Three Charming Coastal Properties to Book Now

Restored, reimagined, and reopened, these waterfront retreats are ready for spring



The outdoor courtyard at Lodge at Marconi features a firepit. PHOTO: Brian Ferry.

Lodge at Marconi
Nature lovers with a penchant for luxury travel, meet the newly transformed LODGE AT MARCONI, set within 62 acres of the Marconi National State Park overlooking the Tomales Bay. Originally built in 1914 by Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of radio, it later became the infamous home of the cult Synanon in the 1960s before it was purchased by the San Francisco Foundation, which later gifted it to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Now in the hands of Oliver Hospitality, the 45 guest rooms and suites have been reimagined by New York–based Home Studios; Bay Area firm Dune Hai designed the grounds. In keeping with modernist Sea Ranch style, the camp-esque environment has a residential vibe with plenty of communal spaces to work, read a book, or enjoy a glass of wine. The rooms boast a highly curated assortment of custom furnishings, Heath Ceramics tiles, and amenities, from plant-based Born Bathing products to waffle robes and retro rotary-style phones. Televisions, however, are purposefully missing so guests can unplug from digital diversions and reconnect with nature and each other. For that, there are more than 3 miles of trails where hikers can even find remnants of Marconi’s old transmission towers. From $245/night. 18500 Hwy. 1, Marshall, 415-663-9020; lodgeatmarconi.com.

LEFT: A lounge space at La Playa Hotel honors the mansion’s iconic Spanish-style architecture. RIGHT: The mansion’s pool was the first built in Carmel. PHOTOS: Chris Mottalini.

La Playa Hotel
Old-school techies will remember when LA PLAYA HOTEL, a historic Mediterranean manse in one of Carmel’s toniest neighborhoods, made headlines in 1983 as the birthplace of Apple’s Macintosh computer. The so-called Grand Dame of Carmel, originally designed in 1905 by landscape painter Chris Jorgensen for his wife and pupil, chocolate heiress Angela Ghirardelli, now celebrates a new beginning following a dramatic restoration from Brooklyn’s Post Company. Paying homage to its origins as a bohemian hideaway, the 75-room property has been re-energized for modern travelers while retaining its historic charm. To wit, there are original plein-air paintings by Virginia Grossman, stained-glass windows, and plaster shell pendants by design icon Frances Adler Elkins. After a sun-drenched day at the beach or by the pool, the dark and moody Bud’s Bar, named after the hotel’s former owner and Carmel legend Howard “Bud” Allen, beckons as a hideaway for a new generation of beatniks and techies alike. From $500/night. Camino Real at 8th Avenue, Carmel-by-the-Sea, 800-582-8900; laplayahotel.com.

Crystal Cove Cottages’ North Beach Tower cottage.

Crystal Cove Cottages
Nestled between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach, Orange County’s Crystal Cove was once used by Hollywood filmmakers in the early 20th century as a location for Polynesian-set films before it became a quintessential California beach community with 46 historic cottages built directly on its beaches and bluffs. In 2018, the Crystal Cove Conservancy embarked on a massive restoration project, and CRYSTAL COVE COTTAGES recently unveiled eight perfectly preserved units that are now available for rent (in total 33 of the 46 historic cottages have been restored). What these cottages may be lacking in luxurious amenities they make up for in location and quirky charms. Shell Crafter’s cottage, which is painted sunny yellow on the outside and a vibrant teal inside, is decorated in a shell motif with fishing rods hung as artwork in the dining room. A few doors down, Little Grass Shack, a fire-engine red two-bedroom cottage, is separated from the Pacific by only a white picket fence. Over the course of the next two years, the remaining seaside cottages will be completed along with the creation of an additional 22 new units. From $49/night. crystalcove.org/beachcottages.com.


Feature image: Teacher’s Retreat at Crystal Cove Cottages.


This story originally appeared in the Spring 2024 issue of C Magazine.

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