Deetjen's Big Sur Inn
Travel Blogs from Big Sur
Today we set out on part one of what we expect to be an amazing experience. The weather is cloudy but it should be clear enough go get some of those classic views as we move down the coast. The drive between Monterey and San Luis Obispo is only 220km and is possible to drive in a few hours. We want to take our time though so we plan to spend a …
... park and encouraged Ma and Pa Harris to make the arduous climb through the coastal redwood forest to the Pfeiffer falls and onto the Valley View lookout for more breathtaking vistas of this spectacular location. Making it down the hill dusty and just in time, we made our way over to Nepenthe restaurant/bar for some well deserved drinks on the deck with D, while watching the fog roll in from the expanse of the Pacific ocean. This was followed by another amazing ...
... closer to us, and it was dark. And my wilderness expert who has camped hundreds of times, could not identify the noise. So yes, I made Ben rearrange the camp site and the car in the middle of the night so we could sleep in the back with the seats folded down, and I made him make the journey back to the tents for our sleeping stuff while I sat in the boot, as when I stood up my knees shook haha.
The next morning we made our way back ...
... camp for the night. Keen to cut the long drive back (for the 4th time) to San Francisco, I drove about halfway to the other Redwood Forest where arrived just as it was getting dark. Wasn't in any rush to pay the stupid $35 fee to pitch a tent in the campsite so literally just walked across the road and set up our own for free! Still had concerns over bears, rangers (some people actually walked through where we were, but were oddly just going for a stroll) and accidentally starting ...
... 8 to 10 feet past a sea lion colony lounging on a piece of pier. They decided we got too close and loudly "ARF"ed and shook their slimy heads and even showed some large and fairly pointy looking teeth...we paddled out of there real quick. Next headed over to a big flock of seabirds (pelicans, sea gulls, albatross, and cormorants) who were hanging out in some shallow water off a point of the bay. Suddenly, a huge gray blob darted up from the sea floor and swam ...
How has this resort rated in the past?
TravelPod Member ReviewsDeetjen's Big Sur Inn
If you plan to spend a night in Big Sur (you should, and if you haven't planned for it - change your plans!) this is a gem of a place. Forget about your Hiltons, Marriotts etc - this place is an oasis for the soul. When you arrive you're greeted by a warm, friendly and relaxed staff that sets the scene perfectly. We stayed in the Top Antique room close to the road, but that was not a problem - we woke up to the sound of birds rather than traffic and the feeling was more like when you stay in a tent. You feel that close to nature. We had dinner and breakfast in the restaurant and both were superb - great food based on local produce served in an extremely relaxing setting. There is beautiful trail up around the hill at the back of the Inn - follow the road and start making your way upwards for a great view of the ocean and hillsides. On the way back down you pass through redwoods - great way to start the day and make you feel like you've earned the awesome breakfast.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TravelPod member and not of TravelPod.com.
We were recommended by friends who'd stayed at Deetjen's and were not disappointed.
Arrived and departed in heavy rain/overcast so didn't see at it's best but still walked up the trail behind to try to get a glimpse of the view.
Staff friendly and helpful, food awesome. Atmosphere amazing and although there is electric lighting it all feels like it's candle-lit.
The bedroom walls are (as it warns) thin. Be entertained!... But I didn't notice as we built up the log-burner fire and slipped off to sleep to the reflected sight of the flames glimmering around the room.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TravelPod member and not of TravelPod.com.
Historical Traveler Reviews Deetjen's Big Sur Inn
A very special place - but won't suit everyone
We stayed here on our first trip to California in 1991 and, as it happened, stayed in three different rooms in 4 days, so got a good feel for the place. We loved it here so much that we've spent a few nights at Deetjens, almost every year since.
It's certainly the strangest place we've ever stayed. The buildings are very rough and the rooms all very individual. There are no locks on the rooms, so you can't leave valuable in them. In some rooms you can find yourself sharing the space with such things as foliage (grown in through gaps in the wooden structure), a mouse (in the bathroom of "Top Antique"), bats (almost anywhere). Some of the bathrooms are odd and not very practical - for example, in "Top Antique", there isn't enough headroom over the bath to allow easy showering standing up - and there's an odd little window there that allows passers by to see your naughty bits while you're showering, if you don't remember to cover it up!
The Inn is on the US National Register of Historic Places and since "Grandpa" Deetjens's death, has been run by a charitable foundation to "be forever enjoyed by transient guests wanting to experience the peace, friendship, and beauty that can be found at the Inn". They do a very good job of it - the overwhelming feelings here are indeed of peace, friendship and beauty and it is these that we really enjoy. The staff are very warm and welcoming - most are long term employees whom we see year after year and I think they most live locally in Big Sur, which they have themselves chosen for the slightly alternative lifestyle and the special "feel" of Big Sur.
