Last week we made the 3 hour drive from San Francisco to Carmel-by-the-sea along California’s Highway 1. Carmel has held a special place in my family’s heart for generations: my grandmother lived in Carmel during high school, and my parents relaxed there on their honeymoon. The 1 square mile seaside hamlet is full of small town charm, including the slightly baffling way of using a business’s cross streets as their address. So, as we pulled into town we headed towards “4th and San Carlos” the address of the newly renovated Hotel Carmel, formerly the Dolphin Inn, which returned to it’s original name after reopening it’s doors to guests in April.
I first found Hotel Carmel on Instagram and instantly loved their fresh approach to Carmel’s cottage style architecture. Thinking I had uncovered a hidden gem, I researched further only to discover the likes of CNTraveler and Architectural Digest were already celebrating this new alternative to Carmel’s traditional B&Bs. Their boutique, small-hotel feel was the perfect way for us to experience Carmel while also enjoying the elegance and level of service of a luxury resort. The property feels like you’re staying at a fashionable friend’s seaside cottage – a charming mix of coastal and mid-century modern decor. I especially loved the photographs of neighboring Big Sur in the prettiest burl wood frames (which got me thinking about turning some of my images from the trip into wall art…), the preponderance of kilim pillows and the basket wall in their cozy breakfast nook – where they host an excellent continental breakfast and nightly happy hour. The garden courtyard’s firepit and hot tub proved the perfect place to enjoy both our morning coffee and unwind after a day of exploring with a glass of wine.
Ocean Avenue and the center of town are only a few blocks away and we spent an afternoon wandering through the small side streets, peeking between buildings to discover little shops, art galleries, and open air cafes. A few favorites include: The Cottage of Sweets for imported candies and salt water taffy, The Hat Shop for one of a kind vintage hats, and Jean de Luz for gorgeous French linens that can be monogrammed while you wait.
On our last day we fueled up at Brophy’s Tavern before heading home. Brophy’s has long been a favorite watering hole for Carmel locals and we loved how they “wallpapered” the space with thousands of vintage beer cans during their recent renovation. I’m a sucker for soft pretzels but the short rib fries were the real standout from the menu.
We’re already planning to return to Carmel with friends to check out Refuge Spa (I’ve heard such amazing things!) and spend some time at the Pebble Beach Driving Range. See you soon Hotel Carmel!
Thank you to Hotel Carmel for partnering on this post.