certainly is hard to beat. Wonderful views, the hotel certainly looks grand from the back view. Another plus was an extremely positive experience in the dining room, from service to the food. The dining room was expensive but relative to what we received it was closer in value than the cottages certainly were.

With that said, the cottage we recently stayed in at The Ahwahnee was dark, questionably clean particularly the bathroom, two small windows did not have shades or curtains on them in the changing area!, dated decor (think 1970's bathroom), and completely overpriced.
We suspected that we should have asked for an interior room (maybe they were better?) but arrived late at night and we were exhausted.

Compared to other National Parks lodging, Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, the cottage at The Ahwahnee was such a poor value. The cottages at The Ahwahnee are in desperate need of a make over to restore the name and reputation of such an esteemed location.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — Poor cleanliness
  • Tips/Secrets — Fantastic breakfasts
  • Stayed October 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
6 Thank SRFischer
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
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites 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*
Number of rooms: 123
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Ahwahnee shines as Yosemite National Park's distinctive AAA(R) Four-Diamond hotel. Known for its magnificent façade and architecture, The Ahwahnee was specially designed to highlight its natural surroundings, which include Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and Glacier Point. The destination of queens and presidents alike, this distinctive Yosemite hotel offers a perfect balance of history, hospitality, and elegance. ... 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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