Here are a few points to be aware of if you're planning to stay here:
1. No two rooms are alike. When booking it's worth having a detailed discussion about the room they offer, its location and features.
2. Many rooms have fires - proper ones with a plentiful supply of logs, which is lovely. The smell of wood smoke mingling with the fog that often surrounds the Inn on summer mornings is all part of the special feel of the place. However, if the weather isn't warm, you may wish you'd got an electric fan heater, which some of the upstairs rooms have, and which you can leave on a low setting all night if necessary. Ideally you want both - and some rooms do have both.
3. Some of the bathrooms are frankly rather tatty. It almost seems that the management think they must preserve everything - even sinks whose enamel is cracked or plumbing that doesn't work well. I suspect "Grandpa" D. would have wanted to ensure these things were as good as possible for his guests. I'd prefer it they did more to renew some of the bathroom fittings either with tastefully chosen modern ones or well-preserved antiques.
4. By any objective measure, it's very expensive. You are paying for the atmosphere. We think it's well worth it but others may not.
5. The restaurant is very good, though the menu fairly limited. Breakfast is wonderful and is enjoyed by locals, passers by and guests alike. And they go on serving breakfast until 12am (12:30 on Sundays) so you don't have to get up early at all. For dinner it's best to make a reservation when you book your room - you can always cancel it later if you change your mind.
6. The only way in or out of Big Sur is via the spectacular coast road - Highway 1 - either from the south (Cambria) or the north (Carmel). Most winters parts of this road subside and can block access from one or both directions. We once booked to stay here in April and had to find somewhere else when Deetjens was completely cut off for a few weeks after winter storms. Another time, also in April, we approached OK from Carmel but planned to take a gentle sightseeing drive down to our next stop at Cambria - an easy 70 mile drive. However, the road was impassable and we had drive 200 miles via the 101, to get to Cambria. If you're planing to stay here in Winter or Spring it's worth taking this into account - particularly if you going to have any tight deadlines, like flights to catch.
This is a long review because we care so much about this place. It isn't for everyone - it lacks nearly all the conveniences you expect in even the cheapest chain hotels.
But it is a VERY special place.
Rustic and Romantic ... Just what we needed
We stayed in the Chateau Fiasco, which has a queen bed, attached bath, small balcony, on the second floor. Yes, the walls are thin, yes, there is no TV, radio, or distractions. The beauty of this place lies in the its history, its rustic charm, and the surrounding landscape. It was the perfect getaway for our first anniversary. I can't wait to go back. The staff is extremely helpful and curteous. Sheets were high quality and crisp, and lots of thirsty towels in the bathroom. Fresh flowers and soaps a nice addition. If you like simple and ecclectic, this is the place for you.
If you "NEED" your cell phone, this is not your place
It's RUSTIC, people! That's R-U-S-T-I-C!
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let me say that there is not a more charming, or romantic place, to stay in all of Big Sur. Yes, you could spend upwards of $600 a night at Ventana (and have a room that looks like any other fancy hotel room), or spend close to double that at Post Ranch Inn, and see your bank account vanish, just so you could brag to your friends and neighbors about where you stayed. Or you could opt for value, charm, and romance, and stay at Deetjen's Big Sur Inn.
Yes, it's a little (okay, more than a little) frayed at the edges, but this place reminds you that you're staying in the woods at Big Sur. Plus, the Inn has a wonderful restaurant with an impressive wine list. Oh, and another point that must be appreciated: cell phones don't work there!
For those who have decided to stay at Deetjen's, having read this review far, you should ask in particular for the cabin known as "Lower Creek"--it's a little more pricey at $180-200/night, but it's twice the size of other cabins, boasts a wonderful fireplace, and has a large kitchen. A beautiful creek is beside the place, and you can hear the creek rushing by as you doze off. The bathroom is a bit inconvenient--you have to cross a common hallway (access to the upper unit) to get to it--but, all in all, it's a great cabin. My wife and I were lucky enough once to be stranded in the cabin during a three-day rainstorm once, but we busied ourselves with cards, music, and romance.
If you're looking for something a little less pricey at Deetjen's, consider Edy's Room--my wife and I stayed there during a first visit and had an encounter with a chilling (but harmless) ghost! Years later, we read a review of Deetjen's in the New York Times and--we couldn't believe it--the paper mentioned the ghost in Edy's Room! All these years we thought it was just us!
What an experience
We absolutely loved it here. It was by far and away the best place that we stayed on the entire trip. The room may not have been five star, but it was gorgeous and charming and cosy with amazing views out over a big creek. I loved the real fire place in the room with two chairs in front of it to snuggle down in and while away the hours. We ate at the restaurant there both nights and the food was fantastic. The staff were always friendly and made us feel totally at home.
