Situated, as its name suggests, in Yosemite valley, the lodge is in the perfect location!
The rooms are within earshot of the magical lower falls and offer uninterrupted views of towering pine trees and the mountains beyond.
Thus, the Rustic and Eco-friendly lodge allows you to feel connected to nature, whilst also having access to the home comforts that camping deprives.
Further, the location provides the perfect base camp for exploring Yosemite. With short hikes to the lower falls and meadows easily accessible. Busses also depart regularly from the lodge’s reception to many of the parks famous highlights such as Half Dome and Glacier Point.
However, the central location does have its draw backs. For one, the lodges car park is not exclusive for guests: it’s open to anyone visiting the park. Meaning, in high season you’re are not guaranteed a space. To me, this seems slightly absurd. Especially since its only accessible by car…. I’d expect (as a paying guest) to be guaranteed a place to park!
At $153-$235 per night (depending on the season) for a double room, the lodge is certainly expensive – especially for what you get. Although it’s not a five star luxury resort, you’re paying for the location…
Sure there are more luxurious hotels and lodges but, these are based outside of the national park meaning they’re less accessible. Having to drive into the park each day of your visit creates a hassle.
Meanwhile, at the Valley Lodge, you can simply roll out of bed and head down one of the many trails leading from your room.
My first impression of the lodge was that of disappointment. After a long drive into the national park, you want to be met by an inviting and attractive room. Instead, you leave the modern, glass clad reception and are fronted with several different ‘blocks’ which, much reminded me of the American motel’s you see in films.
This motel feel, makes the outside of the lodge look outdated, dark and dingy. In comparison however, once entering the room this feeling was quickly overcome.
It was evident that on the inside, the rooms have recently been updated. White walls and french doors looking out onto Yosemite falls, makes the room feel bright and spacious. Meanwhile, the bed is comfortable and the cleanliness of the lodge is second to none.
On the other hand, the rooms small television only has limited channels and the WiFi (although free) is dodgy at best. Personally however, I loved not being so tied to the internet and 1000 TV channels you get these days. Yosemite is the perfect place to get away, spend time with loved ones and enjoy nature at her best. As such, the weak WiFi signal seems of little importance….
The lodge has some of the best facilities in the park!
One highlight is the large pool which is perfect for families but also a refreshing dip after a long day of hiking. There’s plenty of sunbeds to kick back and relax on and the water is relatively clean – besides the odd leaf.
Again however, the real star of the show is the view… not often can you sun bathe in the shadow of Half Dome and other towering rock formations, with the sound of the falls echoing around you:
Adding to this, the lodge is home to the Mountain Room Restaurant & Lounge. This offers elegant dining, serving a variety of upscale dishes from Steak and Lamb to Seafood and Pasta.
The food here is very enjoyable. But, being one of the only restaurants within the national park, its usually very busy and in our experience service could sometimes be slow and rushed at the same time.
In addition, although the huge glass facade at the front of the restaurant offers spectacular views you could never tire of… The same can not be said of the menu which, offer’s only six main courses. Thus, if you eat here most nights of your stay, you’ll quickly run out of choices.
The location of the restaurant means that the food is incredible expensive. For example, the Chicken breast main is $21. And although nice, the standard of the food doesn’t really warrant that price. That said, I found that dining is generally more expensive across the whole of America than we would expect within the UK!
The lodge offers a second dining option; the Yosemite Lodge Food Court. The food here can be summed up in one word… okay.
Its nothing special. But, nor do you expect it too be. Its school cafeteria feel ultimately matches the food which is served. From salads to traditional beef burgers, there’s quite a wide selection of dishes to suit everyone!
The food here is cheap and cheerful! Thus, its great for families. We often had a light lunch here before heading off to explore Yosemite. It’s also the only place where you can buy breakfast.
A big draw back for the food court is the fact that at busy times, the tables were often left uncleared – making the whole environment feel unsanitary.
None the less, it does provide a nice counter offer to the over priced Mountain Room Restaurant.
The lodge isn’t the fanciest nor nicest accommodation you’ll ever stay in. But, the rooms are comfortable and for me, nothing could beat waking up to the spectacular views that the lodge offers.
Personally, I feel that the lodge is most suited for families. Facilities such as the pool and food court are perfect for an excitable brood.
None the less, couples and first timers to the park can equally benefit from its fantastic location and accessibility to the parks hiking routes.
Would I return? Yes, for a short visit to the park its the perfect base! As long as you monitor you expectations…
DISCLAIMER: I don’t not own these pictures of the lodge! (Sourced from the Lodges website)
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