If this is what the Carmel inn of the future looks like, consider us enthused. A lobby with vintage furnishings, kilim throw pillows, and a tape deck backed by a wall cassettes—is your first hint that this isn’t your grandparent’s Carmel. While some rooms advertise private balconies, we are happier hanging on the trellised courtyard with an outdoor fireplace, comfy lounge seating, and a hot tub awash in vivid Spanish tile. Grab craft beers and burgers at the onsite Brophy's Tavern, a hip take on an English pub whose walls are lined with vintage beer cans. Come morning, the inn eschews the cutesy Carmel breakfast for a convivial, self-serve bagel bar.
Enchanting Carmel-by-the-Sea exudes romance, from its cobblestone streets to its storybook architecture. Already a beneficiary of the Monterey Peninsula’s dramatic coastal scenery, the forest-set village doubles down with secret gardens and window boxes brimming with picture-perfect blooms. It is so exceedingly charming. Cozy inns are the lodging of choice, with warming fireplaces and filling breakfasts. Thankfully, innkeepers have recently begun modernizing interiors, upping thread counts, and assembling a quality spread worth getting out of bed for in the morning.
Head east, further inland, and you'll find Carmel-by-the-Sea's rural cousin, Carmel Valley: think large ranches, sweeping vineyards, a row of independent businesses — and not to mention some of the most luxurious hotels in the area. We've compiled the best places to stay in Carmel-by-the-Sea and Carmel Valley.