Last weekend my husband and I celebrated his birthday by making the quick drive from San Francisco to stay as guests of the legendary Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, California. They were gracious enough to provide us with a room and valet parking, as well as access to the Club Lounge, at no charge, so that we could experience the wonders of the property.
It was a delightful 16 hour getaway that we would repeat every weekend if possible. Let me tell you, they earned that fabulous reputation! Gorgeous location, luxurious amenities, and that so-well-known Ritz Carlton service equal a pretty fabulous hotel experience.
If you can celebrate your birthday at the Ritz, do it!
We drove down the long driveway leading to the property, stopping at a gatehouse to give our name to a friendly guard. She responded, “Well, Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln!” and ushered us up to the valets, mostly cute young boys dressed in plus fours, i.e. old timey-golf outfits. Nice touch for a property that boasts two golf courses overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
At the front desk my husband was once again wished a happy birthday — by three different Ritz Carlton staffers – and we were offered glasses of wine from the tasting they were doing in the lobby. Delightful!
Balloons + feather beds = a great night's rest!
Our room was a decent size, with a king-sized bed made all the more cozy with a feather bed and dreamy Egyptian cotton linens. The giant HD flatscreen tv was housed in a built in hutch, which also contained the honor bar (Cashews: $11) and a stunning “personal wine cellar” with several bottles of real wine. Seriously, Gary Vanynerchuk would have whole-heartedly approved of this hotel! They even offer wine classes!
The in-room wine cellar.
Making the room all the more festive were the balloons and birthday cake that greeted our arrival, along with a nice note welcoming us.
“Look, they even put a Leo on the cake, for my sign,” my husband joked.
“That’s the Ritz logo,” I replied, rolling my eyes at him. “But yeah, they do seem that good with the details.”
The view from our room: golf, bluff and Pacific Ocean
The Ritz Carlton Club
I wrote about the incredible Ritz Carlton Club lounge when I stayed at the Dearborn Michigan Ritz. Note: you always want to get a room with Club Level access. Always.
Best way to start a weekend? With champagne and pate en croute!
This lounge was even better than the one in Dearborn, and we made full use of it. We were welcomed by the very friendly concierge, Carmen, who asked for our room number, wished my husband a happy birthday (seriously) and then gave a tour of the lounge.
There are five different food presentations each day. This pre-dinner one included areas with a bar (wine, champagne, name brand booze), a charcuterie and cheese spread, chicken and carmelized fig hors d’oeuvres, six giant glass jars of cookies, an espresso/mocha maker (regular and decaf), and a broad variety of soft drinks including sodas, juices and multiple types of bottled waters.
We only meant to get a glass of champagne and a snack, but everything was so delicious, and the view of the golf course, bluffs and Pacific Ocean were so beautiful that we wound up hanging out for about 45 minutes. And we went back for dessert, later that evening!
Chocolate covered marshmallows and brandy!
As usual, I kept an eye out to see how other people (a.k.a. the paying guests) were treated, and the lounge was a great spot for spying. During this first visit I saw Carmen being incredibly gracious to everyone who came in, and the other staff members being polite and efficient. Someone even went down to the lobby store and brought back a bottle of Tylenol for a guest!
The Ocean Walk and Terrace
The late afternoon was so beautiful that we finally forced ourselves to leave the lounge and take a walk around the property. There is a paved walkway shared by golf carts, guests and several local dog walkers. We strolled along the perfectly manicured golf course and walked down a quick set of steps to a sheltered beach packed with people enjoying the unusually warm Northern California end of summer day.
Then we back to the Terrace in time to hear the bagpipe player.
Bagpiper at sunset with hot chocolate bar behind him!
We were lucky enough to score a pair of chairs with a great view of everything. We plunked ourselves down, ordered signature Vodka Lime Rickeys, and waited for the sunset show. Faintly at first, and then growing louder, we heard the the strains of the bagpipe, which isn’t a soothing instrument, but it certainly lends an air of distinction to the proceedings. The kilt-wearing player did several songs, entertaining the crowd of families, couples, two bridal parties and several dogs for about 30 minutes, until the sun went down.
Signature lime rickeys at sunset!
Then staffers lit the two giant fire pits and started serving hot chocolates. With booze if you want it.
The Other Important Stuff
The perfect bathroom!
- I didn’t have a chance to tour any other rooms, but I know that next time I visit I want to get one of the Terrace Fire Pit Rooms. Just like the name implies, you’re on the ground level and have a personal fire pit right outside your room.
- The bathroom was perfect. Almost as big as the room, white marble, Bulgari white tea soaps. The toilet was in a little room with a door, good for privacy. Water-efficient rain showerhead, nice terry robes. Great light, including one of those terrifying magnified makeup mirrors with a built in light.
- When it gets cold, the staff brings blankets out for people sitting on the terrace around the fire pit.
- The spa is right by the Terrace, so right after you finish your massage, or workout you can wander out in your robe, have a drink, and contemplate the ocean.
- Weddings! We saw two while we were there and those were some happy brides — and even happier guests!
- Don’t bother washing your car before you go. It’s outdoor parking and your car will be covered with dew in the morning.