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Grand Canyon Railway Hotel
Ranked #4 of 30 Hotels in Williams
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Alabama
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Tidbits to know before you book”
Reviewed 8 June 2008

Hey folks. My husband and I stayed at this hotel from May 29- May 31, 2008. Max & Thelma retired and the whole place (Hotel, RR, Restaurant) are up for sale. Word spreads fast if you ask the right questions.

Here's the deal...

The hotel is "okay" at best. The staff is wonderful though. There is a bar in the hotel, pool, hot tub, things to see and explore around town. Great restaurants locally, if you don't like the food at Max & Thelma's restaurant since it's all buffet style. The breakfast buffet was okay but the dinner buffet had little to be desired. The scenery is like a big hall (like you would see on a Scout camping trip). I think it was modeled after that. Campers will love it, if that's what you are looking for. It's not a 5 star hotel or restaurant, that's for sure. It does have it's "old style" charm though.

Beware that you can no longer trade your meal tickets in for something out of the gift shops. They took the coffee pot out of the lobby and the water in the hotel isn't all that great for the coffee pots in the room so take some bottled water!! But, if you enjoy a "Power Shower", you're in for a treat!

You can get internet access in the lobby. Plenty of plugs on the wall if you need them. Keep in mind, you are out in the middle of nowhere and it's a small town.

The train...If you're just a "couple", book the "Luxury" car both ways. You can stand on the back of the train if you like and the seating is much better than the other cars. I wouldn't recommend the dome unless you want to capture some great shots of the train and men on horseback. Besides, the lady in the Luxury car will point things out to you, that the others aren't privy too, regarding the surrounding area. And you can walk up the train to the other cars if you like. There is a small gift shop on there as well.

Take plenty of $1 bills with you everywhere. These people survive on tips and they deserve them because they all do an excellent job!!

Smoking accommodations are off the back of the hotel but nowhere on the train, even on the back of the train. Forest fires run rampant up there in the canyon! No sense getting careless with those cigarettes.

Complimentary drinks and snacks are available on the train, but take heed that if you are going to jump on a bus tour, your first stop is the restaurant to eat. However, that's "another" buffet style restaurant as well, so be prepared. And, you only have 1/2 hour so use the restroom first if you need to, it's not all that big!

The bus tour we took was fast and furious. I say that because that was the downside of the trip for us. It went too quick and we only stopped at 2 places on the rim. If you really want to enjoy the canyon, stay overnight. I would recommend any other package deal at the canyon if you truley want to enjoy it's splender up close and personal. Our driver, Frank, was an excellent driver, guide and spokesperson for the canyon though. He did an excellent job!

You can purchase take home gifts at Max and Thelmas. We're explorers so we checked out the town and the prices are the same anywhere you go, so you might as well get your items in their gift shop. However, there's a nice gas station that opens at 5:00am up the road that has some different items for sale as well, if you want to venture out.

Take it all in folks, enjoy your vacation because when are you going to have a chance to go back?

Mr. and Mrs. Eddy
Alabama

  • Liked — Friendly staff, power shower in the hotel.
  • Disliked — They need to upgrade their broadband and/or put the coffee pot back in the lobby!
  • Stayed May 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
7 Thank taeddy64
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Surprise, Arizona
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 May 2008

I have to say that I was very disappointed in the hotel. I went to the hotel with high expectations after reading some of the posts on this site as well as viewing pictures of the hotel on their Web site.

My first impression of the hotel from the outside was that it was nice. When I walked into the hotel, I also was impressed with the hotel lobby as it was decorated with some great items. The disappointment really came when I first stepped into the hotel room. The room itself was very outdated and I really felt like I was staying at a Super 8 hotel like a previous reviewer stated. For the price I paid for the room, I expected a lot more.

With the package we received, I was given meal coupons for the restaurant on the premise. This was my second disappointment. I felt like I was in a Luby's cafeteria. The food was undercooked and looked of poor quality. I took one bite and I was done. My wife and I ended up leaving and going to a local place for dinner, which was good. After the train ride, we decided to leave early to go home and offered a few people on the train our free meal coupons. I could not give them away and everyone had the same impression as me concerning the quality of the food.

