Every year, I head somewhere for my birthday. Or at least try to. It all started in 2009 when I was in Atlanta and working in PR. I took the first trip of my adult life — a two week excursion to Croatia — seven years after my first foray into solo travel, which netted me about one month of backpacking with a far-too-heavy backpack around Europe.
If you’ve been reading this site since its infancy, then you know Croatia was the catalyst for all things d travels ’round.
So, last year I went to Puerto Vallarta for two weeks to celebrate my birthday (and escape the scathing and polarizing election taking place in the US that had me recounting stories of my own sexual assault and harassment). When it came time to plan my birthday this year, I considered just sticking around Las Vegas. After all, I was there for my actual birthday last year … but knew I was kicking up my heels and going wheels up to Mexico soon after.
With no firm plans of travel in sight minus my upcoming winter European jaunt, I started to feel that mounting pressure to be somewhere. That, and none of my friends in the city were free my birthday weekend. Yeah, that kind of puts a damper on it, eh?
What’s a girl to do?
Book a bestie girlie weekend to Northern California, obviously.
Abby (you remember her if you’ve been reading awhile, too) and I decided to head to Carmel-by-the-Sea (that name though!), a gorgeous Dutch-infused town on the Pacific where towering pine trees and steep hills meet soft white sand and sparkling, foam-laden ocean. Armed with wine (of course), snacks for the road trip from Los Altos to Carmel, and a goal of finding vegan eats in town, we headed to our destination: Hofsas House.
Tucked off the main road in Carmel three blocks north of Ocean Ave and eight blocks east of Carmel Beach and before you hit the adorable downtown is Hofsas House. Family-owned, it features 38 rooms, laden with Dutch doors.
What are Dutch doors?
My new favorite thing. Basically, they are doors split in half, allowing you to open the top half to let in that fresh salt air and sunshine and keep the bottom half closed.
Seemingly stuck in a time warp of cozy (think plaid and some awesome eclectic art), reception is a tiny area complete with fireplace and a bowl of candy (hello, Nerds and Swedish Fish) to nosh while checking in.
Every room at Hofsas House is different. Ours featured a king bed, fireplace, two wing chairs and a kitchenette. The decor was a bit outdated and very princess-y (hello, satin-y bedspread), but none of that really matters to me. What I cared about was the peace I felt when I stepped foot inside.
I was transformed to a very un-Vegas world, and that’s exactly what I wanted.
Plus, the breathtaking view out our Dutch door of the Pacific was all I really needed.
The rooms are clean and well-maintained and there are fire-ready logs to burn in the fireplaces.
There is wi-fi throughout the property, however it was almost nonexistent in our room. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the fact that our stay happened to coincide with the deadliest shooting in modern US history in the place I call home, I wouldn’t have cared. But, trying to stay up-to-date on what was going on in real-time was reports came in wasn’t easy. Otherwise, I would have loved the fact that wi-fi was spotty; it means more time simply being girls and drinking wine and eating food because that’s what you do in Carmel.
Weather in Northern California isn’t always pool weather, but at Hofsas House, that’s ok. They have a heated pool (swoon). Other amenities include dry saunas, continental breakfast (not really vegan if you’re asking), free parking and view decks so even if you don’t have a room with an ocean view, you can still take in that gorgeous vista. The night of the shooting, I sat on that deck with a glass of wine in hand, contemplating how drastically life would change for the near future in Vegas. The ocean and its gentle surf crashing helped keep me calm while my heart raced.
While not in the heart of Carmel, it’s not far off. Hofsas House is near all the restaurants and shops without being on top of it. It’s a bit of a walk to Carmel beach, but it’s a gorgeous walk filled with quaint stores and galleries, restaurants offering farm-to-table eats and tasting rooms.
Carmel crawls up a hill, so be prepared for some hill-walking. It’s not too bad, and a glass of wine always makes it better.
The Bottom Line
What I loved most about Hofsas House is how unpretentious it was, and how cozy it was in its own skin. It wears its history well, and adds a sort of charm and comfort that isn’t found in older hotels. If you’re looking for friendly service, clean rooms, an ocean view and a quiet place to breathe in the beauty of Northern California, Hofsas House is an excellent spot to do just that.
Like it? Pin it!