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Ahwahnee Hotel Reviews

The state of California has it all. From ski slopes, quiet forests, and tranquil beach to amusement parks, nightclubs, and famous landmarks, there’s something for everyone in this diverse state. The Ahwahnee Hotel, also known as the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, is a historic hotel in the heart of Yosemite National Park. When planning a vacation to Yosemite National Park, the Ahwahnee Hotel might go at the top of your list. But how do Ahwahnee Hotel and Yosemite National Park stack up to other hotels and sites in California? We compared the Ahwahnee Hotel to three other hotels in popular California tourism sites to find out.

What Is the Ahwahnee Hotel?

The Ahwahnee Hotel, or Majestic Yosemite Hotel, is a National Historic Landmark in Yosemite National Park. In the early twentieth century, more and more people began to visit national parks. The Ahwahnee Hotel was built to fill a demand for luxury accommodations in this isolated park. It was completed in 1927, and it maintains much of its historic character today. Just like Yosemite National Park itself, the Ahwahnee Hotel has left a mark on American history. It served as a hospital for injured returning veterans during World War Two. Many Presidents and visiting royals have stayed at the hotel. Its interior is even rumored to be part of the design inspiration for the hotel in the movie The Shining! 

The Ahwahnee Hotel is unique among accommodations at National Parks because of its luxury. While Yosemite National Park offers several hotels and the expected campgrounds, few people consider Yosemite a luxury vacation destination. The Ahwahnee Hotel’s luxury services and amenities aim to change that.

Hotel Details

Ahwahnee Hotel in front of Royal Arches wall

Image Source: Unsplash.com

The Ahwahnee Hotel is a AAA, four-diamond hotel offering traditional hotel rooms and luxury “cottage” rooms. Because of its location in the heart of Yosemite National Park, it’s recommended that reservations be made from six months to one year in advance.

Pricing

Room run approximately $500 to $600 per night for standard rooms. The Ahwahnee Hotel’s prices vary by season. During peak season, basic rooms can run over $1000 per night or more.

How It Compares

For our review, we picked a few similar hotels in other popular California vacation spots. We wanted to find out which hotel and vacation locations provided the best vacation experience. We looked at each hotel’s services, facilities, food and drink options, and local attractions. We also examined numerous reviews for the most common pros and cons for each hotel.

Keeping in mind that hotel prices can vary drastically depending on demand and location, we established a scale for approximate price comparisons for one night in a standard room.

  • $ = approximately $300 or more
  • $$ = approximately $300- $600 or more
  • $$$ = over $600

We compared the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park to the following hotels in San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, respectively:

  • Fairmont Grand Del Mar
  • Hotel Nikko San Francisco
  • Loews Hollywood Hotel
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Ahwahnee Hotel


Price

$$

Prices here are between $500 and $600 during normal seasons.

Services

The Ahwahnee Hotel offers a concierge ready to provide recommendations and guidance around Yosemite National Park. The hotel also offers luxury services such as same-day laundry, room service, turn-down service, valet parking, and chargers for Teslas and other electric cars.

Facilities

The Ahwahnee Hotel’s facilities include 123 guest rooms, 24 luxury cottages, cocktail lounge, grand dining room, business center, a year-round heated outdoor pool.

Food and Drink

Food and beverage offerings in the hotel include afternoon tea and a formal dinner in the grand dining room that requires a suit and jacket.

Nearby Attractions

The hotel is right in the heart of Yosemite National Park, with opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, biking, skiing, snowboarding, and history, art, and nature programs.

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PROS

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  • Mix of luxury and nature
  • Super-cute cottages!
  • Beautiful common areas
  • Good food
  • Activities for everyone

CON

  • Isolated if you tire of Yosemite
  • Many reviewers reported poor service
  • Out-of-date décor
  • Few food options
  • Limited cell phone service

More Information

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Fairmont Grand Del Mar


The Fairmont Grand Del Mar hotel is a luxury golf and spa resort on 400 acres in San Diego. It was awarded five stars from Forbes and five diamonds from AAA.

Price

$$

Prices run between $1500 and $2000 a room.

Services

The Fairmont Grand Del Mar hotel provides yoga and fitness classes, kids’ daycare, turn-down service, beach service (including umbrellas and beach chairs), same-day laundry, guided hikes, and free transportation to Del Mar, Solana Beach, and La Jolla.

Facilities

The Fairmont Grand Del Mar’s facilities include professional level tennis courts and golf, four pools, 249 rooms with marble-floored bathrooms and balconies, and a jazz club and nightclub.

Food and Drink

Food and drink options at the hotel include Addison, a Forbes five start and AAA five diamond restaurant. The hotel has five other restaurants on site. Afternoon tea, weekend brunch, and free or reduced price meals for kids are also offered.

Nearby Attractions

The hotel is in a pastoral setting, yet near the city. Golf, horseback riding, and hiking in Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve are some popular activities. The San Diego Zoo and downtown San Diego are nearby.

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PROS

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  • Beautiful Spanish architecture
  • Lush landscaping
  • Lush landscaping
  • Gorgeous décor
  • Great spa treatments
  • Top-notch golf and tennis

CON

  • Isolated from the city
  • Reviewers disliked the food
  • Daycare is often overbooked
  • Poor service

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Hotel Nikko San Francisco


This “Japanese-inspired” hotel is located in Union Square in the heart of San Francisco. Owned by the Takenaka Corporation, a Japanese construction company, the hotel received four stars from Forbes.

Price

$$

Expect to pay approximately $300 and up for a room here.

Services

Hotel Nikko provides “environmentally friendly” laundry and housekeeping, turn-down service, and valet parking.