  • Stayed May 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
4 Thank JasonArizonaSurprise
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
azheat333
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 18 May 2008

The stay at the hotel and the ride on the railway was a gift for my parents for their 49th anniversary. At first I was a little leary about booking the trip because it seems like no matter where you go today really good service is hard to find. With my parents being up in age I really wanted this to be a special trip for them. I have to say THANK-YOU so much for doing that for my parents. They bragged about how special the staff at the hotel made them feel and the staff on the train. They stated that the service was excellent and that the trip is something that they will always remember. They said they had a day of laughter and filled with the beauty of the ride and site of the Grand Canyon. They hadn't been back up there in 40 years. This was a trip well worth the money. They had such a good time my husband and I plan to do the same trip next year. Again THANK-YOU so much for all that you did.

Sincerely,
Sharon Day
Mesa, Az.

  • Liked — the service from staff
  • Disliked — every thig was great
  • Stayed May 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank azheat333
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
El Segundo, California
Level 6 Contributor
52 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 97 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 April 2008

First let me say that I'm a single mom traveling with teenage boys, and my mother. We travel on a budget and don't have 5 star hotel experiences to compare this to.

We only ask two things of a hotel/motel. 1) It's clean. No bugs, rodents or creepy crawlers in the room. 2) It's safe and secure. We can lay our heads down on our pillows and not feel like we have to sleep with one eye open.

We bring our own pillows from home and always bring a safety door look no matter where we are traveling.

I thought the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel was just fine. It suited our needs. We booked The Rails to the Rim package through AAA.

Like everything in life it had good and not so good things.

The good: The room was clean and large enough to fit two adults and two teenage boys comfortably. There was a coffee maker in the room. The shower had good strong water pressure and there was plenty of hot water available. The shower had a built in shampoo and body soap dispenser.

The not so good: You could hear the trains at all hours of the night. I sleep with ear plugs and could still hear them. The beds were so-so, pretty typical of a motel. Not bad, not great. Thin pillows, but like I said we always bring ours from home. There wasn't enough light in the room. There was no lid on the toilet, I was afraid of knocking or dropping something in it.

Beware of the vending machines: My son tried twice to get a Coke and both times the machine dispensed a Diet-Coke. My youngest son lost a total of $1.50 in two different vending machines.

The front desk help is friendly. They are experts at moving people. We had no problems with check-in or check-out. Due to taking the train to the Grand Canyon you must check out upon departure and check back in when you get back. This was done very well and efficiently. At no time did we feel inconvenienced by this.

You do have to handle your own luggage. There is no bell person to do it for you. However, there are plenty of luggage carts around to use. We had no trouble moving our own luggage back and forth from the lobby to our room. When you return from the Grand Canyon your luggage has been placed in your room for you. This is a plus.

Wi-fi is available but spotty at best. We had no reception in our room, but had no trouble getting the Internet in the lobby.

Max and Thelmas: I'm afraid I have to agree with the bad reviews of the food at Max and Thelmas. The macaroni and cheese was bland and mushy, likewise the corn. The scalloped potatoes tasted like they came from a box. The chicken on a stick was fatty and tough. However, my youngest son did like the roast beef, and the ham was very good.

The desserts were quite tasty. I especially liked the bread pudding and the cobblers were delicious.

Breakfast was better then dinner. I really liked the blueberry pancakes.

The train ride and back was o.k. We rode in the dome car. Beware the dome car isn't how it appears on the web-site, but nonetheless was a nice car to be in. However if I were to do this again I wouldn't book the dome car. The seats in the other cars had more leg room and a fold out table to put food and drinks on. The dome car does have an age limit, so if you'd rather not ride with LOTS of kids roaming around it is the car for you. They provide some entertainment on the train. We had a banjo player on the ride out and a guitar player coming back. Plus on the return trip the train is "robbed". Complementary snacks and drinks are provided both ways.

All in all our experience with the AAA Rails to the Rim package was pleasant.

Stayed April 2008
Helpful?
4 Thank PONYRCR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sacramento
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 April 2008

We stayed here for one night and was just not that impressed. Previous to staying here, we visted Las Vegas (MGM Grand) and the Holiday Inn Expres in Barstow. We were looking forward to the hotel stay as my kids were excited about the indoor pool.

