Grand Canyon Railway Hotel

3 out of 5 stars3 Stars

235 North Grand Canyon Blvd (formerly Fray Marcos Hotel), Williams, Arizona 86046, United States

2 Reviews

Grand Canyon Railway Hotel
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Satisfaction Very Good
Very Good

Value Score Poor Value

Costs 26% more than similarly rated 3 star hotels

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Good For Business
  • Families70
  • Couples74
  • Solo61
  • Business93
  • glabah's Profile Photo

    Styled after Classic Railway Hotel


    Some places, including at least a few VirtualTourist descriptions, will tell you that the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel is the old Frey Marcus Hotel, which was once a classic old railroad owned tourist hotel.

    However, that is not the case. The old Frey Marcus Hotel is still here, but it is used as offices for the Grand Canyon Railroad. Today's hotel guests demand much more complex facilities than could be provided in the old hotel building, and so a new structure was built from the ground up several years ago. It should be noted, however, that as much as possible the style of the historic structures of the railroad tourist hotel have been followed in the construction of this new hotel.

    Please note that the web site below is for the Grand Canyon Railway, through which it is possible to access hotel reservations and train tickets, and other package deals.


    1: Main Entrance to Hotel

    2: Interior of Hotel Lobby which serves as a living room of sorts for hotel guests. This area has WiFi access.

    3: Swimming pool room. Hot tub area is towards the back of the photo in the shadows, but you can see it if you look hard.

    4: Typical hotel room. This one has a view of the parking lot. Best room to get faces the courtyard.

    5: Video arcade room located on second floor. It's small, but there is a selection of games here.

    6: Entrance to hotel at night after hotel was decorated for Christmas.

    7: Courtyard of Hotel during the day

    8: Courtyard of Hotel during sunset

    9: Another photo of the swimming pool room

    10: Another view of hotel lobby, including impressive Canyon paintings above front desk

    11: environmentally friendly shampoo dispenser in shower of a hotel room

    12: typical room accessory kit in bathroom

    13: environmentally friendly soap provided in room

    14: Grounds decorated for Christmas, 1

    15: Grounds decorated for Christmas 2

    16: Courtyard decorated for Christmas

    17: Hotel lobby decorated for Christmas

    Unique Quality: Rooms do not come with shampoo bottles for the shower: instead there is a refillable dispenser so as to minimize the amount of waste due to containers being thrown away.

    Soap provided for the rooms is an ecologically friendly type in packaging made entirely from recycled materials.

    The hotel has WiFi access in the lobby, but signal strength in the rooms is limited. There is no internet cafe or business center equipped with computers, so you would have to bring your own.

    The swimming pool is in a huge room with high ceilings and huge windows that provides a wonderful atmosphere. The pool room is also equipped with a hot tub with a waterfall coming off of a rock outcrop set in the wall.

    There is a small game room that includes a few arcade games.

    There are two courtyards that are completely surrounded by hotel walls, so that they are a quiet outdoor refuge away from traffic and parking lot noise.

    The lobby is an impressive and large facility with a few classic Grand Canyon paintings that are alone the size of the entire lobby at some roadside hotels.

    Best of all, the train station is a quick walk south across the courtyard between the station and the hotel.

    Breakfast is not provided by the hotel, but there is a Grand Canyon Railway cafe next to the station and a quick walk from the hotel.

    Directions: Interstate 40 exit 163 (Williams), south onto N Grand Canyon Blvd. Turn right off of N Grand Canyon Blvd after several blocks, just before crossing the railroad tracks. There is a sign on the right saying "Grand Canyon Railway Hotel"

  • Ipanema_Princess's Profile Photo

    A taste of Far West


    I have a really good memory of my stay at this hotel. I stayed there to do the railway trip to Grand Canyon.

    The rooms were comfortable. There was an indoor swimming pool, fitness room and a restaurant.

    But what I remember the most is the lobby of the hotel ! It can seems strange but it's true. The lobby was big, typical "far west" decoration with red shades and wood, paintings of the Canyon and a fireplace. I took many pictures there playing with my newly bought cowgirl hat !

