October 16-19, 2013
The night before the hike down the Hermit Trail we stayed at the Yavapai Lodge. Clean and comfortable the hotel offers the advantage of parking right outside the room, making it easy to sort through gear. About a half mile from the rim, the lodge is connected to the rim hotels and restaurants by a mile long walking/biking path.
We decided to splurge after the hike and stayed at El Tovar hotel on the rim. While the hotel affords great views and easy access to the rim walking path, the public parking lot in front of the hotel is often full. Additional parking can be found in the overflow lot behind the Hopi House. The rooms are again clean and comfortable but not substantially better than the rooms at the cheaper west wing of the Yavapai Lodge.
El Tovar’s upscale dining room is more about the experience than the food. The dark lodge-style dining room is pleasant and not too loud. Service is attentive and the menu includes an ample selection of protein options. The food, however, disappoints. While dishes are generally well cooked, there is little thought put into the combination of flavors and plating. The squab with an oyster stuffing and served with a hoisin sauce just didn’t work. On the other hand, the two inch thick fillet mignon was beautifully cooked.