Hotel Review: Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Sep 26, 2018

The most extensive refurbishment since Disney’s Grand Californian’s opening elevates the guest experience at the AAA Four Diamond hotel.

Hotel Review: Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
Credit: 2018 The Disneyland Resort

Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa opened in 2001 at The Disneyland Resort as the first luxury hotel located inside a Disney theme park. After 17 years of proudly representing the Southern California lifestyle in the heart of an iconic destination, the Craftsman-style hotel has undergone a propertywide renovation.

Here’s a look into what’s new at the property.

Concierge Lounge
The redesigned concierge lounge on the sixth floor is included with all concierge-level rooms, as well as the hotel’s four Presidential suites. Access to the lounge can also be added to Artisan suites for an additional fee. Like the Grand Californian’s signature restaurant, Napa Rose, the lounge draws inspiration from the work of Scottish architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a prominent figure in the Arts and Crafts movement.

The new guestroom design brings a contemporary approach to the Arts and Crafts style of Disney’s Grand Californian.
The new guestroom design brings a contemporary approach to the Arts and Crafts style of Disney’s Grand Californian.
Credit: 2018 The Disneyland Resort

“The concierge lounge is still in the Arts and Crafts style, but with a more contemporary feel,” said Dan Coleman, general manager of Disney’s Grand Californian. “So, this is a modern space with a nod to our heritage and tradition.”

In addition to snacks and beverages throughout the day, the lounge also offers four food and beverage presentations daily: Continental Breakfast (6:30 to 10 a.m.), Mid-Day Snack/Tea Time (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), Happy Hour (5 to 7 p.m.) and Dessert (8 to 10 p.m.). Dessert hours are the perfect time to watch the Disneyland fireworks from the lounge’s patio. The addition of a brand-new wall of retractable glass-paned panels allows guests to view the fireworks from inside the lounge as well as from the outdoor patio.

Great Hall
Disney’s Grand Californian’s Great Hall is one of its signature features. Apart from refreshing the custom California poppy-themed carpeting and adding additional seating for guests to enjoy the space and its inviting fireplace, the hotel has kept the lobby the same.

Additional seating was added to the Great Hall so that guests have plenty of places to gather.
Additional seating was added to the Great Hall so that guests have plenty of places to gather.
Credit: 2018 The Disneyland Resort

“We still have that wonderful living room feel,” said Nicole Fagerhaug, VIP guest services assistant for Disneyland Resort. “Our lobby is such a great place for people to gather and spend time together that we wanted to make sure there are plenty of places for them to do that.”

The guestrooms at Disney’s Grand Californian have always been decorated with Craftsman furnishings, but the newly renovated rooms offer a fresh take on the classic California style, with a focus on design elements that feature poppies and oranges.

A redesigned, enhanced guestroom at Disney’s Grand Californian.
A redesigned, enhanced guestroom at Disney’s Grand Californian.
Credit: 2018 The Disneyland Resort

“Orange groves are an important theme for Disney, because that’s what was here before Disneyland,” Fagerhaug said. “It was also a great way for Disney Imagineers to use the Arts and Crafts idea of involving the nature of a location but make it uniquely Disney. That’s why you see Chip ’n’ Dale causing mischief in our orange grove.”

Another way Imagineers added a Disney twist to guestrooms is through the orange crate artwork. One label represents Dominguez Farms, the orange grove that Disneyland was built on, and another depicts a man in front of an orange stand, who is meant to represent a young Walt Disney.

The combination of luxury and the Disney experience was on the minds of designers for guestroom bathrooms. The luxurious stall showers with rain showerheads can make any client feel like a prince or princess — but because even fancy bathrooms need a touch of Disney, the wallpaper features a few hidden Mickeys. (For guests who prefer a bathtub, about 15 percent of rooms have tubs.)

Clients looking to work off some of the snacks from the concierge lounge can head to the new Eureka Fitness Center, which offers the latest fitness equipment, including Peloton bikes with cycling classes streamed live from on-machine screens.

Less high-tech, but certainly a one-of-a-kind experience, is the Get Up & Go Power Walk. Available only to Disneyland Resort hotel guests, the fast-paced 2-mile power walk through Disney California Adventure Park begins at 6 a.m. before the park opens. The minimum age to join is 14 (those 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult), and no strollers are permitted.

Another special activity at Disney’s Grand Californian is the one-hour Art of Craft Tour that offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the Arts and Crafts movement influenced the architecture and design of the hotel.

Meanwhile, each of the property’s three pools is themed to reflect its surroundings. The obvious focal point is the Redwood Pool’s 90-foot-long redwood tree trunk slide, which mimics the rustic feel of the nearby Redwood Creek Challenge Trail inside California Adventure. In addition to the existing private cabanas at the Mariposa Pool, which each accommodates six guests, there are three new cabanas at the Fountain Pool. Each can hold up to eight guests and features a large television and a device-charging station, plus an outdoor dining area and two lounge chairs for sunning. Daily cabana rental includes cold water and fresh fruit, as well as amenities such as aloe, sunscreen and cool, eucalyptus-infused towels.

In spring 2019, guests can also enjoy a luxurious new pool bar area that will incorporate the hotel’s signature Arts and Crafts design and bring additional poolside lounges and table seating.

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