Driving up from Southern California to Northern California is always a treat. As you pass through the Grapevine and leave Los Angeles County behind, California’s Central Valley opens up with aromas of fresh produce wafting in the air from the acres and acres of farmland and trucks with trailers of garlic, onions, and tomatoes – the main ingredients for a great marinara sauce. As you emerge from the Central Valley, the southern end of Northern California becomes apparent with forest areas and cooler temperatures. As you drive closer to the coast, fog and the scent of the sea invite you. Carmel-by-the-Sea is a charming town by the sea. The interior of the town reminds me of Big Bear, CA - very quiet in the morning and night. In the morning, you can hear the beautiful sound of birds chirping, woodpeckers pecking, and the sound of the waves crashing on the beach.
Being my first time visiting Carmel-by-the-Sea, I had the pleasure of staying at Hofsas House. This 60-year old inn has a great history. It all began when Donna Hofsas and Fred Theis moved from Los Angeles to Carmel in the late 1940s. They bought a few cottages and rented them out, thus the Hofsas House was born. In 1957, the main hotel building and a pool were added. Unfortunately, Fred and Donna divorced but Donna kept the Hofsas House. In the mid-1960s, she added on a north wing and meeting room. Donna’s friend, Maxine Albro, was commissioned to paint the Bavarian-themed welcome mural on the driveway next to the front office. Donna passed away in 1981 and the reins were passed on to her son, Jack Theis, and ran the inn until he passed away in 1996. His wife, Doris, and his son, Scott, ran the property from 1996 to 2000. In 2000, Doris’ daughter, Carrie Theis, became the General Manager and carries on her grandmother’s legacy of great service and hospitality. Carrie and her staff make you feel like you’re at home – very welcoming and helpful to new and returning guests, whether it’s where to eat for dinner or activities to do during your stay.
The rooms are homey. We stayed in Room 41 which was a great size for a family. The living area had two day beds with a 4-seat dining table, small television, small kitchenette (small refrigerator, sink, dishes, microwave), fireplace, and glass-sliding door to an outdoor deck with views of the ocean. There was even a rustic BBQ in case you wanted to grill up some steaks. Next to the living area, is a guest full bathroom. Down a short hallway is the master bedroom complete with a master full bathroom. After a couple of hours, we started our activities with a scenic drive to the Big Sur Foragers Festival in Big Sur, CA.
Upon our return, we enjoyed some Ventana Chardonnay and cheese from The Cheese Shop on the deck which can be ordered from the front office. After a couple of hours of relaxing, we decided to head down to the beach to find a spot to enjoy a beautiful sunset. Everyone else had the same idea and we were stuck in a bit of traffic. The sun started to set while we were trying to find a place to park. But, we were able to enjoy and photograph the sunset from the car. When we finally found a parking spot, we grabbed our S’mores Kit (from Cypress Concierge which can be ordered from the front office) and booked it to the beach. The sun was quickly becoming a memory in the sky with just the very top peaking over the horizon. But there was still enough ambient light to find a spot on the beach and start our fire. The S’more Kit included everything you needed: newspaper for kindling, wood for the fire, wire skewers, lighter, graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows. The fire started up quickly and the wood crackled as with excitement. We readied our graham crackers with pieces of chocolate and started to slowly roast our marshmallows. The slow roasting gets the core of the marshmallow warm enough to melt the chocolate on the graham cracker making the perfect s’mores. After a few of these, we needed to stop to save room for our dinner reservation at Mundaka. We enjoyed the relaxing sound of the ocean and brisk ocean air, carefully put out our fire, and donated the last of our firewood to a neighboring group. Hofsas House also loaned us flashlights, which came in handy as it was very dark getting back to our car.
As we settled in for the night, we decided to keep the window open so we could experience the nature sounds of the night and ocean. The air got a little chilly, but the comforter on the bed kept us warm. The bed was comfortable and floated off to dreamland. The next morning we awoke to birds chirping. A blue jay perched on a tree across from our window and I heard a woodpecker pecking away. We got dressed and headed downstairs to check out the continental breakfast in the front office. The continental breakfast includes fresh fruit, yogurt, fresh pastries, juice, and coffee. You can eat in the parlor or grab a basket and take it back to your room. We decided to take it back to the room and enjoy the beautiful morning. As we sat on the deck, we enjoyed nature and watched an elderly woman playing with a cat in the neighborhood street below.
We were sad that our stay ended so soon, but definitely would like to come back to walk around town, window shop, and head over to the beach a little earlier for a front row seat for another beautiful sunset.
For more information:
Between 3rd & 4th Ave on San Carlos Street.
P.O. Box 1195
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921
- Hofsas House is dog-friendly so bring your four-legged family members with you!