Girl in a red jacket standing on a path in front of a grand hotel building. this is the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite

The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite: Review (2024)

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I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Yosemite is a quick 3-hour drive for me. I love visiting Yosemite every chance I get. Living so close to Yosemite, I am fortunate to escape to the most stunning natural scenery several times a year.

I always try to look for accommodations inside the Yosemite National Park to maximize our time exploring the park, hiking, and not driving.

I typically always look at Yosemite Valley Lodge first, but this time, I wanted to do something special as my husband and I were celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. Luckily, I found accommodations at The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite!

Known for its stunning architecture and historical significance, this hotel was always on my bucket list, and I finally got to stay here!

In this article, I’ll share my review and experience, covering everything from the pros and cons to alternative accommodation options in Yosemite. So let’s go!

Ahwahnee Review Overview

The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite is the most expensive accommodation within Yosemite National Park; standard rooms typically cost $500+ per night. So, we never considered this an option before.

I think it is great for a once-in-a-while splurge and definitely the best place for a milestone celebration or special occasion!

Couple dining at the Ahwahnee dining hall with a tall window with drapes behind them.
Me and hubby enjoying dinner at the Ahwahnee dining room

The hotel exterior is truly majestic, and the common areas, like the lobby and the dining room, are really grand. The surrounding scenery is postcard-perfect. The staff is amazing.

For the price, the actual room feels basic. But if you consider that you are staying in a historic luxury hotel built in 1927 in the very heart of Yosemite National Park and enjoying luxury amenities and iconic views, then it seems justified to me!

But again, it is great for a night or two, at least for me. I mean, if you can afford it for more, then you definitely should! Finding availability is also a big ‘if,’ as it is mostly sold out.

Check out The Ahwahnee Hotel Yosemite here!

The Ahwahnee Hotel: Pros

The Ahwahnee Hotel felt like a real upgrade when compared to the Yosemite Valley Lodge, where we usually stay in the park. Below are the pros of staying at Ahwahnee according to my experience:

It’s really grand!

I think this is the biggest pro and draw of The Ahwahnee Hotel! Its grandeur is something to marvel at. The exterior facade with granite and stone walls is majestic.

The exterior facade of the historic Ahwahnee hotel inside Yosemite National Park
The historic Ahwahnee Hotel inside Yosemite National Park

The lobby was welcoming and decorated for the holidays. The common room had two grand fireplaces, which were at least 5 feet tall.

Grand fireplace with benches on the side to sit
Grand fireplace at Ahwahnee

One of them even had benches to sit inside! The fireplace room is huge, with high ceilings and chandeliers.

The Ahwahnee dining room is a treat in itself. Being there you feel like a celebrity, with its tall windows, high wooden beam ceilings and again the chandeliers!

Grand dining room with high wooden beam ceilings, chandeliers and tables with white tablecloths
Ahwahnee dining room

You feel like part of history.

Did you know that several special guests have stayed in Ahwahnee? From US Presidents to Walt Disney to Hollywood stars! Even Queen Elizabeth II has stayed here! It feels special to be staying at the same hotel as these famous celebrities!

The Ahwahnee is steeped in history. Its distinctive architecture and interior design reflect a deep respect for the surrounding nature and Native American heritage.

Grand lobby in Ahwahnee with multiple seating areas and high ceilings with chandeliers
Grand lobby in Ahwahnee

Inside, the hotel features Native American-inspired textiles and decor. I loved the rugs used as tapestries in the hallways.

Metal keys in a hotel white check-in envelope
Old-fashioned keys to our room!

The keys to our room were the old-world-style metal keys! I haven’t seen those in a long time since the digital check-in age.

Location

The hotel’s location is unbeatable. You’re right in the heart of Yosemite National Park, with views of famous landmarks like Half Dome and El Capitan.

View of Half Dome from the our room in Ahwahnee Hotel Yosemite
View of Half Dome from our room in Ahwahnee! Can you imagine waking up to this!

The free park shuttle stops here, thus making it easy to reach all the other attractions and trailheads in Yosemite Valley.

From the Ahwahnee, we could easily drive to nearby hiking trails like Mirror Lake, Yosemite Falls, and Bridalveil Falls.

