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Concierge.com

Big Sur + Monterey Hotels

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Bernardus Lodge
415 Carmel Valley Road
Carmel Valley , California
Tel: 831 658 3400
Tel: 888 648 9463
Fax: 831 659 3529
www.bernardus.com

Gourmands and oenophiles tend to choose this place, an extension of the eponymous winery. Here, it's all about the grape: Each of the 57 rooms has a "wine grotto," with several complimentary bottles, and the first order of business at check-in is wine tasting, not credit-card swiping. The rooms occupy nine two-story stucco buildings that sit around a central croquet lawn and flowering gardens. The white-walled interiors are a bit stark, but lines are crisp and the fabrics soft (beds are dressed in Italian linens), and there are plush sofas by the fireplaces. Alas, bathroom lighting relies too heavily on fluorescents, but the oversize soaking tubs compensate, as do the signature handmade tangerine and lavender soaps. Upstairs rooms have more privacy, with vaulted wooden ceilings and decks; downstairs rooms have patios. All face either the croquet lawn or the vineyards and forested hills surrounding the lodge. The pluses here include a top-notch spa, the excellent Marinus restaurant, and frequent culinary- and wine-education events, especially during lavender and tomato seasons.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Casa Palmero
1518 Cypress Drive
Pebble Beach , California
Tel: 800 654 9300 (toll-free)
Tel: 831 622 6650
Fax: 831 622 6655
www.pebblebeach.com/page.asp?id=1385

Live to golf? You won't get closer to the game than at this grand 1927 Mediterranean-style villa: It sits right on the first fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links. The hotel's 24 rooms are in newer, two-story buildings with hidden doorways and soundproof walls, so you won't have to hear fellow enthusiasts shouting "Fore!" Casa Palmero is the most luxurious of Pebble Beach's three lodging options; it's more chic and sophisticated than the Lodge at Pebble Beach (where the bars are crowded with noisy golfers at the end of the day), and more intimate than the sprawling Inn at Spanish Bay. Here, downstairs rooms have private gardens with Jacuzzi pools; upstairs rooms have oversized window seats as big as twin beds. All have wood-burning fireplaces. The furnishings are predictably fancy/stuffy—lots of rich fabrics, plush carpets, and linens from England—but the bathrooms are supermodern, with rainfall showerheads in marble stalls and heated slate floors. The property has a 25-room spa offering facials and massages, and evening cocktails are served fireside every night in the main villa's salon. For a spot of privacy, you can also take drinks in the billiard room or wood-paneled library.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Hyatt Carmel Highlands
120 Highlands Drive
Carmel-by-the-Sea , California
Tel: 831 620 1234
Fax: 831 626 1574
highlandsinn.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/

This Craftsman-style property is "a short drive from the heart of town." Rooms have color schemes of taupe, caramels, and steel blues, along with wood and metal accents, and all have balconies or patios, and binoculars for whale watching. Pacific's Edge combines "quite good food"—California coastal fare like Monterey Bay red abalone—and "extraordinary views" of the coast.

(48 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Inn at Spanish Bay
2700 17-Mile Drive
Pebble Beach , California
Tel: 831 647 7500
Tel: 800 654 9300
www.pebblebeach.com/page.asp?id=1383

This red-roofed coastal inn overlooking the Pebble Beach golf course has rooms with fireplaces, decks or patios, gold fabrics, and ocean or forest views. "Staff arranged luxury rental cars and handled special requests for orders off the menu effortlessly." The resort's five restaurants, including Roys—where the "Hawaiian-Asian dishes" are served overlooking the dunes—favor local produce and sustainable seafood. Take your drink "outdoors or in front of the fireplace" at the Lobby Lounge.

(270 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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L'Auberge Carmel
Monte Verde at Seventh Avenue
Carmel-by-the-Sea , California
93921
Tel: 831 624 8578
reservations@laubergecarmel.com
www.laubergecarmel.com

Built around a flower-filled brick courtyard with a fountain, this classic Carmel inn has hidden staircases, gabled windows, and a tiny dining room that's one of the best restaurants between San Francisco and Los Angeles. In the tradition of great French country auberges, the point is to come for dinner and stay the night—and the 20 rooms here have an elegant hominess to them. The cherrywood beds have 600-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets, and bathrooms have heated marble floors and elaborate chrome fixtures buffed to a mirror shine (ask for one of the four rooms with a two-person Japanese soaking tub). A few details might not be perfect—like the wall-mounted electric heaters with noisy fans—but after a sumptuous eight-course meal paired with wines, you probably won't even notice.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Lodge at Pebble Beach
1700 17-Mile Drive
Pebble Beach , California
Tel: 831 647 7500
Tel: 800 654 9300
www.pebblebeach.com/page.asp?id=1375

Expect a "postcard-perfect location on Carmel Bay" at this white lodge that hosted the 2010 U.S. Open golf championship. Oceanfront accommodations pair dark-wood furnishings with soft-yellow bedding and balconies that overlook "the hypnotic surf." Club XIX serves a contemporary French menu offering dishes like seared foie gras and roasted Dover sole. The Tap Room draws golfers with its "clubhouse vibe" and memorabilia.

