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The Romantic Old Monterey Inn- Monterey California

Article: Norm Goldman
Painting by: Lily Azerad-Goldman

Because of its attachment to its Spanish-American colonial past there are few examples of Tudor Style architecture in Monterey California. However, tucked away in a residential area is a stunningly elegant inn called the Old Monterey Inn that makes an eye-catching contrast, as if it were swept from the shores of the British Isles to the United States.

The Old Monterey Inn was built during the "Roaring Twenties" by a well-known attorney and politician, Carmel Martin Sr., who had been instrumental in the creation of the city and the preservation of many of Monterey's historical sites that are open to the public today. He was even given the name "Mr. Monterey" or "The Father of Planning in Monterey" serving on the Planning Commission from 1924 through 1954.

It was through the efforts of Martin and his family that we can now enjoy visiting a number of Monterey's landmark buildings, including, The first Theater, House of Four Winds, Brown-Underwood Adobe, Casa Guttierez, just to name a few.

Carmel Martin Sr. was also an attorney to many of the best known artists in the area such as one of Monterey's most admired painters and colorists August Gay. A local Monterey historian informed me that it was Gay who contributed his talents to some of the architecture of the Old Monterey Inn such as the carved oak newel posts and stair rails in the floral motifs, as well as a small frieze above the entry that still can be seen in the inn today. In addition, the various wood valances capping the draperies in the main stair-well were likewise a result of his artistic endeavors.

After having lived in the house until 1965, the Martins sold it to Gene and Ann Swett who in 1978 opened its doors as a bed and breakfast, after their six children had grown up and moved out. When we were given a tour of the inn by its present innkeeper/owner, Patti Valletta, who acquired the inn in 2004, it was pointed out to us that much of the original stonework of the manor still remains and its ten rooms have been restored to their former glory reflecting the romance of an earlier era of California's pioneers.

Patti is a true veteran when it comes to operating inns, having owned three others in such places as Mendocino, California, Jacksonville, Oregon, and Napa Valley before purchasing the Old Monterey Inn. Along the way, she has also enjoyed a seven-year stint as a specialty coffee house owner in San Luis Obispo.

The key element that keeps the Old Monterey Inn ahead of the pack is Patti and her staff's attention to detail from the high quality of the linens and toiletries to the food and beverages. All of this is coupled with the inn's comforting sense of genuine warmth that radiates throughout.

Indeed, you can very well understand how Patti's many experiences as a seasoned innkeeper, world traveler, businesswoman, and former foreign- service employee, have all come in handy in helping her create an inn that provides her guests with the ultimate magical and romantic experience. Incidentally, she has even participated in the Culinary Program in Baking at Clark College just outside of Portland, Oregon and taught herself to be a barista.

As we had arrived too early to check in, we decided to meander around the inn's truly exceptional manicured gardens that apparently have over one hundred trees including Monterey Pines, California Oaks and tall Redwoods, thousands of impatients, old wisteria, rhododenrons, hydrangeas, dwarf and full size canna lilies and ivy, all of which, as we noticed, are given continuous tender loving care by the gardening staff. This was the perfect occasion for Lily to take out her sketch pad and draw-she was in heaven as it is truly an artist's paradise!

The interior of the Old Monterey Inn is adorned with stained glass windows and skylights, period furniture, and family antiques. Most of the rooms have a view of the inn's English gardens and all highlight featherbeds, terry lined silky robes, private baths, well appointed bath amenities. Many also feature skylights, in-room Jacuzzis, fireplaces, and private cozy sitting rooms. Each of the ten rooms is designed in a different color scheme depicting its own personality.

The gourmet breakfast was a special treat, as it takes place in the intimate dinning room with elegant table settings in front of a crackling fire. It is an excellent opportunity to exchange animated conversations with other guests before heading out for the day to explore Monterey and surroundings. If guests prefer, they can have breakfast served in bed or in the garden. And if you should be an early riser, (breakfast is served at 9 a.m.) you can help yourself to freshly brewed regular and decaffeinated coffee and a variety of teas that are available in the alcove next to the entry hall.

The strategic location of the inn makes it an easy walk to downtown Monterey and a short drive to the Wharf, the Monterey Aquarium and Cannery Row. Patti and her knowledgeable staff can assist you in making recommendations as well as reservations for dinner, spa treatments and massages, as well as helpful tips for securing golf tee times. They can even point out romantic and special spots in the Monterey area where you can enjoy picnicking. Also, complimentary passes to the state-of-the-art Monterey Sports Center are available where you will find a lap pool, weight room and cardiovascular equipment.

Between the hours of 5 and 7 P.M. wine and hors d'oeuvres are served featuring a variety of cheeses, spreads, tapenades, three-seeded sourdough bread made especially in Santa Cruz for the Inn and other goodies. This takes place in the elegant salon that is furnished with beautiful antiques reminding us of stately English mansions that are very prevalent in the New England states. Before calling it a day you can savor homemade cookies, as well as complimentary juice and other beverages.

We have stayed in many inns and we have to admit that this one was just about flawless in every respect. It is little wonder that it has received such awards as the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List in 2002, the Four Diamonds Triple A award for fifteen years, and has been voted as one of the top ten best California Inns by American Historic Inns in 2004. The Old Monterey Inn excels in giving us a dream inn and an abundance of personalized pampering, setting the state for the perfect romantic getaway.

Additional Information

Old Monterey Inn
500 Martin Street
Monterey, Ca. 93940
Tel: 800-350-2344

Monterey Peninsula Frequently Asked Questions

Monterey County Information

Review of Monterey Presidio, Pueblo, and Port

Path of History of Monterey




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