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Walnut Creek Magazine

La Playa Carmel is a Charming Classic

Aug 07, 2017 09:03AM ● By Fran Miller


Of all of the hotel choices in this quaint hamlet by the sea, only one is known as the Grand Dame of Carmel. For more than 110 years, La Playa Carmel has served as the destination of choice for artists, writers, and bon vivants. Once a luxurious mansion built in 1905 by an artist as a gift to his wife, the newly restored, 75-room historic hotel is located just steps from Carmel’s beaches, boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and wine tasting rooms, and just a few miles from up-and-coming Carmel Valley Village. Located in one of Northern California’s most prestigious neighborhoods, this landmark resort continues to serve as a cornerstone of Carmel hospitality.

Designed in 1902 by Christian Jorgensen for his wife Angela Ghirardelli, La Playa’s original concept was inspired by the Carmel Mission. Stained glass, shell ceiling light fixtures, Carmel stone, and heavy, sand-hued beams are design stand-outs. Cozy gathering spots are found around every corner. Relax in the beautifully tended gardens. Read the latest best-seller on an intimate patio; enjoy an al fresco nibble in a secluded courtyard; relax in the sun by the swimming pool; gather in the library for complimentary afternoon tea and lemonade. A classic Carmel aesthetic, complete with traditional wicker furnishings, abounds.

A La Playa Carmel stay is studded with little extras that begin the moment you enter. Start your stay with a complimentary glass of sangria at check-in. Enjoy evening wine tasting in the lobby, when a Monterey County red and white are poured. And don’t miss the nightly offering of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, made with Ghirardelli chocolate chips, a nod to the hotel’s origins. Finally, you’ll find a Ghirardelli chocolate on your pillow each evening, a treat provided during turn down service. In the morning, enjoy a bountiful breakfast buffet featuring made-to-order omelets, waffles, frittata, bread pudding, yogurts, cheeses, granola, fruits, pastries, and bottomless mimosas. It’s a gorgeous display, and nearly alone worthy of a La Playa stay.

La Playa features several room choices: Upper floor Premium Ocean View, Ocean View, Garden Patio overlooking lush gardens, Traditional with views of the gardens and courtyard, oversized Poolside Casita with fireplace, and Village room. All feature thick plantation shutters, pillow-top beds with luxe linens, plush robes, mini bars, and flat screen televisions. And though each offers all the comforts one requires, it’s La Playa’s common areas that beckon. Enjoy your evening wine by the lobby’s forever-lit fireplace. Read any number of complimentary newspapers in the library, with views of the pool and terrace. And the hotel’s wood-paneled bar, with its Frank Sinatra soundtrack, is the locals’ favorite spot for a martini or Manhattan. 

Though La Playa provides enough comforts to make an off property venture completely unnecessary, you’ll want to explore. Located just a few blocks from both the beach and the village center, La Playa is a great home base for on-foot discovery. Should your wanderlust extend beyond enchanting Carmel village, La Playa Carmel staff has recommendations: Visit Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, the crown jewel of the California State Park system, just three miles away. Tour the area’s many wineries. Travel along 17-Mile Drive for a peek at intriguing mansions. Plan a golf game at the one of the area’s iconic courses. Or, simply relax, and let La Playa Carmel work its classic charm.

La Playa Carmel: Camino Real & 8th Ave: Carmel-By-The-Sea