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“Not the Ritz, but It's Comfortable & Clean”
4 of 5 bubbles Review of El Tovar Hotel

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El Tovar Hotel
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
44 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Not the Ritz, but It's Comfortable & Clean”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 May 2014

Stayed one night at El Tovar in mid-March. From other reviews and photos we knew this was not the Four Seasons, but none of the Village lodges are. The parking is inadequate as the hotel lots are not limited to guests. Visitors to the Canyon who are staying elsewhere can park in the hotel lots so the lots are full. We arrived at 4:30 PM and had to park two hotels away and walk to El Tovar. I dropped off the bags with my wife, but it was frustrating. Just be prepared. We had a room on the lobby level- not Canyon view. There is no elevator so lobby level means no shlepping bags and your tired body up steps. Well worth it. Room was comfortable, though the fan/heater made too much noise. Bathroom is "rustic" but clean and functional. Canyon view rooms are not worth the extra $$$, IMO. Are you going to stare out the window all day? When you're not sleeping you'll be outside taking in one of God's most amazing creations. The GC is right outside the front entrance. Really close. Amazing. El Tovar does have a soda machine down a few steps from the reception desk- $2 for a soda, not too shabby. People manning the info desk in the lobby are very knowledgeable and have great tips for hiking, views, transportation, etc. The shuttle stop is very close by but the signage is not too great. If you plan to grab a shuttle in the dark of early morning, check where the bus stop is located during day light the afternoon before. Check out the Moose and Bison heads on the walls in the lobby - cool, but I think it makes the lobby smell like a zoo. And they never went through with the renovations which were supposed to block out dozens of rooms.

Room Tip: Canyon view not worth extra $$.
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  • Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
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1 Thank mm3808
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
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Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
33 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 May 2014

The El Tovar is truly a historic, yet up-to-date hotel with the flavor of the old west with mounted deer, moose and buffalo heads in the hotel lobby. The fire place in the lobby is inviting and very warm on cold nights. The rooms are spacious with two beds, and smaller with one bed. Bathroom fixtures are made to look old, but there was an authentic glass holder in my bathroom! The food in the El Tovar Restaurant is truly 5 star! Great variety of food to chose, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reservations are a must for night time! Call in early. And, the views from the windows? Magnificent! The Grand Canyon just takes your breath away -- and I have seen it many times. Never gets old.

Room Tip: No elevator, so if you can't climb steps, be sure to mention that so you can have a first floor...
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with friends
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2 Thank Linda M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
94 reviews
66 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 254 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 May 2014

Our family of 5 spent two nights at the El Tovar. The first night was in the Mary Coulter suite and the second night was two rooms in the lodge. There were pros and cons to staying in each but both accommodations were great.

One note: there is no parking for hotel guests, only a public parking lot. It is a cut-throat ordeal to park with many nice, normal people losing their tempers. Not a pretty scene. Once you get a parking spot, don't move your car!

Another note: make your dinner reservations months in advance or you will not be able to eat dinner at the El Tovar unless you eat at 4:30 or 9:30 pm.

The El Tovar is rustic and in keeping with the feeling of the Grand Canyon. It was clean, but the carpet, walls, bedspreads, furniture were all sort of brownish, greyish and drab but that is what you would expect at a hotel on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Food in the El Tovar was very good and they had lots of variety, including vegetarian and vegan options.

This is our itinerary, which was perfect:
Day 1-arrive Phoenix 10:00 am, pick up rental SUV, drive 4 1/2 hours to Grand Canyon for 2 nights
Day 3-drive to Bryce for one night at Bryce Canyon Lodge
Day 4-drive to Zion for one night at Zion Lodge
Day 5-drive to Las Vegas for one night at Four Seasons
Day 6-Fly out of Las Vegas for home

Perfect trip! Right amount of time at each location and we got to see and do everything that we wanted. I really recommend this itinerary.

Room Tip: The suites are nice because they have balconies but the rooms have the same views.
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  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with family
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4 Thank LynnDB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New Jersey
Level Contributor
86 reviews
86 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 149 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 May 2014

