Best Places to Stay in California (II)
Best Places to Stay in California: Amargosa Opera House – Historic Old Hotel in Death Valley
Dancer Marta Becket, a former Broadway showgirl, purchased the crumbling Amargosa Opera House in 1967, opening a live theater, hotel and diner in the heart of Death Valley Junction. Although Marta no longer performs (her final performance was on Feb. 12, 2012), the hotel itself is a huge draw — especially for German and Japanese tourists.
Much of the hotel and opera house is decorated with Marta's murals of ballerinas, clowns and circus performers — an effort that took almost four years to complete. Rooms are bare bones basic, with dated furniture and decor. In fact, many travelers have complained about the "sagging beds" and "derelict rooms." It's definitely in need of an update.
A documentary about Marta, titled Amargosa, was a finalist for best documentary feature at the 72nd annual Academy Awards. It was also featured as the Lost Highway Hotel in David Lynch's 1997 thriller, Lost Highway.
The Amargosa Cafe — which has spotty hours — serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Best Places to Stay in California: Ahwahnee Hotel – Yosemite’s grand dame
Named for the Ahwahneechee Indians who once inhabited Yosemite, this historic hotel combines Native American, Art Deco, and Arts & Crafts styles. Opened on July 14, 1927, the Ahwahnee is certainly the most luxurious Yosemite lodging. Its grand public rooms have hosted presidents and royalty, and today it remains one of the valley's top attractions.
Most of the Ahwahnee's hotel rooms, suites and cottages have stunning views of the valley — and WiFi is free for hotel guests. For a true splurge, book one of their private cabins along the Merced River, or a luxurious suite — just like Queen Elizabeth II did during her visit in 1983. Also, be sure to dine at least once in the grand Ahwahnee Dining Room. The Ahwahnee Bar is the perfect place to relax with a martini and cheese plate while admiring the sunset over Half Dome.
Best Places to Stay in California: Ahwahnee Hotel – Tips
The hotel is located just one mile from Yosemite Village. A free shuttle departs from the hotel parking lot every 10-20 minutes, stopping at the Visitor Center, historic Curry Village, Yosemite Lodge and Yosemite Falls. Reservations should be made at least 5 months, and up to one year in advance. Historic walking tours are offered daily through the concierge.