My wife and I spent four nights at the Furnace Creek Inn over Thanksgiving, 2016. It’s likely the best bet in Death Valley, so it gets a qualified recommendation – but read on.
I see that the concessionaire is presently badging this property as the "Inn at Death Valley". I'm not sure why you'd change the name of an historic inn. I'm also not sure why Tripadvisor is listing the Inn and the Ranch as a single property. Don't be confused -- they are very different. Make sure the review you are reading relates to the property you are considering.
This was my third stay in National Park Lodging in California over the past two years. See my previous reviews of Yosemite’s Ahwahnee (June 23, 2016) and Sequioa’s Wuksachi Lodge (June 1, 2017). I’ve concluded from these three stays that the concession agreements between and National Park Service and the operators don’t really allow the concessionaires to make enough money to operate these properties at other than a basic level. You can have a decent stay at these properties, but you leave with a sense (particularly at the Ahwahnee and the Furnace Creek Inn) that the inns could be so much more if the concessionaires had “skin in the game” beyond a relatively short concession.
Like the Ahwahnee (and unlike the Wuksachi), the Furnace Creek Inn has good “bones” – it was built to a pretty high standard. The location is great – terrific views from the public areas over the valley and on to the Panamint Range.
Our room was a Standard King on the ground floor – the most basic of rooms at the Inn. We had a king bed, a couple sitting chairs, and a desk. The room was cozy.
Consistent with the period of construction, we had a very large walk-in closet. The bathroom also evidenced the era of construction – smallish, with a single sink and a shower/tub combination.
The bathroom had a small window, and the bedroom French doors that opened immediately to the exterior. We had a small table and two chairs, but shared the outdoor space with a public walkway and the tables and chairs of several adjoining rooms. As a result, you really (i) couldn’t have your doors open at night for air flow (anyone could have walked right in) and (ii) couldn’t have the drapes open at night (without putting on a show for passersby). I get it – this is the most basic room, so this type of inconvenience is not wholly unexpected in a hotel of this era.
On the whole, the room was in decent repair. The bed was comfortable, and the lighting decent.
Although the evenings were cool in late November, the room, left to itself, was rather warm (and way too warm for me to sleep comfortably). In other circumstances, I would have simply left the windows open at night – but our ground floor room made that unworkable. I tried turning on the air conditioning on only to find that it simply blew tepid air. I reported the problem to the front desk, and got an “as soon as we can” response. We made do the first night with the ceiling fan. On return from our activities the second day – still no a/c. Again, a comment was relayed to the desk, and we soldiered through the second night. Finally, on our third day the a/c was repaired. While the room temperature was successfully lowered, this was far from the quietest a/c we’ve had, and so it wasn’t until the fourth night (having gotten used to the noise) that I slept well.
We had some hiccups with housekeeping on two occasions – not enough towels or no washcloths. Easy enough to fix, but still annoying.
We ate breakfast and dinner in the dining room all four days. Breakfasts were decent. The first dinner was disappointing (poor execution of the dishes – mainly overcooked fish). The other three dinners were pretty good, especially the Thanksgiving buffet, which was exceptional (and I generally strongly dislike buffets). On the whole, I’d give the food a thumbs up. Make sure to reserve your dinner times well in advance of busy periods – I had called two months before. I noted some folks showing up without reservations being told the first available table was well after 9 pm.
So, where does this leave me? Given the time of year, we were paying an average of $500 per night for this room. For $500, I expect a lot more than we received. And I don’t expect a non-functioning air conditioner. Since the choices in Death Valley are limited, pick your poison – it’s cheaper down at the Ranch or elsewhere within the park. But moderate your expectations if you stay at the Inn.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Oasis at Death, situated in a lush oasis surrounded by the vast and arid desert of Death Valley National Park, California is just 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada and 275 miles northeast of Los Angeles, California. This property hosts two hotels - the historic, 4-diamond, 66 room Inn at Death Valley and the more family oriented 224 room Ranch at Death Valley. The Inn at Death Valley offers guests elegant accommodations in the heart of Death Valley. This 4-diamond resort has operated for more than 86 years, and still pampers every guest. The Ranch at Death Valley has been welcoming guests since 1933 and offers a casual, family-like setting - the perfect complement to the classic elegance of the Inn at Death Valley. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Furnace Creek Inn And Ranch Hotel Death Valley National Park
- Furnace Creek Resort
- Furnace Creek Hotel
- Furnace Creek Ranch
- Furnace Creek Inn Death Valley