Those who like to stay at a Bed & Breakfast are seeking charm. Historic architecture, friendly conversation, restored craftsmanship, manicured gardens, these are the things that infuse a trip with more that just a room to sleep in. We are looking for comfort and an extra bit of ambiance to make our well deserved vacations that much more memorable. But let’s face it, waking up to a fine breakfast spread each day is perhaps the biggest draw of all. Santa Cruz County is rich with intimate Inns and B&Bs, attracting anyone from history buffs to nature lovers. And now the secret is out that these places are hidden gems for finding a great breakfast as well.
The Darling House is the epitome of a Bed & Breakfast. Celebrating their 30th year in business, owners Karen and Darrell Darling make every effort to hold true to their namesake. The couple, along with manager and daughter Denise, have meticulously maintained the property on West Cliff Drive, the only active business that the city has ever allowed on this scenic residential strip of stunning homes. A stay here will not only reward you with a view of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk sparkling in the dark, love songs playing from an 1883 music box and a night spent on an antique Chinese wedding bed, it will also include a lovely family-style breakfast. While Darrell reads aloud from his personal journal of poetry, you will enjoy fresh coffee and tea, hot-from-the-oven pastries, homemade granola and jam made with fruit from the trees right outside the window. By the end of the meal, everyone at the table is a friend.
WEST CLIFF INN
A perky white mansion sitting on a hill is West Cliff Inn. A Four Sisters Inn, known for upholding the highest standards in hospitality at all 16 California boutique hotel properties, their Santa Cruz location resides in the beautifully restored Lynch House, the very first home ever built on West Cliff Drive. And along with the Four Sisters’ vision of defining the unique places around each of their inns, the breakfast offerings highlight many local finds. Surf City coffee, produce from nearby fields and local cooks in the kitchen make for a satisfying morning buffet. One of those cooks, Jackie Oda, who follows her own intuition and memory of her mother’s food more than recipes, concocts perfectly cooked eggs in flavorful huevos rancheros and her signature coconut lime sugar cookies. She enjoys free reign to experiment in the all-vegetarian kitchen, which is great for guests who will find fresh baked muffins or scones, muesli, fruit platters, egg dishes and tempting carbivore delights each day in the airy, high ceiling dining room.
PACIFIC BLUE INN
The extra special details that grace breakfast at the Pacific Blue Inn is impressive. Start the day with a personal French press of loose leaf tea, freshly roasted Java Bob’s coffee and gigantic homemade popovers with whipped hazelnut butter. “If you Google popover in Santa Cruz, we show up!” says Alex, innkeeper and chef, who is the only one in town making these delicious treats. He dusts them with cinnamon sugar or stuffs them with spinach, mushrooms and poached eggs covered with freshly made Hollandaise sauce. Not only does this small downtown Inn adhere to strict green standards and encourage minimizing carbon outputs via their walking friendly downtown Santa Cruz location, they also have strong notions against food waste and utilize local produce. The foodie factor here is a notch above most places, and despite the fact that the made-to-order breakfast on offer is an add-on amenity upon booking, guests opt in every morning of their stay after trying it once.
INN AT DEPOT HILL
The twelve room Inn at Depot Hill in Capitola hints at luxury even before you step through the key-protected front door. Sparkling chandeliers, a cozy library and historic photographs greet you just inside, followed by the light-filled dining room where a hot breakfast awaits. Guests can sit around one large, round table, set with golden plate chargers and delicate white china or have a cart delivered right to their room, a tempting option when enjoying such classy accommodations. Inn Manager, Jehan Tadjoedin, creates the recipes for the rotating sweet and savory dishes, who says that the Almond-crusted French Toast, Herb-Baked Eggs and Cheese Blintzes are always happily consumed. The stocked beverage area features juice, tea, scones, fruit and all-you-can-drink Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Companycoffee to take with you for a stroll down to the beach.
MONARCH COVE INN
The tucked away location of Monarch Cove Inn, perched on a Depot Hill neighborhood cliff top above Capitola Village, makes you feel like you are stepping back in time. The storied history of this estate is riveting and diverse, infusing the lush English gardens and ornate guest rooms with a sense of the past. In line with the intimate and quiet surroundings, breakfast is delivered to each room separately, so you can linger over your carafe of hot coffee, orange juice, fruit and fresh pastries from nearby Heather’s Patisserie at your leisure. Afterward, simply take a few steps towards the ocean to walk off the decadence on the foot path leading to New Brighton State Beach. And don’t forget to look skyward into the Eucalyptus grove at the edge of the property, where migrating Monarch butterflies find a home each September through March.