I recently spent two nights here; they were my first stay ever at this motel.
I requested and (more or less) got a "ground floor" room. (I actually had to walk up a ramp, but that was better than having to drag myself and suitcases up stairs.) I had reserved a river view room, and I was impressed with the size and cleanliness of the room. The small balcony overlooking the river was very nice (but as things turned out, I was never in the room long enough at the right time to be able to enjoy it).
The bathroom in particular was very large (partly to accomodate the spa tub/shower combo - more on that later).
The room boasted a gas fireplace and a small kitchenette area (small fridge, two-burner iirc stove, toaster, coffee maker). I only used the fridge, but I thought that it was a very nice small setup.
The service here was of mixed quality.
I checked in after 8 pm the first night, having driven down from Tioga Road after hiking May Lake. I was stiff and sore and could barely drag myself into the lobby (which, by the way, could be better signed; I had some trouble finding it, and I wasn't the only person with that problem).
I was told by the front desk people that the restaurants (a more upscale "River Room" and a pizza place) would be open til 10 pm. Great! I could lug everything into the room, clean up a bit, change clothes, and then go eat...
As it turned out, I had hand and bath towels, but no washcloths. Good thing that I had brought paper towels! On the way to the restaurant (that or on the return from, I don't remember which), I queried at the front desk about the washcloths, which was met with some surprise. (The next day, my room had washcloths, and also a bath mat and dish towel for the kitchenette, which were ALSO missing that first night.)
As for dinner...
I walked into the River Room entry lounge about 9:30 pm, asked for a table, and was told that they had stopped serving a half an hour ago! When I expressed incredulity (and said that "the front desk said..."), the hostess suggested that I step into the adjoining bar and ask the barkeeper (I believe his name was Travis) if I could be served in there. Travis said it was up to the kitchen, but he would inquire... and the kitchen was agreeable (if it was something fast).
To sum that up, I had a nice hamburger-and-fries meal, along with two glasses of Pepsi, AND dessert, sitting at the bar. (It's a nice little bar.) Travis did his bartenderly things and was sensitive to not talk to me when I was busy (I was using my cell phone to chat my husband (at home) to let him know that I had safely arrived and was eating), but friendly enough to talk pleasantly with when I was done with business. I very much appreciated Travis (and the kitchen) and their willingness to serve me.
On the way back to my room (which was about as far from the restaurant as one could get), I stopped at the front desk again to inform them that they were telling their guests the wrong thing re the restaurant hours. It turns out that the hours had shortened just a few days ago, so they were claiming confusion, but still.... I could have missed dinner entirely! (Note to lodge: your employees MUST know when these hours change over, so that they can give the correct information to your guests.)
I also asked about irons and ironing boards, and was told that they didn't have enough for every room, but I could bring them back to my room. Now, it should have been clear to anyone watching me that I was really dragging along, and they wanted me to schlep that stuff all the way back to my room?! In the end, they said that they would be "happy" to have someone bring the stuff out.
As it turns out, some time later (within 20-30 minutes, no big deal to me), someone DID turn up with the iron and ironing board. This person was very impatient, pounding repeatedly on the door while I was dragging myself up from my chair to go answer it. An angry and surly looking young man thrust the items at me, and did not thank me when I gave him a $5 tip for the inconvenience.
The next evening, I did finally get to eat in the River Room proper. The server was pleasant and efficient - too efficient, as I couldn't help the sense that they (the restaurant, not just the server) wanted to rush me through the meal and out the door (and it's not because they needed the table, either).
The food quality was mixed.... there was a minimal salad bar, a soup bar (the clam chowder was good), and panini bread served (meh). I ordered crab cakes (which were spicy but not very crabby - so I can't say that I enjoyed them), trout (okay), mashed potatoes (very good). For dessert, I asked if it was possible to just get a few scoops of ice cream (not something officially on the menu, but I knew that they had it as they served some desserts with a side of ice cream), and the kitchen was flexible enough to do that.
(The decor was okay... I've eaten at Yosemite Lodge and I think that I prefer their Mountain Room restaurant - both for decor and for food.)
The bad (and a rant thereon):
The ironing board turned out to be one of those bogus small "table top" boards and the iron barely produced any steam.
With the obscene prices that this place charges, I find it incredible that they cannot supply a REAL ironing board, and a decent iron, for every room. Even in Lee Vining, the motels (I have stayed at two) have real ironing boards and decently working irons. The last time I was at Yosemite Lodge (some 6 years ago), THEY had real ironing boards and irons. THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THIS LACK. There isn't always time to iron clothes before packing, and even ironed clothes can get wrinkled or creased, so those of us guests who want to look civilized rely on having irons and ironing boards wherever we stay.
(To the lodge: Costs too much money, you say? With the outrageous rates you charge, you should have enough money to supply these items. If you don't (hard to believe!), then raise the room rate $1-2 a night (it's already so expensive such a raise would hardly be noticeable) and you should make back the cost within a season. (Grumble grumble stupid (probably male, never have tried ironing their own clothes on such a miserable contraption) beancounters.... or maybe it's just greed...))
Wireless.... The Lee Vining motel I stayed at this trip (and also at (at least) one other L.V. motel, I believe), has free wireless for its guests - IN THEIR ROOMS. Yosemite Lodge has free wireless for its guests (while not in its rooms, it extends beyond the lodge lobby). FREE. I found out that this place requires its guests to pay for wireless access (via a third party), and it is ONLY available in the lobby. This made no difference to me; I had just gotten a new cell phone with a Verizon account, so I had phone/email/chat/internet access almost everywhere in Yosemite and the Eastern Sierra, and had no problems doing so from anywhere on this property. Wireless access may very well be of importance to some people, however, so buyer beware!
The spa tub... I realize that some people like such things, but I personally never use a tub (of any kind) when traveling. All I need or want is a large, clean shower with good water pressure and adequate hot water. Given how stiff and sore I was, that tub was actually a liability as I had quite a bit of trouble getting into and out of it (even with the handlebar). Once in it, it was certainly spacious enough for showering, although I would have enjoyed a bit more water pressure. (Compared to the Lee Vining motel I had just come from, which had a very invigorating water flow (from (I suppose) a high pressure head), the shower here was merely adequate.)
I asked at the front desk about this, and was told that the river view rooms had spa tubs, but the other rooms did not. So buyer beware (again). (The other rooms also lack the fireplaces... but seriously, who needs them?)
The bottom line:
I made reservations here because this was a belatedly thrown-together trip, and Yosemite Lodge was full for the dates that I wanted. Although the rooms are nicer here than at Yosemite Lodge (and have kitchenette facilities that Y.L. lacks), I prefer staying at Yosemite Lodge (why not wake up already in the Valley, and stay at a place with a good restaurant?), but there are some situations where I would consider a return stay: when the weather (in the Valley) is expected to be warm (because Yosemite Lodge does not have air conditioning), or if I plan on doing any of my own cooking (not likely), or if I am making another not-planned-well-in-advance trip. I would probably, however, try to get a mountain view room, as to avoid the difficulties with the obnoxious spa tub.
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- Also Known As:
- Yosemite View Hotel El Portal
- Yosemite View Motel