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What began in 1905 as the private home of a member of the
 Ghirardelli family is now a plush, 75-room inn, still aglow from a $3.5 million renovation that wrapped up last summer. Every room is different, but all exude breezy, coastal-cottage style: Think
louvered windows, crisp white bedding, and stylish wicker. Walk two blocks down the hill and you’re at the beach; walk two blocks up and you’re in the heart of tony Carmel, where exclusive boutiques peddling everything from Tourneau to Tommy Bahama sit alongside art galleries, coffee shops, and restaurants worthy of San Francisco addresses. In the morning, don’t miss the outstanding breakfast buffet, where you can kick off your day on the heated patio with poached pears, prosciutto, and sparkling wine.

Airport Mineta San Jose International (SJC) Rate From $299 Web laplayahotel.com

 

While You’re There 

Rent wheels from the front desk, and cycle 17-Mile Drive. Perhaps the country’s most famous scenic roadway, it starts just two miles from the hotel. 

Spy on sea lions at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. The park’s rocky outcroppings are havens for the big and boisterous marine mammals. 

Sip local vino in downtown Carmel, home to several tasting rooms of area wineries. Not sure where to start? The $65 Wine Walk Passport gets you flights at nine of them. Don’t worry: It can be used over several days. 

 

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