by Amanda Geronikos
In the 1950’s, guests complained of loud noise coming from the Great Room at The Ahwahnee (as it was called until 2016). When hotel staff walked in, they found Lucille Ball playing piano, and Judy Garland singing alongside of her.
That’s just one of several stories at this hotel, and they’re just two of several icons who have visited. President John F. Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill and Walt Disney have all hung their hats at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, a National Historic Landmark, Historic Hotel of America and four-diamond property in Yosemite National Park.
The hotel, which opened in 1927, looks nearly identical to the way it did when such icons visited. Sure, it has received necessary refurbishments, but the hotel retains the very grandeur and charm that attracted guests of yesteryear and continues to draw guests of present day. Even those who choose not to stay like to take advantage of free historic tours, offered regularly at the hotel.
The Majestic Yosemite Hotel isn’t as family-friendly as we’d like. Rates are expensive, accommodations aren’t ideal for large groups and onsite dining is a bit fancier than many families might like (though children’s menus are offered). Other than a small, outdoor pool, there’s not much in the way of onsite activities, and Wi-Fi, though technically available, is nonexistent (not that we’re complaining). Your teens won’t likely be impressed, but will, at the very least, enjoy learning that the hotel’s exteriors are the inspiration behind Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, and the interiors were adapted for Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” (and yes, the hotel is said to be haunted).
Our Editor Loves
- Free historic tours
- Outdoor, heated pool
- Views of Glacier Point and Half Dome
- Connecting Rooms
- Free Wi-Fi
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
There are 123 accommodations at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, including standard rooms, suites and cottages. The hotel also offers parlors, but they're not technically accommodations -- they don't have beds and must be combined with hotel rooms to create suites. All accommodations provide mini-fridges, flat-screen TVs, and shower and tub combinations in bathrooms, where you'll also find an adorable rubber ducky adorned with a park ranger hat! Hairdryers, irons and ironing boards are also provided. Cribs and rollaway beds are available upon request and are free of charge.
Standard Hotel Rooms
These rooms have limited views, and are the most inexpensive option for accommodations at the hotel. They have either one king or two double beds.
Featured Hotel Rooms
These rooms have one king or two double beds, plus a balcony or deck (shared with an adjoining room).
Classic Hotel Rooms
These rooms feature views of Glacier Point, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, as well as the hotel's grounds. They have either one king or two double beds.
Standard Cottage Rooms
These rooms offer one king bed.
Classic Cottage Rooms
These rooms are suitable for a family, with two double beds (or one king bed for two people).
Feature Cottage Rooms
Feature Cottage Rooms have one king or two double beds, plus a fireplace and sitting area. Note: Feature Cottage Rooms don't have tubs -- only showers. There are only two of them available, and they book up quickly.
El Dorago Diggins Suite
This storied suite is especially popular with guests -- it was a private dining room, lounge and even a chapel during World War II. Unfortunately, it only sleeps up to two guests.
The Mary Curry Tresidder Suite
Though it's named for Mary Curry, whose family majorly influenced tourism in Yosemite National Park, this suite is better known as the "Queen's Room." It is where Queen Elizabeth II stayed during her visit in 1983. Funny Fact: She only stayed for two nights, yet requested a bidet be installed (and it's still there). This suite sleeps two people.
My best friend and I stayed for one night in June at the Ahwahnee (it was still the Majestic at the time). We arrived around 3:30pm, which was an atrocious time to try and find parking on the Valley Floor, so we were extremely grateful for the hotel's valet parking service (hotel guests and dining guests only). Our room wasn't quite ready when we got there, but we did check in and have them store our luggage so we could walk around the park a bit in the meantime. Our room was a cottage room with 2 queen beds. We absolutely loved the room! The cottages are a historic part of the property, and there was a sign in the room describing that. The only complaint for me would be that the bed was a bit uncomfortable - too short (I'm 5'7" with long legs).
I gave 4 stars because we ordered Room Service for breakfast, and my friend's milk was missing. Also, she thinks something in the food made her ill (but that is hard to confirm). We also had to call twice to make sure a bellman would come to get our luggage. To be fair, we did not complain to anyone, and all the staff were very friendly. However, for the prices you pay, there shouldn't be any issues.
by Tracey C
We stayed at The Ahwahnee for 3 nights recently. We ate Australian , have travelled extensively and are quite easy going but object to poor service and poor quality in expensive hotels. Check in was from 4pm. When we arrived to check in at 4.15 we were told the room wasn't ready - maybe in 20 minutes. An hour later we were still waiting! After a 4 hour drive from San Fran we were tired and annoyed. We were then told it was very important to make a booking in the dining room for breakfast each morning and if we wanted to have dinner there so we did.
