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Built in 1905, the El Tovar Hotel at the Grand Canyon in Arizona helped begin the tradition of rustic but elegant lodging in the national parks. The hotel was designed by Charles Whittlessey for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway, who was the first company to send trains filled with tourists to the canyon.
Today, the El Tovar serves the resort tourist market with a fine dining room, lounge, upscale guest rooms and impeccable service. Some of the notable architecture includes the whimsical balustrades, which resemble architecture more Swiss-chalet than rustic southwestern, and the great stone fireplace in the lobby.
The hotel is located only 20 feet from the canyon rim, with excellent canyon views from a few tables in the dining room. When you make reservations ask for seating in the Canyon room, a two-tiered private dining room off the main room that features wide, panoramic canyon views through large plate-glass windows.