A jungle spa, carved into the Mexican hillside, surrounded by the splendor of the Valle de la Sierra Oriental Mountains. A remote retreat, overlooking the tranquil waters of Banderas Bay. This intimate hotel looks to me like perfection. How I’d love to wake up upon hand-embroidered pillows, beneath a snow white net, stroll across a woven rug, emerge into the open air of a private terrace, and listen to the crash of Pacific waves far below.
Last October, while driving up Highway 1 from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Rama and I stopped at Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn. This enchanting complex of rickety wooden houses was built in the 1930s by Helmuth Deetjen from Norway, and his American wife Helen Haight.
We stayed in the adorable “Van Gogh Room,” a cozy little haven with a pair of twin beds covered in blue toile comforters. It felt like a ship’s cabin.
The next morning we were able to take a peek at the “Honeymoon Room” right next door. So romantic with its wood-burning stove and private terrace.
Though we arrived only a few moments too late to enjoy dinner at the inn’s magical, candlelit restaurant, we were at least able to feast on delicious scrambled eggs and French toast the next morning at breakfast – the perfect beginning to a day driving up California’s magnificent coastline.
There must be dozens of wonderful places to stay along this legendary route. What’s your favorite?
Wouldn’t it be lovely to spend a night in a windmill? Here are eight historic retreats.
Anemomyos, Ano Syros, Syros, Cyclades, Greece
A whitewashed village overlooking the sea.
Windmill, Santorini, Greece
Luxurious simplicity on the most romantic Greek island.
Red Mill, Haddiscoe Island, Norfolk, United Kingdom
Solitude, surrounded by England’s green marshlands.
The Windmill, Scarbourough, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
18th century charm on England’s north east coast.
Moulin des Oliviers, Plan de la Tour, France
200-year-old brick nestled among Cote d’Azur gardens.
Fortuna 1853, Dorpling, Germany
Whimy among the moors of northern Germany.
Moinhos da Pena, Chancelaria, Portugal
Pretty simplicity in Portugal’s pine-fringed interior.
Quinta dos Moinhos de S. Filipe, Setubal, Portugal
Tranquility, just south of Lisbon.
Taschen is a German publisher known for their art books, which they started putting out in 1980. But they’ve also recently released a beautiful and unique series of travel books.
I bought myself a copy of Berlin: Hotels & More for my birthday last summer, and I’ve spent many an afternoon thumbing through its pages and finding new places to discover. The guide focuses on hotels, listing a few in each of Berlin’s neighborhoods such as Friedrichshain, Charlottenberg, Prenzlauerberg, and Mitte. This is a fun feature for me since because I live in Berlin, I’ll most likely never see the interiors of some of these great places. But for me, the most satisfying aspects of the books are the shop and restaurant recommendations, which are briefly explained and highlighted on an illustrated map at the start of each chapter.
The “Hotels and More” series is pretty small right now, with titles for London, Paris, and Barcelona rounding out the collection. I hope they come out with some more soon. Maybe they could hire me to write some.