Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, California – Hotel Review

By Jonathan Spira on 29 August 2012
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The 23-mile (37-kilometer) drive from San Francisco International Airport was in darkness. We were crossing what appeared to be a largely uninhabited part of the state on CA-92 heading towards Half Moon Bay, a city with a colorful history that includes numerous rumrunners who, during the Prohibition period, used the area’s endemic dense fog and hidden coves to facilitate their operations.

Our destination was the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, which, thanks to its setting on dramatic cliffs overlooking the ocean, could be mistaken for Scotland in the fog. This perception was reinforced by a bagpiper playing at sunset and a Scottish-links-style golf course.


My Coastal View Room, located in the main building, was warm and inviting, in part due to the roaring fire that was displayed on the flat-screen television.  Inside I found two very comfortable double beds with feather beds and a choice of goose down or non-allergenic pillows.  I fell asleep quickly and woke up feeling refreshed and somewhat inspired by the views out my window.

The views were, of course, of the coast, the golf course, and the Pacific Ocean.  They were magnificent.  On a side note, my windows, which would only open a few inches to begin with, wouldn’t stay open, requiring me to improvise somewhat in order to photograph the view.

It was, however, the small touches that I uncovered that impressed me the most.  In the room’s entranceway was a small table with a large wooden box that concealed two bottles of water, a coffee maker, coffee, tea, and cups and sugar.  Nearby, a wooden valet stood ready, along with a shoehorn and shoe polisher.  Next to my bed, I found two bottles of water and two glasses.  Indeed throughout my stay, I would find that it was the small touches where the hotel and its staff truly excelled.

The bath area had a separate tub and glass-enclosed shower, accompanied by a plush robe and thick towels.  The shower itself had a serious design flaw, in my estimation.  The shower head was far too low (other guests commented on this as well) and the shower stall only had a fixed shower head with no additional hand shower.  Perhaps somewhat ironically, the tub did have a hand shower, which would have come in very handy in the stall.

A hamper for used towels was below the sink – why don’t more hotels think of this as opposed to not having a place for used towels to go?  What the hotel designers didn’t think of was making sure one could open and close the doors leading to the bathroom without dragging the two bathmats across the floor.

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