When locals to the San Francisco Bay Area think of Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea and the nearby peninsula, they may think of it more of as a romantic getaway or a serenity escape and there’s no doubt they are, but the area also offers some rich things to do with kids in tow. We discovered a great family stay called the Hofsas House Hotel right in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is a boutique family-owned inn with 38 uniquely decorated, spacious rooms, many with ocean views overlooking the pines in the village. Yes, for those who didn’t know, Carmel-by-the-Sea is actually a village and it most certainly feels like one as you walk through the town center with its myriad of trees that graciously loom over people’s homes on side streets and the shops on the main drag.
Hofsas House also has an outdoor heated pool, which is a great family-friendly feature and one worth noting since apparently they’re only one of a few centrally located properties that have one. While there’s no hot tub, there’s also a women and men’s dry sauna on the property as well.
Dutch doors appoint each room so if you want to take in the fresh ocean air, you easily can. Our room had a view of the Pacific Ocean as well as an outside deck. Some rooms and most suites have fireplaces, private balconies, wet bars or kitchens and we were lucky to have all of the above.
While the rooms may have Dutch doors, the clear influence here is German and as it turns out, the third and fourth generations of the original owners are now running the hotel. Carrie is at the helm today who loves to talk about the property and the village of Carmel. She’s about as hospitable and warm as it gets, guiding you to the best gems in town, from where to go wine tasting and see incredible art to cafes, restaurants and quirky shops.
The German influence is felt throughout as you walk around the property. Carrie’s grandparents were the original owners and their wifi network is even named after her grandmother Donna, who I thought might be the family dog when I first saw the network attribution. I couldn’t be more wrong but what I couldn’t be more right about is Carrie’s continued passion for running the hotel and her pride for the long history that the property holds.
Below, artist Maxine Albro who was also a friend of Donna’s, was commissioned to paint a mural and other highlights to the front of the building to enhance the Bavarian theme in 1957 and it has been there ever since. Maxine also painted three pictures hanging in the lobby.
Each room is uniquely and traditionally decorated and if you pay attention, you’ll fall in love with the details of old. Since the property has been around for awhile, it doesn’t boast modern newly appointed rooms nor is it about luxury and decadence; it is however, authentic, sweet and conventional and because there’s a variety of family-friendly rooms to choose from, you can spread out and even cook in one of the small kitchenettes if you wish. We tried two different rooms during our stay and each had a fridge. The first room, which was smaller but on an upper floor with an ocean view, had an old mahogany dresser (below) and a wood stove. Who doesn’t love a wood stove?
Okay, so we were lazy and used one of those auto-light logs that are in flames within two minutes, but it was a perfect addition to a cool foggy November night with rain on the horizon.
Whether you go for one of their quainter rooms or a larger suite, you can be assured that each one will be unique.
The lobby area albeit small is quaint and has its own list of warm and friendly frills, from the autumn colored decorations to the fresh tea and French roast coffee every morning between 8 and 10 am. They also offer croissants and pastries from a local bakery as well as yoghurts, juice, apples and bananas. You can cozy up on the couch near a blazing fire and read the paper, a local magazine or chat with other guests who may have a few useful stories and insights to share, part of the charm of staying in an inn rather than a larger hotel.
The Hofsas House is located three blocks north of Ocean Avenue, the main drag which is lined with some of the more luxurious art galleries and shops. It is also only eight blocks from Carmel beach, which is known for its lovely white sand and only one block from a child-friendly City park. We were surprised how easy parking was anywhere in the center of town (although most signs say that your spot is only good for two hours and it’s electronically monitored), so be sure to time your smartphone alarm clock and move it after two hours, as I’ve heard that they love to ticket on the southern Peninsula.
Other amenities include the heated outdoor swimming pool and two dry saunas as mentioned above, view deck areas and free wireless Internet access. They’re proud to tout that they’re one of the dog-friendly hotels in the area but not all rooms are, so be sure to mention that you have a dog in advance. Carrie tells us about the dog-friendly history of Carmel; not only is Carmel a dog friendly town where dogs can run off-leash on Carmel Beach but apparently there are many restaurants and cafes that are pet-friendly as well.
Because Hofsas House was built into a hill, you can get great views of the ocean from the fourth floor and it’s a great place to sit, read or sip on a glass of wine or cuppa Joe while watching the sunset or the rain, which was the case for us. It was a lovely spot to see the luminous clouds come in after a long leisurely day exploring the village.
Our second room was a suite so had two bedrooms, each divided by a door and there were two bathrooms, making it a flexible choice if you’re on a family adventure. Deluxe rooms also have microwaves which is a nice feature if you want to heat up leftovers from dinner the night before which is often the case with me.
We loved the Bavarian-style architecture and it’s a fun addition for kids as well — that, the complimentary pastries in the morning and the heated pool of course.
While it’s within easy walking distance to the main drag so you can leave your car in their complimentary parking lot, it’s also located at the edge of the village, which means it feels a bit more secluded than some other nearby hotels, which is an important “good-to-know” for those light sleepers.
The other thing we loved is the abundance of pines that not just surround the village but fill it — it does at times, feel as if you’re walking through a forest when on a stroll through Carmel. Below, a view from our first room on the fourth floor looking in a westerly direction….
We recommend Hofsas House as a hospitable family stay in the heart of Carmel for those looking for convenience, reasonable rates and warm and authentic service. If you go, say hello to Carrie from Renee and Anthony. Also be sure to read our write-up on two restaurant gems we reviewed during our stay in nearby Monterey and Pacific Grove, although for those who want to dine right in town, we absolutely love Basil Restaurant. If you’re into all things organic, this is the place for you. Known as first green restaurant in the area, chef Soerke Peters takes great pride in sourcing from local farmers. Tell him the San Francisco-based travel writer who was in foodasm heavy over his homemade vanilla ice cream and basil oil sent you.
Hofsas House Hotel
Between 3rd & 4th Avenue
on San Carlos Street
P.O. Box 1195
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921
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