The Bottom Line
L'Auberge Carmel offers one of the top places to stay in an area renowned for its high-end lodgings, with a restaurant that's one of the best we've experienced.
- Excellent location in downtown Carmel
- Beautiful 1920s-era building remodeled to 21st century standards of comfort
- Super-excellent restaurant
- Occasional layout missteps: We had to step into the bathtub and crawl over the bed to close windows
- Slow Internet service in our room
- L'Auberge Carmel
Monte Verde Street at Seventh Avenue
- Small, luxury hotel with 20 rooms
- Free parking with valet service
- Free WiFi
- In-room massage and spa service
- Some rooms have soaking tubs, all have radiant floor heating and walk-in showers
- Other amenities are what you'd expect in a luxury hotel
- Restaurant on premises. Room service. Breakfast included in daily rate
- No fitness facilities
Guide Review - L'Auberge Carmel
L'Auberge Carmel is just off the main shopping street in Carmel, housed in a building constructed in 1929. Rooms surround a lovely courtyard, the main shopping street is only a block away and it's about four blocks to the beach.
Part of the Relais & Chateau group of hotels, L'Auberge is typical of that group's 5 C's: charm, courtesy, character, cuisine, and calm.
Dining at L'AubergeDining at the on-premises restaurant Aubergine offers a chance to enjoy the creations of two outstanding chefs, Justin Cogley and Ron Mendoza, who are raising the bar for some of the town's longer-standing establishments. The "spontaneous chef’s tasting menu," described only by a list of ingredients was one of the finest meals we've had - anywhere - and the sommelier's wine pairings were equally skillful.
We're not alone in our opinion, either. Aubergine was voted fifth best in San Francisco and the Bay Area by Zagat.
When they're not running Aubergine and sister properties (Cantinetta Luca and Salumeria Luca) Cogley and Mendoza teach monthly cooking classes. The groups are small and unlike many cooking classes we've attended, they're hands-on, with samples to take home. Even better, they're helpful beyond preparation of the dish at hand, teaching the technique along with the recipe in the style of professional a cooking institute.
Review and RecommendationsL'Auberge is among the top hotels we've stayed in during more than a decade writing about California travel. Definitively high-end in ambiance, service and price, it delivered a nearly-flawless experience. Rooms are nicely decorated, beds are as comfy as any we've ever slept in and the overall atmosphere is quiet and relaxing.
After the remodel completed in early 2012 and until our stay in late April, 2012, TripAdvisor reviews were 100% five stars. One visitor even opined that the restaurant was almost as good as French Laundry.
For a hotel of L'Auberge's calibre, expectations are high and a small thing that we'd be more likely to forgive in a hotel with a lower price point lowers its rating from 5.0 to 4.5 stars. It started with a simple problem: WiFi service was maddeningly slow in our room. We've stayed in more than enough hotels to know that even the nicest of properties can have a bad day, but how it was handled was worrying. In similar circumstances at other hotels, we've seen much more responsiveness and in some cases, technicians appeared to remedy the problem. However, front desk staff offered only excuses and unhelpful suggestions, leaving us wondering about their general level of customer care.
If you want to stay at L'Auberge, they offer an dizzying array of room types. In addition, stairs leading to upper-level rooms are typical of the era when they were built, narrow and steep, with shallow treads. If you have mobility issues, you'll be better off in a room on the lower level. All in all, this is one case where you're best off to call and make your reservation - or at least discuss it.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review of L'Auberge Carmel. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.