El Tovar is all about location as it is located on the canyon’s south rim. As National Park lodges go, this has been one of the nicer ones we have stayed in. It was renovated at some time in the past because the fixtures and furnishings are far more modern than, for example, those found in Yellowstone Lodge and Many Glacier Lodge. El Tovar is run by the Xanterra company which I believe to be a firm specializing in contracting to operate government owned facilities.
We stayed in the Whittlesly suite which is named after the hotel’s architect. There is no elevator and the suite is located on the third floor. Over the Easter weekend, the suite commanded a per diem rate of $448.56 inclusive of taxes and fees. The master bedroom had a king bed, large armoire and a small closet. The hallway leading to the sitting room had a nook fixtured with a refrigerator and Kuerig individual coffee server. The bathroom was opposite this nook. It was tight with a single basin sink, shower over tub and a small bath vanity. The sitting room was furnished with a large desk/chair, sofa, coffee table, leisure chair and an armoire outfitted with a large flat panel TV. Just off the sitting room was a private balcony with table and chairs. The view from here is of other buildings surrounding the complex. There is no view of the canyon from this venue.
The hotel has a large gift shop and newsstand. The common areas are a large salon at the entrance to the hotel and another sitting area located on the second level that overlooks the lobby. The dining room has rustic elegance and a cocktail lounge is adjacent to it. A deck is just outside the lounge and it overlooks the canyon.
Table service in the dining room itself was ok although nothing to write home about. The staff at the front end of the dining room was heartless. The Internal Revenue Service shows more empathy and compassion. By contrast, the front desk staff are very pleasant and most helpful.
The dining room will not take breakfast or lunch reservations. There is no consideration for guests, it is first come first serve. We went for breakfast the first morning and were advised the wait would be 45 minutes. The charm school dropout then revised the wait to 20 minutes. Upon entering the dining room, we found it to be less than one-third of capacity. Same folks that brought you Obamacare!!!
Dinner comprised of an entrée and bottle of wine averaged $128.50 inclusive of taxes and gratuities. Breakfast ran $52.50. The food was appetizing although uninspiring.
A very real issue at El Tovar is parking. Here again, there is no consideration for guests. Finding a parking spot is hit or miss a/k/a sit and wait. I can’t fathom what it must be like mid-summer.
FYI. There are no small bottles of water sold anywhere in GCNP. You are required to purchase a refillable plastic/Nalgene container which can be filled at locations throughout the park. All in all, I am of the view that this is a good idea; however, I have to say so within the context that small bottles of high sugar content soft drinks are ubiquitous. I guess the next generation of park goers are destined to be politically correct fat people!

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
5 Thank NewJerseyMember
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Trinity, Florida
Level Contributor
145 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 May 2014

Wonderful, historic charm of a hotel opened in 1905 and still operating! Of course it has its drawbacks and criticism. You can not expect that they dropped a Ritz Carlton into the spot just before your arrival. Small hotel rooms slightly on the pricey side, but jeez you are right on the south rim in the Grand Canyon in a GREAT hotel that happened to be built over 100 years ago! The room had all the amenities you could want and the greeting picture card and collector door keys are nice touches. Yes the bathrooms are small too. The public areas - porches, rotunda/reception, octagonal balcony on the mezzanine lounge level - are WONDERFUL with all the charm of the by-gone era! We booked one night and visited the GC for two full days that way. That worked perfectly for us. We had dinner in the Hotel restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed everything about the meal - and we are pretty picky. Believe me we have paid more for less! Staying at the El Tovar put us right in the middle of things. My wife has limited walking ability (steps and distances). This really worked for us. BTW, everything I read says that there are really limited views of the canyon from the rooms so why do folks think they will have a view? The are a million views just a few steps away. Also, we had no trouble having a bellman get all our bags from car to room.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank vinomanfla
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Long Beach, California
Level Contributor
32 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 May 2014 via mobile

As an admirer of historic hotels, the El Tovar is worth the stay. Centrally located in the Grand Canyon. Very nice rooms, clean and well maintained. My only complaint is that is lacks the ambiance of other historic park hotels (such as The Ahwahnee). Missing is a sitting room, lounge space for just hanging out. There is seating in the lobby, but it's pretty noisy.

The El Tovar is definitely worth the stay though.

Stayed May 2014, travelled solo
Helpful?
2 Thank Sonia S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 April 2014

Super stunning location right at the canyon's rim. We were thrilled.

As others have mentioned, the parking situation is horrendous. We were advised by the desk staff to try parking behind a building at the edge of the lot and had success there, though. Also as others have mentioned—you do have the schlep your own bags (there was an unconvincing offer from the bellman and it seemed most folks do carry bags themselves).

For the first two nights of our stay our room was a queen on the second floor with a canyon view and it was divine. Room was small but cozy—think European hotel. As others have mentioned, the charm of the rustic common areas was unbelievable. We dined at the El Tovar restaurant and it was a treat. Other restaurants on sight were very reasonably priced and tasty.

For our third night stay we were to move to a deluxe king room, and when we returned from a morning mule ride, it wasn't yet ready. We waited and had coffee for an hour and then were given the room...and it was laid out bizarrely—on the ground floor, with a tv set and two arm chairs right as the door opened, and a bed that had no view to the television. The view was bogus, too. We asked for another option and were told we could have a different room that addressed those concerns if we waited another 3 hours, which we did. Another bogus view, another bad layout, and we found ourselves at the front desk again. In the end we cancelled that night's stay (for $300 a night it seemed like a huge compromise) and the staff briskly dispensed of us.

The concierge, the restaurant staff, the bartenders and the mule ride folks were all very genial and friendly. The folks we interacted with at the front desk? Not so much.

I'd recommend no more than a two night stay, don't spring for the "deluxe" unless you need the space for a cot, and to specify a room with a view when booking. They are fully booked and not ready to address guest concerns once they have you on the property.

Room Tip: "Deluxe" rooms don't seem to be worth the money. Have breakfast at the Bright Angel Re...
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  • Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank lucyruth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about El Tovar Hotel

Property: El Tovar Hotel
Address: Apache Street and Center Road, South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ 86023
Region: United States > Arizona > Grand Canyon National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Grand Canyon National Park
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:2.5 star — El Tovar Hotel 2.5*
Number of rooms: 78
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Also Known As:
El Tovar Hotel Grand Canyon
El Tovar Grand Canyon
Hotel El Tovar
El Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon El Tovar
El Tovar Lodge

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