Summary: Inspired by Yosemite's Ahwahnee Lodge, the Grand Californian Hotel is the best hotel inside Disneyland Resort.
Location: 1600 S. Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, CA 92802. For reservations, call 714-956-6425.
Price Range: $$$
Pros: Beautiful lobby, great restaurants, right inside Disneyland
Cons: Small rooms, high prices
In the 1920s, architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood designed what would become one of America's most unique hotels — the Ahwahnee Lodge in Yosemite. Today, this luxury hotel is renowned around the world for its distinct California Craftsman style.
Drawing inspiration from this grand escape in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa is a magical turn-of-the-20th-century resort inside Disneyland with intricate details from the California Arts & Crafts era.
During a recent stay, our family stayed in one of the standard guest rooms, which overlooked the twinkling shops and bustling streets of Downtown Disney District. The rooms are on the smallish side, with touches of Craftsman design throughout.
Of the 945 guest rooms, there are 44 suites. All rooms are equipped with basic amenities, such as flat screen TV, 24-hour room service, daily newspaper delivery, free local calls, and in-room Internet. Ask ahead and you can book one of the family-friendly bunk bed rooms, or ask for the loan of extra sleeping bags with mattress pads.
In fall 2009, the Grand Californian Vacation Villas opened to the public, offering 50 2-bedroom retreats equipped with all the comforts of home, from a kitchen and living room, to cozy dining areas and bedrooms. The 2-story Grand Villa, with its three bedrooms, sleeps up to 12 guests. Studio, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom Disneyland villas are also available.
But visiting Disneyland Resort is more about the resort than the room. When you're not touring Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure or Downtown Disney, the Grand Californian hotel has plenty of fun activities. Our kids enjoyed the Redwood Pool, which sits in the center of the hotel, complete with two water slides. The Fountain Pool, with its trickling artisan turtle fountain, is a quiet area meant for adults, and there is also a Mickey Mouse Pool especially for little tykes.
Disney's Grand Californian restaurants are suitable for every occasion, from the elegant Napa Rose, where chef Andrew Sutton works his culinary magic; to the homey and casual Storytellers Cafe, where Chip and Dale often make surprise appearances during the breakfast buffet. (The corn chowder is incredible!) For Disneyland dining reservations, call (714) 781-3463.
In addition to a state-of-the-art gym, the Grand Californian is home to the Mandara Spa & Health Club (714-300-7350), an intimate luxury day spa with salon services. Here, mom can escape for a few hours while enjoying such signature treatments as a Balinese massage or Elemis Aroma Spa Seaweed Massage. The 8-room spa has a steam room, sauna, lockers and showers, however there is no Jacuzzi. A co-ed lounge and couples' pavilion is available for couples. View spa menu.
If you want to get away as a couple, the hotel does offer babysitting services at Pinocchio’s Workshop. The child care center is open from 5 p.m. to midnight for kids ages 5 to 12. The experience includes snacks, movies, arts and crafts, dinner, snacks, storytelling and other fun activities. To reserve babysitting services, call 714-635-2300. Learn More.
After enjoying a full day at Disneyland, we enjoyed retreating to the Grand Californian lobby for cocktails in the Hearthstone Lounge. The lobby — with its open living area, opulent chandeliers, massive stone fireplace, and striking wood beams — is one of the most impressive hotel lobbies in the state. During the evening, it's a cozy place to read a magazine by the fire, listen to a bit of old-time jazz piano, or enjoy narrated story time, offered at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. daily.
One of the nicest perks about staying at this Disneyland hotel is the private entrance and VIP access to Disney’s California Adventure park. With Magic Mornings, any guest staying overnight at the hotel receives early entry to Disneyland and select attractions.
Disney's Grand Californian Hotel is located at 1600 S. Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, CA 92802. For reservations, call 714-956-6425. View hotel Web site.