This place is pricey, rooms start about $375 a night, but it is so beautiful it's probably worth it. Poke your head in to see the lovley lobby and dining rooms in beautiful California arts and crafts style. A popular design of the 1920s in California which orginated in England. The hotel was opened in 1927. Many celebrities and dignitaries have stayed here over the years. Full of history and style.
While some people would make this a hotel tip, I did not stay at the Ahwahnee but instead just visited it, so I'll put it under Things to do. The Ahwahnee Hotel is the most luxurious hotel in the park, with rooms going at about $400+ a night. Its setting, right beneath the Royal Arches, is spectacular, and the historic building is built relatively well (meaning it looks good). There is an overpriced gift shop and a restaurant inside. The Ahwahnee was once used as a military hospital to care for wounded soldiers. Later, it made it onto the National Register of Historic Places. Visiting the hotel is fun, but paying to stay there probably wouldn't be.
Even if you aren't staying here, it is well worth your time to explore this grand and luxurious hotel, often considered the gem of all national park lodges. The exterior is made up of fireproof concrete and steel molded and painted to resemble timbers from the mighty redwood trees. The brown exterior and green roof were designed to blend in to the surrounding forests and cliffs and not stand out in this gorgeous valley. From the portico outside the hotel, a red carpet leads visitors down a long wooden walkway to the entrance into the grand lobby. Once inside, the Ahwahnee bar is on your left, the gift shop to the immediate right. Straight ahead you can venture back outside to the big lawn and stroll down to the cottages. A turn to the right leads past the front desk and down a hallway to the elevator lobby. The hotel's elevator and a stairway to the Mezzanine level are located to your right. Turn to the left and pass the giant walk-in fireplace and enter the enormous Great Lounge. Oversized chairs, floor-to-ceiling windows, and several giant murals fill this room and keep guests occupied. Nothing beats a cup of hot cocoa in this room on a cold winter's night in front of one of the large walk-in fireplaces. Finally exiting this room on the far side there are two more small rooms on each side of a short hallway and at the far end is the Solarium. A beautiful room with large bay windows and a fountain affording gorgeous views of the surrounding cliffs and meadows. An interesting bit of trivia. The dull almost horrible look of the Ahwahnee from the parking lot is actually the back of the building. When the hotel was designed, the road was supposed to run where the Ahwahnee Bar now stands. Thus you would drive up to it and get the view you now only get by walking through Ahwahnee Meadow and the lawn. But it was deteremined during construction that vehicle traffic below the first floor rooms caused too much noise and so the road and parking lot were moved to their present location behind the building.
We didn't stay at the Ahwahnee Hotel, so I can't comment on its lodging attributes, but we did have a few rounds at the bar after a long day of hiking, and we spent about 30-40 minutes walking around looking at the native American arts and crafts and other historic displays. On the main level you will also find the beautiful Great Lounge with its massive fireplaces, the Mural Room, the Solarium, and the Dining Room.
The Ahwahnee Bar is just inside the front entrance across from the hotel registration desk. It is a small lounge area with about six bar stools, maybe 10-15 tables and live music including a piano and a singer. When we arrived around 9:30 or 10pm, there were only 2-3 other customers in the lounge. Our group of four had about 8 drinks and our bill hit about $72...that's about $9 per drink, though we were sipping some classy drinks.
The Ahwahnee Hotel was built from 1925 to 1927, and it has 123 rooms that start at $400 per night! During WWII, the hotel was used as a rehabilitation hospital for wounded veterans...that had to have been better than Walter Reed Medical Center!