At breakfast the next morning in a half empty dining room ( so glad we booked) at 8.30am , the waitress asked us in a very loud voice where we were from. When we told her she then launched into her favourite movies. She also remarked that Aussies didn't tip and that she expected us to. ( we have just tipped our way through 6 weeks in the US) . Before we had even started eating she brought the bill and put it in front of my husband . We were shocked. We spent the day hiking, came back at 4pm and our room had not been serviced. I rang and requested this to happen and a lady turned up with towels. She looked surprised that we wanted the bed made etc.
The hairdryer wouldn't have dried my hair in 4 hours it was so old and just barely warm. I rang to ask for another one which arrived about half an hour later.
The next morning at 6.45am hotel staff started setting up outdoor furniture, dragging wooden chairs across the pavers rather than picking them up and talking loudly to each other. They woke so many people up and one couple shouted out the window at the staff who slunk away.
No complimentary bottled water or any milk of any kind in the room. Rooms have a great view but are certainly not in the luxury category. Old and tired furnishings in the room - looks like a motel rather than a high end hotel . Loved the majestic location but the hotel needs someone with standards to oversee it .
The property has an outdoor, heated swimming pool that's open year-round. There is no lifeguard on duty.
The hotel offers a small selection of board games, perfect to play in the Great Room or at a table outside. Games are available at the front desk.
The hotel offers historic tours, allowing visitors to step back in time and explore the property's storied rooms, halls and grounds. Tours are free and last approximately one hour; they are available to both hotel guests and the general public. Advance registration is required -- inquire at the front desk upon arrival or call 209-372-1426 to reserve a tour ahead of your trip.
The Ahwahnee Dining Room
Breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner are served in The Ahwahnee Dining Room, which sort of resembles the famous dining room in "Harry Potter." The room features high-beamed ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, granite pillars and elegant chandeliers, while tables are furnished with crisp, linen tablecloths and china. While children are welcome (and even have their own menu of usual favorites), we believe the restaurant is best suited for families with teens. Reservations are recommended for all meals.
Note: There's a dress code for dinner in the dining room. Men must wear long pants and a collared shirt, and women are asked to wear a dress, skirt or dress pants with a blouse. Children ages 4 and up should adhere to the dress code, as well.
Breakfast is served 7 to 10 a.m., lunch is served 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner is served 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Brunch is available on Sundays, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. (lunch is not available).
The Ahwahnee Bar/Coffee Bar
The Ahwahnee Bar is a casual version of The Ahwanee Dining Room, with light fare (lunch and dinner) and drinks on offer. Outdoor seating is available in the summer months, and kids are welcome. It's open daily, 2 to 10 p.m. The bar also serves coffee in the morning, 7 to 10:30 a.m.
Complimentary tea and cookies are served daily, 4 to 5 p.m., in the Great Room. This is a nice way to unwind after a busy day in the park.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Free Wi-Fi is technically available, but don't expect to connect to the Internet -- the connection is basically nonexistent (something the hotel hopes to fix in the near future). Let it be a good reason to disconnect from technology and reconnect with family.
There are two gift shops at The Ahwahnee. One sells fine prints and other collectibles, while the other offers snacks, beverages and the hotel's signature chocolate truffles -- treat your family to a few of them.
Vehicle Charging Station
The hotel has two chargers for electric vehicles; one is specific for Tesla Motors.
The hotel houses a business center, open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Check-in is at 5 p.m. and check-out is at 11 a.m.
The Art of Smart Timing
Yosemite National Park receives several million visitors per year, most of who visit in the summer months and like to stay at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel. Rates, therefore, are higher at this time (and prices aren't exactly cheap in the off-season). Save money and beat the crowds with a visit during the shoulder seasons of March, April, October or November, or plan a winter visit -- just bring tire chains in case of snow. Note: The National Park Service requires chains during inclement weather; if you need help installing them, rangers and property staff can assist.
Fresno Yosemite International Airport is the closest transportation hub, though it's still 2.5 hours from the hotel. Rent a car and let your GPS get you to the entrance of Yosemite National Park. Ask a ranger for directions to The Majestic, as you'll lose cellular reception shortly thereafter (you'll see plenty of signs for the hotel though).
The hotel has free, though limited, parking space, and parking passes are distributed upon arrival. If there's not enough space, you can park in Yosemite Village and utilize the free shuttle service that runs through "town." Complimentary valet service is available to all guests.
For Mom and Dad
If someone is available to watch the kids, enjoy a romantic dinner at The Ahwahnee Dining Room. Otherwise, head to the The Ahwahnee Bar -- you can enjoy an alcoholic beverage while the kids sip on fun, fruity (and non-alcoholic) drinks like lavender lemonade and cranberry punch.