My top recommendations on where to stay in Carmel-by-the-Sea and the Carmel Valley include the folllowing:
Mission Ranch: This is an historic property at 26270 Dolores at 15th Ave. Originally part of the lands owned by the Carmel Mission, in the 1850’s the property became one of the early California dairies. There was the creamery, the barns and the other farm buildings. In 1986, Clint Eastwood bought the property to save it from a developer and restored it.
The grounds are really beautiful. There are really wonderful views of the meadows that join the wetlands and the Carmel River Beach. My room was the Hayloft which was the top floor in a separate building. It had a lovely sitting area, king bed and large bath.
Their restaurant, The Restaurant at Mission Ranch is a really a great find. It seems to attract more of a locals crowd. It has both indoor and outdoor seating with wonderful views. There is a piano bar too. I had an excellent halibut entree with coconut curry, asparagus and sauteed spinach.
Cypress Inn: This was the first place I stayed in Carmel years ago. This is a charming inn right in the heart of downtown. It was owned in part by Doris Day who died in 2019!! Lincoln at 7th.
The same group as the Cypress Inn has the Candle Light Inn, the Wayside Inn and the Carriage House Inn.
Hyatt Carmel Highlands: Formerly the Highlands Inn, this is a lovely property just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea with stunning views of the coast. If you decide not to stay there at least go to the California Market at Pacific’s Edge which is a combination of the prior two restaurants at the resort. The views from the restaurant of the coast and Point Lobos are incredible. I was there at sunset years ago before it was the Hyatt. Not sure about the food, but with that view, I would go anyway. They also have the Sunset Lounge for cocktails with great views.
Bernardus Lodge & Spa: This is a lovely lodge in Carmel Valley that has two good restaurants, the casual The Bar and the more formal Lucia Restaurant & Bar.
Other good hotel options in the area include the Carmel Valley Ranch just outside of Carmel and the Quail Lodge which both have a golf focus. On 500 acres, Carmel Valley Ranch has a beautiful restaurant with views of their vineyard below.
The most famous option for the golfer is The Lodge at Pebble Beach just north of Carmel-by-the-Sea. It is a beautiful setting along the golf course and the ocean. You can still have a drink, snack or meal at one of the restaurants if you do not stay there. There is a $10.50 toll when entering Pebble Beach, but this can be refunded with a purchase of $35 or more at one of the restaurants. My father met Salvador Dali there in the bar in 1943 on his way to the South Pacific in WWII.
Other properties getting good reviews include the recently renovated Hotel Carmel, the elegant L’Auberge Carmel from 1929 and the Tradewinds Carmel.