By Leslie Dinaberg
Looking for a day away that hearkens back to simpler, quieter, more relaxing times? The quaint seaside village of Carmel-by-the-Sea is just the ticket. I could practically feel my blood pressure drop as we pulled into the charming, Bavarian-inspired Hofsas House.
Our first gracious greeting was from the painted smiles of traditional European costumed figures on Maxine Albro’s delightful pink mural, soon followed by equally friendly hellos from the Hofsas House staff.
The Theis Family has owned the hotel for more than 60 years, and hospitality is definitely in the bloodline.
Dogs are welcome, and a number of the suites are perfectly suited for traveling with children. Each room is individually decorated, giving this boutique hotel the homey feeling of vacationing at friend’s well-equipped beach house. Hofsas House even supplied us with a bundle of firewood, makings for s’more’s and blankets for the beach—perfect since Carmel-by-the-Sea is one of the only places still around these days that allows you to snuggle up with a bottle of wine and build fires on the beach!
Our room had a breathtaking ocean view, fireplace and a fully functional kitchenette. Of course, with so many delicious restaurants to choose from we had no need to cook. Try the Spanish-style tapas at nearby Mundaka Restaurant. Everything was delicious—not to mention fresh, local, organic, biodynamic, free-range, line-caught, sustainable, fair-trade and homemade from scratch—the meat dishes were our favorites, particularly the “Cordero” thin cut lamb T-bones with mojo verde sauce and the “Solomillo” grilled hanger steak with foie gras butter.
Pretty much everything is within convenient walking distance from Hofsas House, including the beach, with its views of Pebble Beach golf courses offering an interesting contrast to our Santa Barbara ocean/mountain views; lots of great restaurants (the historic Forge in the Forest has been voted “best outdoor dining” every year since 1992 and the Asian-fusion Flying Fish Grill is also top-notch); and loads of art galleries in a single square mile. The New Masters Gallery is definitely worth checking out. I’m still lusting over the vibrant poppies by Massimo Cruciani.
Architecture buffs will want to check out the charming beach cottages on Ocean Avenue en route to the beach and especially the side streets of Casanova and Carmelo Streets. Every home you pass seems to have a charming moniker—Thisisit, Thisisnt and Wit’s End were some of my favorites. Roses grow in abundance in this seaside community and the mix of salt air and rose scent never fails to bring a smile to my face (and nose!). I’d love to come back for the annual house and garden tour next June or the annual inns tour coming up on December 2.
With Big Sur and the Monterey Bay Aquarium just a short drive away, there is more than enough entertainment for the entire family. In fact, Hofsas House is offering special family reunion packages which include a terrific poolside meeting room for sharing memories, meals, games and more, as well as crafting packages for sewing, quilting or knitting retreats, and of course, a tail wagging package for you and your furry best friend.
For more information and special offers visit the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea at http://www.carmelcalifornia.com/.