Cottage Inn by-the-Sea near Pismo Beach, California, has the charming appearance of a row of thatched cottages plucked from the English countryside, then carefully perched on top of rugged bluffs overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean. With sweeping views of white surf and blue ocean, sea gulls gliding high above the cliffs, and dramatic sunsets, you will feel as if you’ve stepped into a picture-perfect postcard.
But a picture postcard cannot give you the feel of what staying at the Cottage Inn is like. Imagine waking up after a restful sleep to the sounds of birds filling the crisp, clean ocean air, with sounds of the surf crashing on the beach layered in the background. Imagine sitting out on your patio, sipping freshly brewed hot coffee you made in your room just minutes ago, waking up gradually, just as the earth wakes up.
Or imagine the evening calm that comes as the sun goes down… imagine sitting on your patio or balcony, sipping wine from one of the highly regarded local wineries as you watch the drama of a Pacific Ocean sunset unfold. Let your imagination of a relaxing weekend getaway by the ocean run wild – and it still will not equal what Cottage Inn has to offer, for a stay at Cottage Inn is full of pleasant surprises.
Every time I have stayed at the Cottage Inn, I have come away with a different experience. From atop the bluffs on which Cottage Inn sits I have seen playful otters diving, then coming up to the surface and rolling onto their backs to munch on whatever they had caught. On another occasion I watched a seal play for perhaps an hour in an unusually clear Pacific Ocean – riding the waves just for the fun of it. That day, the ocean was so clear that from on top of the bluffs I could see a school of fish swimming in the cove below. Another guest at the Cottage Inn said once she saw dolphins playing in the surf right around sunset. I’m sorry I missed that one.
On one extraordinary visit, over the course of a couple of days, I watched dozens and dozens of whales spouting in the distance on their annual migration northward, occasionally displaying a full fluke as they dived deep into the ocean. I am almost certain I saw baby whales accompanying their mothers on their journey to the rich northern seas. That is one experience I will never forget.
The wildlife you can see without even venturing far from your room at the Cottage Inn is both surprising and wonderful. All you have to do is watch. Then if you go the extra mile – well, more like a hundred feet – and take the stairs down to the beach, you will find even more – tidal pools to explore, caves carved out by the ocean’s powerful surf, and beauty in both the tiniest and the grandest miracles that nature has to offer.
Rooms & Amenities
Rooms at the Cottage Inn are tastefully decorated in an English-style country cottage décor. Although I have stayed in non-ocean view rooms, once I tried the ocean view room, I will never go back. Just being able to walk out my door at any time of the day and relax on my patio or balcony as I gaze out at the stunning views of the ocean is simply priceless to me. By the way, bring binoculars. You’ll want them.
Each room at the Cottage Inn has a cozy gas fireplace, refrigerator, microwave, and complimentary bottled water. Other amenities include free local calls, in-room movies, and free high-speed Internet access. On the property are a pool and spa for guests’ use.
The Cottage Inn offers a complimentary breakfast for its guests. Guests may choose from freshly made hot Belgian waffles, hot or cold cereal, a wide assortment of pastries, various flavors of yogurt, fresh fruit, boiled eggs, toast, bagels, English muffins, oatmeal, cottage cheese, juices, coffee, and an assortment of tea. Then as an extra added touch, in the afternoon at 4 p.m., cookies are available in the lobby. It’s those extra touches that keep me going back to the Cottage Inn year after year.
The grounds of the Cottage Inn are well-manicured and punctuated with clusters of red, pink, purple, and yellow flowers. For even closer views of the ocean, there are Adirondack chairs that sit right along the edge of the railing along the cliff, as well as tables with umbrellas if you want a little shade. A sidewalk runs along the top of the bluff – just perfect for a walk or a run.
When we reserved the room, we mentioned that it was a special anniversary. To our surprise and delight, a complimentary bottle of bubbly in a silver bucket of ice, plus two glasses, greeted us as we entered the room for the first time. They even left us a nice note wishing us a happy anniversary. As I said, it’s those extra touches…
It seems as though the Cottage Inn is always running specials on their rooms. In order to hear about the specials in plenty of time to plan for a weekend getaway, go here and subscribe to the e-newsletter. Practically every time I have stayed at the Cottage Inn, I have paid less than the full rate due to specials.
As far as hotel rates in the Pismo Beach area go, Cottage Inn lies comfortably in the middle. In June, 2010, rooms at the Cottage Inn are going for under $200 a night. That’s 25% or more off their regular rates. They also offer a one-night dinner package that includes dinner at a local steakhouse. Call to find out about their current specials.
There is no shortage of great restaurants in the Pismo Beach area. Try Steamers just down the block for an elegant dinner at sunset with a view from your table overlooking the beach. A lot of people go to McClintock’s for steak, but be prepared for an active (noisy) atmosphere. Browse the cafés and restaurants in Avila and Pismo for inexpensive but great seafood. One of the most popular seafood restaurants near the Pismo Beach Pier is the Splash Café, famous for its award-winning clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl.
Things to Do
San Luis Obispo County has garnered worldwide acclaim for its wines and wineries. For oenophiles there are tasting rooms in Pismo as well as in the surrounding countryside. Check the San Luis Obispo Vintners’ Association for a map of local wineries. Breakaway Tours, Wine Wrangler, and many other outfits host guided tours so you don’t have to drive – an excellent idea when wine tasting.
Pismo Beach is perfect for the active adult. Besides surfing, scuba diving, whale watching, kayaking, fishing, and other ocean-related activities, there are also dune buggy rides, biplane rides, golf courses, horseback rides, and hot air balloon rides. At various times of the year, there are art exhibits, food festivals, and a jazz festival in October. For eco-tourists, visiting the Monarch butterfly grove from late October through February is a must-see at least once in your life.
For those who are quite content to just relax and enjoy the ocean air, however, there is no place better to do so than in Pismo Beach and Avila Beach. It’s away from the crowds on the Los Angeles beaches and perfectly situated on the coast for great year-round weather.
If you decide to go to the beach, consider contacting Beach Butlerz, which rents lounge chairs, tables, umbrellas, and even luxury cabanas. They will set everything up for you on a number of different beaches, including Avila, Pismo, Cambria, and others. Most of their “butlers” are college-age young men and women with great smiles and amiable personailities.
Letting the Beach Butlerz young, energetic “butlers” take care of lugging all the equipment across the sand and then breaking it down afterwards is well worth the reasonable prices Beach Butlerz charges. We tried the “Awesome Day at the Beach” package and loved it – and plan to do it again. Guests of Cottage Inn get a 10% discount – ask about it at the front desk. Beach Butlerz also offers evening bonfires and weddings on the beach.
The simple elegance, charm, and unique style of the Cottage Inn are augmented by the friendly staff, many extra touches, and reasonable mid-range rates. The spectacular ocean views are worth the stay at Cottage Inn all by themselves, and are part of what keeps me going back year after year.
To inquire about the Cottage Inn by-the Sea in Pismo Beach, California, get directions, or to make reservations, call 800-440-8400 or directly at 805-773-4617.