Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Review 4165: Owner, Victorian Lightkeeper's House by the Sea (#116076)
3bed/2bath house in Cambria, California
2008, 2009, 3 nights
The location is wonderful - only one block to Moonstone Beach, and the village of Cambria is a five minute drive away. The house is at the end of a short dead-end street; there's a house on one side and a big empty field on the other. The beach and coastal trail are at the other end of the street. It was always quiet - we only ever heard the sounds of the waves and the seagulls.
Moonstone Beach is long and clean with pretty white sand (actually tiny pebbles), and perfect for sitting on a driftwood log and watching the sunset. There are usually surfers out in the mornings and early evenings, but never very many other people. One Sunday evening I had the beach all to myself, except for a couple walking along the surf. The California Coastal Trail is a raised boardwalk along the cliffs that follows the shoreline. There's a viewing station just off the trail about a 1/2 mile north that overlooks rocks where seals like to sun themselves.
There are several ocean view restaurants within walking distance. We had a good meal one night at Sea Chest Restaurant & Oyster Bar on Moonstone Beach Drive. Delicious deep-fried calamari steak strips, and fresh grilled seafood.
The Victorian house is a former lighthouse keeper's house from the nearby Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. It's well maintained and in good shape. Four of us have rented this house twice now over long holiday weekends; we really like it there!
There are two bedrooms on the downstairs corners - a twin bedded room at the front of the house and a larger room with a queen bed at the back. There's also a small bathroom with clawfoot tub and shower downstairs. It was a bit difficult to get into and out of the raised tub; a grab bar would be nice.
Upstairs was another bedroom with queen-sized bed, TV, and renovated bathroom with jacuzzi and a shower stall. Very nice and spa-like! All beds were comfortable, with soft linens.
There's a "parlor" at the front of the house we didn't use, as well as a formal dining room with fireplace. French doors from the dining room lead to the wooden deck at the side of the house.
The large kitchen in this house is really its heart. One tall window looks out towards the ocean, and meeting around the huge butcher block island was our favorite pastime. We'd eat meals there, read, do puzzles, talk - the well equipped kitchen was where we spent most of our time.
Our other favorite spot (in warm weather) was the upstairs balcony. It was narrow, but five of us were able to sit up there in deck chairs to drink wine, talk, and enjoy the sun and sea breeze.
The yard and garden was very nice with shrubbery on one side as a privacy hedge between it and the deck. A white picket fence protected it from deer. There was a small swing in one corner, and charming statuary including a bird bath. Native California plants and pretty flowering pots completed the picture.
The wide deck runs on two sides of the house. There are padded lounge chairs available as well as a table and chair set for outdoor dining. One afternoon we grabbed some magazines and a bottle of wine, and parked ourselves in the lounge chairs for a couple of hours to relax and enjoy the sunny day.
We used the charcoal grill from the garage/shed for barbecuing.
The house was clean and furniture was in good shape. The parlor furniture was pretty, but not especially comfortable. The dining room was also nice, with six or eight chairs around a long table, but again - we preferred to use the kitchen.
The kitchen was clean, well equipped, and great for preparing and cooking meals. We used the microwave, stove and oven all in one night on this last visit! There were plenty of dishes, pots and pans, and serving dishes. We liked to have small snacks and appetizers out on the center island and found lots of cute little bowls in the cupboards.
As one might imagine at a house so close to Paso Robles wine country, there was a multitude of wine glasses from various wineries!
Problems or Bonuses
No surprises - this house was as represented, if not better. It has a wonderful, welcoming "feel" to it and we loved walking in the front door.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The house is managed by Scenic Coast Properties. We picked up and dropped off the keys at their office on Main Street in Cambria. The staff is very nice and accommodating. The VRBO page for this house lists the nightly and weekly prices.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We love this house and plan to stay there again next year! Truly, a great rental house in a marvelous location.
Things to do in this area
The village of Cambria is close enough to walk to from the house if you choose; we drove. ;) Many interesting shops, a couple of bookstores, art galleries, several restaurants, a grocery store (Cookie Crock Market), deli/market (Soto's Market), and the AWESOME French Corner Bakery! We like to stop there as soon as we hit town to see if any of their delicious pesto sticks are left. Next best thing, their bread. I can't remember the name of it, but we called it "croissant bread" - it was sooo light and flaky. One night we sliced it up, spread pesto on it, and broiled it to make our own pesto sticks!
We had a delicious lunch one afternoon on the sunny outdoor terrace of Indigo Moon on Main Street. Our server recommended "Juno" rosť wine from South Africa - we loved it! We also liked our lunch at Robin's Restaurant on Burton Drive; they have a covered patio-like dining area. The Western style Mozzi's Saloon is another fun spot. It looks like a biker bar with pool tables and video games, but the bar staff and customers were nice and friendly. The Sunday afternoon bartender makes the pickled eggs herself!
Favorite shops in Cambria are Home Arts and The Laundry Company. Oh, and Keenan's Cambria Village Pharmacy is Rubber Duck headquarters! You wouldn't believe the variety of rubber ducks they carry. LOL
Harmony Cellars in nearby Harmony - the smallest town in California (population 18!) - has a large tasting room with wine accessories for sale, too. The terrace overlooks a great view of the hills, and has a picnic table. We went wine tasting there one afternoon with fairly low expectations, and were very pleasantly surprised to find that we really liked their wines! We left with a case of it. :D
The house is comfortable, and at 3 hours from San Jose, just right for a relaxing long weekend getaway. The four of us who've rented it, really love the low key atmosphere of the Moonstone Beach neighborhood and Cambria. We all agree that if we could figure out a way to live there year round, we would!
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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