Brewery Gulch Inn: best Mendocino hotel with ocean views
If Mendocino is on your Northern California road trip itinerary, then who could ask for a better place to stay than the Brewery Gulch Inn. Arguably one of the best Mendocino hotels with an ocean view, Brewery Gulch Inn offers simple, casual elegance, in a peaceful setting.
With just 11 rooms, Brewery Gulch Inn feels as if you are visiting a friend and hanging out at their home. The friendly staff and down-to-earth owner Guy Pacurar have orchestrated lodging on the Mendocino Coast that is simple, rustic and luxurious all at once. You are secluded on the three-acre property just off Highway 1 with ocean views but remain just minutes into Mendocino Village.
If you came for a calm retreat on a road trip or other coastal adventure, this is your place. Brewery Gulch Inn sets itself apart as one of the best Mendocino hotels since a stay there includes not only a full, hot breakfast, but also a wine hour and light dinner. You may never want to leave. Which is ok!
Opened in March 2001, the Brewery Gulch Inn is less than two miles south of Mendocino Village and overlooks Smuggler’s Cove. Have you figured out the connection yet? BREWERY Gulch and SMUGGLERS cove? Yes, you got it. Several years before prohibition became U.S. law, the fine church-going ladies of Mendocino and the town’s clergy managed to prohibit alcohol in the county. Lore has it that clandestine stills popped up in the woods and the hidden gulch to quench the thirst of loggers, miners and sailors. Plus, the somewhat hidden cove was apparently the perfect place for small boats to pick up and drop off their illicit cargo.
Rustic, upcycled, safe luxury at Brewery Gulch Inn
You will immediately admire the wood exterior, beautiful entrance and gardens, and interior touches at Pacurar’s top Mendocino hotel. Much of the wood used in its construction was salvaged from first-growth redwoods found deeply buried in silt on the property by the first owner – trees that had been on their way down the river to the mill. Some simply didn’t make it, they were so heavy. The inn’s Craftsman style is both refined and rugged – the center of the building features a “great room” with 14-foot ceilings, fireplace, and two-story skylight. Ten-foot-tall French doors face southwest, flooding the living room and dining room with natural light and beautiful end-of-day sunshine.
We visited during the COVID-19 pandemic and it was impressive how the owners and staff at the inn took safety measures seriously – early morning baked goods covered individually, masks worn (correctly) by all, enough spacing between tables, hand sanitizer dispensers everywhere, no housekeeping, and of course the airiness of the great room helps ventilate the living area.
Since eight of the rooms have private decks or balconies, you could also take your breakfast or dinner there or in your rooms – there is always a table and seating to relax privately as you wish. Even on a private getaway on a California road trip, you may want modern touches, so the rooms do have plenty of extra power outlets and USB ports, as well as flat-screen TVs and DVD players. Recognizing that cell reception in Mendocino County came sometimes be spotty, local and domestic long-distance calls are complimentary. There is free Wifi also, but sometimes it would waft in and out a bit, especially if you were farther from the center area.
The food is just one reason to consider this the best Mendocino hotel
Even in complicated COVID-19 times, Brewery Gulch deftly serves a hot, cooked-to-order breakfast while keeping you and staff safe and distanced. You choose from a small menu – after your early morning baked good and beverage if you like. We particularly enjoyed the so-called “perennial favorite” called “BAAT,” or bacon, avocado, arugula and tomato. A thickly sliced, grilled, open-face brioche is topped with bacon fried with a touch of brown sugar and red pepper, sliced heirloom tomatoes, avocado and arugula, topped with a herb vinaigrette. Worthy of the finest cafes, this is a savory brunch item that will fill you for the day’s adventures! There are of course traditional offerings, too.
Evening appetizers are really so much more – you won’t need dinner since you can have a glass of wine or two and then enjoy a small entrée — for example chorizo fajitas, lamb Shepherd’s pie or chicken cacciatore. With a few small sides to go along, not to mention a small dessert, this is a completely satisfying, not to mention delectable meal.
The service was updated in late 2020 to be what Brewery Gulch Inn calls “bento box” dinners. A beautifully hand-crafted redwood cart holds covered hand-crafted wood trays labeled by room name. Starting about 25 minutes or so prior to the set dinner time, kitchen staff starts filling each box with that room’s tapas plates and sliding them back into the cart. That means guests can simply retrieve their box, grab a beverage, and take it to their preferred dining location. The setup is simply gorgeous, but we did find that hot food cooled down pretty quickly – meaning some entrees suffered a bit. Other tapas items did fine cooler. We applaud this attempt for contactless dining, but wish the boxes were insulated in some way – or there was a way to pre-select a time to eat so everybody’s food didn’t sit for so long.
Luxurious, spotless Brewery Gulch Inn hotel rooms
Basically, in each wing, there are two upstairs rooms (north, Raven, Pelican; south, Heron and Osprey) and two downstairs rooms (north, Madrone, Pine; south, Manzanita and Redwood) on each side of the great room (eight total), plus two rooms upstairs that do not have balconies (Smugglers and Lookout), plus a family suite (Meadowview). The four corner rooms have king beds, and the interior rooms have queens. We had the Madrone room on the north end – a spacious downstairs corner king, which was immaculate, elegant yet casual and without unnecessary frou-frou. Leather armchairs face the fireplace and the tall French doors for cozy views indoors and out. The bed was beyond comfortable, and a jacuzzi tub begged for a relaxing soak.
Of note is that Pine and Madrone are in the downstairs north wing. The only drawback of that downstairs wing is the kitchen is on the same short hall, meaning you start hearing a bit of traffic as breakfast is being prepared not to mention the smell of coffee wafting into your room (that always wakes me up, for better or for worse). You do also hear some vehicular traffic on Highway 1 below if you leave windows open – although rooms in both wings would likely have same experience. The traffic noise would only affect the really sensitive.
The other drawback of a downstairs room (at least in the Madrone) is that footsteps in the room above were quite loud and the floor quite creaky (ah, that old redwood), plus you could hear the mild roar of water filling the soaking tub upstairs and the squeaking of people rubbing against the walls of the tub above us during their bath.
If you do not plan to spend much time on your own deck or balcony, book one of the two upstairs loft rooms that do not have balconies – they actually have the best views! If you are able, an upstairs room would be our overall choice. The Redwood downstairs room on the south end is ADA accessible – tested and advised by one of Pacurar’s relatives!
You can sense the love and passion from Pacurar as a hands-on owner. “I love it,” he said. There has not been one day I haven’t looked forward to coming to work.”
By the way, Pacurar is also an owner and founder at Fathers + Daughters Cellars. If you are interested in a tasting of the Anderson Valley wines, call the inn or use the contact information on the winery’s website.
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