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A Review of the Tenaya Lodge | A Yosemite Luxury Hotel
Earlier in March, we stayed at the Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite for the first time and fell in love with it. It’s a beautiful Yosemite luxury hotel.
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.
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.
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.
The atrium was grand, rustic, and empty in a way that reminded me of my favorite Kubrick movie of all time. They helped us out of our car as we both looked at each other with relief that we actually made it. This place was beautiful and our arrival here was all the more dramatic after such a stressful, dark, and rainy drive.
They gave us 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Lodge was in the middle of a multi-million dollar makeover and a lot of complaints I read on Yelp were addressing the outdated aspects of the hotel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
But, the hotel however actually SELLS its 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 Yosemite Luxury Hotel
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.
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 Yosemite Luxury Hotel
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 of 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.
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! It’s a perfect Yosemite luxury hotel.
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I'm an adventure lover, photographer/entrepreneur that spent four years living in Japan and traveling to some incredible parts of the world. The Passport Lifestyle is devoted to becoming better individuals through traveling, growth, and education. This site features tips, expert Japan insights, the creative process, mindfulness inspo, and of course photography content.