Cypress Inn – Carmel, CA

Nov. 13, 2008

Unfortunately, there will always be a few inns and hotels across the country that have, shall we say, gone to the dogs. But, on the other hand—or perhaps I should say paw—there is one lodging establishment where the opposite has occurred and fortunate dogs have gone: the Cypress Inn in Carmel, California.

Built in 1929, this historic inn sits elegantly on the corner of Lincoln and 7th, a short walk to the town’s cluster of quaint shops, cafes, and galleries, yet set back enough from the main street to maintain a peaceful existence. Built in traditional California Spanish style, the inn boasts an impressive lobby and living room with seating areas surrounding a large fireplace.

Housed inside the inn, Terry’s Lounge and Restaurant is a prime rendezvous area for drinks, appetizers, and fine dining. It also serves as a location for guests to enjoy an expansive complimentary continental breakfast. An outdoor patio offers small tables and benches as well as its own fireplace and is surrounded by well maintained gardens.

It will come as no surprise to savvy guests that a sign in one garden area states, “Please don’t eat the daisies!” The Cypress Inn is co-owned by Doris Day and Dennis LeVitt. Interior corridors are decorated with movie posters from the actress’s lengthy career, and movies from Doris Day’s film career are available for viewing.

My father accompanied me on this particular trip, as well as my faithful four-legged companion, Thunder, who was about to experience true canine luxury. The crystal vase of Milkbones on the front desk was our first clue that this would not be just any pet-friendly establishment. A mere glance around the lobby confirmed this. There was not a human in sight who didn’t have at least one canine companion. It even appeared that humans might be outnumbered by dogs, many dressed up for Carmel affluence, from freshly groomed coiffures—or would that be coiffed furs—to sparkling rhinestone collars. The humans looked pretty spiffy, as well, and quite pleased that their dogs had the kind hearts to have brought them along.

Cypress Inn has a variety of accommodations, including luxurious suites. It is not a lodging establishment for paupers, and we had chosen one of the smaller rooms. Our second floor choice turned out to be spacious enough for two humans and one dog. Immaculate and refined, with upscale bedding and all the modern amenities required for 21st century comfort, we were more than comfortable; we were delighted.

Though all guests, whether two or four-legged, are allowed in most areas of the inn, health laws prevent pets from entering the main dining area, so we grabbed a leash—for my dog, not my father—and sauntered down the street for a bite to eat.

Referred by the inn to Portabella, we found the Mediterranean style restaurant housed in an enchanting building set slightly back from the street by a gorgeous garden area with a handful of inviting tables. Not surprisingly, the Carmel Garden Club awarded PortaBella first prize for Beautiful Flowerscaping.

The maitre d’ ushered us through the main restaurant to an enclosed back patio where dogs were welcome. At a cozy, corner table, we enjoyed an excellent meal. We were not the only ones with a pet comfortably resting under the table. A variety of ankle to knee-level noses sniffed up toward the culinary aromas from the tabletops above.

Carmel in general is a very pet-friendly town. More than one store offers water bowls just outside their front door. Selected shops allow dogs inside, and the beach at the foot of the main drag provides plenty of scenic territory for leash-free romping.

The Cypress Inn may provide a restful haven for its canine guests, but it’s not Doris Day’s only contribution to animal welfare. The Doris Day Animal Foundation, founded in 1978, is a nonprofit 501c (3) organization involved in a wide variety of animal services, including the funding of grants for Spay Day USA and Search Dog Foundation.

In addition to offering visitors charming village scenes and upscale shopping and dining opportunities, Carmel is perfectly situated for excursions that range from hiking in Big Sur to playing a pricey round of golf at Pebble Beach. The Monterey Jazz Festival and Carmel Arts Festival are just two of many high profile events held in the area. And the Monterey Bay Aquarium is just a short jaunt down the highway.

Morning found us bringing juice, fruit and baked goods out of the dining room and into the lounge, where pets are allowed. We weighed our options for the day over freshly brewed coffee and finally set out to explore Carmel River Lagoon and Wetlands Nature Preserve. Surrounded by pristine natural settings, it was hard to believe we were only a few miles from the busy business district of Carmel itself.

Whether for family vacation, romantic weekend or solo getaway, Carmel has something to offer for everyone. The Cypress Inn just added an extra touch of class to an already captivating area that’s worth visiting over and over again. There’s certainly one family member in my home with paws crossed, hoping to return soon.