Here is the deal: The pool was cold, crowded and the hot tub was so full of foam that I could hardly see my family in it (somewhat bizarre). The room was the size of a normal Motel 6 and had two beds with just enough room for a rollaway to fit. The beds were ok, but the pillows were flat. The bath had one sink and the towels felt like they used Drano for detergent. The one thing I found the most entertaining was the train that flies by at 2:00 AM and sometime around 4:00 or 5:00. The resturant is the bar, and the family got to enjoy hot wings, pizza and a chili nachos for dinner. Don't ask how we felt in the morning!!

The place is without a doubt better then some places I have stayed, but I have never paid as much as we did to get what we got. The only way that this place should justify the cost is to throw in a free train ride to the Grand Canyon.

  • Liked — The lobby and bar.
  • Disliked — the room.
  • Stayed March 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank tellan1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sacramento
Level 3 Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 March 2008

For those who you want to see the splendour of the Grand Canyon National Park without going thru the hassles of booking and bringing your own food and planning the sight seeing trip and looking for parking spaces, etc..., I would recommend this package to you. I booked my trip thru AAA, you'll get a discount if you are a AAA member.
I would recommend that you choose the first class train going to and coming from the Grand Canyon because you will not regret it. The package is inclusive of almost everthing (like your food (buffets), hotel stays, and sight -seeing tour in the canyon). But your food and tour on your second day in the Grand Canyon is not included in this package.
For more details, check out the AAA website or go to The Grand Canyon Railway website directly. But I have to emphasize that you will get a discount if you are AAA member and book thru AAA.
The Grand Canyon is something worth the trip. And I hope that your journey going there will be as enjoyable as mine.

Stayed March 2008
Helpful?
2 Thank Let's-Go-Places.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dallas, TX
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 March 2008

My family (wife, 2 boys: 4 y/o and 6 y/o) booked the train/hotel/food package over Spring Break in March 2008. The train was fun (overpriced nonetheless), but the hotel itself is like a Motel 6.

We pulled up and there was no one to help with our bags, so we had to lug them ourselves. The place is huge and impersonal with a tiny lobby and a maze to get to your rooms. Check-in was good though -- fast and courteous. Our room was even ready at 9am, which was a pleasant surprise.

Sadly, the room itself was a big letdown. Although it was clean, it was very basic with absolutely no frills: paper cups in the bathrooms, old tv, cheap linens, lumpy pillows, and thin walls. All of this would have been fine if we were paying $69/night, but our entire package - room, train, food was close to $1000! We booked the package directly with the hotel, so there was no real way to figure out the room rate, which was another annoyance.

The worst part was the dinner buffet at Max & Thelma's. Since it was Spring Break, you could NOT order off the menu as promised. The food options were awful, the dining room was loud and overcrowded, and the lines were long. It was just miserable. My wife and I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The breakfast buffet was a little better. They had cowboys roaming around talking with the diners, which my kids loved. Overall, the service at the hotel and restaurant was good. But even the friendly staff couldn't overcome the low quality of everything within this property.

We booked this hotel for its convenient location to the train, which it had. But in hindsight we would have been better off staying at a nicer (and cheaper) place in Flagstaff and enduring the 20 minute drive before and after the train. Don't be fooled by the hotel's incredibly designed website and online photos. This place is a cheap motel that is asking outrageous prices b/c it's next to the train depot. Save your money and stay somewhere else.

  • Disliked — It offered basic accomodations at outrageous prices.
  • Stayed March 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Osborne717
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Grand Canyon Railway Hotel

Property: Grand Canyon Railway Hotel
Address: 233 N Grand Canyon Blvd, Williams, AZ 86046-2563
Region: United States > Arizona > Williams
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Green Hotel in Williams
#4 Business Hotel in Williams
#5 Romantic Hotel in Williams
#5 Family Hotel in Williams
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Grand Canyon Railway Hotel 3.5*
Number of rooms: 298
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Experience the luxury of a bygone era at Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. Designed to resemble the century-old train depot that housed the original Fray Marcos Hotel, our hotel is a relaxing retreat in a picturesque Western setting. The 298-room hotel is just a block away from downtown Williams and historic Route 66. Combined with a variety of amenities such as complimentary wi-fi, an indoor pool and hot tub, delicious dining options at Grand Depot Cafe and Spenser's Pub, The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel is the perfect place to stay before embarking on your grandest of journeys! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Grand Canyon Railway Williams
Fray Marcos Hotel
Hotel Grand Canyon Railway

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