I grew up coming to Carmel almost every other year with my parents. We’d hop in the car, drive the short two and a half hours southwest and suddenly find ourselves in what I always perceived to be a real-life fairytale. Cottages with more character than those of my childhood fantasies lined the quaint streets and secret alleyways. I always knew the small town was lovely, but it wasn’t until coming back as a married adult that I truly appreciated the history and romance of this seaside oasis.
We knew we wanted to stay at Hotel Carmel, as I’d seen enough photos to know it contained the quintessential Carmel charm I was in search of. We checked in and wasted no time in cracking open a bottle of wine, and sitting by their communal fire pit in the quaint courtyard below our room. I’m typically all for the jam-packed itinerary, but for this particular trip, I knew I wanted nothing more than to roam the streets – slowly – in search of the best wine, food, nooks and crannies.
We started out at Hotel Carmel’s restaurant, Brophy’s Tavern – a cozy Irish Pub offering comfort food, contemporary drinks, and walls lined with vintage beer cans (you can’t not take a photo of these). Per usual, I opted for the thing closest to a margarita: the Smoky Rita complete with mezcal, jalapeno and cucumber. And as is custom for Rico, the thing closest to a bloody mary: Mary’s Bloody blended with extra cucumber for the freshest tasting bloody we’ve ever had. We weren’t hungry, but somehow ended up with the pretzel (note: not a pretzel girl) and about keeled over with delight: a hot pretzel served with bacon and chive cream cheese, spicy sauerkraut mustard. Guys, I still go to bed dreaming of this monstrosity.
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking off the aforementioned until it was time for dinner. Luckily, our dear friends Morgan + Kyle are from the area and were able to give us a recommendation for Cultura, an intimate restaurant with exceptional dishes inspired from Oaxaca (this turned out to be the best meal of our trip).
Both days in Carmel began with breakfast (coffee + avocado toast) at Stationæry – this place is a beautiful gem in terms of ambiance, food, coffee and aesthetics – a definite do not miss.
And, of course, both days at Hotel Carmel were ended with a hot tub dip and warming up by the fireplace in our room (clutch in this chilly little town).
Carmel – you were even more wonderful than I anticipated and a huge thank you to Hotel Carmel for hosting and making our stay as magical as possible.