El Tovar Hotel — architecturally designed to be a cross between a Swiss chalet and a Norwegian villa — opened in 1905 on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. It has seen it’s fair share of celebrity guests: Bill Clinton, Paul McCartney, Albert Einstein, and Theodore Roosevelt among them. The lodge features a large Adirondack-looking front porch, along with several side porches overlooking the canyon, complete with rustic rocking chairs perfect for a sit after a long hike. The lobby is old-fashioned lodge with a touch of Victorian thrown in, adorned by regal moose, elk and buffalo heads glancing down to greet you.
I stayed one night at El Tovar with my boys this summer on a trip out west visiting family, and we LOVED our time spent here. However, the hotel presents several quirks along with it’s charm. It’s not easy getting a good night sleep in 115 degree weather when the ac stops working every 2 hours, forcing you to turn it back on. This wasn’t limited to our room; I heard several guests complaining to the front desk. And, though I adored our vintage bathroom, the bedroom was straight out of a 1990’s Holiday Inn design book. Dining was a crapshoot, and you are pretty much limited to dining here unless you drive out of the park. We had bland expensive food served by a manic-depressive waiter at dinner, whereas breakfast the next morning was absolutely delicious with friendly and adept service.
The highlight of our time here was the proximity to the canyon. It was hard to tear myself away from the view. But email and social media interrupted occasionally; when I would look back to the canyon, I was startled by the grandeur every single time. Hiking down into the canyon brings even more pleasure and appreciation for this natural work of wonder.
I hope you enjoy the photos of the hotel and the sunset/sunrise at the canyon!