El Capitan Hotel Merced California: Bottom Line Review


Last week, I tagged along with my wife to Merced where she had been invited to deliver a talk at the University of California Merced.  We spent three nights at Hyatt’s El Capitan Hotel before driving to Yosemite National Park to see the El Capitan summit from whence the hotel presumably got its name.  During our stay at the hotel, we used the stairs now and then and so we can now legitimately say that we climbed El Capitan.

El Capitan Hotel Bottom Line Review

El Capitan is a terrific mid-tier hotel.  We found the staff to be friendly and attentive; the room was comfortable and beautifully decorated; and elite recognition was very good.  The hotel’s owners appear to be on a mission to revitalize Merced’s downtown.  This small hotel boasts three eating venues on site and another movie-theater themed restaurant (Mainzer) a few doors away.  We ate at two of the four venues and the food was very good.

The only real downside to the hotel is that the town of Merced doesn’t seem like much of a destination except for those visiting friends or the University.  Merced bills itself as “the Gateway to Yosemite,” but it’s still about a two hour drive away.  That’s a pretty remote gateway.

  • Points Price: Category 3, 9,000-15,000 points per night.  Bookable using a Category 1-4 Certificate from the Chase Hyatt Card.
  • Cash Price: Rooms seem to usually start at around $150 per night.
  • Points Value: Poor to good.  When cash rates are very low, you’ll usually be better off paying cash.
  • Resort/Destination Fee: None
  • Parking: Free covered parking is available next door to the hotel
  • Turndown service: None.
  • Housekeeping: Everyday.
  • Internet: Excellent.  I had no visible latency throughout multiple Zoom meetings.
  • Dining:
    • Native Son: Serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  This place looks like a regular coffee shop but has full meals available and a full bar.
    • Mainzer: Serves lunch and dinner.  This is a fun movie-theater themed restaurant that offers live entertainment, a full bar, and outside seating.
    • Rainbird: Serves dinner on weekends and brunch on Sunday.  We didn’t get to try this one during our stay.
    • EC: Serves cocktails and shareable bites Wednesday – Saturday 4pm – 9pm in El Capitan’s outdoor courtyard.
  • Spa: None.
  • Fitness Room: Looks decent.  I didn’t try it.
  • Hyatt Globalist Elite Benefits: 
    • Welcome Gift: At check-in we were given a bag with wine, pistachios, dried pears, a tin of mints, and hand sanitizer.
    • Suite Upgrade: We were proactively upgraded to a junior suite.
    • Club Lounge: None.
    • Free Breakfast: Served at Native Son.  Globalists get $20 off daily per person for up to 2 adults and 2 kids.  I know that this limit is enforced because we went over $40 one day and were charged the difference.
    • 4PM Late Checkout: Granted upon request.
    • Free Parking: Parking is free anyway.  We could have used their valet parking for free, but I prefer to have easy access to the car when self parking is available.
  • Would I stay again?  If we’re ever in Merced again, then definitely. We enjoyed our stay very much.  I wouldn’t visit Merced just to go to this hotel though.

Photos and Captions Follow

Me and the hotel as viewed from the sidewalk
The hotel offers attractive common areas
We were upgraded to this junior suite on the top (4th) floor.  We found the room to be comfortable and attractively decorated
Another view of our room
Closet rack is open to the room
The bathroom was small but functional
Hotel courtyard as viewed from our room
Fitness room
This was a great feature found in the fitness room. The hotel provides glass bottles that can be used (and reused) during your stay. Filtered water is available just below the bottles (not shown)
Native Son restaurant.  This is where we got breakfast each day.  I also had lunch here a couple of times.  Both breakfast and lunch were very good.
Native Son breakfast menu
Breakfast Burrito at Native Son
Lunch at at Native Son.  Steak sandwich with side salad instead of chips for lunch.
El Capitan is part of the jdv by Hyatt brand
5 3 votes
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Merced amtrak station onto the YARTS bus is the extent of Merced that I’ve ever seen. Not much out there but not the worst place to wait for a bus to Yosemite. At least it ain’t Stockton lol


Agreed. Not much of a reason to visit Merced unless you have a student attending UC Merced (a 15 minute drive)… This is the nicest hotel in town. A few nice restaurants are within walking distance of the hotel.

J McMillen

The fact that the Merced river flows 370 with the Merced Falls is probably why they clean it Merced means Mercy in Spanish

J McMillen

Through yosemite not 370 voice to text Typo. Grew up there.


Thanks for the review. We will be staying in Merced 1 nite in September for class reunion.


That’s the San Joaquin Valley for you. Every town along the 99 from Modesto to Tulare has some allusion to Yosemite. You glom on to what you can I suppose.

Best case of this is probably the “Fresno Yosemite International Airport,” renamed as such in the late 90’s and with sequoias in the bag claim. Meanwhile their previous name – “Fresno Air Terminal” – stuck them with the unfortunate IATA code of FAT.

J McMillen

At least merceds code is MMA Merced Municipal Airport much better sounding than FAT was.