Years ago, when I lived in Monterey, a friend and I often frequented a Denny’s restaurant that was nestled near the corner of Abrego and Freemont streets. We’d spend countless hours there chatting about life and, whenever we went our separate ways, we barely noticed the hotel that shared the same parking lot with the diner.
Well, those days are over—it’s hard not to pay attention to the hotel now. For starters, the Denny’s bit the dust. In its place is a new structure that makes up just one portion of an impressive 93-room vacation—or staycation—portal that was once dubbed the Sand Dollar Inn.
Welcome to Hotel Abrego.
Think of it as a charming venue that can cleverly balance the feel of a lodge and an upscale hotel reminiscent in, say, Tahoe or Park City, Utah, perhaps.
I arrived on weekend evening and immediately found the adjoining “lounge/lodge” adjacent to the lobby unique. A wine-and-dinner bar resided near the front desk while nearly a dozen dining tables, beautifully set up, took up camp in the main dining area. A fireplace on the far wall was a nice touch. It’s not often you’d find a “dining room” so close to the front desk, but this was part of the charm of Hotel Abrego—cozy, accommodating, friendly.
Upon check-in, the hotel staff—kudos for the professionalism—handed me a room key and off I went. When I walked in to my third floor room, I was happy to note how spacious it was—king-sized bed with a bountiful supply of pillows, a thought-out workspace and desk (iHome docking station is a plus), a lounge chair and gas fireplace encased in wonderful stone underneath a flat-screen television. And the balcony view: breathtaking. We’re talking about the Monterey Bay here, a pristine marine sanctuary and something you can easily loose yourself in if you just sit there and stare at it for some time. (Which, I did.)
From the getgo, I realized this was a perfect spot to be to simply decompress. By its very nature, the Monterey Peninsula emits a curious healing energy, so especially if you’re a local—within 25-65 miles of this hotspot—this can be one the finest staycation landings around.
For others travelling from afar, it’s good to know that the hotel is perfectly situated just a short walk from several beaches, some of the best dining spots—consider Montrio or Stokes Adobe—shopping (Del Monte Center and Alvarado Avenue—and festive nightlife. It’s also not that far of a walk from the famous Cannery Row, home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Outdoor enthusiasts may also dig all the rec trails and other activities—kayaking, scuba diving, surfing.
Truthfully, I could hardly think of going out. Not yet, anyway. I simply wanted to “chill” in this spectacular room. What’s the term? It is done “Craftsman-style.” But it also wins points for its fine Italian linens. Personally, I got a delicious thrill with the design of the entire place and feel its important to mention just how spectacular the darn bathroom was—you’ll swoon over the bowl-shaped design of the sinks and how the bathroom door (an interesting shutter-like look) slowly closes behind you.
The most refreshing surprise? The hotel’s eco-friendly accents—recycling bins can be found each guestroom, as well as fluorescent lighting, faux leather ottomans and bamboo hangers. The bathroom is equipped with low-flow toilets and showers
I must have napped for several hours. Later, I ventured forth, hitting Cannery Row, marveling a bit at how much it has evolved since I lived in town. Stops to consider: Bargeto Winery’s Tasting Room (831-373-4053), Amarin Thai Restaurant (831-373-8811) or Bistro Moulin (831-333-1200)—each has its own distinctly original vibe.
Of course, there’s always the Aquarium—never dull. If you’re new to an Aquarium visit, be sure to check out the feedings of the sea otters, but any direction you head, once you’re inside that masterpiece, you’ll be certain to find some amazing eye-candy. And the view? Well, it’s unbeatable.
Later, back at the hotel, I was craving a Caesar Salad and good news—the chef at the restaurant lounge quickly whipped one up. I also ordered a mini Margharita Pizza, which, I learned, is cooked on the spot. Fresh. All of it. Take note, too, of the wine list here. Staycationers may already be in the know with how spoiled we are with stellar wine in this region of Northern California, so indulge.
I dined on a Sunday evening. It was quiet, just me and several other couples. A nice fire flickered nearby in the fireplace. Relaxing.
When I returned to my room, I posted an update on Facebook about my rejuvenating journey thus far, then tossed myself onto the luxurious bed, sinking into its splendor. Time for another nap. Talk about dreamy.
Bottom line: This place is a keeper.
For reservations and information please call 800-982-1986 or visit www.hotelabrego.com.