    Unique Quality: * Beautiful Lobby
    * Indoor Pool
    * Perfect Location close to do a Railway trip to Grand Canyon.

More about Grand Canyon Railway Hotel

Nice Hotel

by TripAdvisor Member mbroo

See separate review of the "Grand Canyon Railway" travel package.

The Fray Marcos was a very nice hotel. Having seen the other hotels in town - some chain - it is definitely recommended if you plan to take the Grand Canyon Railway.

The amenities, restaurant and location were all great! The staff were very courteous.

Excellent Please Visit the Grand Canyon

by A TripAdvisor Member

We took the Amtrak 3 day vacation package it was excellent. The food is good at the Fray Marcos Hotel and I have two very picky eaters! Everyone involved with the package: Amtrak, Fray Marcos Hotel, Max & Ermas, the bus drivers could not have been any better. The Fray Marcos rooms old and in the new section are both clean, large, with ironing board, coffee maker, and hair dryer too. The pool area was smaller but like brand new. The whole package is well done. I highly recomend it! I would do it again!

A must if traveling by Amtrak

by A TripAdvisor Member

My 79 year old mother and I were taking an Amtrak trip and decided to stop in Williams and take the Grand Canyon Railway tour. I am SO glad we picked this hotel. When travelling on the Southwest Chief, Amtrak drops you off next to the tracks in the middle of nowhere at 9:30 p.m. Fortunately the hotel shuttle was waiting for us. I don't know what we would have done if we were staying somewhere else since Amtrak gives you the impression that the train stops at the depot in Williams which is close to other hotels there.

Anyway, the room was large, clean, quiet and comfortable with a big bathroom, two queen beds, coffee maker, TV, etc. A much appreciated change from the horrible room we stayed in at the Red Lion in Denver the night before. Everything is perfectly arranged when you are taking the Grand Canyon Railway trip which I did the next day. Unfortunately my mother found the elevation exhausting and opted out of the Grand Canyon trip. Even though we were not staying at the hotel that next night the staff could not have been more accomodating of us and this change in plans. They refunded the railway ticket charge without any problems and allowed my mom to relax in the beautiful lobby while I took the 7 hour train trip. They provided coffee and tea in the lobby and she was able to kick back on the comfortable sofas in front of the fire in the large stone fireplace. They checked on her regularly while she read. They stored our luggage for us and transported us back to the middle of nowhere that night to catch Amtrak back home.

The food at the adjoining Max and Thelma's restaurant was not fantastic, but it wasn't horrible like some have written. My mom loved the ribs. I am a vegetarian and no vegetarian entrees were offered, but I have come to expect this when visiting Arizona. Fortunately there were plenty of meatless side dishes to fill me up.

The well organized process for visiting this location when travelling by Amtrak, combined with the comfortable room and friendly, helpful, staff made this a very enjoyable experience.

Great time in Arizona

by A TripAdvisor Member

My wife and I stayed at the Frey Marcos hotel and had a thoroughly good time. I especially liked the staff who were help full and friendly, and although we only stayed for two nights, I wish I had stayed longer. We also spent some time in Williams and found the local people to be very warm and friendly. One night we stopped in at a bar and one of the locals invited my wife up to dance to the tune on the juke box, he was a good dancer too. His name was Paul. We had a great time, and we reflect on our time in Williams and the Frey Marcos with great affection.

A town worth seeing

by TripAdvisor Member poodlepie

We stayed two nights at the Fray Marcos and took the train to the Grand Canyon. Williams is an interesting part of history and was well worth seeing again. Used to see it as old "66" for many years. The train is a great way to see the canyon as it is virtual grid-lock up there at times. Train was relaxing and entertaining as well as a first class operation. Can't say enough about the Fray Marcos. Was clean, comfortable, and quiet. The quiet was a pleasant surprise as it is a family destination. We had kids and grandkids and everyone loved it.

More Photos of the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel

by glabah

These are a few more photos of the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, Arizona. For more information about this hotel, please see the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel section of this web site.

