When planning our Honeymoon I knew that after spending a week in a bustling city and drinking our way through the vineyards, we would want a few days to relax and take it all in. Where better in Northern California to find this than along the #luxelistapproved Big Sur Coast?
When I think of California I think of the rugged coastlines, salty air and crashing waves.. All of which can be found along Pacific Coast Highway 1. After buying as many bottles of wine as we could fit in our suitcase, we packed up and headed out of Napa and back across the Golden Gate Bridge. It's pretty easy to connect with PCH 1, and is one of the most beautiful drives in all of North America.
We drove 175 miles from Napa to just south of Carmel. It took us right around 4 hours, including stops, which got us there just in time to grab a glass of champagne and enjoy the setting sun. When looking for a place to stay around Big Sur there were 2 non-negotiable items for us:
- An in-room fireplace
- A killer view
There are three #luxelistapproved hotels that met this requirement.
The first, is the crème de la crème of the Carmel/Big Sur area - Post Ranch Inn. Set high above the cliffs of Big Sur, the Post Ranch Inn is the ultimate luxurious, romantic and secluded destination. With 42 guestrooms, suites and cottages set on 100 private acres, the organic architecture of the Post Ranch Inn embraces the dramatic beauty of Big Sur. Each room features a wood burning fireplace, private deck and indoor spa tub. Their Cliff House room is simply - out of this world! With 960 sq ft of indoor/outdoor space including radiant-heated floors, a glass walled bedroom and a deck suspended over the cliffs - it is one of the most stunning rooms I've seen. While the Cliff, Pacific, Ocean and Coast rooms all offer views of the water, they also have Peak, Tree (an actual tree house suspended on 9 foot stilts), Mountain and Butterfly suites that are just as incredible. In addition to the rooms, their restaurant Sierra Mar is not to be missed. From the award-winning food to the spectacular views, it is a one of a kind experience. My best advice is to make reservations well ahead of time - and try to book your reservation 45 minutes before sunset to truly take in an incredible view throughout your meal! Post Ranch Inn is the type of experience everyone should enjoy at least once, making it a #luxelistapproved destination.
Photos Courtesy Post Ranch Inn
The second and third hotel share a unique trait in that they are actually on the same property. Both the Hyatt Carmel Highlands and Tickle Pink Inn are a stone's throw from one another and offer incredible views and in-room fireplaces making them #luxelistapproved.
The standout's at the Hyatt are the hot tubs, California Kitchen restaurant, readily available wood for your in-room fireplace and the scenery from the ocean view balconies ((complete with binoculars))! The Hyatt's beds are incredibly comfortable and the rooms are laid out well, however the rooms and bathrooms are in need of some renovating.
Photos Courtesy Hyatt Carmel Highlands
The California Kitchen located at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands serves breakfast on the patio and it was our best breakfast of the entire trip! Seriously - so good, so fresh, the service was impeccable and we even brought our binoculars to do a little whale watching!
What the Hyatt lacks, the Tickle Pink Inn makes up for. The Tickle Pink Inn sits a little higher on the same hillside as the Hyatt giving all of it's rooms that incredible ocean view from their balconies. The décor is homey, but the service at the Tickle Pink Inn is top notch and includes a cozy wine-and-cheese reception each evening (including gluten free options!) and a generous buffet-style breakfast in the morning. While not all of their rooms come with a fireplace, the ones that do are well worth it The Tickle Pink Inn does not have any restaurants on property, but you can always make a reservation at the Hyatt and take a stroll down the hill.
I would say that we spent more than half of our stay at Big Sur in the room drinking champagne, ordering room service and enjoying the view from the balcony with a roaring fire going in the background… however, there are a few must-sees when staying in Big Sur!!
1. Driving down Pacific Coast Highway 1. If you thought the views were incredible from San Francisco to Carmel… just wait until you see the views that run south from Carmel! I highly recommend planning 2 days to do this drive, that way in case of fog you have a backup. The first day we drove it, the morning fog did not break until around 1 pm which made for some incredible shots, but not quite as scenic as we were hoping. However, on the second day the view could not have been more perfect! Some must see spots along the way are the Bixby Bridge, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park ((waterfalls!)) and Piedras Blancas Light Station ((elephant seals!)).
2. Hearst Castle - For anyone that loves castles, history or just wants to be marveled by how much one wealthy individual can collect - Hearst Castle is a must-see. Perched high atop a hill looking back down at the Pacific, the tour starts with a 15 minute drive up to the Castle. Several different tours are offered, but with all of them you are able to walk around and explore the grounds after the tour is complete. I highly recommend making reservations in advance, and certain times of the year they even offer an evening tour!
3. Point Lobos - Considered the "crown jewel" of the California State Park System, this was one of my favorite parts of the trip! Situated just 15 minutes from the Hyatt/Tickle Pink Inn, you can see every type of wild life imaginable. While there we saw whales, dolphins, sea otters and sea lions! I suggest getting there early in the day as it gets super busy, park in one of the first lots and follow the trails along the parks edge. The Devil's Cauldron was something truly spectacular to see and it was right next to Sea Lion Point. Be sure to bring the binoculars from your hotel room… it made a big difference!
From the beauty of nature surrounding you, the weather perfect to cozy up to a fireplace or hot tub, and the fresh and delicious food - Big Sur is one of the most incredible places we have been to. Whether you are going for a honeymoon or just a romantic weekend getaway, Big Sur will bring you the relaxation and rejuvenation you might not know you needed.
I am already planning our next trip back! If you would like to book a trip to Big Sur, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time,