by Amanda Geronikos
In the 1950’s, guests complained of loud noise coming from the Great Room at The Ahwahnee (formerly The Majestic Yosemite Hotel). 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 Ahwahnee, 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 Ahwahnee 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 Ahwahnee 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.
Stayed in the Cottages which was wonderful- almost like having a cabin in the woods! The room had ample space and well appointed! It's in the beautiful Yosemite Valley and a once in a lifetime experience. The wine sessions were great as was the wine.
We loved our stay at the Ahwahnee Hotel! It really was a dream come true. So much majestic splendor and we were staying right in the middle of it all. The room wasn’t cheap, but we decided to splurge for a room with a balcony. As some of our friends told us, Yosemite does not disappoint, and neither did the Ahwahnee. Our room was spacious and nicely furnished and the bed was very comfy. But the magic is in the history and the surroundings and the VIEW! This was our first trip to Yosemite, and the beauty was almost overwhelming! We had read reviews about the hotel being run down, but I couldn’t disagree more. It certainly has a few wrinkles that show its age, but that is what makes it more interesting than a brand new hotel. We loved walking around and just imagining all the royalty, presidents, and the rest that also walked there over the decades. No key cards here... real keys! We ate one night in the bar and one night we got pizza over in Curry Village. We ate breakfast in the Dining Room because we had not made dinner reservations in advance, which is a must, even if you are hotel guests. We did a little hiking near the property and rented bikes from the concierge to tour the valley. I will always treasure our visit to the Ahwahnee!
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 Ahwahnee 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.