Above, you will see how the entrance to the hotel looked during November of 2009, after the entire grounds had been decorated for Christmas and the operation of the Polar Express special train.

The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel has two courtyards that are completely surrounded by the hotel structure: one of these is on the east end, and one is on the west end. This allows for enjoyment of the outdoor weather without having to put up with noise from the city traffic or the parking lot.

The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel has two courtyards that are completely surrounded by the hotel structure: one of these is on the east end, and one is on the west end. This allows for enjoyment of the outdoor weather without having to put up with noise from the city traffic or the parking lot.

At sunsent, the courtyard of the hotel will look something like this.

There is a wonderful swimming pool and hot tub room at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. This room also doubles as a solarium of sorts, as the huge windows allow quite a lot of sunlight into the room.

The lobby of the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel features some very large artwork. Note the paintings on the wall behind and above the desk, which actually form one large scene in triptych format.

Due to the location inside (in some facilities) and very near the Grand Canyon National Park, the owners of the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel have put a lot of effort into trying to give themselves a "green" image.

This includes a dispenser for shower gel and shampoo in the room showers, rather than multiple disposable bottles of liquid that must be thrown out and replaced after each guest is done in their room.

Even with the dispenser, there is a small package of bathroom materials in each room of theGrand Canyon Railway Hotel's rooms. This includes a bar of soap in a package with 100% recycled packaging.

The bar soap (excuse me, "Body Cleanser" according to the front of the package - though the rear of the package does say "soap") that is provided in each of the rooms of the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel is a supposedly "green" brand made by Green Natura.

"This caron is made from natural recycled packaging printed with soy based inks. This vegetable based soap is cruelty free and contains no animal fat or byproducts."

"Gateway to the Grand Canyon", plus trails

by glabah

At one time known as the gateway to the Grand Canyon, there are not a huge number of people that come to Williams these days. While the Grand Canyon, of course, remains a very popular tourist attraction, most people simply drive north from the interstate. However, the fact remains that the junction so many people take is close to Williams.

The city remains a gateway to the Grand Canyon in the sense that this is where the former Santa Fe branch line to the Grand Canyon divided from the main line. The main line through town was relegated to branch line status in the 1960s when an entirely new main line passing through the north of town was constructed. There are still one or two freight trains per day going to Phoenix that go through downtown Williams, but today even most freight bypasses the city.

Today, the branch line from Williams to the Grand Canyon operates as a tourist railroad, carrying at least one (and during peak season two) trains a day from Williams to the Grand Canyon.

Naturally, traces of the railroad are all over Williams. For example, the gateway to Williams shown here is made from old railroad signal masts.

On the south and west, Williams has very close access to the Kaibob National Forest, and there is a one mile trail that links downtown Williams sidewalks pretty much directly to the National Forest trail system. This link trail is called City of Williams Link Trail #124.

This deer was photographed on the trail, about 200 feet (62 meters) after leaving the city sidewalk on the local residential road that leads to the trail.

There are a few surviving old buildings in downtown Williams, and you will find that most of the town is fairly easily to access just by walking from place to place.

There are a number of hotels and motels between the Interstate and downtown, and there are several recreational vehicle campgrounds available as well. The hotel I stayed at was the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, and of course that is the hotel closest to the train station. Train traffic through downtown is fairly rare now that the main line has been relocated to north of the interstate, but there are a few trains a day.

A visitor's center and museum is available for those wanting to become more familiar with the area.

More Photos of the Grand Canyon Railway

by glabah

Here are a few more photos and a bit more information about the Grand Canyon Railway that I wasn't able to cram into the description of the railroad.

Steam locomotives are no longer used on the regular trips between Williams and the Grand Canyon. The fact is, most people don't care what is on the front of the train, because they can't see it from inside the train. They only care what is inside the car they are riding in.

Therefore, the steam locomotives, and even the vintage ALCO diesels have been relegated to special trips. Most of the trains now are operated with ex-Amtrak F40PH locomotives.

