My family and I stayed in Carmel recently as guests of Hofsas House, a family-run boutique hotel just a few short blocks from the center of town. We love to visit the Monterey area and wanted to explore Carmel more this time. We had a wonderful dinner at the Beach House in Pacific Grove, and got tasty sandwiches from the 5th Avenue Deli for a picnic the next day.
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My family had stayed in Pacific Grove several years ago, and we have fond memories of the area. It’s a beautiful part of the world and a nice change from our Southern California beaches and weather.
This Summer we took a road trip up the California coast, seeing the sights and visiting colleges, and we stopped in Carmel-by-the-Sea for an overnight visit. The Hofsas House hotel is owned and managed by Carrie Theis, the Granddaughter of Donna Hofsas, the woman who launched the Hotel originally as a couple of cottages in the late 1940s. The entire staff were delightful hosts.
The rooms each are decorated with different styles, and some have mini-kitchens for convenience. Guests are served complimentary continental breakfast in the lobby each morning, and the town is merely a few shorts blocks away.
Since I have two boys, I am always concerned with their behavior and whether they are disturbing other people with their loud voices. Mostly, of course, they are well-behaved and I don’t have to worry. Hofsas House made me a little uncomfortable because sound carries easily through the walls. I hope we didn’t disturb our next door neighbors the night we stayed there, but since we could hear them very clearly though the walls, I fear they could also hear us. I would never want to ruin someone’s vacation because my kids were playing in our hotel room.
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Dining in Carmel
The Beach House in Pacific Grove serves a terrific, California-inspired menu in one of the most scenic spots around. The windows look out through the trees and the ocean views are stunning.
We sampled the Firecracker Shrimp, which was slightly spicy and really tasty, and some delicately fried zucchini and broccoli as appetizers. I had a refreshing arugula and beet salad for my main course and I loved it. My husband had a beautiful pork chop on a bed of mashed potatoes with Brussels sprouts on the side, and my son tried their stuffed chicken in a lemon caper glaze.
We had a delicious hearty breakfast at Friar Tuck’s in Carmel the next morning, which is a great local joint, clearly a favorite of the residents.
Nearby, the 5th Avenue Deli in Carmel is a great spot to get picnic baskets for dining on the beach, or just to grab lunch to go. They have special S’mores baskets and an extensive wine list. We got sandwich box lunches to take with us as we headed up the coast toward Santa Cruz and our next College tour.
Attracting Family Travelers
Carmel-by-the-Sea is trying to improve its Family-Friendly offerings, but I’m afraid it has further to go. The town is picture-perfect, but is filled with art galleries, expensive jewelry stores and fancy resort wear. These are not stores kids care anything about, so there’s nothing for them to look at – or let’s face it, touch – which is what kids do. To attract families with kids, especially young kids, Carmel might have to make some changes.
We were told there are only a few hotels in town that offer rooms with two beds, Hofsas House being one of them, which is something families count on. And chain stores are banned in Carmel, so you won’t find a Starbucks or Pizza Hut on any of the admittedly adorable streets. I have to say I understand the desire to keep the place looking a certain way and with a certain feel to it, but the end result is that it really doesn’t feel as comfortable for families with kids as Monterey does.
So, as much as we enjoyed our stay at Hofsas House and in Carmel-by-the-Sea, we will probably choose another area to stay the next time we travel with our kids. Check out Yvonne’s very different take on Hofsas House and Carmel, Dog-Friendly Travel; Hofsas House in Carmel.
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Sarah Auerswald is the co-Founder of MomsLA.com. She and her family were given a complimentary stay at the hotel for the purposes of this review, and were given a discounted rate to sample the food at the Beach House and 5th Avenue Deli.