Being the Publisher of a luxury travel website is a wonderful thing. You get to experience the finest resorts in the world. You get spoiled. This isn't necessarily the best way to learn about a destination and experience the local culture. I'm embarrassed to admit that I've used the cliché, "I only stay at the best hotels." Silly.
Off the beaten track experiences add depth to a travel painting filled with texture and color. Brush aside your preconceived travel expectations. Let go. Create an authentic travel "study" of your own. You'll be glad you did!
We recently had the opportunity to visit the quaint little town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. It encompasses about a square mile on Carmel Bay. Back in the day, before Clint Eastwood was the Mayor, you'd think that Walt Disney was one of the founding fathers responsible for the building codes. Carmel by-the-Sea looks like Walt's vision of an 18th century English village that meets Hansel and Gretel. It's storybook charming.
Accommodations When it comes to accommodations in Carmel by-the-Sea, it's a family affair. There are forty-five cozy inns to choose from and virtually no luxury hotel brand options. If you're not into experiencing the local color, then stay at the Pebble Beach Lodge just up the road. However, you'd be missing out on a great authentic experience. You'll save a fistfull of dinero too, which can be better spent at Clint Eastwood's Mission Ranch sipping your favorite libation watching the sunset. Then head over to Mundaka Restaurant on San Carlos Street for some amazing tapas and live music. You'll be way ahead of the game!
Hofsas House • Carmel-by-the-Sea
It all starts when you check in at the Hofsas House. This quaint property is centrally located on San Carlos Street, north of Fourth Avenue. From here, you can walk to everything in town.
This family operated hotel has been in the same loving hands for three generations. It's this history and DNA that make the place shine! If you're seeking an authentic lodging experience, it awaits you here. The genuine hospitality and going that extra mile makes guests feel at home. Carrie Theis is the granddaughter of the founder Donna Hofsas. Carrie now runs and operates the hotel. She is all about customer service and goes beyond the call of duty--she helped me gain access to Clint Eastwood's gym so I could work out! It's obvious that she loves her job and takes pride in the family business. Her joyfulness will enable you to prime your brush and begin your "study" on Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Hofsas House • King Room
Hofsas House The property has thirty eight oversized rooms; each with a different floor plan and most have peaking views of the Pacific Ocean. They come equipped with private balconies, wet bars, and kitchens. My favorite touches were the wood stove fireplaces, heated bathroom floors and the Dutch doors. The WiFi is complimentary and works well. It's best to request a room that's centrally located in order to get the best reception. Leave your car in the Inn's parking lot for free. (This is a big bonus since parking is always hard to find in town.)
Rooms range from $139 November through January and $139 - $200 February through October. You can always negotiate a walk-in rate and promotional discounts are honored for AAA and AARP memberships. Dogs are welcome!
P.O. Box 1195
4th & San Carlos
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921
Carmel Beach One of the cool things to do is to make a fire on the beach just before sunset. Carrie at the Hofsas House will hook you up with a complimentary beach fire kit, which comes complete with a bottle of Carmel Vineyard wine and a S'mores marshmallow package. We highly recommend taking advantage of this as you'll find that some of the locals will come by and chat with you. You'll make some new friends and feel right at home.
The beach is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. There is a no leash law for dogs and fires are permitted on the beach south of 10th Avenue. You can also plan ahead and join the locals on the fourth Saturday of each month to help cleanup the beach.
Me Doing the S'mores Marshmallow Thing
Getting There Carmel-by-the-Sea is a two hour drive from San Francisco on Highway 101 South. If you'd like to fly, the Monterey Peninsula Airport is a short drive from downtown Carmel-by-the Sea. The airport has direct flights from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix and Las Vegas. Rental cars are available at the airport concession. If you're driving, please be aware that there is a two hour in-town parking limit. If you happen to park in a green curb zone you'll be safe for only 20 minutes! It's a $45 fine. Yikes.
Notre-Dame Towers The climb starts with 255 steps up the North Tower. Then cross over to the Galerie des Chimeres, which will give you a bird’s eye view of the amazing carved stone monsters. Kids love this! It’s another 147 steps to the Bourdon, which is a giant bell located on the roof. You'll have a spectacular panoramic view. This is the home of Victor Hugo's famous character "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame".