Disneyland's Grand Californian Hotel And Spa: 5 Big Reasons To Stay At The Flagship Resort

Disney's Grand Californian Resort and Spa front exterior

When planning a trip to the Disneyland Resort, the single most important decision you're probably going to make is where to stay. For some, a hotel is simply the place to keep your stuff and get some sleep before getting up and going back to the theme parks. For others, however, a hotel is part of the vacation experience. Some may plan entire days on a trip to Disney Parks to just lounge around the pool or otherwise take advantage of the various amenities available. And if you're looking for an experience like no other at Disneyland, then look no further than the resort's top hotel, the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

While the Disneyland Hotel will always be the location with the [most historic connection](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DisneylandHotel(California) to Disneyland, the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa has been the premier spot to stay since it opened in 2001. And while it's certainly true that the Grand Californian isn't the cheapest place to stay in the area, that doesn't mean that isn't worth every penny. Here are some of the reasons to consider a room at the Grand Californian.

Grand Californian Lobby

Beautiful Craftsman Architecture And A Peaceful Atmosphere

While one maybe should not judge a book completely by its cover, that's always where we start, isn't it? But as far as first impressions go, the Grand Californian makes a pretty impressive one. The Craftsman-style design is massive in scope while still being welcoming to visitors. The lobby is full of comfortable chairs and sofas that one can relax in. Kick back and read a book curled up next to the indoor or outdoor fireplaces.

Gardens are a normal feature of Craftsman-style architecture, but at the Grand Californian, the outdoor space more closely resembles a redwood forest than a garden, fitting due to its proximity to the Grizzly Peak area of Disney California Adventure. If you want to spend part of your Disneyland vacation feeling like you're as far as a way from a theme park as you can get, there are few better ways than taking a stroll through the trees. Considering how big the hotel is and how many people are there, the space gives people the ability to spread out. You never feel crowded and things rarely get too loud.

Tenaya Stone Spa

Tenaya Stone Spa

It is the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, and after a period of time without an actual functioning spa, (though much of that was due to pandemic closures), the brand-new Tenaya Stone Spa recently opened. The spa will be limited to guests of the Disneyland Resort hotels for a period of time, so if you want to take advantage of it for the foreseeable future, you'll need to get a room at either the Grand Californian or one of the other two hotels.

What makes the Tenaya Stone Spa so unique is that it was designed by Walt Disney Imagineering, which means the spa was given the same exquisite attention to detail and attention to story as your favorite theme park attraction. The amenities available at the spa will certainly be the same as other places, but the way they are presented is not. There's no place quite like this.

Napa Rose dining room

Napa Rose

Finding a place to eat at Disneyland Resort isn't exactly hard. There are plenty of places to go if all you're looking for is food to keep you going to the next attraction. If, however, you want something more, if you want a meal that's special, then there is no place better to go than the Grand Californian's Napa Rose. It is, without question, the finest dining experience you will find in the resort... or at least it's the best that won't cost you $15,000.

There are some other very nice restaurants inside the other hotels (though some have recently been closed for good) and inside the parks as well, but to be honest, none of them are quite as special as Napa Rose. If you're going to have one truly fine dining experience while visiting Disneyland, the Napa Rose is the place to have it. In addition to simply having the best menu and wine list, it also has some unique dining experiences you won't find elsewhere.

Lamplight Lounge and Mickey's Fun Wheel at Disney California Adventure

Access To Disney California Adventure

The Grand Californian would be an amazing hotel anywhere in the world, but part of what makes it a truly great place to stay is in its location within the Disneyland Resort. In this case, it's located directly adjacent to Disney California Adventure, and the hotel even has a dedicated entrance to the theme park that you're only able to use if you're staying in the hotel.

None of the other Disneyland hotels give you this sort of theme park access. Not only is it easy to walk right out of your hotel into the park, but if you have got a room on that side of the hotel, you can just open your window and are able to see the park, feel its energy and possibly even (when it returns) watch World of Color from your balcony. It also means that if you need to take a break, getting back to your room is that much easier than staying anywhere else in the area.

Downtown Disney sign

Connection To Downtown Disney

But the connection to the theme parks isn't the only way that the Grand Californian is perfectly situated within the Disneyland Resort. While the Disneyland Hotel is found at the opposite end of Downtown Disney from the theme parks, and the Paradise Pier Hotel is even further away, the Grand California drops you right into the middle of Downtown Disney, giving you easy access to shopping and additional dining options just outside.

If you want to sneak out to grab some ice cream at Salt & Straw (and you should totally do that), there's no hotel better situated to make the run. If you want to grab a morning Starbucks before starting your day, it's basically right around the corner.

After a long day in the parks, you'll be coming back to your hotel room exhausted more often than not. With the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, that trip back is simply shorter and easier than if you're staying anywhere else. And as you walk back into that massive lobby, it just doesn't feel like you're coming back to a hotel. The Grand Californian never feels like it's simply a place to keep your stuff. It's a resort hotel designed for you to enjoy the experience of being there.

One can't pretend the Grand Californian isn't on the more expensive side; it's generally the more expensive of the three Disneyland Resort hotels. But even if it's the sort of place you might only stay once, that one stay will almost certainly be worth it once you take advantage of all it has to offer.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.