01 of 08
The Ahwahnee Hotel in a Nutshell
The Ahwahnee, a palace in the park, is the finest example of National Park architecture in Yosemite. Architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood was hired on to build a luxury hotel in the 1920’s to accommodate the more affluent and discerning traveler. Since its 1927opening, the Ahwahnee has done just that, playing host to queens of screen and England, past presidents, and the business elite.
Note: In March 2016, under new management, the Ahwahnee was renamed the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. Since this profile was written under the original name, it is used here.
The location of the AAA Four Diamond Ahwahnee Hotel was carefully chosen due to its exposure to Yosemite’s most famous residents: Glacier Point, Yosemite Falls, and Half Dome.
The design of the Ahwahnee is a mix of Native American, Middle Eastern, Art Deco, and the Arts and Crafts movement. The hotel's woodlike façade is actually made of concrete to protect the historic building from fires, which have felled previous park hotels.
As the winter season can be as busy as summer for guests and events, the Ahwahnee's earthtone colors, deep rich reds, large stone fireplaces, tapestries, and stained glass windows play well in any season. The grand communal rooms, particularly the Solarium and Great Lounge, feature floor-to-ceiling windows and stunning views.
See a Guest Room >Continue to 2 of 8 below.
02 of 08
Guest Rooms at the Ahwahnee Hotel
The Ahwahnee contains a mix of guest rooms, suites, and cottages. Most of the 199 rooms consist of two double beds or one king.
Classic rooms offer a better view than standard ones, while featured rooms come complete with a balcony; these book up quickly and are available on a first-come basis. Parlors offer an unparalleled view and combine with rooms to create suites, which usually have a sunken living room and large picture windows.
To enhance the romance, reserve a private free-standing cottage on the hotel grounds. Tucked away amongst the dogwoods and pine trees, these were renovated in 2008 and come complete with modern amenities, TV, phone and small fridge but no AC. The ceiling fan surprisingly makes up for it in the heat of the summer.
The romantic Mary Curry Tresider Suite was nicknamed The “Queens Room” after Queen Elizabeth II made a visit. It features a Craftsman style bathroom and four-poster bed.
In the Dining Room >Continue to 3 of 8 below.
03 of 08
Dining at the Ahwahnee Hotel
The Ahwahnee Dining Room is the Grand Dame of Yosemite restaurants and has 34-foot ceilings and large picture windows.
At dinner men must wear collared shirts with slacks and women a dress, skirt, or slacks and a blouse. In other words, leave your band T-shirts behind. Reservations are suggested, especially on weekends and in high season.
The menu features California cuisine with local ingredients that are organic and sustainably harvested. There is a large wine list both by the glass and the bottle with a big nod to California and west coast wineries.
The Ahwahnee Dining Room plays host to guest chefs, wine tastings, festivals, and events. Check the hotel site for upcoming events and plan in advance, as those weekends tend to be busy.
If you like live music, enjoy the evening’s piano player at The Ahwahnee Bar. It’s an intimate pre- or post-dinner place for cocktails.
Getting Married at the Ahwahnee >Continue to 4 of 8 below.
04 of 08
Destination Weddings at the Ahwahnee Hotel
Yosemite National Park has long been a destination wedding hot spot, years before the concept ever became commercial.
The Ahwahnee alone hosts an average of 200 weddings per year, while other properties in Yosemite including Yosemite Lodge at The Falls, Curry Village, and The Wawona do a fair share of matrimonial events as well.
According to Lori Lancaster, one of Ahwahnee’s long-standing wedding planners, couples come from all corners of the globe. Many couples have met online and more often than not come from California. One, if not both, typically have a strong emotional connection to the park.
There are several rooms within the Ahwahnee property where receptions take place. The Winter Club and Mural rooms are perfect for intimate receptions or pre-dinner cocktails. With its floor-to-ceiling windows, the picturesque Solarium is a favorite for large receptions and sit-down dinners.
Ceremonies can be held in the park, at Yosemite chapel, or performed on Ahwhanee’s lawn for a fee. Any and all locations require a permit. Only those weddings with a reception at the Ahwahnee can have a ceremony on-site. If you choose Ahwahnee’s lawn and nature rains on your parade, the covered terrace is there as backup.
For more information, go to Yosemite Park Weddings.
Uniquely Ahwahnee >Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Only at the Ahwahnee Hotel
If you can afford it, The Ahwahanee is the posh spot in all of Yosemite. You can feel the difference in the ambiance from the moment you walk through the door.
Ahwahnee has bell service and a full-time concierge, two amenities you will not find at Yosemite Lodge at The Falls.
It’s also the one hotel in the park that has a year-round outdoor heated swimming pool. So if scaling a mountain isn’t in the cards for you, you can still exercise your sense of outdoor adventure in the casual comfort of the hotel.
Nearby the Ahwahnee >Continue to 6 of 8 below.
06 of 08
Nearby the Ahwahnee Hotel
There’s an endless list of outdoor activities one can take advantage of without ever leaving the 1,200 square miles of Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite has long been a favorite for extreme athletes and rock climbers who want to scale Yosemite’s famous granite rocks by day and camp on them by night.
Skiing is a seasonal option, while biking and hiking attracts people at all levels of fitness throughout the year. Many chose to take in the natural sights by bus or via leisurely walks around the countless lakes, streams, and meadows.
The Wawona Golf Course has been the hot spot for golfing couples on the go since 1918.
If you like to stop and smell the roses or capture the image on film, Canon runs photography workshops, Canon’s Photography in the Parks Program, in the summer months. Don’t worry about equipment. They supply top-of-the-line loaners and a seasoned staff to guide you to capturing the park’s beauty.
How the Ahwahnee Could be Better>Continue to 7 of 8 below.
07 of 08
What Could be Improved at the Ahwahnee Hotel
Service can be inconsistent. The day I got to the Ahwahnee, staff was preparing for the head honcho to arrive. The hotel was abuzz as every speck of dust was whisked away and every pillow fluffed. It felt like the Queen was coming back.
Yet later that night when we returned for dinner at the Ahwahnee Dining Room, service faltered. We were not seated until our entire party arrived. Guests who randomly arrived after us were given top tables in the restaurant, one of which I had requested earlier that day.
It was a good fifteen to twenty minutes before I checked back with reception as they were a bit dazed and confused and took no notice of our growing group. They finally sat us by the kitchen door.
The long wait and kitchen seating aside, it was equally long before a waiter came to the table. Once orders were taken, it was some time yet again before our parched lips made contact with water or wine. All of this did not match up with the awards that adorned the Dining Room wall.
Once in the groove, our waiter was lovely and seamlessly led us through the menu, which had an impressive list of wines, especially by the glass.
Perhaps it was simply an off night.
Should You Choose the Ahwahnee?>Continue to 8 of 8 below.
08 of 08
Is the Ahwahnee Hotel Right for You?
This is where couples go to get away from it all. If you are outdoor enthusiasts who love nature and tranquility as much as you love luxury, choose this hotel. It’s a chic, rustic retreat.
The Majestic Yosemite Hotel
P.O. Box 578
Yosemite National Park, California 95389
Reservations: 801-559-4884 L