Beach House: The Retreat that's Beachy Keen
By Kathy Chin Leong

The couple in the small hot tub had hit their Zen zone. On one side of the wall, with eyelids sealed, they murmured to each other, not really wanting to engage with Frank and I who were also on our own parent getaway. We were simmering on the opposite end, steaming up our glasses so much that we looked like we had eggs on top of our eyes.

But, as things go, we exchanged pleasantries and were anxious to find out what exotic places we had come from. We were both chagrined. They, parents of three little boys, lived in Palo Alto, less then 30 minutes away. We, parents of a boy and girl, lived in Sunnyvale, about 45 minutes away. Then we slipped apart from the other couple, each knowing this would be a rare weekend of quietude.

norbaybeachhouse_july_2011_01.jpgThe Beach House at Half Moon Bay gets a lot of folks like us. Upscale and modern, but affordable (between $185 and $405 per night), this all suite hotel with 54 rooms sits on the waterfront. Views of the bay are resplendent, and you can hear the foghorn as you drift off to sleep. It is far, but not so far for us Bay Area dudes and dudettes. Close enough to run home in case grandma calls to announce that your kid has an ear infection and that you better return right away (which did happen once before).

We loved the room of this eco-friendly boutique hotel that has a step-down living area with a couch, flat screen TV, bar sink, fireplace, and a small patio facing the ocean on the first floor. Colors of baby yellow, striped with light blues, reminded me of Nantucket. The décor is definitely Ralph Lauren-beachy, with a classy, sedate atmosphere with simple furnishings and lightly accessorized.

It was so relaxing and also roomy that we invited two couples to come one morning to meet us for a walk and brunch at a nearby restaurant on the pier. The hotel is walking distance to Pillar Point Harbor, and our friends were so happy to come to our hotel room and see its charming interiors that they also said they would like to come sometime for a couple's weekend away.


norbaybeachhouse_july_2011_03.jpgLike every hotel on the planet, this place offers free WI-FI, so that is both good news and bad, isn't it? When you want to get away, you are too tempted to view your email. We, in the 21st century, have been too conditioned this way. But at the same time, we were able to check out restaurants on, and were so pleased to find that there are tons of restaurants in Half Moon Bay which have four-star ratings.

Also in the room are the electronics you need to create a romantic setting. Your MP3 player can be connected to the stereo to amplify your latest recordings on your playlist. A five-disc CD player is also available.

I loved, loved the fact that this upscale boutique hotel has the sense and practicality to include a microwave and refrigerator. And when you have yummy leftovers from one of the amazing restaurants nearby, you don't want to toss your goodies. And if you happen to bring your kids, and you can, you can purchase take-out meals and simplify your weekend stay.

The hotel offers a free daily newspaper in the lobby and also a splendid wine hour in the late afternoon with fruit and cheese. In the morning, it offers a generous continental breakfast with the freshest of scones, Danishes, bagels, and fruit pastries in an alcove off the lobby. You feel like you really, really lucked out since the spread of fruit, sweets, savories, and juices and coffee and tea is so high-end. Something like this would run you $10-$15 per person easily if you dined out.

What I also liked about the breakfast is the fact that there are trays and real silverware and plates to bring to your room, so you can eat on your own patio or balcony. There is no separate breakfast area, so you get all the intimacy you want unless you want to eat in the lobby on the couches.

The hotel also features spa services. A husband and wife team, when contacted ahead of time, can offer you a variety of massages, and this is a perfect set up after a day of activity.


norbaybeachhouse_july_2011_02.jpgIn addition to the great extras at the hotel and friendly service from the personnel, the location off of Cabrillo Highway gives it easy access to restaurants and activities. Adjacent to Pillar Point Harbor, you can select a fresh fish in the morning and ask one of the fish markets to cook it for you for a fee. There is the Half Moon Bay Kayaking Company right behind the property. An hour or two on the bay is easy for the novice in these sturdy, colorful kayaks.

As for eats, the ever-popular Sam's Chowder House is a great find, and is well known for its lobster roll- chunks of lobster, secret sauce on a hot dog bun. You can eat indoors or outdoors, and enjoy every bite of your seafood entrée.

And who would have thought this off-the-beaten path restaurant would be such a hit? We dined in glory at Café Gibraltar, in El Granada, just five minutes away. This fresh Mediterranean cuisine was incredible with Moroccan decor featuring small little gauzy draped seating alcoves.


Need some time together, but don't want to take out a bank loan? The Beach House Half Moon Bay is your go-to destination. Fresh air. Great food. Awesome views. It's all here.



Beach Hotel Half Moon Bay
4100 North Cabrillo Highway
Half Moon Bay
Rates: $185 to $405) – Check often for specials

Kathy Chin Leong is editor of Bay Area Family Travel and promises to bring her kids next time she comes.

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