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Sunday, 1 October 2017

Carmel By The Sea - La Playa Carmel

white bandeau bikini
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Our incredible California road trip seems like forever ago. We grabbed too many suitcases, hopped on our Norwegian flight and before we knew it, we were in San Francisco. We visited so many different places on our month long road trip and stayed at over 11 properties so apologies from me as my posts from the trip are taking quite some time to get through. The most important one though, my top tips for planning a West Coast California road trip, is one you should start with! I go through each place we visited, where we stayed and what we really thought of all the stops on a road trip, aqs well as talking you through our exact itinerary, budgets for a California road trip and more. If you are planning to do a California road trip, definitely give it a read! Today though, I'm writing a post I've been itching to write for a weeks. We headed to Carmel By The Sea, against everyones advice (we were told it was boring not worth stopping at which is totally fine as we all have our own opinions) but I couldn't be more glad we stopped here. Read why. 

beige jeep

17 mile drive

17 mile driveSwimsuit, from Simply Beach but very old season. Similar online here and here. 

Jets by Jessika allen
In our jeep (we hired from Hertz), we did the 17 mile drive, across pebble beach, the most impressive drive ever. We stopped and saw such beautiful and quaint beaches alongside epic mansions. At the other end of the drive, you'll come to a gorgeous little town called Carmel. You don't need to stay in Carmel, a day exploring here is more than enough but we had over a month in America, deliberately so we didn't need to rush the trip. It meant we could stay two nights in Carmel and have a relaxing, romantic and magical trip. 

17 mile drive beach

california roadtrip
Shop the skirt here.

pebble beach california
If you choose to stay in Carmel, there is a lot to do, with surrounding areas such as Monterey, you then obviously have Carmel itself and then the 17 mile drive too. There's also the Big Sur, which was sadly closed when we drove through due to landslides. I'd say it's a really good place to stop to break up a busy journey (if like us, you were doing Vegas, Death Valley and lots of other busy places).

la playa carmel
After a beautiful afternoon doing the 17 mile drive, dreaming of the mansions and pricing them up, we checked into La Playa Carmel Hotel. I'd read reviews and knew this was one of the best hotels on the West Coast, not to mention the best in Carmel. It would be the best place to get married at, that's for sure as it's just heavenly in every way. The hotel itself is absolutely stunning (we both agree, our favourite from our trip). La Playa Carmel was once a luxurious mansion built in 1905 and for over 100 years it has been known as the Grande Dame of Carmel. It's been newly resorted and is bright, heavenly and peaceful. It's on one of California's most prestigious neighbourhoods too. I judge a hotel by the service on arrival and immediately the staff helped us park our car and took our bags up to the room. They couldn't do enough for us and we instantly felt at home. 

la playa carmel

ocean view at la playa carmel

la playa carmel room

The room was bright, homely, luxurious and ultra comfortable. It's one of those places where you don't want to leave the room because it's so perfect. It was drenched in natural light, with a stunning beachy feel due to the shutters. I felt like I was in The Notebook; 'a blue house, with white shutters...'. We could watch the sun set perfectly from our window, see the ocean and I've honestly never felt so at peace and relaxed at a hotel.

This isn't just any ordinary hotel though, they go above and beyond with free activities like wine tasting every evening, hot cookies and milk before bed (they delivered it to our room when we missed it once night) and my favourite, chocolate on the pillows. Little things like this made La Playa Carmel one of my favourite hotels not just in America, but in the world. We sat in the beautiful gardens as we sipped our Californian wine. Let's not forget the breakfast at the hotel too, it was no ordinary breakfast buffet, but a wholesome, delicious, fresh banquet fit for a princess, with the option to sit on a beautiful terrace.

hot cookies and milk
I of course got very excited sitting in my cosy dressing gown with hot cookies. I dunked them into the milk and suddenly felt so at home and happy. We both didn't want to leave the hotel. We also had the pool all to ourselves which was a total treat. 

The hotel staff told us about the wine walk, famous to Carmel so the next day, we headed out to Carmel and explored by foot, whilst drinking wine. You basically can buy cards and redeem them for a 'wine flight' - it basically means a few glasses to taste, with no obligation to buy, as you walk around Carmel. It's a great way to explore Carmel as you get to go into a number of different wineries, meeting different people along the way. They're spread out (but not far from eachother) across the little town of Carmel, meaning you can see Carmel, whilst tasting the wine.

wine walk carmel

I drank a little too much. Maybe don't do 8 different wineries in one day. Carmel itself is stunning, watch my vlog below for more, follow us around Carmel town and see more of this wonderful hotel. 

Shop the dress online here. 

backless maxi dress

yellow backless maxi dress

Just moments across the street from the hotel is the most idyllic, white beach. It was a joy to walk across it. Carmel is such a quaint place, full of locals so actually, you can take your time here, pace yourself and feel like a local. I certainly imagined myself moving into the mansion and walking my dog on the beach every day. You can have a BBQ or a picnic on the beach (we got delicious snacks from a local deli and ate on the beach but the hotel also make up hampers for you too to eat on the beach if you so wish, nothing is too much for them), have a paddle in the water or wander around the town. 

We both fell so in love with Carmel and it genuinely was one of our favourite stops along the way. One thing; there aren't many street lights so wandering around at night can be difficult as you may get a little lost (it's very safe though so don't worry), but luckily the hotel offers a free chauffeur service to the town and back, it meant we were able to go out to a lovely restaurant (which they even booked for us) and then they picked us up and returned us safely (fresh cookies left for us in bed). I don't have the words to explain how epic La Playa Carmel hotel is and only hope you'll put Carmel on your travel list if you're heading to the USA.

carmel beach

carmel by the sea beach
So there we have it, Carmel, I love you. More detailed posts from my America trip coming asap, I promise! 

Have you ever visited America? Do you like the sound of California and Carmel?

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Lots of love, Em x

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