Carmel-by-the-Sea may be tiny and look delightfully old fashioned, but the place continues to evolve with renewed energy and fresh developments.
This summer marked a couple of celebrated occasions for the pocket-sized waterfront enclave: the award of a Michelin star (only the town's second ever) to the lovely new seafood-centric restaurant on Fifth Avenue, Chez Noir; and the much-anticipated opening of a new hotel whose first claim to fame will be its ridiculous proximity to Carmel Beach, just 100 feet away.
Beachy vibes and ocean views continue in Carmel Beach Hotel's plush 26 guest rooms.(Rick Pharaoh)
Sister to the lauded Relais & Chateau stay L’Auberge Carmel (which, incidentally, houses Carmel's premier Michelin-starred restaurant), Carmel Beach Hotel opened this June with a cluster of historic beach bungalows, some dating to the 1930s, on an acre of property that perfectly reflects its designation as the town's closest hotel to the beach.
All thoroughly and tastefully updated by designers Carol Padham and Phyllis Martin-Vegue, the property evokes a sense of place through such materials as locally quarried Carmel stone and weathered wood shingles and a color palette of sea glass green, tide pool creatures, deep ocean blue, and foggy gray. Charming historic touches, like stained glass panels in the lobby building, have been maintained.
Step into any of Carmel Beach Hotel's 26 guest rooms, most with ocean views, and you'll still feel connected to the environment—though no one will fault you for escaping into your stone soaking tub or into a book by the fireplace.
But don't get too cozy: Carmel Beach Hotel is ideally situated for enjoying the town. Hop on one of the property's e-bikes and head south along the coast on Scenic Road, where you'll pass the historic Frank Lloyd Wright–built Clinton Walker House as well as the iconic Butterfly House. At the end of the road, find yourself at Carmel River State Beach, where the Carmel River meets the ocean. You can brave the hills back up through the neighborhoods or just turn around and enjoy more of that seaside view.
The outdoor Secoya kitchen and restaurant is helmed by Aubergine's Michelin-starred chef team.(Rick Pharaoh)
Once you've worked up an appetite, seize the opportunity to eat in. The on-property Secoya Restaurant is open exclusively to guests—and consider this a treat: Helmed by Aubergine executive chef Justin Cogley and sous chef Diana Phipps, the sustainably-minded restaurant serves locally inspired cuisine with Phipps' Aussie accent—think fresh oysters, crudo, slow-poached salmon with fennel and coriander, and a Dungeness crab Louie salad all to be consumed in an outdoor kitchen and dining setting. Don't worry, it's a well heated pocket even amid the fog.
There's also a small but terrific bar menu including cocktails like the Spa Water (tequila, lime, yuzu, and mint) or the surprisingly light Spiked Crumble (bourbon milk punch with toasted oat and cashew) which is best enjoyed by the fire pit out front. Pastry-stuffed breakfast baskets are complimentary each morning; there is also an all-day menu including some options that you could easily pack up for a picnic on the beach. (This time, if you head north, you'll find a “secret" beach with tide pools just beneath Pebble Beach Golf Links.)
Close out your stay with a treatment at the three-room wellness spa and some freshly baked, gluten-free cookies at turndown.
// Nightly room rates begin at $349; San Antonio Ave. & 13th Ave. (Carmel-by-the-Sea), carmelbeachhotel.com.
Every night is a fire pit night in Carmel-by-the-Sea.(Rick Pharaoh)