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Walnut Creek Magazine

A Bit of History and Loads of Hospitality at Carmel's Hofsas House

May 02, 2017 08:44AM ● By Fran Miller

From quaint bed and breakfast inns to luxe resorts, the village of Carmel offers a multitude of hotel types to satisfy all visitors. One spot that aims - and succeeds - in pleasing all manner of guests is historic Hofsas House. Couples, families, and girlfriend groups for instance will all find the hospitality they seek at this historic, Bavarian inspired inn whose charm matches that of its locale. Located on the western edge of the village, Hofsas House is a cozy, convenient, and affordable home base for on-foot exploration of the area’s shops, galleries, wine tasting rooms, and restaurants. Should your wanderlust extend beyond the town’s one square mile, your Hofsas House hosts will provide activity suggestions, and warmly welcome you back after a long day of hiking, biking, or beach combing.

One of the first hotels in Carmel Village, Hofsas House has been family owned and operated for the past 70 years. Founded by Donna Hofsas, the hotel is now run by her granddaughter Carrie Theis, who as a youth spent her summers helping behind the front desk. Theis’ love for the property and for her guests is palpable, as is her love for the village, where she serves on the city council. (Ask her about former and current quirky town edicts, such as the now overturned ice cream ordinance and the no high-heels law, for which going rogue is not advised; the village’s cobblestone walkways and uneven pavement can create trip-ups with even the most sensible footwear.)   
Photo by Elite Event Photography

Featuring 38 rooms, each with unique décor and varying layouts, Hofsas House amenities are on par with those at trendier spots: fireplaces, private balconies, wet bars, kitchens, flat screen televisions, and free Wi-Fi. Above par are Hofsas House’s delightful Dutch doors that allow for ocean breezes, heated bathroom floors (in some rooms), free and ample off-street parking, and a heated pool. 4th floor rooms feature views of the ocean. A lovely continental breakfast is included in your stay. Served each morning in the lobby, choices include coffee, juice, yogurt, and delicious pastries from The Paris Bakery in nearby Monterey. Dine by the lobby fireplace, or take a tray back to your room.
Call ahead before your arrival and purchase additional offerings to further elevate your stay. Have waiting for you a bottle of Monterey wine and Lula’s Chocolates ($25), a bottle of wine and a cheese selection from the village’s iconic Cheese Shop ($30), or champagne and a cheese pairing with Hofsas House engraved flutes ($50). Arrange for your room to be decorated for a special occasion ($75), or schedule in-room massages. In celebration of its 70 years, Hofsas House is currently offering additional special packages such as “Third Night’s a Charm,” book 3 nights and the 3rd is 1/3 off. Take a guided history tour ($25/person) and receive Stories of Old Carmel, A Centennial Tribute. And if Fido needs a vacation too, bring him along and receive a doggie welcome package ($30 fee per night for one pup; $50 per night for two.)
In planning your stay, ask if Theis is in the house, and pick her brain. Any of the front desk staff can help you with an itinerary, but Theis knows the area like none other. Interested in hiking? She might recommend a visit to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, the crown jewel of the California State Park system. How about a picnic? Theis will direct you to nearby 5th Avenue Deli for gourmet sandwiches before sending you to one of several public beaches toward Big Sur. She can book you a game of golf at one of six different Hofsas House partner golf courses, sell you a two-day Monterey Bay Aquarium pass (for the price of one day), or provide you a map of the local wineries. Interested in local wines, but wish to remain local? Purchase at the hotel the Carmel Wine Walk-by-the-Sea Passport, a steal at $65. The passport includes tastings of up to four 1 oz. pours at your choice of nine of the village’s 14 tasting rooms.

Craig Riddell © 2017

Craig Riddell © 2017

Plan your meals by perusing the lobby’s basket of menus – every restaurant in town is represented. Consider skipping over to neighboring Monterey for an evening to check-out famed Cannery Row. Dine at The Whaling Station, (above and right) named Monterey County’s number one steak house for 45 years running. Featuring tuxedoed wait staff, classic cocktails, pastas, seafood, and every cut of beef imaginable, the old school vibe is irresistible.   

If the thought of all of this activity exhausts you, Hofsas House invites you to slow down, do nothing, and let Carmel’s ocean breezes and scent of cypress work their relaxing charms.

Hofsas House, San Carlos Street between Third and Fourth Avenues, Carmel-by-the-Sea

Tip: Whether you stay at Hofsas House or not, venture to the hotel’s front entrance for a glance at the original 1957 mural by Maxine Albro, a disciple of Diego Rivera. Albro is also known for her work at San Francisco’s Coit Tower where in 1934 she completed a 10 ft. x 42 ft. mural depicting California agricultural life. 
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