CAMBRIA, Calif., October 4, 2013 — The Best Western Cavalier Oceanfront Resort in San Simeon is a sensational gateway to the wonders of Hearst Castle. It is a wonderful launching pad to explore the cosmic beauty of the amazing central coast of California in and around the beautiful town of Cambria.
Rooms 273 through 278, on the second floor of a wing overlooking the Pacific Ocean, are without question the most glorious rooms in all of Cambria and San Simeon. They offer a view that redefines the word spectacular. This charming and unprepossessing hotel is a truly secret hideaway that delivers a superlative experience in an unforgettable location for an entirely affordable price.
The rooms are comfortable and elegant, with twin queen beds and quaint, wood-burning fireplaces for a romantic ambiance on chilly nights. Each balcony overlooks a 30-foot precipice above the beach, the rocks, and the pounding surf below. The view north spreads out into a stunning vista: the untrammeled brilliance of unspoiled coastline and Big Sur in the distance.
While the rest of the Best Western Cavalier Oceanfront Resort is excellent, with a wonderful restaurant on site, make reservations specifically for rooms 273 through 278 for an otherworldly experience that transcends the most romantic of dreams, all for a price starting at $239 a night.
Above the beach and next to the ocean side units is an open field with a number of fire pits which are used regularly every evening. The beach itself is reached through a staircase down the bluff, and its sandy expanse is covered with brightly colored stones of all hues, shapes, colors and patterns. Over the course of the day surfers come and go with the tides, families walk the beach, and the colors and shadows are an ever changing kaleidoscope as the sun rises and sets in glorious Technicolor until the moon’s shining silver rays gleam across the water at night.
Just three miles north is Hearst Castle, publishing giant William Randolph Hearst’s opulent monument to himself, set on thousands of acres at the peak of a mountaintop. It is one of California’s most visited State Parks and tourist attractions. This glorious structure, where Hearst entertained the cream of Hollywood in the 1930’s, is well worth a daylong excursion, but reservations and tickets are required, and are best booked well in advance.
En route there are a number of scenic outlooks where visitors can stop and gaze endlessly at the pristine ocean, steep bluffs, and rocky outcrops below. At the base of Hearst Castle is the W. R. Hearst State Beach Park. It boasts a delightful cafe, Sebastian’s, a vintage schoolhouse from the 1930’s, and imposing views of the castle at the peak of “La Cuesta Encantada,” the enchanted hill above.
Several miles north, before Piedras Blancas lighthouse, is an elephant seal sanctuary where dozens of enormous elephant seals can be seen lounging on the beach, or playfully jousting for dominance in the water, while offshore two large islands in the shape of great white whales dominate the seascape.
South of San Simeon sits Cambria, a lovely town filled with antique stores and unique shops. At the center of it all is Robin’s, boasting a “hand crafted global cuisine.” This is a true culinary gem, with a flair for spicy Asian textures and innovative curries. It has a remarkable cottage setting with a large bustling patio.
Shellfish paella with large wild tiger shrimp, black mussels and Manila clams in a saffron risotto is a sumptuous delight, ridiculously tasty. Moroccan duck breast with radish and sunflower shoots and ginger chutney is phenomenal, tender and succulent. So are the crab cakes, with large chunks of lump crab and almost no filler. Tandoori chicken with yellow dhal is perfectly cooked, spicy and crisp on the outside, juicy and flavorful on the inside.
Roghan Josh, a north Indian lamb curry with yogurt and an array of chutneys is simply spectacular, a signature stand-out dish that tantalizes and amazes with each serving. Enjoy a wonderful meal on the large covered patio or a more rustic setting in the meticulously restored cottage, originally built in the 1930’s. Shanny also operates Novo Restaurant in nearby San Luis Obisbo, featuring her familiar global cuisine in a remarkable setting alongside a rushing creek, and its sister restaurant, Luna Red, with a sophisticated tapas menu of delicious small plates.
The ebullient Shanny Covey has been the guiding force behind Robin’s enduring success since 1985. Her commitment to fabulous exotic food with an organic edge emphasizing local ingredients has made Robin’s a destination restaurant. It is a must-stop dining experience on any trip through Cambria.
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles.
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