One bed and breakfast gives a Santa Cruz local a new perspective on home
No one has to explain to me the magnetic beauty of Santa Cruz’s West Cliff Drive—I consider myself a lucky local for living around the corner from one of the world’s most romantic, scenic walks. In fact, I sometimes feel so lucky that there are times when I catch myself sympathetically nodding my head (at least in my mind) at the many visitors I dodge past during some daily errand. ‘Poor touristy tourist, lugging your bags into a hotel for a momentary intake of the utopian beauty that I consider home,’ I think to myself, letting run wild an inner condescending voice. Really, what can a hotel in town show me that I don’t already know? Apparently, as West Cliff Inn proved, a lot.
Rooms with a view—and plenty more to boast about, the Santa Cruz bed and breakfast is part of the Four Sisters chain of boutique hotels. With nine comfy and classy rooms ($225-400) in a three-story, converted Victorian home, though it’s steps from the beaches that I know well, it managed to whisk me off and away. Vintage yet hip to contemporary needs, homey yet luxurious, the West Cliff Inn proved to truly feel like my home away from home.
Elegantly standing at the start of West Cliff Drive where some formidable forces meet—the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, the wharf, and the bend around which downtown Santa Cruz begins, the hotel lays everything right at your feet. You’re positioned not only at the apex of the oceanfront walk of walks, you’re a walk away from busier modes of shopping, eating, and carousing.
Still, if you’re like me, you’ll come to relax. And my relaxing kicked off when I fortuitously checked in right at the hotel’s daily happy hour from 4-6 p.m. What better way to wind down than with, you guessed it, a glass of wine in hand? Nothing says ‘Welcome!’ like open bottles of red and white wine, platters of cheese and crackers and fruits, and one cinematic view.
After a very warm, forthright and helpful hostess, Demi, showed me to my stunning Room 3, I dropped off my belongings (after taking note of the panoramic windows, king-sized bed, fireplace and jetted spa tub) and headed back down the historic building’s original wooden banister to feast on some munchies, passing a striking stained glass skylight overhead.
With an Italian-meets-country décor, the inn is sprinkled with some vibrant local flavors: there was a desk with fresh stacks of the Good Times and Sentinel newspapers alongside helpful local brochures; issues of the Surfer’s Journal magazine fanned out in the reading room; oil paintings and giclee prints by local Coraly Hanson splashed color on the walls; and ornamental seashells dotted the scene.
After the beds were turned down for the evening, guests were welcomed back into their rooms with mini boxes of Belgian chocolate. Rooms also house a plush stuffed bear that’s up for adoption at the cost of $35, with proceeds benefiting cancer research. Though vintage in locale and atmosphere, wi-fi internet and a flat screen television with DVD player keep things up to date. I opted to avoid the modern electronics this time around, landing in the marble-tiled bathroom and its sprawling tub to soak in those oh-so therapeutic jets.
The next morning I encountered the latter portion of the ‘bed and breakfast.’ While Jack Johnson tunes hummed in the background in the dining area, a self-serve buffet of homemade poached eggs with hollandaise sauce, potatoes, freshly baked muffins and scones, fruit, warm oatmeal with cream, cold cereal, fresh juice and—yes, even Surf City Coffee—called me from my room.
With the sun glinting through the front room window warming my face, I looked out to where the Pacific Ocean sloughs off the Santa Cruz sand, sipped my coffee, and took in my stay with each scrumptious bite of food. I was so immersed in the moment, I didn’t even get up to leave when the Hootie and the Blowfish tune came on. Yes, even then I stayed. It seemed I’d found an inn that makes staying in all too easy. Just like Santa Cruz itself, the West Cliff Inn felt like a vortex I didn’t want to escape.
Heading back to my room for my final farewell before the noon checkout time, I decided to kick back on the upper level wraparound porch. There, wicker-style furniture layered with hefty cushions rocked back and forth as fellow guests peered out at the scene. I joined them, and found myself sympathetically nodding my head (at least in mind) at the locals whizzing by en route to some busy task. I had joined the other side—and I didn’t know if there was any going back.
The West Cliff Inn is located at 174 West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz.
To learn more about the West Cliff Inn and the Four Sisters Inn boutique hotel chain,
go to foursisters.com or call (800) 979-0910.