(161 rooms)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa
400 Cannery Row
Monterey , California
93940
Tel: 800 334 3999
Tel: 831 646 1700
www.woodsidehotels.com/monterey

The Plaza is the only large-scale full-service hotel right on the water in Monterey. The decor of the Mediterranean villa–style buildings is tasteful but ho-hum, with Biedermeier-style furniture, thick carpeting, and lemon-yellow striped walls. You're really here for the view, so be sure to book an oceanfront room. Fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing just below your window, and in the morning, peer over the edge of your balcony and spot starfish clinging to the rocks while you sip your coffee. Though service overall needs to be tightened up, the rooftop spa, complete with Vichy showers and couples' whirlpool baths for two, is the best in town. Even if you don't book a treatment, leave time for a soak in the outdoor hot tub overlooking the bay.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Old Monterey Inn
500 Martin Street
Monterey , California
93940
Tel: 831 375 8284
Tel: 800 350 2344
Fax: 831 375 6730
www.oldmontereyinn.com

The best place to stay in Monterey is—surprise!—not the Monterey Plaza. In fact, it's this ten-bedroom Scottish Tudor mansion, built in 1929 for Monterey's first mayor. The inn sits in a residential neighborhood, shaded by century-old oaks and surrounded by gorgeous, meandering gardens. The interiors are done in classic English country manor style, with Oriental rugs, wide-plank floors, and beamed wood and plaster ceilings. Fabrics lean toward the floral, but they're not overly frilly. All ten have fireplaces (most wood-burning) and rich color schemes, from sunny yellow to navy blue. We have a few minor quibbles with the decor (think Renoir lithographs), but the new owner is slowly upgrading all rooms, with an eye toward simple elegance. Privacy is respected here: Though there's a wine-and–hors d'oeuvres hour, there's no pressure to join—nobody is going to make you pet the cat. And if you want to avoid other guests entirely, take the lavish breakfast in your room instead of in the formal dining room.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Post Ranch Inn
47900 Highway 1
Big Sur , California
Tel: 831 667 2200
Tel: 800 527 2200
reservations@postranchinn.com
www.postranchinn.com?chebs=concierge_dec08

The hype is true: This place really is spectacular. It sits on a narrow ridgeline 1,200 feet above the crashing surf, and its architecture brings out the best in the setting. The buildings are all made from organic materials such as slate, glass, wood, and rusting metal to blend with the landscape; rooflines are stepped to mirror the distant mountains. Of the 30 rooms available, the best are the five Ocean Houses, whose roofs are covered in wildflowers and whose walls of glass overlook the sea. The seven Tree House rooms, built on stilts in the canopy of hundred-year-old gnarled oaks, are also excellent choices. The Post Ranch is a place to escape in privacy; no one under 18 is allowed, and there are no clocks or TVs in the rooms— although there are wood-burning fireplaces, massage tables, walking sticks, bird books, binoculars, and complimentary minibars. Bathtubs lined with unfinished gray marble and beds with denim bedspreads reinforce the luxe-rustic vibe. The three pools (including a cliff-top infinity pool) are open round the clock, so you can follow up your morning yoga, afternoon guided walk, or evening spa service with a soak.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Treebones Resort
71895 Highway 1
Big Sur , California
Tel: 877 424 4787
www.treebonesresort.com

Green is the watchword at this cushy Mongolian yurt camp, set on a steep hillside midway between San Simeon and Big Sur. The 16 yurts have been constructed with an eye toward sustainability: They're temporary structures, with wooden floors and canvas walls stretched across lattice frameworks. Each has a comfortable bed gussied up with a patchwork quilt, a couple of chairs, heat, sinks, and electricity. There are no private baths—instead you wander down a path to a sparklingly clean bathhouse—and meals are prepared in a simple lodge building (dinners are generally barbecued, and you make your own waffles at breakfast). The place appeals largely to do-it-yourself travelers who pack their own beach towels, who prefer hiking and kayaking to golf and tennis, and who come for unadulterated contact with the landscape. After all, Los Padres National Forest sits behind the property, and the ocean stretches out in front. The one nod to luxury here is the heated pool and hot tub, a welcome relief after a long day of communing with nature.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Ventana Inn & Spa
48123 Highway 1
Big Sur , California
Tel: 800 628 6500
www.ventanainn.com

Given that Ventana sits right across Highway 1 from Post Ranch Inn, it's hard not to compare the two—and though they're equally wonderful, they're also quite different. Here the architecture is chunkier—decidedly high-end '70s—and rather than being tucked away among the trees and cliffs, the buildings sit on wide-open, rolling grounds (which means more expansive vistas, and also that you'll see more strolling guests than you will at the ultraprivate Post Ranch). Ventana sits higher up, so the fog clears sooner, making it better for sunbathing; the spa here is also larger, although it's also open to nonguests. There are hiking trails that crisscross the property, yoga, and "photo safaris" with the resident photographer—but there are also hammocks where you can lollygag all day. The 60 guest rooms are bigger, and the furnishings made with leather, redwood, and rough-hewn cedar give them a woodsier aesthetic. Other unique Ventana amenities are the cedar-walled Japanese-style baths open to the sky, and the clothing-optional pool (there's another for those who are more modest). Kids are not allowed.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.