The Majestic Yosemite Hotel - The Ahwahnee Hotel page 4

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Aha! The original grand entry into the hotel! And now you know what the architect intended the entrance to feel like! Feels a bit more impressive, doesn't it? Registration desk to the right, concierge desk, gift shop, and windows facing the meadow to left. The hallway straight ahead leads to the elevator lobby, dining room, and Great Lounge. Guest rooms are all up the elevator.  The floors of most of the ground floor level of the hotel are stained concrete, with geometric designs of a Native American flavor scored into the concrete surface. However, in the lobby rather than scored designs there are bold designs, made from hard rubber slabs, which are imbedded into the concrete. (Yep, they´re rubber, you need to get down on your hands and knees to tell, but if you do you will note that the aging rubber is cracking and curling in places.)

Looking back toward the Ahwahnee Bar from the other end of the hallway. The Main Lobby is an impressive room, but not as magnificent as those in some other famous lodges, like the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone or The Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Large, square, maroon colored columns support the plain plaster ceiling, and decorative iron chandeliers provide lighting. The walls have a wainscot of dark wood about 4 feet high with off-white plaster above. Several heating radiators are located against the walls; radiators are still used to heat the ground floor of the hotel. The top perimeter of the walls has a painted decorative border, again with a Native American influenced design. The south wall of the lobby consists of glass doors and windows, with a view of a manicured meadow and the cliffs below Glacier Point. The concierge desk sits in the middle of the room and adjacent to it is a seating area. Around the lobby perimeter are the main hotel desk, the Sweet Shop, the Gift Shop, and the previously mentioned Ahwahnee Bar. Adjacent to the hotel desk is the old banking area, in the old days there were banker-style windows where you settled your account at the end of your stay. Behind you in this photo the hallway leads back to the center of hotel, ending at the Elevator Lobby.

The dark and subdued elevator lobby is the central hub of the hotel, it features a large fireplace on the left side as you approach from the Main Lobby. I have never been in the hotel when there wasn´t a fire burning in this fireplace. The fireplace has a broken rock face, and a very interesting Jeannette Dyer Spencer mural painted above it. While the mural is original to the hotel and was painted in 1927, I think it can be best described by the late ‘60´s term "groovy". On either side of the fireplace there is a large doorway leading into the Great Lounge. On the opposite side of the Elevator Lobby from the fireplace is, from left to right, the kitchen entrance, the main staircase, and the elevators. The staircase is a rather unimpressive structure for such a grand hotel. A display case above the stairs contains one of the original Persian rugs from the hotel, which has a beautiful pattern woven into it. The Elevator Lobby ceiling has large plaster covered beams that are painted to contrast with the ceiling. Plaster beams over the staircase, and surrounding the elevator, are painted with intricate patterns. (Unless noted otherwise, all of the patterns in the hotel are Native American influenced.) On the west side of the Elevator Lobby (opposite the Main Lobby side) is the entrance to the Dining Room.

The Dining Room is a must see and is radically different in style from the rest of the hotel. The Dining Room was designed to make an impression when you enter, and it does! The room is rectangular, has a 34 foot high ceiling, with huge windows along the full length of the left (west) and rear (north) walls. Massive curtains hang on either side of each of these floor-to-ceiling windows. The open-truss ceiling is constructed from sugar pine logs, cut outside the park and hauled in. (None of the hotel's building materials were taken from the park. All of the rock was quarried outside the park, from rock selected to match the color of the cliffs in Yosemite Valley.) Each of the trusses is supported by a sugar pine log column next to the perimeter wall. I´m guessing the columns are at least 24 inches in diameter, maybe more. Large black-iron straps with huge bolts tie the trusses together. Triangular shaped chandeliers, with 18 flame-shaped bulbs each, hang from the ceiling. Similar styled wall lamps, with 5 bulbs each, are located around the perimeter of the room on the roof support columns. A windowed alcove surrounded by stone columns is set into the far (north) side of the room, and can be used as a stage, however most of the time tables are set up in it. The room is furnished with white linen draped tables and comfortable, high-back wood chairs. The chairs are stained to match the log columns and trusses. The floor is polished, stained concrete with patterns scored into it. It looks much better than it sounds. The views from the windows of the meadows, trees and cliffs are simply spectacular.