I recently had the opportunity to tour the beautiful Grand Californian Hotel & Spa in the Disneyland Resort. The hotel was built in the Arts and Craft style that was popular at the turn of the 20th Century.
The hotel opened in 2001 as part of an expansion of the Disneyland Resort and was expanded to offer Disney Vacation Club Villas in 2009. One of the benefits of staying here is that the hotel has its own entrance into Disney California Adventure. This will bring you out into the Grizzly Peak area of the park.
You can view the elements of the Craftsman style with the large sweeping roofs, the exposed beams and the colors of nature throughout the hotel. If you feel like this hotel is familiar, that’s because it was designed by Peter Dominick, who also designed Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and my personal Walt Disney World favorite, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. The Grand Californian speaks to my soul as it feels very intimate when you are sitting in the grand lobby. It is a place you like to linger and just enjoy.
If you get the chance and you are interested in the hotel you can take a free tour that is offered several times a week. The Art of the Craft Tour is about an hour long and you will come away with a new appreciation of all the details that Disney had designed into the hotel.
Be sure to notice the sliding doors as you enter the hotel. The theming starts outside with these beautiful doors.
As you walk into the area by the check-in desk, be sure to look up. This area is based on the interior of the Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco. Notice how all the beams are trees that have been bent to form the arches. The Swedenborgians believed that “Trees correspond to the entirety of the divine life with roots going deep into the good soil.” Albert Schweinfurth was one of the influences in the style of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Be sure to look at the front of the check-in desk. You will see the nature theme carried out in all the plaques.
You then walk into the Great Room with its 65-foot ceiling. You are supposed to feel as if you are in a California Redwood Forest. As large as the Great Room is, it feels very intimate with all the seating areas, flowers, lamps. When I stayed here I found myself spending a lot of time in this area.
Be sure to allow some time to linger and enjoy the beautiful fireplace in the lobby.
You will have a number of different dining options at this AAA Four Diamond Hotel. If you get the chance to dine at the award-winning Napa Rose Restaurant you are in for a treat! This is a restaurant you will want to dress up for.
If you are looking for a great character meal I highly suggest the Storytellers Cafe. Every time I have been there, the buffet has been great. It seems to me that the servers are more attentive here without being overbearing. Be sure to look at the epigram, it pays tribute to Marty Dorf. He worked on the Napa Rose and Storytellers Cafe.
The Hearthstone Lounge is a great place to sit and relax and have a bite to eat.
If you just need to have some snacks to enjoy in your room, be sure to stop by White Water Snacks.
The hotel is designed to reflect nature so as you are walking around, stop in the courtyards and notice the color of the buildings. One wall of the Brisca “wedding” courtyard is painted green to simulate moss growing on a tree in nature.
One of the unique features of this hotel is the monorail that goes through it. Since the monorail at Disneyland is considered an attraction, there is no monorail stop at the Grand Californian.
The 751 rooms at the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa are not as large as the rooms at the Disneyland Hotel. The rooms do have balconies where you might have a great view of Disneyland or Downtown Disney. The throws and pillows in the room reflect the colors of nature. The standard rooms have either a king bed, 2 queen beds or a queen bed with bunk beds. There are also 38 suites. The entire resort is non-smoking.
Be sure to allow some time for some pampering at the Mandara Spa located inside the Eureka Fitness Center. You must be 14 or older to use the Fitness Center, and at least 18 to use any of the massage services. The Eureka Fitness Center has state of the art fitness equipment in case you would like to work out on your vacation.
There is also a childcare facility onsite at the hotel. You must be a guest at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels. Your children will be watched over by a trained staff. They offer games and videos, a storytime and crafts. The kids will have a great time here!
One of the benefits of being a Disneyland Hotel guest is you will be able to take advantage of Extra Magic Hour at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Certain days of the week you will be able to enter one of the parks 1 hour earlier than offsite guests. You will need to show your room key along with your ticket to be admitted.
The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is the flagship hotel of the Disneyland Resorts. There are seasons where the rates are more reasonable but expect to pay Deluxe prices here. If you are looking to be close to the theme parks, have deluxe accommodations then this hotel is for you. The feeling you get once you step in the door of this beautiful resort is very calming. If you are there during the holidays you will be treated to a giant tree in the lobby. This is a great place to start some new traditions for the holidays with the family and create some long lasting memories.