Bavarian charm and ideal locale create the perfect Carmel getaway
You wouldn’t know it from looking at it from street level, but Hofsas House Hotel in Carmel happens to have one of the most striking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and portions of Carmel Beach than any other vacation portal in all of Carmel.
That’s just one of the many things about Hofsas that stand out. The other notables revolve around the hotel’s history—family-owned and prospering now for 60 years—and its Bavarian-inspired theme. (It really is like stepping into a European fairy tale.
Those things may make Hofsas House Hotel a major contender for an idyllic staycation spot for Santa Cruzans, but there really is something to be said about a successful family-owned property that values customer service. Owner/manager Carrie Theis grabbed the family business baton from family members before her and ran with it. Not only has she managed keep up the charm and spirit of this place, but to also help it thrive more in the 21st Century.
Beyond an impressive array of Internet booking specials, there have been notable upgrades to the property. A year-round heated pool—a rarity among most Carmel vacation spots—and heated saunas are a nice touch, but many of the spacious rooms themselves are fancifully decorated as if your mother or grandmother had laid their hands on then—most of them come with brick or stove fireplaces and kitchenettes. (A good spot for the family or a romantic getaway.) The hotel was built into a hill, hence the stunning view. Hofsas is also pet-friendly and, perhaps best of all, within walking distance from Downtown Carmel.
A recent weekend excursion here proved fruitful. Take note of six things worthy of your attention at and around this property.
1. Old-world Charm
If you can recall summer vacations with family members back in the day, when the day found you and yours heading to say, a cabin near the lake, you get that kind of cozy, down-home vibe here, but with a tad more perks. Be sure to indulge in the morning breakfast offerings as well as mid-afternoon notables in the lobby. It’s a great spot to meet other travelers and talk with the hotel staff.
2. Pilgrim’s Way Bookstore
Literally, just around the corner from Hofsas—Between 5th & 6th in Downtown Carmel—it remains the local go-to spot for both spiritual and contemporary books, and other publications. It offers a nice variety of gifts, too, and most days, you can find an intuitive reader on hand.
3. Kush Day Spa
Ask for one of the owners, John Jertberg. Trust me. Hands down, one of the best massage practitioners on the Central Coast. Beyond massage, facials, body treatments and other spa packages are offered. (Within walking distance of Hofsas.)
4. Little Napoli
Locals still dig it. Travelers continue to flock to it. Rich Pèpe gave birth to Little Napoli in 1990 and it is now considered iconic. Best of all: Some of the best service and Italian meals to be had here. Check out Vino Napoli, the roomy and diverse wine bar, right next door. For dinner, I recommend the Cannelloni Tricolore (Chicken, veggie & ricotta cannelloni with three sauces: marinara, alfredo & pesto) or “Hobo Stew” (braised peppery short ribs, potatoes, carrots, onions and veggies, with fresh potato gnocchi).
5. Wine Walk Passport
Those who might think of Carmel as still being just for the 55+ crowd, think again. The town actually boasts a lively social scene during the evening hours and much of that was sparked after a variety of wine bars opened over the last few years. You can nab a Wine Tasting Passport for $65—it entitles you to a $10 flight at each of the 10 tasting rooms (not bad, considering it’s a $100 value). There is no time expiration. Visit the Carmel Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center on San Carlos between 5th & 6th or inquire at the Hofsas House front desk.
Behold Mundaka. Frankly, it's one of the hippest culinary hotspots to hit Carmel in years. Specializing in Spanish-style tapas and--what's this?-- a DJ on hand during the later hours, it stands out for being both bold and diverse. (A DJ in Camel? It's true.) Much of the kudos can go to chef Brandon Miller, whose verve and creativity here are just a hoot. There's too many notables to list but whatever you do, savor these three: 1. Bravas (fried potatoes); 2. Pato (duck leg confit, bacon leek puree); 3. Bomba (house made sausage, mashed potatoes, mojo rojo). A feast on so many levels.
7. Carmelite Monastary
Most visitors flock to The Carmel Mission, but I encourage people to check out this unique haven just down the road on Highway 1. It is home to the order of nuns dubbed Sisters by the Sea. Built in 1931, it is actually one of the first Carmelite monasteries to spring up on the coast. Point Lobos is nearby. Fun fact: the nuns maintained the grounds and interior—be sure to relish the colorful flowers, nice array of lemon trees and the benches on hand for relaxation or meditation.
Stay tuned for more Carmel getaways.
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