Boutique Charm Enlivens The Vagabond’s House
By Greg Archer
From its catchy moniker to its ideal location in Northern California, you would not be scoffed at for having high expectations for The Vagabond’s House. Fortunately, this delightful and downright unique boutique inn in Carmel, California, does not disappoint. Place it at the top of your short-list for travel destinations as it is one of the more alluring and serene venues along the Central Coast. If it’s a romantic weekend getaway you’re craving, this is the perfect spot. But surely it’s not limited to just that. Many have had a relaxing vacation here or even a business endeavor. In fact, over the years the Vagabond’s House has become a bona fide hotspot for writers’ retreats so creative types might appreciate this portal, too.
It’s easy to see why.
Nestled just down the block from downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea, its idyllic locale certainly wins high points, but the Vagabond’s House is also uniquely laid out in design and form—think English Tudor country inn. You have 11 rooms on two levels to choose from, all of which come with kitchens/kitchenettes, a large bed (or two), and fireplaces. If you’re traveling with family members or friends, consider the Vagabond’s House a good option. I resided in Room Four, just off the main courtyard.
Everything from the room’s spaciousness to the corner fireplace—and wooden floors to boot—stand out. In truth: They had me at “king-sized bed,” but I appreciated how much room I had in there. Another plus: Cleanliness. Some older inns have trouble maintaining that fresh atmosphere so it was a pleasant surprise to discover the freshness of the room’s internal atmosphere and the actual warmth within it. This can be especially challenging in Carmel, which can often be damp due to the chilly fog. Bedsheets and linens were crisp and clean as well; housekeeping was top-notch.
Other eye-candy stood out, especially the courtyard within the Vagabond’s House. I was enamored by the extraordinary ancient oak and flowing waterfall in this little haven. You might appreciate the rhododendrons and other hanging plants here. Whoever tends to this fertile arena certainly has a green thumb.
The big question: What to do after you arrive? Well, for that you must decide how much relaxing you want to experience and/or if you want to partake in excursions throughout Carmel, of which there are plenty, from the hundreds of art galleries to the beaches, not to mention several up-and-coming dining and wine bar hotspots.
I suggest a variety of both things, relax and play.
If you’re a creative soul and decide that this is your landing spot for the weekend, the place in which you simply will make room to create something, then there’s nothing better than to remain in your room. I suggest coming out later in the afternoon and experiencing the lobby/reception area; often there is wine and cheese available, and it’s a nice time to mix and mingle with the other guests. I found myself lost in the loveliness of this room. I’m a sucker for pianos so I could not get away from that thing, but the entire room has a vibe all unto its own. Nice fireplace. Nice—and quirky—knick-knacks. (Check out the old typewriter in here!)
If you’re venturing out into Carmel, I suggest checking out the following: Dametra, a wonderful Mediterranean restaurant located in the southeast corner of Ocean and Lincoln; Vino Napoli Wine Bar, located at Dolores and 7th; and Tudor Wines Tasting Room on Mission Street between Ocean and 7th.
There’s plenty more to experience, just wander down the many streets. And be sure to ask the front-desk person about spa specials and other unique offers. The Vagabond’s House also has numerous specials throughout the year so taking a look at its website could prove to be economically beneficial. The good news is that owners Denny LeVett and his daughter, Amanda, own several other Carmel properties, including Lamp Lighter Inn, Sunset House Suites, Carmel Forest Lodge, and the indelible Cypress Inn. That latter is reportedly one of LeVetts’ grandest endeavors; Doris Day is the co-owner. Take note: Cypress Inn is within walking distance of the Vagabond’s House and worthy of a look. Beyond it’s lush appeal, it is über dog-friendly, and you can often find diners and those meeting for coffee and drinks out on the patio or in the bar or reception area with their pets. On a recent trek through I fawned over all of the Doris Day memorabilia and a 165-pound Newfoundland dog named Oscar.
By the way: The Vagabond’s House is dog-friendly.
Good times all around.
The Vagabond’s House
Amenities: Kitchen, fireplace, spa services, special packages.
Rooms: $175-$335 (But check out the special packages; the “Golf-Quail Lodge” package caught my eyes as it includes breakfast in bed and 18 holes of golf)
Phone: (831) 624-7738; toll free (800) 262-1262