CAMBRIA, SAN SIMEON, CA: Cambria is the gem of the central coast of California. Gateway to Big Sur, it is situated at the doorstep of Hearst Castle in San Simeon. The Best Western Cavalier Oceanfront Resort in San Simeon has remained the most spectacular romantic oceanfront getaway in the area for more than 30 years. It is the perfect pace to explore Cambria and all the glories of the central coast of California.
The Best Western Cavalier Oceanfront Resort
Exquisitely located, it stands like a beacon along highway 1 and the Pacific coast. The last hotel on the ocean before you get to Hearst Castle. It sits on a bluff above the beach. A glorious retreat with an amazing view of the coast. And what a coast.
The area just north of Cambria up to Rocky Point 12 miles north is some of the most beautiful coastline in all of California. Rolling hills are punctuated with Hearst Castle gleaming like a vision in the sky. The bluffs overlooking the pounding surf is an unforgettable memory of a lifetime.
Cavalier Oceanfront Resort: Rooms 273 – 278
At the Cavalier Oceanfront Resort be sure to book a room in the wing overlooking the ocean. Rooms 273 thru 278 in particular. These gorgeous romantic rooms have extraordinary views overlooking the beach. There are fireplaces in each room. King size beds are sumptuous. Balconies have amazing views over the ocean.
It is a million dollar view from a very affordable hotel room. The beach stretches down to a promontory. The light changes with each passing hour. A full moon gleams off the ocean at night. The fire glows in the corner of the room as the pounding surf is a soothing ongoing lullaby
The Central Coast and Big Sur
The last several years have not been especially kind to Cambria and Big Sur. Dangerous fires threatened large areas of the central coast, including Cambria. Dangerous storms wiped out highway 1 in several spots in Big Sur.
Just south of Gorda hillside sweep highway 1 into the sea. Just north of Big Sur heavy rains undermined the only bridge north. Big Sur was cut off from the world from both directions. Highway 1 was closed.
The effect on tourism was devastating. For a year or more the road ended just north of Ragged Point. Finally, early this year, the bridge north of Big Sur was repaired and the road south of Gorda was replaced. The re-opening of Route one meant that Cambria was ready for a comeback. Now is the perfect time to rediscover Cambria, the Central Coast, and Big Sur.
Robin’s restaurant has been a landmark in Cambria for decades. The center of owner Shanny Covey’s restaurant empire, Robins has always been like coming home to family at your favorite dining spot.
Originally the home of the design engineer of Hearst Castle, the main indoor dining area is a quaint bungalow leading to a sprawling outdoor patio. The patio deck is open, with a soaring roof. The ambiance is always amiable.
A large beer garden has been opened on the area below the patio deck. Summer nights see live music and a steady steam of regulars and tourists. Robin’s is and has always been one of Cambria’s most important culinary landmarks.
Robins cuisine: Indian inflected with vegetarian accents
The cuisine is Indian inflected, with a cosmopolitan palate and vegetarian accents. The menu is extensive, inventive, and every item is uniquely fabulous. Rogan Josh is a perennial favorite. And mine.
Large chunks of lamb in a curry onion sauce with green beans and brown rice. It is beautifully spiced an immaculately prepared. Portions are ample, and sumptuously delightful. It is worth the three hour drive from LA to Cambria just for a dish of Rogan Josh alone.
Madeline’s is a former wine store that owner Chef David Stoothoff has transformed into a lovely fine dining spot in the opposite end of Cambria from Robins. By day it is still wine store, and by night its beautifully stocked shelves serve as the wine list and the wine cellar.
Madeline’s is a soothing space, with a casual but elegant atmosphere. When a diner orders a bottle of wine the waiter merely goes to the rack in the store where it is stored. A series of 10 tables is on one side of the restaurant, while a smaller section of 5 tables in the front room.
The food is full bodied. Ample portions of modern California cuisine. Crab and Lobster Cakes are fantastic, as is the spinach octopus and beautiful diver scallops. Long Island duck breast is beautifully cooked. Venison chops are phenomenal, tender and just this side of medium rare. Madeline’s is a joyous addition to our culinary favorites in Cambria.
Cambria: A romantic destination
Cambria retains all the charm its has had for decades. A beautiful town with a secluded location and a storied history. Cambria is one of those rare places in California that is always a romantic adventure and a perfect getaway from it all. Filled with quaint shops and antique stores, it has a special charm all its own.
Whether its eating at Robins Restaurant or enjoying an evening at Madeline’s, or staying at the Cavalier Oceanfront Resort, Cambria is a destination that will always be a magical experience.
Sitting on the balcony in San Simeon, the pounding ocean below, the moon rising off the ocean, there is an aura of mysticism in the air. To the north Big Sur looms. In the morning the glory of all the central coast is laid out in the gleaming sunlight. Return to Cambria. Feel the essence of California dreaming. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Robins Restaurant. www.robinsrestaurant.com @RobinsCambria
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles. @JoelBerliner
All photos by Alison Reynolds @BigAlPoeplesPal