California Bed and Breakfast Gems along the Winding Monterey Coast
Half a day’s drive north of Los Angeles and just four hours south of San Francisco, set along the rugged central California coast, lies the area immortalized in John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row.” While today’s Cannery Row is decidedly a different one from the days when people toiled long hours packing fish, there is something surreal about his place.
Jagged coastline, forested hills and quaint, timeless villages are surrounded by old Victorian bed and breakfast Inns, Spanish-style haciendas, million-dollar estates and a collection of quirky, California cottages. For years, the Carmel Valley has been a welcoming place for the rich and famous, eager to escape to Hollywood or the corporate world.
Today, the towns of Carmel, Monterey and Pacific Grove welcome hundreds of thousands of travelers each year, many opting for the multitude of charming, memorable bed and breakfast inns that line the coast. Golfers, shoppers, artists, Epicureans and naturalists alike should have no trouble filling a long weekend. Here are just a few of the area’s B&Bs and country inns:
Built as a family retreat, Happy Landing Inn is an early Comstockdesign inn that has evolved into one of Carmel’s most romantic places to stay. The Hansel-and-Gretel look is accentuated with a central garden and gazebo. There are cathedral ceilings and the rooms are filled with antiques. Breakfast is brought to your room.
The Carmel Stonehouse Inn is a quaint Carmel country house that boasts a stone exterior, made from beach rocks collected and hand-shaped by local Indians at the turn of the century. The original owner, “Nana” Foster, was hostess to notable artistes and writers from the San Francisco area, including Sinclair Lewis, Jack London and Lotta Crabtree. The romantic Jack London Room features a dramatic gabled ceiling, a brass bed and stunning view of the ocean. Conveniently located, the inn is a short walk from Carmel Beach and two blocks from the village.
The Jabberwock Inn is set in a half-acre of gardens, this Victorian inn provides a fabulous view of Monterey Bay and its famous barking seals. When you’re ready to settle in for the evening, you’ll find huge Victorian beds complete with lace-edged sheets and goose-down comforters. Early evening hors d’oeuvres and aperitifs are served in an enclosed veranda. After dinner, guests are tucked into bed with milk and cookies.
Imagine the picturesque and romantic setting of Seven Gables Inn with waves crashing along the rocky shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. Sea otters and whales are viewed regularly from this elegant inn. Sunsets accent the surrounding mountains. The natural beauty is complemented by an eclectic selection of comfortable accommodations and furnishings in a cluster of seven historic buildings. Savor a bountiful breakfast and gather for afternoon wine and cheese. Munch on homemade cookies served with milk in the evening. Outstanding service and hospitality make this inn an especially delightful retreat.
The Gosby House Inn was built as an upscale Victorian inn for those visiting an old Methodist retreat, this sunny yellow mansion features an abundance of gables, turrets and bays. During renovation, the innkeeper slept in all rooms to determine just what antiques were needed and how the beds should be situated. Gosby House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Martine Inn is a turn-of-the-century oceanfront manor sits atop a jagged cliff overlooking the coastline of Monterey Bay, just steps away from the water’s edge. Bedrooms are furnished with antiques, and each room contains a fresh rose. Thirteen rooms also boast fireplaces. Some of the museum-quality antiques were exhibited in the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Other bedroom sets include furniture that belong to Edith Head, and there is an 1860 Chippendale Revival four-poster bed with a canopy and side curtains. Innkeeper Don Martine has a collection of vintage MGs, six on display for guests. Twilight wine and hors d’oeuvres are served, and chocolates accompany evening turndown service. The inn is a beautiful spot for romantic getaways and weddings.
Green Gables Inn is a half-timbered Queen Anne Victorian that appears as a fantasy of gables overlooking spectacular Monterey Bay. The parlor has stained-glass panels framing the fireplace and bay windows looking out to the sea. Most of the guest rooms have panoramic views of the ocean, fireplaces, gleaming woodwork, soft quilts and teddy bears, and four rooms have spa tubs. Across the street is the Monterey Bay paved oceanfront cycling path. (Mountain bikes may be borrowed from the inn.)