The Majestic Yosemite Hotel - The Ahwahnee Hotel page 7

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At the far south end of the lounge wing of the hotel is the Solarium. The Solarium is essentially shaped like a half circle if viewed from above. The wrap-around walls feature 6 large windows that let in lots of sunlight and offer great views of Ahwahnee Meadow and Glacier Point.

The Solarium does not have a fireplace like the other rooms, it has a water fountain. Directly above the fountain is a landing of the stairway leading up to the Tudor Lounge. For an example of attention to detail, look in the fountain for the drain inlet, and note that even this functional piece of metal has the logo of the Ahwahnee Hotel cast on it. In the Solarium and all through the hotel you may notice wall hangings that look a lot like rugs. These are actually the original woven Persian rugs from the hotel being creatively reused. Some of the more fragile ones are cased in plastic to protect them.

At the rear of the Stairway Lounge there is a stairway leading up to the Tudor Lounge. At the top of the stairs is a reception area, if a private event is taking place this may be as far as you get. The primary feature of the Tudor Lounge is a plaster fireplace painted red, once again with Native American designs on it. The lounge is furnished with tables and chairs, and is now used for conferences and private events, such as wedding receptions. Two windows look down from the Tudor Lounge onto the Great Lounge, allowing you a bird´s eye view of the goings on below. On the opposite side, two balconies open into the Solarium, so you can check out what's going on there also! To the sides of the Tudor Lounge are two meeting rooms. The Colonial Room on the west side is directly above the Mural Room. On the east side of the Tudor Lounge, directly over the Winter Club, is the Tresidder Room. These two rooms are currently set up with conference tables and chairs. (OK, they´re really nice conference tables and really nice chairs. Not your standard hotel conference room furnishings.)

Returning to the Elevator Lobby we´ll move up one level to the 1st floor. In the early days of the hotel an elevator operator would have taken us up, however in 1963 the elevators were automated, so now we just push a button and go. Slowly. The elevator is excruciatingly slow, but this is Yosemite and we´re on vacation, so who´s in a hurry? Exiting on the first floor we find ourselves in a mid-size lobby/mezzanine. From the end of Prohibition until World War II there was a bar called "El Dorado Diggins" located in the area directly in front of the elevators on the first floor. This area is now part of the lobby, and the main features of the lobby are two large balcony openings which look down onto the Great Lounge. Turning to the left a hallway leads to the 1st floor guest rooms. The first floor only has one wing of guest rooms, located directly above the Sweet Shop, hotel administrative office and Main Desk, the Main Lobby and The Ahwahnee Bar. The rooms above The Ahwahnee Bar are the ones that were fumigated by auto exhaust from the original porte-cochere. At the far end of the hall is a door leading outside. There is also a very nifty, steel circular-stairway that leads up to the second floor (photo above). OK, it´s really a fire escape down from the 2nd floor. If you have kids or you are a kid at heart you will love it.

Also located at the end of the first floor hall is a very nice staircase that meanders down to the swimming pool. This staircase from the 1st floor allows hotel guests to go to the pool without walking through the hotel lobby in their swim wear. If you've been out hiking and are really grimy, this stairway also provides a way to get to your room bypassing the lobby.

Herbert Hoover could have used this back stairway if it had been around in his day. The hotel was originally off limits to all but the most affluent guests and aggressive doormen had the job of keeping the common folks out. President Hoover was a guest at the hotel, but had been out fishing that day and returned a bit grimy looking. The doorman didn't recognize him and would not let him into the hotel!

Today the hotel is fully open to the public, although signs do warn that appropriate behavior is expected.  Yay!  Now we can all see the hotel our government owns! This is a recent change; under the previous concessionaire, only the Main Lobby, Elevator Lobby, and gift shops were open to the public.