Thanks to their spectacular natural surroundings, nearly any hotel in the vicinity of Monterey, Carmel or Big Sur can suffice for a romantic getaway. Still, some seem particularly suited for those looking for quality time with their cutie. Without further ado, here are our Monterey Peninsula Romantic Hotel winners for 2022, selected by our editors — look for our readers’ choice winner, selected by our audience. We’re pretty sure that they, along with your sweetheart, merit a splurge.
Featured Photo: The Hideaway
Like the much larger Lodge at Pebble Beach, with which it shares a spot on our best luxury hotels list, the more intimate, Mediterranean-style Casa Palmero gives guests preferred access to Pebble Beach tee times and a pass to use Pebble Beach’s exclusive Beach and Tennis Club. But the vibe is more sensual, thanks to the highly lauded Spa at Pebble Beach, yoga and other wellness classes; the sunny pool where sunbathers receive spa water, sunscreen and amuse-bouches; and gas fireplaces and soaking tubs in the 24 rooms.
HIGHLIGHT: The breakfast basket delivered to your door provides a good reason to cocoon in the morning. Even if you don’t have golf plans to get you out of bed later, you’ll want to take advantage of the divine spa, pool and Lexus sedan car service waiting to take you to Carmel.
Long co-owned by actress and animal activist Doris Day, Cypress Inn has been popular for even longer as a stylish boutique hotel in central Carmel. But during her tenure, it has blossomed with Old Hollywood-meets-Morocco flair and has become the pet-friendliest of all Carmel’s famous pet-friendly hotels. Layouts of its 44 rooms and suites (some with courtyard entrances) vary greatly, but many have fireplaces and all include delicious buffet breakfast in Terry’s Lounge, a compellingly casbah-inspired enclave all of its own.
HIGHLIGHT: In a pleasantly bustling part of Carmel, this isn’t where you go to lie in bed all day, but it makes a super retreat at night, after you’re done exploring, including complimentary cream sherry, fruit and nuts in your room and cocktails and dinner at Terry’s Lounge. The plush robes and bed linens beckon after that, with a special blanket and bowl for your pooch, if you couldn’t bear to part from your pet for the night. Book the two-story Tower Suite and enjoy ocean views from its romantic turret.
**Readers’ choice 2023 winner
Right in the center of quaint Carmel, boutique L’Auberge Carmel was built in 1929 as an elegant chateau blended with a cozy cottage. Today modern amenities like heated bathroom floors and walk-in showers complement antique furnishings (some 18th century), wrought-iron canopy beds and deep standing bathtubs. With only 20 rooms, guests receive plenty of individual attention, including the perks of valet parking, made-to-order hot breakfast and room service (from Michelin-starred Aubergine), twice-daily housekeeping and in-town Volvo car service — hence it also makes our list of top luxury hotels in the area.
HIGHLIGHT: Culinary packages include overnight stays and classes with Justin Cogley, Aubergine’s award-winning executive chef, or talented pastry chef Yulanda Santos. Many rooms offer a peek of an ocean view, with Carmel Beach just a few blocks downhill.
Tally Ho Inn
Built as a cottage for another Carmel hotel, then remodeled in 1945 into a fairy-tale mansion with an English garden, the Tally Ho Inn became an inn again in 1952, to the delight of couples ever since. Updated in more recent years, the 12 rooms — a number with dazzling ocean views and private decks — have maintained their charm while adding modern must-haves like pillow-top mattresses, large flat-screen TVs and marble bathrooms with whirlpool tubs. And since it’s a bed-and-breakfast, you can enjoy a leisurely start to your day.
HIGHLIGHT: Il Fornaio, across the street at the Pine Inn (Tally Ho’s sister hotel), supplies breakfast during the week, with an expanded continental breakfast in Tally Ho’s lobby on weekends. Lots of wine tasting rooms are within walking distance, but save time to sip a complimentary brandy in the courtyard garden by the fireplace. The bright white interior and exterior walls add a touch of Greece, especially with the blue ocean in view.
The Hideaway [Temporarily Closed]
The first foray of San Francisco’s tony PlumpJack Group into Carmel produced the Hideaway, a casual-chic transformation of one of many modest motels in the village (its second project produced the Getaway, one of our best vetted value hotels). Handsome leather club chairs and wood-paneled headboards and fireplaces add warmth to the 24 light-filled rooms and suites, many with fireplaces and sitting areas. Modern tiled bathrooms may feature walk-in showers or tubs with showers, but all come with comfy robes. Enjoy your complimentary continental breakfast in bed or in the inviting brick-and-stone courtyard (formerly a parking lot).
HIGHLIGHT: Like breakfast, a nightly wine reception and the use of beach cruiser bikes are complimentary. Down bedding on Denver Mattress Company mattresses ensure a good night’s sleep. The hotel’s quiet location is nevertheless just two blocks from Ocean Avenue, with easy access to shops and restaurants.
Ventana Big Sur
An ultra-luxurious compound on a wooded hillside just east of Highway One, Ventana Big Sur is a 160-acre oasis offering numerous activities to tempt guests outdoors and numerous amenities to lure them back inside. Hike through a redwood forest, then enjoy a couples’ massage in a private cabana or a soak in an infinity-edge hot tub, savor one of Big Sur’s most spectacular sunset settings at dinner, and end a glorious day with a traditional Japanese bath at the 24-hour hilltop pool before returning to your room. The 59 discreetly located rooms, suites and villas offer rustic-chic decor, high ceilings and, in some cases, fireplaces and private hot tubs. Adventurous couples can even opt for a comfy “glamping” tent cabin in the redwood canyon below. It’s deservedly on our list of top luxury and wellness hotels in the region, too.
HIGHLIGHT: This resort exudes privacy. Its fantastic regionally sourced restaurant, Sur House, is open only for guests at breakfast and dinner, when sunsets add a breathtaking glow to the ocean view. Rates include all meals, which you can also enjoy via room service, plus snacks and reusable water bottles to take on your excursions. You might never want to leave the two heated pools with stunning views, though.