My wife and I were able to slip into the Yosemite Valley and stay at the famous Ahwahnee Hotel in the brief interval between the end of the terrible Rim Fire north of the Valley and the government shutdown that closed the park. We felt extremely fortunate to be there as we had held our reservations at the Ahwahnee for more than a year.
The Ahwahnee is one of those national park hotels that evoke warm memories and keep individuals and families returning for a lifetime. This was our first visit to the hotel but it was obvious from overhead conversations that many people were returning for the umpteenth time, including one gentleman who had married at the hotel several decades ago. We can understand the loyalty. The Ahwahnee is a beautiful wood and stone building situated at the base of the famous Half Dome. Ringed by pleasant meadows (one of which serves as a “wedding meadow”) and towering pines, the hotel is an oasis of calm in the bustling Yosemite Valley.
Valet parking is free at the hotel and we recommend using the service as the hotel’s small public parking lot fills quickly. You can leave your car for the duration of your stay if you are not planning to leave the valley because a convenient shuttle bus service stops at the front of the hotel and will take you to virtually every scenic vista and attraction in the valley. The hotel is about a half-mile from Yosemite Village, which is a pleasant walk along both paved and unpaved hiking trails. The hotel is also the jumping off point for many hikes and walks.
We reserved a Classic room (one step up from a Standard room) and were rewarded with a striking view of Half Dome from our room window (no balcony, however). Our room also overlooked a meadow where deer came to graze during the early morning and late afternoon hours (and also to be fed by guests, a big no-no that the hotel cautions against). The room was large enough for a bed, sofa, coffee table, small desk and chair. The bed was very comfortable. The bathroom, however, was tiny (to be expected in old hotels) and exhibited several patchwork repairs of tile and fixtures; it badly needed an overhaul. The hotel room walls were very thin (or perhaps a connecting door to the next room allowed more than usual noise to get through). Doors are very heavy and slam loudly, so take earplugs or download a white noise smartphone app to avoid late night and early morning noise.
The hotel provides guests with free Wi-Fi but the service is so slow as to be barely usable. It was also impossible to access any of the television networks on the flat screen television. A call to the front desk about the television resulted in the “we’re working on it” response, but the channels never appeared during our four-day stay. Cell phone service is also spotty as would be expected in a Valley ringed by mountains. The slow Wi-Fi and the cell phone service is probably not a concern to most people while staying in the Ahwahnee, but guests planning to conduct business or work on projects will find those tasks difficult.
Food and food service was excellent. We had a couple of lunches and one dinner in the Ahwahnee Bar, where you can sit outside under the pines. We also had one lunch in the huge main dining room that was very good (and worth a meal or two just to take it all in). Room service breakfasts arrived promptly and the food was also good.
The Ahwahnee is expensive, but the location and the service provided is excellent. And, of course, it is a lovely place for a wedding.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Majestic Yosemite Hotel shines as Yosemite National Park's distinctive AAA(R) Four-Diamond hotel. Known for its magnificent façade and architecture, The Majestic Yosemite Hotel 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