Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Grand Canyon, Arizona and the El Tovar Hotel

Today is a very short drive, 136 miles, and we arrive in the Grand Canyon easily before noon, taking off to take the East Rim Drive to Desert View while waiting for our hotel room in the El Tovar Hotel.

We’ve heard of El Tovar for years. You’ll overhear the following conversation. There may be some variations, but it’s pretty much the same every time.

“Oh! Grand Canyon! Are you staying at El Tovar?”


“Oh! It’s the most wonderful hotel! We loved staying there!”


“No, we tried, but we couldn’t get reservations at El Tovar, they were already booked.”

“Oh. That’s too bad.”

We didn’t want to be on the ‘that’s too bad’ list, so when we decided to make the trip, the first thing I did was to find out when rooms were available at El Tovar. We had planned the trip for October. We postponed the trip until April, to be able to stay at El Tovar. We had a great room, even had a view, but for grins, we asked how far in advance you have to reserve to get one of the rooms with a balcony view – 13 months in advance. Who even knows 13 months in advance that they will still be alive 13 months later?? I guess it’s worth the risk – and if we go again, we will reserve 13 months in advance.

My sister Sparkle has stayed at El Tovar and warned us that the rooms were not luxurious. “They’re sort of spartan for your tastes,” she warned us “Don’t expect too much. You’re paying to be staying in the Canyon and in this revered old lodge.”

The El Tovar Lobby:

We didn’t expect much, and our room was at the top of the stairs. We were concerned about noise, but it turned out to be a non-issue. There weren’t a lot of children traveling at this time of the year, and very few staying at El Tovar. Because we weren’t expecting much, we were delighted. Our room was sunny and bright, the beds were very comfortable, the linens were lovely, the old fashioned bathroom delighted my heart, and there was a funny room – a closet? That had a safe, windows that opened so we could see the view, and if we had had a baby with us, his little crib could have fit into the alcove. There was also a coffee machine, yes, it doesn’t take much to make me happy. Although we had been told that wi-fi was only available in public areas, our room must have been close enough, and the wi-fi strong enough, that we had access without leaving our room once we had settled in for the night.

“Be sure to make your dinner reservations six months out,” Sparkle warned, so I marked my calendar and on the day that was six months out, the earliest that the El Tovar restaurant accepts reservations, we called in a dinner reservation, and oh, we are so glad we did.

When we showed up, the first night, for our 6:30 reservation, there was a long line, and people were being turned away, so disappointed. We had a lovely table, with a view, and a waiter, Thomas, who was attentive without being intrusive, knowledgeable about the menu, and took great care of us. It was a lovely evening, and I had another of the best meals of the trip – a Mediterranean Salad with smoked salmon, and the salmon was the smoked chunky Alaskan kind, not the thin strips of Scottish salmon. Oh, YUMMM.

(This was not our table. We had a newlywed couple who came in as we were finishing. Isn’t this a lovely, romantic way to welcome a new bride and groom?)

AdventureMan had the Penne, which he said was also very very good:

We had planned to have dessert, but we couldn’t, we were just so full. The salmon in my salad was so rich and so tasty. We couldn’t eat another bite! And we also wanted to get to bed early, so we could get out by five to catch the sun rising over the Grand Canyon first thing in the morning. Before going up to our room, we tried to make reservations to eat dinner again in the El Tovar dining room, but they only had seatings at 5:15 and 9:30. Oh aargh.

Next morning, we are up and eager to get going, but we have to skirt around the lawn on the way to the car, as there is a herd of elk munching. We don’t want to disturb them and also . . . elk are very large animals. We really don’t want to disturb them.

We hurry to Desert View, at the end of the East Rim trail, only to find that the day has dawned with a heavy cloud cover, and there is no sunrise to speak of. LLOOOLLL! It is also 40 something degrees and windy, really, really cold!

May 6, 2012 - Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel, Weather | , ,


  1. Beautiful view , but to reserve 13 months head ! long time. I hope you had a wonderful time.

    Comment by Hayfa Almughni | May 6, 2012 | Reply

  2. 13 months is for if you want one of the view rooms with a balcony, the best rooms in the house. I think we had a deluxe, those were all booked for the months I was looking, so we booked the first available time when the weather might be good – and April is really good. 🙂 There is a standard room, not overlooking the canyon, but still, at the El Tovar 🙂 They said October and November are still really good times . . . book now!

    Comment by intlxpatr | May 6, 2012 | Reply

  3. […] leather, in a honey camel kind of color that I love to sit in when we are staying at places like El Tovar, or Old Faithful Inn, or Timberline Lodge. It’s a lodge kind of couch, comfy. You and your […]

    Pingback by Dirty Pool « Here There and Everywhere | February 4, 2022 | Reply

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