Planning a romantic road trip getaway up/down the most breathtakingly beautiful stretch of coastline in the world? Well, judging from the quarrelsome gleam in your significant other's eye, maybe you should be. And since I'm always here to help, here a few of the area's most luxurious, relaxing and unique lodging choices.
Clint Eastwood himself bought and remodeled this doomed 22-acre property from condo developers, turning it into a blissful one-stop retreat you really have no need to leave unless you want to. You can't walk to downtown Carmel (I mean, technically you can, but it would be a trek), but the central location to both Carmel and Big Sur, the staggering views, the onsite amenities, and the resident sheep make it well worth being a few miles from the "action" (if you can even characterize always-sleepy Carmel as actually having any of that). Be sure to take a walk around the Carmel Mission, just down the road.
It's understandable that you might not have the budgetary wherewithal to actually sleep at this stunningly scenic Big Sur retreat, but by all means temporarily live the high life with a view-blessed lunch at the onsite restaurant or a glass of champagne in the glass-walled lobby bar.
B&B lovers, prepare to swoon in a big way--this sunshine-hued oceanfront Victorian is everything a bed and breakfast ought to be. Gorgeously outfitted rooms, immaculately- landscaped grounds, a prime location mere steps from the Pacific Ocean and walking distance into the downtown of charming Pacific Grove...it's understandable if your travel companion has to pry your fingers off the banister and forcibly put you into the car on your checkout date.
Once upon a time, when I was a kindergarten teacher, I'd carefully bookmark the Asilomar Reading Conference weekend the minute it was announced, because not only did we get to spend days browsing all the latest in good literature, but we got to stay at this elegantly-rustic historic oceanfront lodge, with its Julia Morgan-designed buildings and windswept serenity (enhanced by a lack of electronics in the room). With this kind of scenery, who could really blame us for missing a seminar here and there for beach walks?
If you can't make it to the Westminster Dog Show, just sit outside this landmark Carmel hotel instead. Co-owner and fierce animal advocate, actress Doris Day, has made sure the property is accommodating in every way for well-heeled four-legged friends (you can bring up to three), which trot in and out of the stately front doors all day and night long. There's even a daily "Yappy Hour" from 4-6 in the hotel's darling Terry's bar.
This unspeakably gorgeous five star property in the midst of peaceful Carmel Valley is popular with well-heeled brides, and after a turn around the vineyard-stitched grounds, you'll understand why. Rooms are luxurious and comfortable, and the highly-rated on-site restaurant, Marinus, is always a memorable meal. Save up your allowances (hopefully they're big) and splurge at the spa!
It's all peace, love, and organic gardens at this spectacularly scenic cliff-hugging Big Sur retreat, famous for its mind and body-restoring workshops and hot springs. Clothing is optional so prepare yourself accordingly.
Walking through the narrow arched passageway that leads into this five-star charmer's European-style courtyard, you'll feel like you're in the French countryside, and that's before you've even gotten to your opulent room. The plush on-site restaurant, Aubergine, delivers a decadent and visually-arresting meal.
This beautiful historic Carmel hotel (the first built in the town) couldn't be more centrally located, right along popular Ocean Avenue, steps from the city's myriad of cozy eateries, boutiques and galleries. There's a stylish Il Fornaio restaurant on site, free internet and parking (limited), and it's but a few blocks to the main Carmel beach.
This extremely well located former Mediterranean-style estate-turned-hotel is so seamlessly embedded into residential Carmel-By-The-Sea that when you go for a stroll among the surrounding cottages, you might have trouble finding the hotel again. The grounds are a gardener's dream, the proximity to the beach is unparalleled, and it's just a quick walk up to downtown restaurants. Get a garden room and enjoy a bottle of local wine on your patio each night while you watch the sun set over the cypress trees.