The West Inn & Suites in Carlsbad, California recently invited me to come spend a night to check out their accommodations. Like many people who grew up in San Diego, my knowledge of Carlsbad and other North County locations is a little fuzzy. So it was fun to have an excuse to explore this town of 112,000. Did I mention it’s right on the beach? I took a scenic and relaxing 45-minute train ride from San Diego with plenty of ocean views. Here are a few highlights of my stay.
Comfortable room with super nice bed. Actually, a suite. I had a spacious sitting room with a comfy couch. The mattress got an A plus! A quiet and delightful place to sleep. I loved that the bathroom had a tub – so many hotels are going for shower-only these days. I figure why stand in shower when you can relax in the tub while reading a paperback?
This terrific on-site restaurant goes above and beyond. I had warned them ahead of time that I was vegan. But instead of the chef regarding this as a liability, he embraced the opportunity to get creative with vegetables. “The whole staff has been excited all day,” Chef John Miller told me, adding that one of his kitchen crew is especially interested in vegan cooking. Miller describes the menu as “international comfort food with a California influence.” And they do mean international. For the mushroom ravioli, Miller gets Hokkaido mussels specially flown in from Japan twice a week. My vegan feast included an Indian-inspired cauliflower and chick pea dish and an amazing penne pasta served in an iron skillet. Miller and staff have worked hard to get San Diegans into North County by tempting them with Bistro West specialties. And it’s paying off. The restaurant is a destination in itself, whether or not you’re staying at the hotel.
They have the holiday spirit
I visited when the hotel was all decked out for Halloween. Witches, pumpkins, creepy holograms that changed as you walked by – plenty fun and spooky enough that one of the desk staff admitted getting a few Halloween-inspired goose bumps. A cinnamon smell hung in the air by the elevators. I bet it’s a special place for Christmas, too.
They’re all over the place at the West Inn & Suites, supplied by a local grower. The huge bunches looked so perfect I had to touch the petals to make sure they were real. Fun trivia fact: The grower has an orchid locker where locals orchid lovers can store their beloved plants while they’re on vacation, knowing their flowers will be treated right.
Jaime Hileman bakes treats for the guests. Look for muffins, scones and her special cinnamon brioche toast casserole at breakfast, and cookies in the afternoon. Better yet, turn down service comes with her own creation – pistachio and chocolate mint French macaroons, wrapped in a “Sweet Dreams from West” message.
Close to the beach and shopping
Just a few blocks from the hotel is a long expanse of beach. You can walk two miles to Carlsbad Village, the shopping area. My favorite store was MTA World Bazaar. I’m always looking for special things to add to my sister’s amber jewelry collection, and this store’s jewelry cases did not disappoint. I also enjoyed a delicious soy cappuccino from Sleeping Tiger Coffees. This roastery and coffee shop is tucked inside Witch Creek Winery. Look for the colorful mural of a sleeping tiger on the outer wall. Or just stay on the sand and watch the surfers, birds and squirrels. Yes, darling sand squirrels populate this beach! During my October visit, there were a few walkers and lots of surfers. But beware, this beach slopes steeply down to the water. As the tide came in, some chilly splashes hit my calves. This may be SoCal, but don’t expect warm water. Remember to roll those pant legs way up!
I love when hotels have their own shuttles. Sure, Uber is great, and has been there when I really needed them. But there’s something that makes me feel well cared for as a guest when I know the people at my hotel will come get me if I need them. I enjoyed a good chat with the friendly young staff person on the way down. This shuttle is easy to spot – just look for the vehicle painted in white orchids.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations and meal for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.