After checking out from our positioning hotel – Hotel Citrine -, we started the one-hour half-plus drive to our next hotel, the Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Overlooking Big Sur. After reading several of Matthew Klint’s reviews over the years, I was excited to finally check this place out.
Visiting Big Sur has long been a dream of mine. I’m sure I don’t have to tell any of you this, but it is a stunningly beautiful part of California. My ideal trip here, though, would include a stay at the Post Ranch Inn. Being that it’s so isolated and expensive, though, that wasn’t going to work this time around. The next best option, then, was the Hyatt Carmel Highlands, especially since I could pay for the stay entirely with points, and it’s a short drive away from Carmel by the Sea.
Hyatt Carmel Highlands Location
As its name suggests, the Hyatt Carmel Highlands is near the town of Carmel by the Sea. In fact, it’s just a quick 10-minute drive from the center of the town. Plus, it’s only one of three name-brand hotels in the area, the others being Carmel Valley Ranch, a Hyatt Unbound Collection property, and the Best Western Carmel. But none of those two properties are on the coast, meaning the Hyatt Carmel Highlands is the only one that’ll give you those iconic Big Sur water views. So, if you’re looking to stay in the area on hotel loyalty program points, this is the premier option.
It’s worth noting that the Tickle Pink Inn is right next to the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. In fact, I could clearly see that hotel from our room.
Hyatt Carmel Highlands Check-In
If you’re staying at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands, know that the property is decentralized. The main building houses the front desk and restaurant, but all of the rooms are distributed across a number of different buildings. Naturally, when you arrive to check-in, you’ll need to pull up to the main building to check-in. Usually, the valets will let you leave your car in the porte-cochere while you go through your formalities.
In our particular case, that meant that, after checking in, we needed to head straight out of the porte-cochere to continue on Highlands Drive, as our room was in the last building right before you get to Tickle Pink Inn. The parking for our room, however, was located slightly farther away, in the back of the larger villas above our building.
Hyatt Carmel Highlands Room 516
I’m not going to lie. It was a struggle to get our bags down to our room. There are a lot of stairs, and this is a really hilly property. However, that initial struggle was worth it, as you’ll see. But before we get to the room, here’s a view of the pathway leading to it.
The wayfinding signage leading to it was a bit confusing, but we eventually figured it out. You see that little building way down at the end of the pathway? That’s where we were. But the entrance isn’t off the pathway. Rather, we had to head up a short set of steps onto a gorgeous deck with a stunning view.
Just check out this wonderful deck space. It’s a really lovely space to spend time soaking in the views, which is exactly what I did.
The room itself was a little underwhelming. As you can see, once you enter the door, you’re immediately in the bedroom, which is on the small side. In fact, this is the smallest room we had during our entire trip.
As you can see in the second photo above, the bathroom is directly behind the bed, with a vanity that is open to the rest of the room. To the right of it is a small closet, while to the left of it is the toilet and shower/tub.
Hyatt Carmel Highlands Room Amenities
As you can see in the photos above, our room didn’t have a whole lot to it. The wall-mounted TV is tiny, though there is a Keurig machine beneath it, along with a radio/alarm clock. In the closet is a safe large enough to hold a 15″ laptop, along with the housekeeper’s vacuum cleaner. Though we didn’t nee do to use it, there is a mini-fridge in the room right under the Keurig.
My favorite amenity of the room, though, was probably the wood-burning fireplace. Coming from Hawaii, fireplaces aren’t common, so learning to build a fire in our fireplace was fun. I also loved the crackle and the smell.
It’s worth noting, however, that the Hyatt Carmel Highlands is currently undergoing reservations. As part of the work being done on the rooms, they are replacing the wood-burning fireplaces with gas-fired ones. I’m not sure if that was the reason for the lack of wood in the wood bin in our area, but we ended up having to drive around the property to find firewood. We could call the front desk for an artificial log, but those things aren’t the same.
Another point worth noting is that our room had a serious lack of power outlets. In fact, outside of the bathroom, there were only two we could access – one near the sole nightstand and the other with the radio/alarm clock. Keep this in mind if you plan on staying here.
WiFi speeds were fairly disappointing and often weren’t enough to stream video. That was a huge bummer, especially because I had virtually no cell phone reception at our room.
Hyatt Carmel Highlands Comfort
The lack of power outlets aside, we had some challenges with our room. For one, the split air system in our room didn’t work all that well. It struggled to cool our room during the hot afternoons, though it did decently well heating our room at night. Unfortunately, there was no HVAC in the bathroom, which meant that it was FREEZING in there in the morning, though the water temperature and pressure were great.
Thankfully, the bed in our room was very comfy. That, combined with the quiet seclusion of our room, meant we were able to get great sleep there.
Room 516 View
I know it sounds like I’m complaining a lot, and I kind of am. But the shortcomings of our room were worth it to both me and Mrs. Island Miler. Sure, we didn’t have all the creature comforts or space we would’ve liked, but we slept well and enjoyed spectacular views.
Like I said, I spent a lot of time on the deck just taking in the views. I probably would’ve spent even more time out here, but man, was it cold!
But it wasn’t just the views from our deck that was great. The well-manicured grounds of the Hyatt Carmel Highlands attracted a variety of birds and insects, which was awesome. I enjoyed watching the wildlife here just as much as I did taking in the views.
I know the Hyatt Carmel Highlands is a controversial property. Some people really don’t like it, citing its “rustic” homely style at the prices they charge. However, with a property like this, you’re often paying mostly for the location. That’s not an excuse for substandard upkeep, but that wasn’t an issue during our stay, either. While a bit worn and tired, our room was in good condition, and service throughout was excellent.
I’m with Matt – I love this property. Sure, I wish it were a bit nicer and more luxurious, and I’m disappointed with their change to gas fireplaces. But it’s a comfortable property in a stunning setting. Just bear in mind that the Hyatt Carmel Highlands is now a category 8 property.