Not worth upwards of $200 a night
I stayed here in May, 2003, having heard so much about Big Sur. The cottages are quaint, but absolutely not worth the more than $200 per night they get away with charging, and apparently the business is a non-profit! Not to mention the extremely snooty reservations clerks, which I found to be the norm when calling hotels in Big Sur. The area's only highway is next to the collection of non-insulated cabins, so expect to wake up early. There are very few places to stay in Big Sur, so gouging is the order of the day. The beaches are outstanding and not to be missed, but I suggest staying someplace either north or south of Big Sur, or camping. We spent a night at Ragged Point and loved it.
It's not cheap, but the room was twice as big, had a fireplace, TV, and view, along with beach access (unlike Deetjen's). Bring treats for the raccoons!
Exactly as I Pictured It
Sure it's a little pricey, but what isn't in Big Sur. (eg: a glass of wine and a beer at Nepenthe put us back $20). The website described the place perfectly. It is rustic, eclectic, and very laid-back. We especially looked forward to brakfast every morning and suggestions from the staff as to where our daily hike should take place. We loved it.
Charming is charming, but...
You either love it, or you hate it. We...didn't love it.It wouldn't have been a bad place if it had been half the cost. For the money, though, you didn't get much value. The walls were paper thin, the toilet private but across the hall, sheets and blankets clean but with holes. Our room had a fireplace which would have been cozy in the winter. We didn't light a fire but suffered from the smokey fireplace anyway. The first few times a car drove over the small bridge next to our cabin, my kids thought it was thundering.Although there was no TV or telephone, we were entertained by comments left by previous guests in the guestbooks. Our favorite entry was: "charming is charming, but dirty is dirty."
Return to Simpler Times - for a night
My husband and I stayed at Deetjen's and loved it. After checking in to the cozy, organic (and "historic") room with "nooks and crannies" to lounge in (it's like playing in an "adult" tree house) - we ambled over to the dining area (restaurant with a slightly sloping floor) and enjoyed a sumptuous, home-cooked meal. We loved the informality and homey nature of the inn -- and wished we could have stayed longer!
Something unusual and special
Deetjen's is for people who want to sample the bohemian literary atmosphere of old Big Sur--the type of people who would like to visit the Henry Miller library just up the road. If, wherever you are, you want to stay in the same newly constructed, state-of-the-art-amenities Marriott--this is not the place for you. You'll likely find the rooms old and small, the walls thin, the extras few, and the heating inadequate, particularly for the prices (which seem high until you compare them to the other atmospheric Big Sur Inns, Post Ranch and Ventana, which are much, much higher.) And I would not bring children here. But if you are a single or a couple and want a memorable, unique experience appropriate to this area and its distinctive atmosphere and history, this is the spot to stay in Big Sur. The inn is, literally, a non-profit foundation preserving a piece of time and place which otherwise might have disappeared. Our room was old and small, true, but charming and romantic, with roughhewn walls, a beautiful stained glass window on one side and the other opening onto a tiny private garden dominated by a Buddha. The bed was exceptionally comfortable. And the journals of people who have stayed here in the past were worth the price of the room. There is something about the place that has made people pour out the crises of their lives and their relationships as they've inhabited the room--their doubts, their hopes, their fears, their joys, the sources of their devotion to their mate, even (frequently) details of their lovemaking. Some people recount coming back after many years, or repeatedly over many years, to renew romantic moments or critical crossroads experienced here. The type of people who love Deetjen's, or being in love at Deetjen's, can really write. This inn is not for everyone--but if it's for you, it's a rare and wonderful find.A note on the other user review--by all means, I agree that you should not miss the incomparable view from the outside bar at Nepenthe down the road, but come back to Deetjen's for dinner. I find Nepenthe's food to be run of the mill and woefully overpriced, and it is too often noisy and overrun with tourists. Deetjen's restaurant, especially romantic at night when the redwood-walled, antique-filled rooms are lit almost entirely by candlelight, has excellent food and service by any standard and would be thoroughly enjoyed, I think, even by many who would not find the inn to be the place for them. And the stuffed french toast I had there in the morning may have been the most delicious breakfast entree I've ever had.
Romantic rustic retreat
A collection of small cabins set in a gorge amidst huge redwoods. The place is rustic (rough hewn walls) with basic bathrooms. But it is very comfortable and intimate. We stayed at in a room on the second floor with large private balcony. It was lovely, like staying in a treehouse. Fresh breezes, swaying trees, babbling brook -- very peaceful. Be sure to go to Nepenthe for sunset drinks on veranda overlooking craggy coastline, and then dinner. Very nice package.