Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa – A Rustic Respite in the City
Earlier this year we spent one overnight at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa for the first time. We’ve stayed many times at the other two Disneyland Resort hotels, the Paradise Pier Hotel and the original Disneyland Hotel. We were so excited to stay at this rustic respite since we’d walked through it a few times before, simply to admire the lobby. Fortunately our stay met all of our expectations, read on for the full review.
Lobby & Check-in
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa lobby is as you would expect, grand! There are fantastic details at every turn, from the stained glass lamps, classic phones, pretty floral arrangements and sparkling diamond ‘D’ to celebrate Disneyland’s 60th anniversary. Alcoves around the main lobby are homey and inviting, including a rustic fireplace.
We checked in early on a Saturday morning and there were only a few ahead of us in line but they had a Cast Member asking us a few questions in advance. She then introduced us when we did get to the counter and let them know that we were there to celebrate an upcoming birthday. The Cast Member checking us in was able to write up a birthday button as well as celebration buttons for everyone in our group. While I went through the check-in process, my kids waited in front of a television, seated in tiny wooden rockers.
Our room wasn’t ready yet, so they were able to hold our bags so we could venture into the parks. I was told that I would receive a text message when our room was ready (and I did!) Later in the day, we came back through the lobby to get into bathing suits and there was a man playing the piano in front of the towering stone fireplace. It certainly added even more charm to the grand, yet still cozy, feeling.
The rooms at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel face the lobby. I thought that the noise from below might carry up into the rooms, but we couldn’t hear any noise. In fact the room was very quiet, even thought it was overlooking the front of the hotel and valet area. We had a small balcony with a table and chairs to get fresh air outside and we were able to catch a view of the Monorail as it drove by.
Decor in the rooms doesn’t scream Disney but there are subtle details like the Bambi print on the shower curtain and a picture on the wall of the dwarf’s cottage from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The room was nicely sized, with enough room for our family of five to spread out. We were only there overnight so luggage was minimal (just one big bag) but I can see that space might have been tighter if we’d been staying longer. We were given a bunk bed set-up, alongside a queen bed. There was also a desk against the wall, dresser, closet, sink area and a separate toilet/shower space. In the evening when we returned from the parks, we found a roll-out bed had been made up for our preschooler and each pillow had a chocolate treat!
I liked having the sink area separate from the bathroom so we weren’t on top of each other getting ready in the morning. A nice supply of h2O spa products was a plus, including foot rub and after-sun gel. You can be sure these top-notch toiletries came home with me after the trip! My husband appreciated having a coffee maker in the room as well.
We’ve eaten at Storyteller’s Cafe twice (once for lunch and another time, for the dinner buffet). It’s definitely a favorite of ours (read my review on Storyteller’s Cafe here).
Napa Rose is a fancier dining restaurant so we’ve yet to dine here. There is also Whitewater Snacks which is close-by the pool area and would be a good choice for a quick grab and go meal. Disney’s Grand Californian is very close to the Downtown Disney District and lots of other dining choices. For our morning at the park, we were able to walk into the Downtown Disney District and grab breakfast sandwiches from La Brea Bakery Express.
Just like at the Disneyland Hotel, spending time at Disney’s Grand Californian pool area can easily be an all-day affair! We arrived at the pool midday and couldn’t secure a lounge chair because they were all taken. I’d definitely recommend arriving early if you want a place to rest because I ended up having to sit on a brick wall in the shade while my family was swimming.
The three pools are beautiful and unique. However they are spread out so you can’t just post yourself in one place if you’re trying to keep an eye on the kids. Fortunately there are very diligent lifeguards there to remind kids about running poolside and keeping a close eye on all the activity.
The twisty slide was a highlight here, of course! I appreciated the amenities here, like ample bathrooms, cold water and cups, swim diapers for babies and life vests for kids. See also my overview on all the pools at the Disneyland Resort Hotels as well as this post on Traveling Mom about what you can expect at Disneyland Resort pools.
As with the other hotels at the Disneyland Resort, we felt that our stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa really added to the magic of our vacation. We loved the easy access and guest-only private entrance to Disney California Adventure park. This made swinging back to the hotel for lunch and a swim a simple mid-day break. The Cast Members were efficient and helpful anytime we requested assistance. Our room and all of the hotel was well-kept and clean. Yes, this is the most expensive of the three Disneyland Resort hotels but it easily became a fast favorite of the area hotels simply because of the location. Will we stay here again? Yes, for a one-night splurge we will stay again!
See my other posts about the Disneyland Resort hotels, Paradise Pier Hotel and the Disneyland Hotel (click the thumbnail images below). I also have a post on Traveling Mom about the 18 Valuable Reasons To Stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel.
I received a complimentary stay at Disney’s Californian Hotel & Spa. As always, opinions are my own.
Have you stayed at any of the Disneyland Resort hotels? Which is your favorite and why? Share with me below in the comments!