Couples visiting Monterey County have a delightful selection of charming inns, unusual lodges, and full-service hotels to stay in as they explore this gorgeous area that hugs California's Pacific Coast.
Located at the back of their proprietary vineyard, Bernardus is cradled among misty valleys and hills. Guest rooms are spacious and manage to be grand without being overstated. Each has a two-person soaking tub and gas fireplace and many feature a deck tucked away among quiet, lush paths. The spa is located on a hill, surrounded by even taller green hills. The air tends to be cool up there, and the spa’s soaking pool is kept warm, making pre- and post-treatment experiences euphoric and relaxing. Couples may receive treatments together. The spa's romance package includes a private outdoor flower-petal-strewn bubble bath for two.
The Spindrift Inn in Monterey sits as close to the bay as two could want. Binoculars are available beside picture windows, and it's fun to spy on frolicking sea otters, sea birds, and the sail and fishing boats. Note that the Inn sits on Cannery Row, which has become a somewhat schlocky tourist trap. Location aside, Spindrift is lovely. Rooms have wood-burning gas fireplaces and some feature canopy beds.
4. Tally Ho Inn
It’s all about the view at the classic, unpretentious Tally Ho Inn. The hotel is set a few blocks back from Carmel’s velvety white sand beach. Many rooms have excellent views, through the adobe rooftops, of the endless Pacific. Rooms, each with Carmel’s trademark Dutch door, are situated around a boardwalk-like wooden walkway. Sherry is served daily around 5 pm; enjoy it al fresco, in the sea air, around the inn's fireplace.
Couples with a spirit of play will find myriad activities to engage them on this 500-acre resort. There are two salt water swimming pools, hot tubs, a spa, hilltop Tai Chi, cooking demonstrations, hiking and biking trails, bocce, and an 18-hole championship golf course and driving range. At night there's star-gazing and s'mores. Child- and pet-friendly.
One of the three upmarket Pebble Beach Resorts, the Inn boasts of "contemporary elegance and exemplary service." All rooms feature a fireplace and a private patio or balcony. At sunset, a bagpiper serenades the end of day.
7. Casa Palmero
If you can afford to splurge, this Pebble Beach Resort has just 24 luxurious rooms and suites among lush landscaping and romantic trellised walkways. Private quarters include a wood-burning fireplace, cathedral ceilings, oversized soaking tubs, and sumptuous beds. The personalized service begins before arrival, when a coordinator contacts guests to help arrange the particulars of a stay.
In downtown Monterey and walking distance to Fisherman's Wharf, the beach, San Francisco Bay, and Cannery Row, Portola Hotel & Spa entices lovers with an in-house microbrewery, fireside dining, and feather-top beds. After touring, repair to the day spa or a cabana by the pool. Child- and pet-friendly.
Big Sur's big luxury resort is perched on a hillside above the rugged Pacific coast. Water lovers can conclave poolside and soak in Japanese hot baths. Zone out at The Spa at Ventana, where couples offerings include a private lesson in nurturing massage, or zone in on the view from the hammock on your private deck or patio.
10. Hotel Abrego
This pet-friendly boutique hotel, one of the newer ones in Monterey, is a short drive from Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Note: Not all rooms have air-conditioning and a fireplace, but there is a small swimming pool and moonlight beach strolls are practically mandatory.
11. Treebones Resort
If you've ever wanted to stay in a yurt, the Big Sur coast is as good as any place -- and probably better than most -- to overnight in one of these circular tents. Although there's light, heat, and a queen-size bed inside, the shower and restroom are elsewhere.