Thanks to a recent boom in lodging renovations, fashionable new inns are popping up all over Northern California. From the mountains to the coast, these five spots offer stylish, cozy retreats from the city. Bon voyage!
The charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea still doesn't have addresses or streetlights, but it just got a pair of stylish new inns. Hotel Carmel is geared towards a new generation of inn goers and the eye-candy lobby with 80s tape deck and a wall of cassettes—featuring everyone from Madonna to The Clash—should be your first clue. Yep, there's still floral print, but instead of reminding us of our grandmothers, it informs a trendy New Bohemian-meets-Old California motif. In the rooms, sun-bleached photos of the local landscape dot the walls, while suites retain pre-remodel relics such as beige Softheat thermostats and vintage Dwyer kitchen units with functioning ice box. Outdoor spaces are layered in bright Spanish tile, warm sandstone, and potted succulents. We could live in the gorgeous courtyard with an outdoor fireplace, hot tub, and a nightly scene around a campfire-style fire pit. At adjacent Brophy's Tavern, craft beers and vintage decor add up to a hip take on a sporting English pub. In the morning, a mix of international travelers swap Burning Man tales and Big Sur tips over coffee and a bagel bar that includes a sacrilicious bacon cream cheese. // 4th & San Carlos Streets (Carmel), thehotelcarmel.com
Taking advantage of Carmel's abundant stock of mid-century inns, The Plumpjack Group (The Carneros Inn, Balboa Cafe) nabbed an ageing property, stripped it to the studs, and packed a ton of luxury into its modest footprint. Each of the 24 rooms and suites are laid out with essentials: a dreamy bed, sleek fireplace, and vibrant bathroom tiles that beg for pedicured feet and Instagram photos. Rooms are centered around a fire-pit-enlivened courtyard where, each evening, guests swirl wine and nibble cheese before heading out into the village for dinner (do not miss the exceptional mezcal program and Oaxcan-influenced dishes at Cultura, a new hot spot from three Post Ranch Inn vets). In the morning, take a loaner bike down to white sand Carmel Beach before heading back to the hotel for one of the best breakfasts in a town that takes the morning meal seriously. The Hideaway's opulent spread includes frittatas, charcuterie, fresh cut fruit, Greek yogurt, and, come weekends, bubbling mimosas. // Junipero St. & 8th Ave. (Carmel), hideawaycarmel.com
Basecamp Tahoe City
Basecamp, the outdoorsy lodge that originated in South Lake Tahoe, brings its hip, camp-themed fun to the northside of the lake. Think the Ace Hotel at 6,200-foot elevation. We love the kitschy-cool Great Indoors Room with a tented bed, picnic table, and leather butterfly chairs flanking a crackling faux campfire. Bigfoot pops up in guest room artwork that also includes Wendy MacNaughton's clever map illustration of the lake. A fireplace-warmed lobby functions as a rec room with board games, TVs, and a bar serving up mason jars of beer and wine. There's also s'more fixings to roast at blazing outdoor fire pits. A central location means you can walk to the lake and Tahoe City's cluster of restaurants, ski shops, and bike and kayak rentals. Before you hit the nearby trails or slopes, fuel up with a morning spread of waffles, muesli, coffee, and juice. // 955 N Lake Blvd. (Tahoe City), basecamptahoecity.com
Call it the architecture nerd inside of us, but we keep tabs on properties with enviable settings that are sorely in need of a makeover. Timber Cove, that bastion of Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architecture on the wild Sonoma coast, can finally be crossed off the list. Thanks to SF's Gensler and LA's design phenomenon The Novogratz, the iconic 1963 structure has been reimagined for the 21st century. Like Sea Ranch, its nature-immersed neighbor to the north, the wood-and-glass resort has always felt at home amidst Northern California's craggy coastal bluffs. Yet the new iteration evokes a contemporary Scandinavian country inn. Hip husband and wife duo Cortney and Robert Novogratz dressed the minimal rooms in blonde wood, brass fixtures, and modern furnishings. Suites add covetable, retro SMEG fridges. The resort's Coast Kitchen goes cozy with braised short ribs, wild salmon, and spiced lingonberry cocktails. We can't think of a better place to welcome fall. // 21780 CA-1 (Jenner), timbercoveresort.com
Nantucket Whale Inn
With miles of sandy beaches, old lighthouses, and seafood fresh from the docks, the Half Moon Bay coastside is where we head for our local New England fix. David Vipond, the innkeeper of this boutique hotel, spent summers on Nantucket and has opinions on what makes a proper lobster roll to prove it. He and his husband Jerry transformed an 1898 Victorian home into an enchanting, seaside retreat with painted wood floors, fresh flowers, and a gallery's worth of gorgeous oil paintings. Think Jonathan Adler gone nautical. Named for Nantucket landmarks, each room sports unique decor with plush bathrobes, warming fireplaces, and sheer drapes that drench rooms in soothing light. David has been in the B&B biz for years and has clearly perfected breakfast. Beg him for his crisp light-as-air waffles, a sweet ethereal experience. // 779 Main St. (Half Moon Bay), nantucketwhaleinn.com