Nestled in the picturesque town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Hofsas House Hotel is a charming boutique inn that has been family-run for 75 years. They celebrate their milestone anniversary this year, making it the perfect time to visit.
We recently had the opportunity to explore Carmel By-The-Sea, CA, and stay at the enchanting Hofsas House hotel. We had such a fantastic time we couldn’t wait to tell everyone all about it.
This California gem is for you if you’re looking for an idyllic romantic getaway on a budget or something that’s both affordable and family-friendly.
But before I jump into my complete review of Hofsas House, here is some extra background information about the hotel.
HOFSAS HOUSE HISTORY
Donna and Fred Hofsas co-founded the Hofsas House in 1947, and 75 years later, the hotel is still in the family. Donna Hofsas’ grandchildren and daughter-in-law keep her legacy alive by continuing to operate the iconic Carmel hotel.
Besides the family history behind the hotel, it’s also a beautiful Bavarian-inspired inn with an artistic, European style.
You’ll discover beautiful paintings from artist Maxine Albro while wandering around the hotel. In 1957, Donna had her friend, Maxine, paint the Bavarian-themed welcome mural at the front of the building. You can also find three other pictures of Albro’s in the lobby.
Fred Hofsas, also an artist, created the mosaic coat of arms. The Latin words mean “Leisure with Dignity.” The art around the hotel gives it a unique and comforting feeling when you visit.
Donna ran the hotel until she died in 1981. Since then, her family has kept the hotel running for another 40 years, and it is still going strong.
MEET THE CURRENT HOFSAS HOUSE HOTEL OWNER – CARRIE THEIS
The current Hofsas House Owner and General Manager is Donna’s granddaughter, Carrie Theis (she took over in 2000). Carrie is the third generation in her family to lead the family business.
Autumn and I talked with Carrie about her family’s legacy and the delightful inn during our stay. She is incredibly nice and proud of her family’s hotel.
We sat in the lovely front office. There are comfy couches and chairs, inviting you to relax after a long day of traveling or exploring Carmel. The office also has a beautiful fireplace, adding to the cozy atmosphere.
It feels like being in an idyllic 1950s sitting room with flowers, old-fashioned paintings, and gorgeous windows with the sun shining through.
Carrie herself is warm, friendly, and open, matching the warm ambiance. She tells us that she grew up spending a lot of time at Hofsas House with her grandmother. She even had her first summer job there when she was eight years old!
The memories seem to have made an impression. Carrie reveals that it “was in her heart to continue her grandmother’s legacy.” One important legacy to Theis is that she wants to continue “the hotel as a destination and refuge for families, which was her grandmother’s vision.”
After visiting, we’d say her grandmother’s legacy continues on beautifully.
Today, Carrie lives on the Hofsas House grounds, has been here for 22 years, and enjoys all the people she meets. Carrie is also involved in the community and supports other local businesses.
It was a joy to meet with her and learn about the lovely town and her family’s hotel. If you visit, she’ll likely be around spreading her warmth to new hotel guests.
THE ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCY PROGRAM
One of the really unique (and absolutely fabulous) aspects of Hofsas House is the new Artist-In-Residence program.
Last year, they worked with an artist and will introduce their new artist-in-residence for National Poetry Month on Friday (today), April 8, 2022.
The songwriter and poet Rags Rosenberg will read his poems and perform several songs by the outdoor pool. The event is free and open to the public. This is an excellent opportunity to meet the artist and hear some of his work.
It’s so old-fashioned and European that we absolutely love this program’s idea. Not only is this a family-run hotel, but they support artists in a beautiful way.
Hofsas House is also introducing its new poetry box for the community. This box will be available for people to submit their own poems. Such fun!
HOFSAS HOUSE 75th ANNIVERSARY
Hofsas House has been a part of Carmel for 75 years, and to celebrate, they’re hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 12 from 5-7 pm.
You can meet their artists in residence (Marie Clair Treseder Gorham and Rags Rosenberg) and enjoy free food and drink. Hofsas House is more than just a hotel – it’s a family. Come celebrate with them!
HOFSAS HOUSE AMENITIES
If staying at the Hofsas House interests you, you’ll want to know what amenities to expect here.
