L'Auberge Carmel, a beautiful boutique hotel located just an hour an a half from San Francisco, is undoubtably one of the most relaxing and special places I have ever been to. From the moment you pull up and see the valet with a huge smile to the time they tuck you back into your car for your drive home, console stocked with bottled waters and and take home goodies. There is no detail that is left undone, and their studious attention to past visits ensures they are curating your perfect visit. This was our third stay with the Relais and Chateau Property, and it seems they continue to perfect their wonderful hospitality.
As you walk through the beautiful glass door, you are invited to sit in the reception lounge and immediately offered a chilled tea; from there the details of check in are taken care of. They offer their services in any way possible, whether it be to make other reservations for dinner in town, to scheduling massages, to sketching out the details of a walking tour to admire the local architecture (which we took advantage of). Your bags have already been whisked away by this time, and you are led personally to your room by one of their front desk team members. The gentleman who helped us on this particular visit was the same as our last visit in February. I think what always strikes me within minutes of arriving is the genuine happiness of their staff, and the feeling that they really want nothing more than to ensure that you have the best time possible. It's truly special to feel so well taken care of.
As you leave the reception area, you are led up a short flight of steps and into a quiet courtyard full of luscious greenery, with various couches and seating areas and a fountain in the center. Often times when passing through, you will see couples reading or enjoying a glass of celebratory champagne in the various corners. Our room number was nine, a spacious room on the first floor, with views of the quiet street below, and a gorgeous bathroom. I'm a sucker for bathtubs, and this one did not disappoint. Large enough for two, it's situated underneath large windows with a spacious bathroom completely done in sandy granite. With floors that are heated and ready for you by the time you are done bathing, there isn't a detail left unthought of. Their amazing bathrooms woo me every time.
I won't belabor the fabulous meal we had there since Joe already posted about it, but needless to say Michelin needs to start coming a little further south to give their restaurant Aubergine the accolades they surely deserve. It's an intimate room with roughly ten tables, quiet yet still bustling with energy from the service staff and an up to date playlist. The dishes are playful, imaginative and flow seamlessly through-out the menu. Their chef Justin Cogley has been there for a few years now, and we have seen him continually evolving in the two years we have been visiting. He is incredibly sweet and charming, and even allowed us to peek into the kitchen before dinner. Marin Nadalin, their sommelier has always been incredibly gracious, and this visit was no exception. He not only handled selecting the perfect wines for us to have with our meal with ease, but also recommended many places to visit in Croatia, where he is from. His gentil nature, poise and warmth are admirable assets and quite valuable in a such a space.
Thinking of this place always puts a smile on my face, the memories we have created there, and the relationships we have built are always dear to my heart. I'm sure I won't have the pleasure of visiting again anytime in the near future, but our farewell stay with them did more than enough to keep my thirst for pampering sated until next time.