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“Marvelous” 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
Birmingham, AL
1 review
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Marvelous”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 27, 2007

Just returned from a 3-night stay at the Ahwahnee. What a magnifent hotel. No glitz, no flat panel TV, not a Ritz Carlton or Disney World resort - rather the Ahwahnee is a splendid reminder of a long-ago era of grace and gentility that added tremendously to the grandeur that is Yosemite. My room was confortable and surprisingly spacious. The hotel staff was helpful, polite and efficient. And I got a real key rather than a hard plastic card. My stay was a true delight.

  • Liked — Its historical beauty.
  • Disliked — Food was average but expensive.
  • Stayed March 2007, traveled with family
    • 5 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)
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member 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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Newport Beach
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 29, 2007

My husband and I just got back from a three-night stay at the Ahwahnee (Jan 25-28). After reading some of the recent reviews, I was a little concerned, but happily, we were quite pleased with our stay.

Everyone from the bellmen, to the desk clerks, to the waiters went out of their way to be friendly. Fifteen minutes after we were shown to our cottage, we received a call from the desk asking if everything was to our satisfaction, and did we need or want anything additional.

We stayed in a cottage (because we wanted to be away from large crowds, noisy children, etc.), which was located maybe 100 yards from the hotel. Our cottage had a main room, maybe 15 or 16' by 15' or 16' square, which contained a king size bed, an armoire with drawers, a TV and a mini-fridge, an upholstered armchair and ottoman, and a round table and two chairs. Behind the main room was a combination dressing area/desk and closet, with ironing board, safe and coffee pot in a space about 4-5' by maybe 8'. Next to that was a "hall" area with a full length mirror, about 3' by 6'. This area would open to the room on the other half of our cabin if we were a large family that required additional room and bath. On the other side of this hall was the bathroom (toilet and bath/shower) separated by a door from the sink/vanity. So basically, you have a front room, and 3 smaller 'room/areas' behind it. Assuming the adjoining cabin had the same set-up (we didn't see it), the bathrooms/dressing areas provided a great buffer, and we didn't hear the people in the other half of the cabin.

Our cabin was clean, the bed was comfortable with down comforter and feather pillows, the carpet appeared either new or fairly new. The tile in the bathroom was clean, not cracked or broken (as some of the other reviews stated). Hot water was almost immediate in the shower.

The only "faults" with the cabin would be that the heat is controlled by a wall heater in the main room (and an additional moveable heater that looks like an electric radiator). There isn't a thermostat, so we found ourselves waking up during the night to turn off the heater. Along the same lines, the tile floors in the bathroom/sink area are VERY cold at night/morning. Wear slippers or put down your towels! Also, the supplemental exhaust fan in our bathroom was quite loud. But these are minor things as far as I'm concerned, and this is winter.

We were out hiking most of the time, and only ate one meal at the Ahwahnee. We had dinner on Saturday night. The dress code did not seem to be as strict as advertised, but people did dress nicely (no jeans). Food was pricey, but no more so than at a nice restaurant in the city. And the food we had was very good, with generous portions. We were not rushed and we enjoyed our meal. We did find that drinks in the lounge/bar were high -- about $8.50-$9.50 for a cocktail.

As for computers, the only area with wi-fi coverage is in the great room, and it is free.

We enjoyed our stay -- it was not inexpensive -- but the trade-off is that we were handy to everything in the Valley, either by walking, driving or taking the free Valley Shuttle, and we didn't spend any money on anything else besides some quick meals and snack food during our stay.

Would we stay at the Ahwahnee again? Absolutely.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — No thermostat
  • Stayed January 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alexandria, Va.
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2007

Staying at the Ahwahnee requires a reservation WELL in advance, however, the experience is awesome. The cabins, the food, the wonders of nature. Everything was excellent - can't say anything negative. Please do yourself a favor and GO.

  • Stayed January 2007
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Paris, France
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
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)
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
82 helpful votes 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Austin, Texas
Top Contributor
58 reviews 58 reviews
45 hotel reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
369 helpful votes 369 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)
Was this review helpful? Yes 20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Huntington Beach
1 review
8 helpful votes 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
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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