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Tenaya Lodge Yosemite

A Review of The Tenaya Lodge Hotel Near Yosemite

Earlier in March, we stayed at the Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite for the first time and fell in love with it. 

We took our dog with us but we aren’t exactly the camper types. There aren’t too many options for nice hotels in or around Yosemite, though, so it looked like the best option was the Tenaya Lodge. 

The Tenaya Lodge Yosemite
An entrance view of The Tenaya Lodge on a warm sunny day

When I Googled and Yelped the Tenaya Lodge, however, what I read scared me a little. I read a mixture of good and bad reviews, some praising the hotel but others were incredibly dissatisfied. But then other reviews basically raved about the place, so we didn’t know what to expect. 

The drive up to Yosemite from San Francisco was stressful, to say the least. We left San Francisco much too late and we found ourselves making a good two-hour drive, in pitch-dark, on a two-lane road. In the rain. Heavy, torrential rain. I may have bit off half my nails as I sat there hunched forward, looking out onto the road.

My poor hyper-attentive husband focused harder on the slick, dark road than a pilot landing on an aircraft carrier. Every few minutes he would let out one of those sighs people tend to make when they’re releasing stress. By all indications, this was not a good start to the trip. We should have left much earlier from San Francisco. Never drive to Yosemite after 3PM. Tenaya Lodge

At this point, both of us prayed that once we made it there alive, that our hotel would be worth it.

When we finally spotted the exit in the distance through the murky rain, I screamed in excitement! We turned off and a few minutes later after winding down another dark and forested road, we were greeted in the rain by young men with umbrellas standing next to an outdoor fireplace.

They helped us out of our car as we both looked at each other with the awe-inspired faces of two young children first entering Disneyland. This place was stunningly beautiful and our arrival here was all the more dramatic after such a stressful, dark, and rainy drive. Tenaya Lodge Yosemite HotelThe atrium was grand, rustic, and empty in a way that reminded me of The Stanley Hotel from my favorite Kubrick movie of all time. I immediately fell in love.

Room Comfort

We were given a room, a new room as it turns out. The Tenaya Lodge was in the middle of a multi-million dollar makeover and a lot of complaints I read about on Yelp were because the hotel was outdated.

Our room was the perfect combination of rustic and modern. And it was clean. They even placed a dog bed, bowl, and treat for Benji on the floor. We felt right at home. Tenaya Lodge Yosemite hotel

In an odd way, I felt this hotel reminded me of a Japanese ryokan. In Japan, a ryokan is a Japanese Inn that’s often exceptionally beautiful with great service and built around nature.

The pool also had a retro arcade which really reminded me of those perfectly charming, yet somewhat antiquated hotels in Japan. We even saw a Japanese couple wandering the halls in their robes like kimonos. I immediately felt at home.

Beautiful prints by Ansel Adams and other talented landscape photographers hang on the walls of the Tenaya Lodge
Beautiful prints by Ansel Adams and other talented landscape photographers hang on the walls of the Tenaya Lodge

Customer Service at The Tenaya Lodge

Aside from comfort and design, the customer service is why we really loved our stay at the Tenaya Lodge.

The first night, my husband wanted to warm up some food and buy a beverage. We went downstairs to the lobby and they called a young man who came over and personally opened the snack shop just for us. I bought a local bottle of Tempranillo and finished it over the next few days.

Tenaya Lodge Yosemite hotel
We roasted s’mores one night. You can purchase a set in the gift shop. We bought skewers but brought our own chocolate

The customer service at The Tenaya Lodge in fact was better than ANY place I’ve experienced in the United States. We did however travel to Yosemite in March, an off-peak time, so perhaps we got more attention because it wasn’t crazy crowded. But from our arrival, this place exceeded our expectations.

Also, in March, there’s a snow chain advisory for all vehicles entering the park. As it turned out, even though we rented an SUV, our car wasn’t all-wheel-drive so the park demanded we at least carry chains in our cars. This obviously sucked because where on Earth could we purchase chains?? Also, we wouldn’t need them after just 3 days so obviously this felt like a waste of money. 

Tenaya Lodge Yosemite hotel
You can purchase Giant Sequoia trees in the gift store to plant!

But, the hotel however actually SELLS their own chains with a very generous return policy. They carry a vast array of different sizes. The kind lady at the gift shop helped us with the size. And if you don’t use them, there’s just a modest re-stocking fee. We purchased a cheap set of chains and were on our merry way. 

At the hotel, you can also book your Yosemite hikes and tours, or even your Yosemite wedding at the Tenaya Lodge!

 The Food at Tenaya Lodge 

The food at the hotel is not bad but not great. I read a lot of complaining reviews that it was overpriced, but I didn’t find it that overpriced. The burger and fries were actually really good. 

Tenaya Lodge Yosemite hotel
Breakfast here every morning by the fire

The breakfast buffet was not too large, but it kept us full for a long day of hiking. I have to eat gluten-free and I didn’t have any problems. Although they didn’t offer a gluten free section at the buffet, there was plenty of fresh fruit and eggs and other paleo style foods. 

 The Drive to Yosemite From Tenaya Lodge

Almost every single other property except for the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (fka Ahwahnee Hotel) requires a somewhat lengthy drive.

I was unsure when I booked our stay just how we’d feel about this drive, but honestly, we didn’t mind it. The drive is a solid 45 minutes to Tunnel View, but it’s a beautiful and relaxing drive. It’s really all about your state of mind, but it was enjoyable.

  Complaints About Tenaya Lodge

My only complaint is the price of their dog sitting. Although this is a pet or dog-friendly property, they require you to leave your dog with them every time you leave the room. And they stress on their website that they want you to arrange dog-sitting for even times you go to dinner. Dog or pet sitting fees change upon the season, but it was roughly $20 an hour. This is pretty high considering you can easily spend up to a couple hundred dollars a day if you want to board your dog here. We have a 10-pound chihuahua. He came with us to the park.

Tenaya Lodge Yosemite hotel

Overall, I loved this place. It ranks as one of my favorite stays around the world and I will definitely return the next time I’m in Yosemite!

Yosemite National Park Hotel

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Editor's Rating

10.0
A stunning hotel & experience overall.
2 User ratings
Hotel Rating 10.0

PROS

Highly affordable stunning resort; the rooms are comfortable; dog-friendly; you can enjoy smores around the fire; several restaurant options on-site; beautiful atrium to enjoy a drink; a concierge to book tours; a nice gift shop; show chains on site to purchase; beautiful design;

CONS

Although pet and dog-friendly, this property charges an almost extortionist amount for sitting services; 45 minute drive to Tunnel View
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