Hofsas House Hotel Review – Celebrating Carmel-by-the-Sea, California at 100

We, my husband and I really didn’t want to leave Carmel-by-the Sea, and Hofsas House Hotel.  After two days that had been magical, and allowed my husband and me the chance to rest, relax and renew, leaving, though necessary, was hard to do.

 

A Great Place

During our visit we had the chance to meet with Carrie Theis, the granddaughter of Donna Hofsas, who founded Hofsas House Hotel, a family-run boutique inn that has graced Carmel-by-the-Sea for the past six decades.  From Donna, ownership passed to her only son, Jack to his wife, Doris, and ultimately to Carrie and Scott, Jack and Doris’s children. Carrie had always been very close to her grandmother and from the age of 8, she (Carrie) was greeting guests and continues to do so today, greeting guests from all over the world.  Shared some Carmel tidbits, she noted that Clint Eastwood became mayor primarily so he could do building that was not permitted previously, Doris Day was influential in making the city pet friendly, and because the streets are pretty uneven (due to tree roots), the city will only be liable for people wearing heels that are no higher than two inches.

  

Scott and Carrie

Hofsas House Hotel  has some very unique features.  In a city that will not allow buildings to be more than two stories above ground, we were surprised when we walked into the office to check in on the street level and were told by Marion, who greeted us, that we were on the third floor and then she lead us up one flight to our room on the fourth floor where we had a wonderful view.  The first and second floors are down the hill as is the pool and conference room.

 

A comfy bed

 

 

Ready for a quarterly sewing workshop in the Hofsas House Hotel Conference Center

Each room is unique.  I loved the heated bathroom floor and the well-equipped kitchen.  At the time that Donna built the hotel, she had a good friend who lived in Carmel, Maxine Albro who studied with Diego Rivera and painted murals in San Francisco by his side.  Her charming murals and paintings are a cheery and are a  welcoming addition to Hofsas House Hotel lobby and exterior.  I enjoyed entering the lobby for breakfast, and meeting visitors from other parts of the world that included Argentina and Russia.

  

From our balcony, a lovely view

 

My husband and I have lived in the Chicago area for most of our married lives but we met and married when both of us lived in Los Angeles.  We honeymooned many, many years ago in Big Sur and would get up each morning and drive through the mountains, through the fog to reach Carmel.  It was August and very crowded, and it felt as though Carmel-by-the Sea had been there forever, quaint and charming, unique.  August is the busiest time here and parking, even then was a problem.  We have since visited many times but this was the first time that we stayed in town and this stay was during Carmel’s 100th birthday.

  

De Tierra, lovely wines to taste, photo - Leon Keer

 

 

5th Avenue Deli, more delicious choices than we could imagine

 

In March, parking was no problem, the shops beckoned, and we walked everywhere. Wine tasting is everywhere and often it is possible to chat with the wine maker. We enjoyed a wine tasting at De Tierra  . The Cheese Shop a couple blocks away has fantastic cheeses to sample and purchase. There are many and varied restaurants from which to choose. One night we enjoyed some of the best salads we have ever had at Grasings. For lunch the next day, we bought take out food at the 5th Street Deli we intended for a picnic at the beach, but it rained and we picnicked in our room and enjoyed the well equipped kitchen.

  

Beach at Carmel

 

So much to see at the beach in Carmel

 

Beach at Carmel, walking away from the water

 

I had a problem with my camera and the camera shop came to my rescue.  “Bittner Pens & Paper” beckoned to us and, inside, we were fascinated by a kind of museum.  The white sand beach down the hill is world famous for its beauty.  It took our breath away.  And, a ten-minute drive along Highway 1 brought us to Monterrey.  Hofsas House Hotel partners with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is a bonus for families who can stay in some of the larger rooms and take advantage of a two-day pass for the price of one.  My husband and I visited Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner at Big Fish Grill which sits in the bay with a great view and very nice food.

  

Big Fish Grill-a lovely view and great food

 

Petrale sole filled with lobster

 

Dessert Choices at Big Fish, photo-Leon Keer

 

From the pier at Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey-Photo: Leon Keer

 

 

This year being the 100th birthday of Carmel-by-the-Sea, material about things to do, and Carmel history abound.  The National Steinbeck Center in Salinas is a twenty-minute drive from Carmel. This was interesting to us both because, growing up in California, my husband and I had read many of John Steinbeck’s books and it was located right on the way back to Menlo Park where we were heading.

  

National Steinbeck Center

 

The drive to Salinas was interesting through the agricultural area for which Salinas is known – it is “the salad bowl of the world”.  The town is interesting and in stark contrast to Carmel.  We learned from Eric Mora, Marketing & Membership Coordinator, National Steinbeck Center, that Salinas is a very young community with residents that are an average age of 26.

  

Eric, our guide

Recently, the California State University at Monterey has partnered with the museum and offer programs focused on improving literacy and offering writing opportunities for school age children.  The National Steinbeck Center offers two films about Steinbeck and Salinas as an introduction and the exhibits that follow are wonderfully displayed, intriguing and instructive.  There is a bookshop filled some unique items.

  

Steinbeck van for Travels with Charlie

And then Eric mentioned the John Steinbeck House two blocks away.  To my husband and me, this was a hidden treasure.  It was a lovely step back in time with very nice food and charming ladies running it.  There was also a gift shop adjoining it.  This stop was well worth our time, enriching and extending our two days away.

  

Margie Nicklaus, our server

 

Lunch at the Steinbeck House

Steinbeck House

And now, far away, back in the Chicago area, we think of the lovely time we had in Carmel-by-the-Sea and are so pleased we had the time at Hofsas House Hotel.  So, all of you out there, near and far, go celebrate Carmel-by-the-Sea at 100.

  

The charm of Carmel-by-the-Sea

Photos: B.Keer unless otherwise noted.

 

 

 

 

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