New to the scene in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Villa Mara Carmel is a 16-room Leading Hotels of the World property just steps from the beach. It feels like a private home, with a front porch and backyard firepit. While there is not a formal restaurant on site, pastries and quiche from local bakery Sweet Elena’s, delivered daily, are worth getting out of bed for. In the afternoon into the evening, the hotel also offers sandwiches, salads, cheese/charcuterie boards, and plenty of wine to enjoy in a cozy living room setting by the fire. Try to book an upstairs room for a stunning sunset view over the water or the private cottage with an outdoor bathtub.
If you’d prefer to stay in the heart of town, closer to shops and art galleries, book Relais & Châteaux’s European-style L’Auberge Carmel. It features a charming courtyard for breakfast and Forbes Travel Guide five-star restaurant Aubergine for dinner. You can arrange for an in-room massage or sunset sail through the hotel’s curated guest packages.
The downtown restaurant scene is also booming in this one-square-mile town—from fine dining at Foray to Chez Noir, where seafood paella, Spanish tortilla with salt cod, and oysters with peach pepper and passion fruit are must orders from chef Jonny Black, who hails from San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn and Quince. If you are planning a beach picnic, stop by Rise + Roam in Carmel Village for pastries or sandwiches and pick up a bottle of wine from one of 20 tasting rooms.
Cruise up Highway 1 through San Francisco, and Sausalito is just a 10-minute hop over the Golden Gate Bridge or a beautiful ferry ride away. Stay at the newly revamped The Inn Above Tide in one of 33 spacious rooms with large wooden decks, fireplaces, soaking tubs, and views of the city. The breakfast buffet features pastries and quiche from Starter Bakery in Berkeley, delivered daily, for the perfect start to a brisk morning walk, kayaking, or sailing.
The hotel recently announced a partnership with Deborah Keane, founder of the sustainable California Caviar Company—who supplies Petit Crenn, among others—and owner of the newly opened hidden gem, The Bump Bar. While you can sit at the bar for caviar service in bumps or a flight, this intimate 12-seat restaurant has à la carte and tasting menus by chef Mathieu Legendre that showcase seafood-centric dishes such as scallops and black bass topped with caviar and roe, along with exquisite champagne and wine pairings.
Look into booking the “Inn Above Tide & The Bump Bar” package that includes one night’s stay and a welcome amenity of a Mother of Pearl Palette and $100 gift certificate to purchase California Caviar Company caviar, along with a five-course meal and wine pairing exclusively for guests.