The Hofsas House Hotel amenities include:
- Free Wi-Fi Access
- Off-street parking
- Complimentary continental breakfast (fresh pastries from a local bakery, fruit, yogurt, etc.)
- Outdoor heated pool (one of only six hotels with a pool in Carmel)
- Dry Saunas
- Refrigerators, microwaves, and coffee makers (with local coffee)
- Fireplaces, wet bars, kitchens, and private balconies in select rooms
- HD cable TV
- Shampoo, Conditioner, Lotion, Vanity Kit, Blowdryer
- Dutch doors in every room so you can welcome in the ocean air!
- Dogs are welcome in select hotel rooms!
In total, there are 38 spacious rooms with beautiful ocean views. And no two rooms are alike.
When you arrive, you should expect (as described on their website) “casual European elegance with the warmth of family hospitality.”
Hofsas House is a great location and ideal if you’re looking to stay in Carmel By-The-Sea and want to walk everywhere. It’s three blocks from Ocean Avenue (near the shops) and eight blocks from Carmel Beach.
So, everything’s within walking distance: the beach, the shops, Devendorf Park (to have a picnic), the restaurants, and wine tasting if that’s of interest. We had no problem walking all over town. Just be warned, it’s mostly uphill back to the hotel from the beach.
The hotel is near Monterey, Big Sur, Pacific Grove, and Pebble Beach if you want to take a short road trip outside of town. Some top things to do outside the village include the 17-mile scenic drive, Cannery Row, Point Lobos, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and more!
HOFSAS HOUSE HOTEL REVIEW
If you’re looking to travel on a budget (but still want good amenities and a spacious room), enjoy a heated swimming pool, are traveling with kids, or appreciate a European artistic vibe, look no further than the Hofsas House Hotel.
While it’s not fancy, sleek, or modern in style, it has an old-fashioned, cultured feel that should suit all romantics.
The best way to describe Hofsas House is charming, affordable, creative, and unique. We felt safe, comfortable, and peaceful and enjoyed the gorgeous views when we looked outside the Dutch doors.
The continental breakfast was a nice amenity, making this boutique hotel feel like a charming bed and breakfast. And if you have a dog, they’re incredibly pet-friendly!
The only downside to staying at Hofsas is that some walls are thin. So, if you’re looking for absolute peace and quiet, this might not be the right place to choose.
But overall, Hofsas House is one of the best places to stay in the village of Carmel, and the cozy, welcoming, and artistic atmosphere suited us perfectly.
ABOUT CARMEL BY-THE-SEA
If you’re considering a stay at Hofsas House, you’ll also want to know why Carmel-By-The-Sea is an ideal destination.
Carmel By-The-Sea is the place to visit if you’re seeking inspiration! And if you’re a writer, Carmel is the perfect place to write.
It’s now one of our absolute favorite places in the world! It’s romantic and lovely and feels like you’re stepping into a different time.
Carmel is all about celebrating the arts. You’ll find plenty of artists, art galleries, public displays of art, and scads of cute shops and restaurants. It’s like a fairytale version of Diagon Alley.
Ultimately, Carmel is a town with a low-key vibe. There is no fast food allowed and absolutely zero corporate feel in the city.
Surprisingly, no numbers exist on the addresses in the village (townsfolk have to go to the post office like in Lark Rise to Candleford to get their mail!) Although, many of the houses are named.
There are four theaters and two libraries in Carmel – all within one square mile. They have their own ambulance and police station, and it’s all very walkable.
Carmel By-The-Sea is truly a magical place.
A BIT OF HISTORY
Carmel-by-the-Sea, commonly known as Carmel, is a small town in Monterey County, California, United States, founded in 1902 and incorporated in 1916.
The town is located on the Monterey Peninsula, about 120 miles south of San Francisco. Carmel is known for its natural beauty and artistic history (artists began to come here after the 1906 Earthquake); the main streets are lined with art galleries, shops, and restaurants, and the city is home to numerous working artists.
Famous residents have included Doris Day, Betty White, and Clint Eastwood.
A FAIRYTALE KIND OF PLACE
Carmel is also notable for its scenic views; the town is surrounded by cypress trees, and the nearby Carmel Beach offers opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and picnicking.
