Corner of 4th & San Carlos Street, Carmel, CA
There’s something undeniably special about the California coastline, as you make your way towards Central California but not quite all the way north just yet. For me, it’s still close enough to home, but at the same time it feels like I’m transported lightyears away. It’s a quiet sort of loudness that is spoken by the crash of the waves just a few blocks away, the stars that seem to twinkle brighter than ever, and the reliable rainfall that calls for an early night in. That’s exactly what I think about when I visit Carmel-by-the-Sea, a little escapist town on the coast north of the famously fantastic Big Sur. This place sounded like the perfect city to start the first day of the new year in. My family and I, we just came out of a pretty crazy and busy holiday week, and we weren’t looking for a party or a town that would keep us up all night. No, were looking for some peace and quiet, and a whole lot of nature. A drive up the California coast was exactly what we were in pursuit of. And here at Hotel Carmel in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea, we found a gem of a spot to spend three delightfully slow days in. Hotel Carmel feels like home. Slightly bohemian in style, but with a minimalistic nature that suits everyone’s tastes I would assume. As soon as I walked into the front lobby, I was warmly greeted by a rustic brown leather couch covered with Southwestern style pillows. The wood of the decor was earthy and warm all around the innermost portion of the lobby. I felt like I was transported back in time to a place where the fireplace is always lit. The side of the lobby near the front windows was brighter and lighter, with shades of blue complementing white walls. It was a nod to the sea that was just a few blocks away I was pretty sure about that. Instantly, I felt like I could kick up my feet for however long that I pleased. Now that’s how a hotel should make one feel.
The rooms were spacious in just the right amount; simple yet modern feeling. My room had shuttered windows that allowed the morning light to stream in like a hazy dream. The bed was so warm and cozy that I forgot that it rained nearly the entire evening before. I always slept well to the sound to those drops. The rain, it’s a part of Carmel, and it’s the reason for its lush beauty. It’s the reason why Carmel is where one goes to find peace and comfort in the quieter things, like a good book on the deck outside of one’s room, a glass of red wine to be drunk long and slow (there’s complementary wine hour in the lobby every evening at 5:30pm), or a melodically paced walk down streets that seem to wind in circles but that bring you to surprises at every corner (like a jaw-dropping Spanish-tiled staircase or one of the most authentic bowls of pasta one could ever try outside of Italy). Really, Carmel-by-the-Sea is completely walkable, and we only used our car to drive farther south along the coast to Big Sur. It made it one of the most convenient and effortless of trips.
The friendliest of staff is always there to greet you. In the morning, a well-rounded continental breakfast awaits in the lobby for all guests before they start their morning adventures exploring Carmel and its neighboring cities. Hiking, swimming at the beach, going for a run, taking the dogs for a walk, getting inspired by the panoramic views along the coast. There’s so much to do and see. I think Carmel and its neighboring Big Sur are sure to bring out the photographer in every person. The simplicity of nature and its beauty is really what these places are all about. Below the lobby is a bar with good food owned by the hotel called Brophy’s Tavern. It’s a favorite of locals in the area!
One of my favorite parts of our stay at Hotel Carmel was the outdoor patio and fire pit, along with the intimate hot tub. It’s this hot tub and fire pit that we started conversations with tourists from all over the world, each having unique stories on what brought them to Carmel. Couples. Families. The lone traveler. As someone born and bred in California, I have always known of Carmel, but never really gave it a good chance because I always put other, more exotic places higher up on my t0-see list. I road tripped along the coast a few times, but always passed by Carmel! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate more what is closer to home. What’s literally in my own backyard (or at least a 5 hour drive north of where I was born). I’m glad that I decided to explore more of what is more accessible within California during this trip home for the holidays. There is such an expansive array of landscapes and paces of life within this wonderful state, I can understand now why tourists come from all over the world to Carmel to see what all the mystery is about. Just about everyone we met at the hotel was on there way to or from San Francisco, and made sure that Carmel was the place to stop by on the way. That speaks loads. It looks like everyone is looking for a peaceful retreat on their international travels more often nowadays. And Big Sur, which I mentioned before. To rest ones eyes on the cliffs and rocks and green and sea in the way that it is meld together as it is in Big Sur, is to really understand what the meaning of what the word “meditative” is. The views easily calm as much as they excite the imagination. It’s a balance that is so unique to this part of the California coast.
Our stay at Hotel Carmel was magical to say the least. I left well-rested and recharged. Exactly what a new year should have us feeling like. Looking forward. Not dragging on what’s behind. I hope to be back very, very soon!! Thank you Hotel Carmel for our stay 🙂