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The Old Monterey Inn

Monterey, California
There's rock but California's west coast isn't necessarily a hard place - to find luxurious and affordable accommodation. Matt Short relishes the challenge in magnificent Monterey.

Exterior of The Old Monterey Inn

first impressions
A small and intimate boutique hotel that's guaranteed to make a big impression. Set on a tree-lined avenue just a few minutes walk from historic downtown and the peninsula, the Old Monterey Inn oozes class from every Mock Tudor brick.

Built in 1929 for the first mayor of Monterey, this award-winning B&B was crafted the old-fashioned way – by hand. Every Newel post, window frame and balustrade on the two-storey property is hand-carved using locally-sourced wood and sculptors. And the glorious Gothic archways and immaculate ceilings are no exception – they, too, were decorated by hand. Thankfully this attention to detail has not gone unnoticed: the Inn's owner Patricia Valletta is now the rightful owner of the prestigious 4-Diamond AAA Award.

Tucked back from the street amongst an acre of beautifully landscaped gardens, the ivy-covered Inn is home to more than just satisfied guests – deer run freely between more than 100 Heritage Oaks, Redwoods and Monterey Pines. The sprawling grounds are also home to an eclectic assortment of plants including 200 impatiens, rhododendron, hydrangea and calla lilies.

The Inn's guest bedrooms and suites certainly tick the Big Three boxes – they're light, lavish, and luxurious. Better still, they contain antique king and queen-sized beds which boast handmade linen, soft mattresses and warm down duvets.

The rooms – Ashford, Mayfield, Brighstone, Library, Stoneleigh, Chawton, Rookery, Dovecot and Tattershall – are individually decorated in English Tudor design. As you would expect, all are outfitted to the highest standard with bespoke and antique furniture, fittings and fixtures. Each is fully carpeted and come equipped with all the latest mod-cons including TV, DVD player, and stereo alarm. In some, this also includes a top-of-the-range iPod docking system. They also boast sweeping views of the garden or grounds.

Suites also come with separate seating areas and open fireplaces – a welcome touch no doubt, on a cold winter's evening. Guests can also wrap up in soft terry-lined bathrobes and light their moods with aromatic candles.

A bedroom at the The Old Monterey Inn

En-suite bathrooms are equally inviting and boast powerful showers and deep tubs – five of which boast a spa facility. Some suites even come with oversized tubs in the lounge area!

If you're in need of a little pampering, rest assured: the bathrooms are packed with complimentary toiletries.

If you're after a little extra space or a more romantic hideaway, you might consider the Garden Cottage. This self-contained English-style residence has its own entrance, sitting room, and spare bedroom. There's even an in-room spa for two with an overhead skylight for stargazing.

food and drink
Think mouthwatering food in an idyllic setting and you won't go far wrong. Meals at the Inn are everything they should be: hearty, balanced and prepared lovingly by hand using the freshest local ingredients. All meals are usually served in the dining room, but facilities are available to eat outside if the weather allows.

The dining room is modestly sized, but boasts a large open fireplace and panoramic views over the gardens.

Breakfasts is from a set menu and typically includes fresh fruit, yoghurts, cereals and pastries. Here's a tip: try the French toast with orange blossom syrup and mandarin – it's heaven on a plate.

The Inn also stocks a range of fine, locally-produced wines, while beer and soft drinks are readily available.

Downtown Monterey is only a 15 minute walk away and is worth every step – it's brimming with restaurants, cafes and eateries. Whatever your taste and budget, you'll find it here.

After a day out exploring, head back to the Inn for a glass of wine in the garden to watch the setting sun.

service with a smile?
The staff here are proud of the property's rich cultural heritage – and it shows. Expect to be treated like Royalty from the moment you set foot through the door. Guests are provided with a welcome tea or coffee in the lavish surrounds of the dining room. They also receive a tour of the house by friendly owner Patricia, who devotes time for a chat with every arriving guest.

Guests can also enjoy a glass of complimentary port or fine wine, and tasty nibbles, which are served daily between 4 and 6pm. A small desk with PC and internet is available free-of-charge around the clock.

The small team of expert staff are on hand 24/7 to answer any questions and help with tour and activity bookings (see 'Local Activities', below).

The hotel is a great place for singles, couples and families alike. Children over the age of 12 are welcome.

Aerial view of the The Old Monterey Inn

local attractions
Monterey and the peninsula are packed with things to see and do. And thanks to the Inn's location, you won't have far to travel.

The rolling hills around Monterey are ideal for walks and cycle rides, while the coast itself is famous for its beaches and whale watching. Sea kayaks are also readily available for hire. If you prefer your fish behind glass, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a must - and great for families with kids. (The Inn can organise behind-the-scene tours of the aquarium, so remember to ask for details). Meanwhile the Monterey Sports Center is also great - for most parents.

Monterey was also home to the legendary novelist John Steinbeck, whose bestseller Cannery Row was set here, and tours are available.

But whatever you do, be sure to head out into the countryside to explore Point Lobos state reserve – described as the 'Greatest meeting of water and land anywhere on earth'. The delightful town of Big Sur is only a short drive away; so too are the region's numerous vineyards.

After a long and tiring day in the Californian sun, head back to the Inn's Asian-style spa room to unwind. Treatments include massages, aromatherapy, exfoliations and facials.

will it break the bank?
Unlikely. The Rookery, Dovecote, Tattershall and Chawton rooms start from just $269 per night. The Stoneleigh and Library rooms cost $349, while the Ashford, Mayfield and Brighstone suites start from $379. Even the Garden Cottage is inexpensive – prices start from $449.

The Old Monterey Inn
500 Martin St
Monterey, CA 93940

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