It’s partly a tourist destination because of all the boutiques and exceptional restaurants but instead feels more like you’re stepping into a beautiful fairytale haven without the typical crowds you’d find over in the Monterey area a few miles away.
Driving around the village, you’ll even find numerous fairytale-inspired houses designed by Hugh Comstock.
Carmel By-The-Sea is also one of the most dog-friendly towns in the country. If your animal friend isn’t welcome in most places, Carmel is the perfect town for you to visit because almost everywhere welcomes dogs – including restaurants and hotels.
If the thought of seeing golden retrievers all over town brings a smile to your face (like us), then Carmel would definitely be your jam.
ONE OF OUR FAVORITE PLACES
When we visit Carmel, we feel like we can slow down and truly savor life. If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life, this is the place for you.
We hope to return to Carmel and write a more in-depth review of the town in the future. It quickly has become one of our favorite places in the world.
Top Tip: If you’re traveling by airplane, make sure to fly into Monterey Regional Airport. It’s an adorable small airport without all the stress and takes only a few minutes to send for a Lyft and then a short drive to your destination.
For more information, visit the official website, carmelcalifornia.com.
THE CARMEL BEACH
Carmel Beach is also dog-friendly, making it a great spot to take your furry friend for a walk or a play date. They can even run leash-free!
However, Carmel Beach is not a safe place to swim due to strong currents and dangerous rip tides.
Nevertheless, Carmel Beach is definitely worth visiting next time you’re in Carmel By-The-Sea. Just bring a jacket as it gets a bit cool. And don’t miss the glorious sunsets!
RESTAURANTS IN CARMEL BY-THE-SEA
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a small town with a big appetite for delicious food. This seaside community is home to about 45 unique restaurants and cafes, each with its own distinctive flavor.
Carmel Belle serves up classic country fare while Bistro Giovanni offers a taste of the Mediterranean. Casanova offers country French cuisine in a beautiful setting (including an original table used by Vincent Van Gogh).
We could go on and on about all the unique restaurants with authentic tasting food from around the world.
Some of the restaurants we tried and liked include Terry’s Lounge at Cypress Inn (Doris Day’s inn), where we watched clips of Doris Day films.
The Little Swiss Café had the most delicious breakfast; Café Carmel was charming and yummy.
We had British food at Brophy’s Tavern (definitely get their grilled cheese), sandwiches and an amazing dessert at Pangaea Gill, and French food at the Patisserie Boissiere.
Other recommendations include Flaherty’s, La Bicyclette, L’escargot, Les Biscuilet, and Carmel Mission.
But there are so many we can’t wait to try on future trips.
If you’re looking to have a fun shopping experience, Carmel is the place for you. The town is home to many unique boutique shops that sell everything from clothes and jewelry to home goods and art.
Some of our favorite shops include Ms. Fabulous (if you want to find fashionable and high-quality clothes within a reasonable price range), Lula’s Chocolates, Cottage of Sweets, Elizabeth W (try their lilac perfume!), The Secret Garden, and more.
There’s even an adorable Jane Austen store: Jane Austen at Home.
If ever there was a kindred spirit destination for us, it’s Carmel By-The-Sea!
OVERALL THOUGHTS ON HOFSAS HOUSE: IS THIS THE RIGHT HOTEL FOR YOU?
So, who is Hofsas House for? We think it’s an ideal hotel in the heart of Carmel for singles, couples, and families (especially those with children), or even people with small groups (there’s a meeting room that fits up to 40 people). It’s also a great choice if you’re looking for a pet-friendly hotel in Carmel.
Ultimately, Hofsas is a lovely European-style retreat for romantics and families.
Now, if you’re looking more for a modern, luxurious hotel, this is not the place for you. But if you’re seeking out an artistic, cozy, and affordable place to stay in Carmel-By-The-Sea for your family vacation, Hofsas House should definitely be at the top of your list.
We would definitely stay at Hofsas House again and wholeheartedly recommend it.
For more about this place and to make reservations, visit www.hofsashouse.com.
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. We made our own reservation at Hofsas House and paid for our room. We were gifted with a media kit and a small gift card to Café Carmel. All opinions are our own, and this review was not influenced.