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April 30, 2011 / Linda Hartong


As I make my way down the hill to the beach, I pass La Playa, a beautiful boutique hotel set in our residential neighborhood.

The original building was designed in 1905 by artist Christopher Jorgensen as a luxurious home for his bride, a member of San Francisco’s famous Ghirardelli chocolate clan.

By the 1930’s,the mansion had been made into a hotel by Fred Godwin. In those days, La Playa guests would frequently arrive by train in Monterey, to be met by Fred with a pick-up truck large enough to transport the steamer trunks filled with enough clothing for a six-week visit.

But I rarely go into the hotel, it is the award-winning gardens in the courtyard surrounding the pool that I want to see. Today I walk along the terrace at the south end of the hotel and look over the spa balcony.

The view is gorgeous. The part of the hotel I see from here was once the mansion.

Looking right, I can see the guest room wings that were added later. Ah, that wonderful terraced garden is in full bloom.

Every little crack and crevice has been planted by the full-time gardening staff.

This little pink and white daisy shaped flower is Kinnikinnick, a native who loves the sandy soil.

The gardener is running in and out of her shed.

She is always planting something and admits she feels it is an honor to work here. The California poppy is splashing its orange cheer all over the place.



and sedum

are as happy as a pig in Kinnikinnick.

Calla Lilly adds its classy touch.

From here I can look down on the wrought iron gazebo and fountain. I have seen them setting up for many weddings in this spot.

This hotel is historically recognized by National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Each of the garden level rooms have their own heavily landscaped patio. A woman reading the paper and drinking coffee greets me as I walk by. This little fellow is her service dog.

I have decided to go through the hotel to the Terrace Grill Restaurant. It offers “al fresco” dining on the terrace, overlooking the gardens and has a glimpse of the ocean. It also has fab Eggs Benedict and at night an “early bird” special. Bill and I are definitely in the “early bird” phase of life and have had some great meals here. The view is especially pretty this morning. I can see the pool and all the garden.

The only noise is the whirring  of the gardener’s lawn mower,bird calls,and the sounds of the nearby surf.

I make my way back out the front door.

The original building – a part of which still stands today – had this star-shaped stained glass window facing the street, and steps leading up to a non-existent bell tower, a facet inspired by the early missions.

The potato fields said to have flourished on adjacent property are long gone, but I don’t miss them one bit.


Leave a Comment
  1. janet bishop- magina / Apr 30 2011 6:34 pm

    Looks delightful Linda, and of course I had to go read the menu:). I think for my Early Bird Special (yes, we are early bird age too!), I will have the sand dabs. We don’t have them here and I have only had them in SF. They were delicious.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


  2. jeanette sclar / Apr 30 2011 8:57 pm

    Love it! We stayed there when Josh was about 13-15. Your photos are much better than mine!

  3. Sonia/Miss Bloomers / May 1 2011 1:39 am

    What gorgeous gardens…I can see why the courtyard is worth a stroll through! We love eggs benedict and will have to remember to include La Playa on our list of places to visit on our next trip! Enjoy your blog so much…especially pictures of gardens and those Comstock cottages! Thanks for sharing such great posts!!!

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