Facilities

This 532 room, recently renovated hotel has a sauna, a 24-hour gym with mahogany lockers, an indoor pool, a dog run, a business center, and a hair salon. Feinstein’s nightclub and theater, which books national acts, is located in the hotel.

Food and Drink

A Starbucks and a high-end Asian restaurant are located in the hotel building.

Nearby Attractions

All the major San Francisco tourist destinations are within a quick train, trolley, or Uber ride: Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Ferry building, and Giants’ Stadium.

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PROS

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  • Affordable price for San Francisco
  • Turn-down service includes a hand-written note
  • Friendly staff
  • Central location for popular sites

CON

  • Extra charge for pool and gym
  • Extra charge for “premium” wi-fi
  • Few food options
  • Neighborhood is sketchy at night

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Loews Hollywood Hotel


Part of the Loews chain of hotels, the Loews Hollywood Hotel is located in the heart of Hollywood. A popular drop-off point for tourist buses, this hotel is in a central spot for Hollywood site-seers.

Price

$$

Rooms and this hotel run $400 and under.

Services

Loews Hollywood Hotel provides a unique “kids’ closet,” including free use of toys, DVDs and DVD players, car seats, and Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii systems and games. They provide toys, treats, litter boxes, food and water dishes, and even room service for pets. Besides special services for kids and pets, the hotel offers same-day laundry, currency exchange, and a concierge to help with LA vacation strategizing.

Facilities

This 628-room hotel has a roof-top pool with cabanas, a yoga studio, a twenty-four-hour gym, and a twenty-four-hour business center. Some rooms offer views of the Hollywood sign.

Food and Drink

Food options in the Loews Hollywood Hotel include a high-end convenience store in the lobby; the H2 kitchen and bar, offering small plates, burgers, and drinks; a pool bar with a menu by Wolfgang Puck; and Preston’s, a restaurant with price fixed dinners.

Nearby Attractions

The hotel is within walking distance of the Hollywood Walk of Fame; the Chinese, Egyptian, and Dolby Theaters, and Madame Tussad’s Wax Museum.

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PROS

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  • Many reviewers reported poor housekeeping
  • Crowded pool
  • Different keys for room and elevator
  • Neighborhood is sketchy at night

CON

  • Isolated from the city
  • Reviewers disliked the food
  • Daycare is often overbooked
  • Poor service

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Conclusion

tall trees near the Ahwahnee Hotel

Image Source: Pexels.com

Before comparing vacation spots and hotels in California, one fact must be faced: California is an expensive state. Taxes in California are higher than they are in many other states in the US, and California’s cities and tourist areas are especially hard-hit. Anyone coming from out of state should be prepared to have sticker shock. If you’re dreaming of a luxury tour of California’s major sites, you should be prepared to pay a high price.

The hotel with our poorest review—the Hotel Nikko San Francisco– is located in the most expensive city in the state. However, the Hotel Nikko San Francisco’s rate was in a lower price range compared with the three hotels at three other popular sites. Based on this comparison, we recommend selecting a higher-rated hotel for a luxury visit to San Francisco.

Similarly, the most expensive hotel we reviewed—the Fairmont Del Mar—also received a low review considering its price. While some reviewers praised he Fairmont Del Mar for the quality of its employees’ service, many others were disappointed with the service and found it lower than the quality of service at other Fairmont hotels.

In addition, on-site childcare is one of the Fairmont Del Mar’s most desirable amenities. However, many reviewers who wanted to use this service were told it was booked up. Based on our reviews, unless you are a huge golf player, we recommend selecting a lower-priced hotel or a comparable high-end resort for your visit to San Diego.

This leaves us with the Los Angeles hotel, the Loews Hollywood Hotel, and the Yosemite National Park hotel: the Ahwahnee Hotel.

Based on our review, we recommend the Ahwahnee Hotel for a luxury vacation in Yosemite National park, and we recommend the Loewes Hollywood Hotel with reservations for a family vacation in Los Angeles.

Though the Loewes Hollywood Hotel did not have superior reviews, its services for children and pets were impressive. No other hotel in our review came close to providing such thoughtful amenities for children and pets. Even though the Loewes Hollywood Hotel was not outstanding in other areas of its review, these services can make a difference when traveling with children and animals. The hotel’s location in a central part of Hollywood, and its proximity to a drop-off point for tourist buses made it a top pick in our review.

We also recommend the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park to anyone looking to continue a luxury California vacation while visiting the park.

river in Yosemite National Park with high mountain on its backdrop

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular National Parks in the United States. It offers a number of campgrounds as well as some hotels. The fact that Yosemite offers hotels at all sets it aside from many other National Parks. Many people assume that campsites will be the only accommodations offered in National Parks. A hotel—let alone a Forbes’ rated luxury hotel—goes above and beyond.

Compared with the Fairmont Del Mar, the Ahwahnee Hotel doesn’t seem like much of a luxury resort. It doesn’t have a championship golf course or easy access to a major city. However, considering its isolated location, the Ahwahnee Hotel offers a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. Host to American presidents and foreign royalty, the Ahwahnee Hotel is a piece of history. Its accommodations may not quite compare to that of other luxury hotels, but its quality is commendable considering its location and the age of its facilities.

If you’re planning a trip encompassing both Northern and Southern California, a visit to Yosemite has to be on your must-see list. Yosemite National Park truly is one of the most phenomenal places in the world. And if you’d like luxury accommodations while visiting Yosemite, the Ahwahnee Hotel will serve you well.

Featured Image Source: Pixabay.com

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