The Polar Express train is a special event operated by a number of tourist railroads all over the USA, and the Grand Canyon Railway is one of those tourist railroads. Here is an example of one of their Polar Express trains, ready to depart Williams at sunset on November 6, 2009.

One of the more interesting developments in recent years has been the use of waste vegetable oil as fuel for the steam locomotive fleet.

There are a number of unique cars on the Grand Canyon Railway. Regular coach passengers have fairly standard accomodations. There are parlour / lounge cars, dome cars, and open-end observation cars.

First Class cars also include coaches with reclining seats. Here, you will see the interior of the First Class coach named Bucky O'Neill.

Here is a photograph of a unique bench on the station platform at Williams, Arizona. The Grand Canyon Railway operates a train from here every day to the Grand Canyon south rim.

The "Season's Greetings" sign in the background is from the operation of the "Polar Express" steam powered special trains, even though November 6th is nowhere near Christmas. Much of the downtown area was decorated for the operation of these special excursion trains.

While the majority of the operations of the Grand Canyon Railway are oriented towards operating Williams to Grand Canyon South Rim trains, there are a few special trips from time to time.

Here, a special short-haul passenger train is seeing turning north in the east end of Williams. Don't let the photograph fool you: the area to the front and rear of the train are filled with buildings, and the only the spot where the train happens to be located looks this rural. From the train, it is not possible to see the mountains beyond the trees.

Almost all of the Grand Canyon Railway's train operations use the air conditioned streamline cars that are the maintay of their fleet.

However, there are several of these 1920s "Harriman" style cars that have ceiling fans and windows that open. They are only used on special occasions, such as the steam powered special trains.

The typical power on the front of the vast majority of the Grand Canyon Railway's trains is an ex-Amtrak F40PH. These are easy to find parts for (unlike the steam locomotives or the much older ALCO diesels) and are newer equipment, meaning they are designed for easy maintenance and have better fuel consumption than some of the older equipment.

The Grand Canyon Railway has a very well equipped shop that is manned by a number of experienced and skilled workers. Here, they maintain the steam locomotives, diesel locomotives, and passenger cars.

During the tour I was given of the shops (tourists are never allowed into the shops, so don't expect to get a shop tour like I was given) I was shown one of the ex-Amtrak F40PH locomotives that is undergoing heavy rebuild, including the installation of a HEP plant into the rear of the locomotive. This will significantly reduce the fuel consumption required of these locomotives when they are providing power to the train, as the engine in the locomotive currently has to run at very high RPM, no matter the load on the locomotive, in order to provide the correct voltage and frequency to power all the passenger cars on the train.


Grand Canyon Railway Hotel main entranceGrand Canyon Railway Hotel main entrance

Grand Canyon Railway Hotel courtyard on west endGrand Canyon Railway Hotel courtyard on west end

courtyard of Grand Canyon Railway hotel at sunsetcourtyard of Grand Canyon Railway hotel at sunset

swimming pool room of Grand Canyon Railway Hotelswimming pool room of Grand Canyon Railway Hotel

Forum Posts

Grand Canyon Railway

by cheap_tourist

I am thinking of taking the Grand Canyon train from Williams, but I am confused that there are several tour companies where I can book my ticket. Are they all legit? If they are, which is the best? Thanks!

RE: Grand Canyon Railway

by lonestar_philomath

I see you posted on 18 Aug. Have you already gone? Still planning? Just email me back if you still are interested.


RE: Grand Canyon Railway

by cheap_tourist

Thanks! I decided, however, to take the GC bus tour from Las Vegas. I'll be doing this early December.

RE: RE: Grand Canyon Railway

by lonestar_philomath

I bought my tickets from AAA. You may want to check there. All my travel borchures I picked up are all packed away still. Mike


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 Grand Canyon Railway Hotel

We've found that other people looking for this hotel also know it by these names:

Fray Marcos Hotel
Grand Canyon Railway Williams
Hotel Grand Canyon Railway

Address: 235 North Grand Canyon Blvd (formerly Fray Marcos Hotel), Williams, Arizona 86046, United States