Having lived in London my whole life I’ve always been a city girl, craving the flurry of people and the buzz of city life. Never have I imagined myself living anywhere quiet or calm, away from the tall skyscrapers, the hum of traffic and the fast-paced way of life. Not until I visited Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Surrounded by the seaside town of Monterey Bay, the mountainous wineries and one of the most beautiful coastlines I’ve ever seen, this picturesque village on the coast of California is charm personified. The pretty streets, quaint cottages and ocean views made me feel as if we’d driven straight into the pages of a story book and its quirky laws and restrictions – such as no postal addresses, high heels or fast food restaurants – just make this town even more quirky and endearing.
Being such a pretty town it was only right that we also stay in the prettiest of accommodations and the Colonial Terrace was just that. As soon as we arrived, the first thing I noticed was the glittering blue sea just a 2 minute walk from the doorstep. A difficult feature not to notice when the waves and white sand are calling you towards them, but first we went to check in and unwind in the comfort of our room.
Terraced patios and garden areas decorated in colourful flowers and birds houses wove between the rooms – a beautiful place to enjoy the sunny weather that this part of the coastline seems to be home to year round. I was already smitten with the guest house and that was before we’d even seen our room!
After a four hour drive, two nights spent sleeping in our campervan and using the shared restroom facilities in Yosemite, the ridiculously comfy looking king bed and sparkling white bathroom with a hot powerful shower was even more blissful than usual.
But it was the large doors that grabbed my attention first, which opened up onto an ocean facing balcony giving us an even better view of the Pacific Ocean just a block away and that bright blue California sky.
With puffy robes tied around us and a complimentary bottle of wine and homemade cookies to enjoy, we could have easily stayed in our peaceful room all evening, catching the last few rays of sun out on the balcony. But we only had one night in Carmel so we wanted to explore the village, watch the sunset from the beach and eat dinner at one of the romantic restaurants in town.
It’s a lovely 15 minute walk into town, down streets lined with cypress trees, and houses and cottages with white fenced gardens bursting with flowers. Each one more charming than the next, I wanted to live in every single one of them.
With no street addresses and locals still using a central post office to collect their mail, each house is distinguished by its own cute name. I would paint my house pink and name it something suitably adorable like Peach Tree Cottage or Mermaid Cove. I’m sure Mr Ayla would love the girlyness!
The main street, Ocean Avenue, is just as quaint and I wasn’t sure if we had walked onto the set of Snow White or if we had been transported to an English village from a century ago. We passed art galleries, boutique stores, wine tasting rooms and sweet shops, all with thatched roofs, chimneys and doors hidden beneath ivy and hanging plant pots. I could imagine the Seven Dwarfs or Hansel and Gretel wandering out from one of the passageways that hid yet more quaint coffee shops and little gardens waiting to be discovered.
Even the bus stops are quirky and fun…
And because I love adorable old couples, this is the cutest statue I’ve ever seen…
It’s no wonder Carmel-by-the-Sea is one of America’s favourite beach towns but it’s a shame the property prices are so high otherwise I could see myself living out the rest of my days here just like Clint Eastwood does. He was once the mayor of Carmel and he still resides here and owns a ranch and bar in the town. Unfortunately, we didn’t spot him on our visit although that may be because I was paying more attention to our pretty surroundings rather than celebrity spotting!
We took a stroll down the bumpy cobblestone road to the beach, understanding why high heels are banned in town unless you have a permit. Although I do love slipping on a pair of heels once in a while, I could totally spend the rest of my days in flip flops if I had this beach right on my doorstep.
It seemed that everyone, both locals and tourists alike, knew how gorgeous Carmel’s sunsets are as the whole town seemed to have flocked to the beach to watch as the setting sun turned the sky orange above the water.
Complete with candles, romantic singers and giant glasses of wine, we enjoyed dinner at one of the many charming eateries in town that had been recommended to us by the staff at the Colonial Terrace, and then attempted to find our way back accompanied by a flashlight they had lent us. There are no street lamps to light Carmel’s roads at night so finding our way home in the pitch black, with only the stars illuminating our way (and after a couple of glasses of wine), wouldn’t have been the easiest of tasks!
Back in our suite we ignored the large fireplace and cosy chairs, preferring to have our balcony doors left open on the warm evening, with the sound of the waves and the ocean breeze drifting through the room and lulling us to sleep in our big comfy bed.
We ate breakfast the next morning in contented delight having been woken up by the sun streaming in through the windows. We sank into the cosy armchairs in the lounge with our pick of bagels, fresh pastries and fruit, before getting some hot drinks to take away along with some tips from the staff and a guide book to the Big Sur.
Being just a stone’s throw from the Big Sur, the most beautifully scenic part of the coastline, Carmel was the perfect place to start off our road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway. But first, the sunny skies and the cool morning breeze were leading us down to the ocean again and this time we didn’t resist.
Have you ever come across somewhere that’s so different to your home but you could see yourself living there? What would you name your cute cottage in Carmel-by-the-Sea? Let me know in the comments below or at:
Special thanks to the Colonial Terrace who hosted our stay. I couldn’t think of a prettier, cosier or more perfect place to start off our road trip along the West Coast.