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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

MacCallum House, Mendocino




A final post on our north coast jaunt from last week.

The MacCallum House  is where we stay in Mendocino and our choice is determined by our furry friend. They are very dog friendly and at $40 extra per night it's clearly good business to take pets. We've stayed in a variety of their rooms and cottages over the years and this was our first chance to stay in their best room the Upper Barn Suite. The situation of this room is great, on the upper floor of the barn (pictured below) with a deck and large windows facing the ocean. The room decor was a little tired but there is a lavish bathroom with a large jacuzzi and a sauna - which was very luxurious. Though we have always enjoyed our stays at this property, on this trip we  were not impressed with  the condition of the room or the service. 

You can see our room (the the Upper Barn Suite) upstairs, with the large deck on the right.


Tiber enjoying the view from the deck - this is a very dog friendly place


While the housekeeping staff,  the breakfast and the restaurant were consistently good, the place was let down by poor maintenance and lackadaisical service on the hotel side. We stayed for three nights and they failed to mend the broken phone despite the fact that we mentioned it immediately. The jacuzzi wasn't working and we had to complain three times before someone was sent to look at it. It was fixed and broke again the next day. The refrain was, "We can take something off you bill if you're not happy." We didn't want money off the bill, we wanted things to work. The deck in front of the room needs refinishing and they've placed an utilitarian outdoor rug over one section where it's  uneven. In addition there was a  shortage of outdoor chairs, which makes no sense in a place with lovely gardens. 

The problems seemed to indicated a pattern of deferred maintenance which is particularly galling when you're staying in an expensive room. When you pay for amenities you want to be able to enjoy them. In the future we'll stick with the mid-range deluxe rooms (we liked the Upper Barn or the Carraige House on previous visits) which I feel represent a far better value.



Cornmeal pancakes with hazelnut butter, fabulous!

Despite problems with the room the food at  the MacCallum House  remains great. The restaurant is open to the public for breakfast and as a house guest you are free to order from a comprehensive menu. Fresh squeezed juices, organic teas, house made yogurt and granola, fantastic thick cut bacon, hazelnut toast and poached eggs with chive hollandaise are all options, that is if you can resist the enormous breakfast burrito! We ate on the porch, where the dog was free to join us which was nice.

The generous inclusions are one of the things that make it fun to stay here. In addition to the great breakfast, and a free bottle of local wine in the room (Husch Vineyards), the room rate includes a credit for $14 which you can use in the bar or restaurant nightly. It's a great deal which you can apply as you like. We like the casual atmosphere of the bar where we enjoyed dinner one evening and dessert on another. They have great cocktails and the food is locally sourced with wonderful ingredients,  highly recommended.

Upper Barn Suite


Looking away from the ocean from the deck
View from our room

Restaurant Recommendation: There are lots of places to eat in Mendocino, though I would say that this is a town where  food tends to be overpriced. We recommend Ravens' at the Stanford Inn which is a vegan restaurant. If this sounds like too much like culinary deprivation on your holiday think again. The food is fresh and we loved the sea palm strudel which is a fascinating combination of flavors and textures, a sublime vegetarian dish. If you make it to the Northern California coast I hope you enjoy Mendocino.

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