Luxury Amenities

Staying here, I could not believe that I was in a National Park. A grand dining experience in the Ahwahnee Dining Room is not something that comes to mind when you think of National Parks.

A lounge or bar area with colorful chairs and tables and a counter to order food
The Ahwahnee Lounge / Bar where we ate breakfast in the morning

Apart from the dining room, there is an Ahwahnee Bar, which serves made-to-order breakfast and coffee in the morning. We ate breakfast there, and it was really good. Again, the views from the window make everything special. There is also a gift shop and a candy shop.

Ahwahnee Hotel guest room with king bed and a window with views
Our Ahwahnee Hotel room

Our standard room was simple but well-appointed, and the bed was very comfortable. The bathroom was basic but had all the toiletries and towels needed.

Stunning Views

The views here are simply stunning. We had a corner room facing the back lawn and could see Half Dome from our room window! It was really special to wake up looking at Half Dome.

Excellent Service

Every staff member we met was exceptional and friendly. The valet and the front desk staff were great and helpful.

Our server at the Ahwahnee Dining room was so sweet. He kept checking in on us from time to time, making sure we liked everything. I mentioned being a vegetarian, and he bought me minestrone soup from the kitchen, even though it was a buffet.

Dinner Buffet Menu on a notice board at Ahwahnee
Our dinner buffet menu at Ahwahnee

In the end, he bought us cupcakes with candles to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Felt really special!

➡ Check rates and availability for
The Ahwahnee Hotel Yosemite

The Ahwahnee Hotel: Cons

The biggest con I can think of is the cost, and the second one is availability. I mean, why else would anyone not stay here if it was cheaper and available for your dates?

Cost

The Ahwahnee luxury comes at a price. The Ahwahnee is the most expensive accommodation inside Yosemite National Park. The night standard room rate is double that of the Yosemite Valley Lodge. For me, it is a stay for special occasions. The dinner buffet was another $60 per person.

Availability

Due to its popularity, booking a room can be challenging, especially during peak seasons. But this goes for any lodging inside Yosemite National Park. It is very hard to find rooms here during the peak Spring and Summer seasons. We went to Yosemite in the winter and were able to find availability.

Anu’s pro tip: National Parks usually have free cancellation seven days before the arrival date, so checking at the last minute can sometimes open up availability as cancellations are common. That is how I was able to book ours!

Ahwahnee Hotel building from the outside
Our corner room facing the Half Dome

Is the Ahwahnee worth it?

If cost and availability are not a concern, The Ahwahnee at Yosemite is totally worth it! Staying in this historic hotel in the middle of Yosemite’s iconic landmarks with luxury dining is an experience to be savored. If you compare it to a luxury hotel in a city downtown, the room will feel basic for the cost, but inside a National Park, the cost for the luxury feels justified.

Other options to stay in Yosemite

If there is no availability in Ahwahnee for your dates or if The Ahwahnee isn’t right for your stay, Yosemite has other great options:

Yosemite Valley Lodge – A more affordable choice with convenient access to Yosemite Falls.

Curry Village – Offers a rustic, immersive nature experience with tent cabins, wooden cabins, and standard rooms.

Rush Creek Lodge – This is the closest resort outside the park, and it is right outside the west entrance (Highway 120) of the park. It offers a lot of family-friendly amenities.

Private vacation Rentals – Various cabins and homes are available for rent near the park and are a great option for larger groups of family and friends.

Groveland is a small town around 25 miles from Yosemite’s west entrance (Highway 120) and has many vacation rental options. It is a good base for exploring Yosemite if you cannot find accommodations inside the park or if you prefer the convenience of vacation homes.

Wrap-up

Staying at The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite was an amazing experience for me, and celebrating a milestone anniversary made it extra special.

Staying here is an experience that blends luxury with the raw beauty of nature. It’s perfect for those who want comfort and luxury in their nature getaway.

However, keep in mind the cost and availability. If you are seeking different experiences or budget options, Yosemite offers a range of accommodations that cater to various preferences.

Remember, whatever your choice, Yosemite’s beauty remains the same – breathtaking and unforgettable.

Plan your perfect trip to Yosemite with my Yosemite weekend itinerary, and make sure to incorporate some of the amazing Yosemite hikes.

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