A relaxing home base for a day of play in Cannery Row
There’s nothing quite like falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves—especially when you’re tucked into a plush, king size feather bed. Like sleeping on the beach, but a million times better, Monterey Bay Inn is a 49-room boutique hotel on the waterfront in Monterey’s famous Cannery Row and the perfect balance of luxury and practicality. Unpretentious yet beautiful, the Inn offers perks to be relished.
While all the rooms are equally lush (with a beachy theme and roomy granite and marble bathrooms), those on the ocean side are plain stunning. Opening the sliding doors that led to the small deck off my room let the ocean breeze in and treated me to a view of the entire Monterey Bay. Squinting through the night’s fog I could even make out the bright lights of UC Santa Cruz. From the dark, rocky water below me came a distinct chirping noise—not to be mistaken with that of a bird—of baby sea otters. It was too dark to spot them, but just knowing I was within range of the cutest creatures put on this earth made my day (and reignited my excitement about visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium the next day, where they had recently acquired an orphaned baby sea otter).
After a glass of wine in the room’s sitting area, I ventured to the hot tubs, first taking a soak in the 24-hour courtyard tub before hitting up the real gem: the rooftop tub. The sea breeze swept over the steaming tub—a soothing combination everyone should experience.
I awoke to the gentle sounds of ocean life, threw open the doors and basked in the morning sunlight, waiting only moments until a knock at my door meant breakfast had arrived. Probably my favorite service a hotel can offer, the inn does breakfast in bed right: in every room is a check list on which guests check off what breakfast food and beverage items they want and what time they want it delivered. At exactly that time, friendly hotel staff delivers it on a silver tray. And it’s free. Life doesn’t get much better.
It would be easy to never leave the comfort of your room, or at least the comfort of the establishment, when staying at Monterey Bay Inn. After enjoying a complimentary breakfast on the ocean-front deck, one could easily spend the rest of the day lounging at the hot tubs (or, as they refer to them, the “hydrotherapy spas”), detoxing in the dry sauna, and indulging in any of the copious, decadent spa services (like the Aromatherapy Massage, Hydrating Facial or Ocean Flow Body Wrap, all between $80 and $140). But in addition to providing a truly satisfying environment in and of itself, the inn also encourages its patrons to explore the surrounding attractions. Just a few minutes walk from my room there were enough wine-tasting rooms, shops (some are wonderfully quirky), and good eats to fill a staycation weekend—and that’s not including the array of nature watching, bike rental, kayaking, and historical appreciation options. As always, the aquarium is a must—be sure to arrive in time to watch the feeding at the Kelp Forest Exhibit (11:30 a.m., 4 p.m.), when a scuba-clad employee plunges in with the fish and sharks (yes, sharks!) to feed them for our viewing and learning pleasure. The Secret Lives of Seahorses exhibit is still going, and also well worth the trip.
For lunch, I went slightly off the beaten-track to a longstanding local favorite, Tillie Gort’s Café, to try their famous veggie burger. (The homemade patty surpassed its reputation.) With a history dating back to 1969, Tillie Gort’s is a Monterey Bay landmark and a sure bet for great food—vegetarian or not—when visiting the area. It’s located just a short walk from the aquarium at 111 Central Ave., Pacific Grove.
The comfort of a Monterey Bay Inn room is the perfect way to end a busy day on the Row. And maybe it was the rooftop soak, the breakfast in bed, the insanely comfy bed or the terrace with an ocean view…but somehow the inn managed to help me forget that I was less than an hour from home. That’s what I call a successful staycation getaway.