One of the most attractive towns on the Northern California coast, Mendocino was settled by New England loggers. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree, and Mendocino looks just like a New England fishing village from the 1800s. If you watched the TV show “Murder, She Wrote,” you may recognize Mendocino as the town of Cabot Cove.
Many Mendocino hotels are actually luxury inns converted from 19th-century private homes.
Today, most of the town is protected due to its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. So development has been tasteful and contained. In addition to the town’s historic charm, the natural surroundings are absolutely spectacular.
There are several old homes worth visiting, including the 1861 Kelley House, and the 1854 Ford House, which is also the Mendocino Headlands State Park Visitor’s Center. The park has several beautiful trails with great views. It’s especially appealing in spring when lupine, California poppies, and other wildflowers cover the headlands. Big River Beach, south of town, is a great spot for a beach walk.
In town, there are lots of cute shops and galleries worth checking out.
Mendocino hotels in old Victorian homes.
There are no better vistas of the Pacific than those from Agate Cove Inn. If your agenda is to relax, lean back, and watch the waves, Agate Cove is the place. The 1860 farmhouse and cottages are set in two acres of gardens above Agate Beach, and the views are the best around. In fact, during migration season, you’ll often see whales from the breakfast room. The majority of the accommodations here are in cottages with private entrances. Most have fireplaces, private decks, refrigerators, and ocean views. Bluff House has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a tricked-out gourmet kitchen, and a laundry room. Bluff Cottage is a studio with a kitchenette and ocean-view deck with hot tub. A lavish breakfast is included in the rate and Agate Cove Inn has wireless Internet access.
Spread out across 8 acres of woods and gardens, Glendeven has accommodations in an 1867 farmhouse, a four-room annex called Stevenscroft, a carriage house, and the barn loft, which sleeps six. All have ocean views and most have fireplaces. Rooms are Pottery Barn perfect with a blend of antiques and contemporary furnishings. Hiking trails lead you through old-growth forest, across the headlands, and down to the beach. Oenophiles will enjoy the on-site wine bar which also serves cheese plates and charcuterie. Dinner is served on Tuesdays and Saturdays. And three-course breakfasts made with eggs and vegetables grown on the property and delivered to your room are a highlight. Daily yoga classes are held each morning, and you can help feed the llamas.
One of the prettiest Victorian houses in town, the Joshua Grindle Inn was built by a prominent Mendocino banker in 1879. It’s surrounded by two acres of colorful gardens and it’s walking distance to shops and restaurants. The inn is not ocean front, but you can see Mendocino Bay across the meadow. There are ten rooms available — five in the main house, three in the water tower, and another two in the saltbox cottage. They’re decorated in a New England, country style. Tea and sherry are served in the pretty parlor, and breakfast is included each morning. Noted for it’s warm hospitality, Joshua Grindle Inn is a AAA Four Diamond Award winner.
Modern Mendocino hotels.
With a solarium pool, canoe, kayak, and mountain bike rentals, an exercise room, and a hot tub, Stanford Inn by the Sea has the most amenities of any Mendocino hotel. There are 33 units in two shingle-style buildings on 11 acres where the Big River meets the Pacific. The Stanford’s owners are animal lovers — there are horses and llamas in the pastures, and your dog is welcome. Rooms have fireplaces or wood stoves, decks, CD and DVD players, and ocean views. Vegetarians will swoon over the award-winning vegetarian restaurant, one of the few on the coast. Many of the ingredients come from the inn’s certified organic gardens. The Stanford Inn is a great choice for active travelers who want to bike, paddle, and hike, and then return to a completely civilized retreat.
With 22 rooms, the Albion River Inn is the second largest of the Mendocino hotels. As a result, you may be able to find a room here when other places are fully booked. It’s about six miles south of Mendocino on a bluff above the ocean. Luxurious and elegant ocean-view rooms here have fireplaces, spa tubs with ocean views, and private decks. But one the best reasons to stay is the award-winning restaurant that’s right on site. It’s won Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence 18 years in a row and features unforgettable views of the coast. There’s also an impressive selection of single-malt Scotch. The menu changes nightly and features the freshest local seafood and produce. Sunset Magazine named the Albion River Inn one of the best small inns on the west coast.
With just ten rooms, Brewery Gulch Inn often fills up well in advance. So you’ll need to plan ahead, especially for summer weekends. Overlooking Smuggler’s Cove, the three-story arts and crafts-style inn is constructed of 150-year-old, recycled redwood logs. It’s one of the greenest hotels in Mendocino and a drip irrigation system that was installed by hand waters the plantings on the property. Rooms here are the most luxurious of any Mendocino hotel. In fact, Brewery Gulch Inn is one of only three AAA Four Diamond Award winners in Mendocino. Gas fireplaces, private decks, fresh flowers, cozy leather chairs, and Jacuzzi tubs make relaxing a snap. The hotel organically raises more than 60 heirloom vegetables on a nearby plot. And complimentary wine from the nearby Anderson Valley and hors d’oeuvres in the evening and gourmet breakfasts are included.