Hofsas House, the pink Bavarian jewel hidden among the coastal pines of Central California. The bright pink exterior of this quaint charmer and the mural, painted by Maxine Albro in 1957, may seem reminiscent of the “It’s A Small World” ride at Disneyland but PLEASE do not let that detract you in any way from staying or you will miss an inimitable nostalgic experience that you can find only here. From the moment you step into your room you are greeted with fanciful colors and images transported directly from mid twentieth century America. And while the colors and furniture style may not be in line with what you would expect in contemporary twenty-first century, you’ll find yourself glad that serendipity preserved it for you to enjoy.
This year Hofsas House proudly celebrates its 70th year. It was in 1947 that Donna Hofsas (nee Theis) relocated to Carmel from Los Angeles with her husband and opened a hotel consisting of four cottages. Donna added 25 rooms in 1957 and a north wing and meeting room in the 1960’s. It would seem as though little has changed in the passing years and that is a very, very, good thing. Some rooms harken way back to earlier times and even feature wood burning fire places along with an architecture from a by-gone era. But what makes this hotel truly charming is the fact that it is ALL REAL. Those who are lucky enough to remember visiting grandma’s house in the 1940’s through 60’s or who grew up in a house of that era will immediately feel waves of nostalgia rushing over them. But even if you haven’t been around long enough to remember those times, this veritable time machine fills you with a sense of, “They don’t make ’em like this anymore.” These days the hotel is expertly run by Carrie Theis, she’s been at the helm since 2000. If you stay there, you are practically guaranteed the lucky experience of meeting her, and what a delightful experience it is. Hofsas House has been family-owned from the start and Carrie proudly carries on that tradition. Her personal touch can be felt and seen everywhere as she busily moves about the grounds, making sure that everything is running like a Swiss watch. Oh, and if you want some expert suggestions on places to see, places to eat, etc; she’s more than prepared and delivers the info with a warm and genuine smile.
Of course Hofsas House has far more to offer than just nostalgia. If you listen closely, in the distance you can hear the quiet, gentle, roar of the mighty Pacific. In fact the same can be said for the city of Carmel as a whole. Hofsas House and its surrounding neighbors create a fairytale atmosphere thanks to the houses and shops whose architecture is inspired by old world traditions; a great and refreshing departure from seemingly “cookie-cutter” homes and buildings that seem to be a normal part of our reality. Whether it’s the crispness of the morning air or the towering trees that pleasantly line the town, even creating a sort of canopy in places, there is plenty of natural imagery to inspire thoughts of Hansel and Gretel wandering about in a coastal forest. Luckily for you, there’s no witch waiting to pull a nasty trick on you. Instead there are countless shops and restaurants that are easily within walking distance of Hofsas House. And there’s really no better way to experience the town of Carmel. There is no shortage of window shopping and treasures on every corner that make you wonder how you made it this far without them in your life! And there is enough to satisfy pretty much every taste. There are plenty of art galleries to choose from that are full of beautiful creations. Then again maybe you’ll find yourself at the “Hat Shop” at the corner of San Carlos and 6th Ave, shopping the wide selection of vintage hats that date back to the 1920’s and earlier.
Something to keep in mind is that the streets are hilly and can be a bit challenging in places. And because Carmel prides itself on maintaining its true authenticity it’s important to note that the sidewalks can be challenging if you’re wearing your fancy heels. In fact, the town requires a tongue-in-cheek “Heel Permit” that entitles you to wander about the town in two-inch heels. Any taller than that and you may find yourself truly seeing the town from “ground level.” Of course strolling along the lovely avenues of Carmel will certainly cause you to work-up a healthy appetite. So it’s a really great thing that there is no shortage of gourmet restaurants to satisfy your hunger and food preference. You may want to pay a visit to Vesuvio Restaurant at 6th Ave and Junipero St. This lovely eatery sits right across from the picturesque little Devendorf Park. You may find it difficult to make a selection from all the wonderful choices on the menu but the incredible aroma of steaks in the process of being grilled to perfection that immediately greets you upon entry might just help you along. Add to that a great list of wine and some intensely delicious desserts, if you happen to have the room left, promise an experience that you won’t soon forget. This lovely restaurant features a fun and cozy upstairs patio dining experience that overlooks many of the endearing sights of this quaint town.
If you happen to be in the mood for something other than Italian, never fear, there are plenty of other options out there for you. Maybe you would like something just a little more casual but no less delicious than Vesuvio. If that’s the case then maybe stop by Grasing’s Coastal Cuisine where server and bartender Brian greets you with a giant smile and conjures up some great cocktails. Don’t worry, it’s okay to indulge a little. Just take a stroll after your amazing meal and the gentle hills about town will easily help you work it off. Hofsas house is just a few short blocks from the beach, so do yourself a favor. Give yourself a nice morning stretch, put on your favorite comfy outfit, grab some coffee, and take a morning stroll down to the beach. Take in that rich mixture of sunshine and seabreeze as you start your day on Carmel Sunset Beach. You’ll be in really good company as plenty of four-legged locals beam with joy as they play fetch, jump into the waves for a swim, and sometimes come right up to you with the offer of a wet-nosed “Hello!” If a refreshing respite and recharge is something you’ve been longing for then I’d say you might want to give Hofsas House a try. Rates are reasonable and the accommodations are something better experienced than described. Do keep in mind, however, that Hofsas House does not have an elevator and it may be necessary to climb some stairs to reach your room. If this is challenging then it will certainly pay to call ahead so that Carrie and her team can help make your stay a huge success.
Hofsas House displays a lovely crest that reads, “Leisure With Dignity,” which is their philosophy. Unfortunately it’s impossible to capture the magic that is Hofsas House by simply writing and reading about it. It’s the small things that make all the difference and let you know that you are somewhere special. Maybe you’ll see it when you look at the lovely green moss that grows on the wooden roof tiles of Hofsas House as well as others. Then again, maybe it’s the ancient trees that line the streets and fill the surrounding mountains. Whether it’s the natural beauty or the adorable architecture of this magical town there really is no limit of things that make you feel as though you’ve entered an enchanted place. So don’t hesitate to experience this little piece of magic along California’s beautiful central coast. You’ll easily experience leisure with dignity and live the kind of life that makes the world Mint Green With Envy.