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“Dirty Hotel With Terrible Customer Service”
Review of Big Sur River Inn

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Big Sur River Inn
Ranked #1 of 2 Big Sur B&B and Inns
Reviewed 2 June 2014

As a child I spent many summers at this place. It was warm, inviting, and full of families and people enjoying the beautiful scenery this place has to offer. This is exactly why I chose to take my boyfriend here to celebrate his birthday but as we pulled up on Friday afternoon I couldn't believe what I saw... The place was empty. No one was in the gift shop and the river area seemed deserted but it wouldn't be long until I realized why. Our hotel room was across the busy highway and right in front of passing traffic. Probably not something they wanted to advertise online so I probably just missed the "fine print." We opened our hotel room and I was overwhelmed by a musty smell. It was a very small room that was dark and not particularly inviting. Everything was dusty and very outdated. I laid down on the bed to try out the mattress and it was extremely uncomfortable. Had I really paid over $200 a night for this??? It looked so different online. Honestly, I've seen rooms at motel 6 that were nicer then this. Regardless, I wanted to make the best out of the situation so we headed down to check out the river. At the entrance, I notice sign in the middle of the entrance that says the grass area is only open to hotel guests. Really?? It's a river!!! Are you really trying to tell the locals and visitors that they can't enjoy something that should be shared with everyone?? Reading the other yelp reviews it seems that is exactly what the management of the River Inn are saying. One yelper writes, "Historically a wonderful place to pass the time under big sur sun by the river on the grass along with other travelers & local families. However, this past sunday (September 2nd) there was a hotel manager/food nazi patrolling the campus clearing out/kicking out patrons who had any additional water/drinks/snacks, were playing any sports (croquet/frisbee/catch) unless they were staying in the lodge. Result was an empty lifeless riverfront with a completely killed mood on a potentially lovely Labor Day."

Despite our disappointment we decided to have dinner at the restaurant. Where do you think we asked to sit at the River Inn Restaurant?? By the river... Were we sat there? No, and were told its because its too far for them to walk to so they close it for dinner...Huh? The lower deck was a mere three steps down and on top of that the whole restaurant was empty! What's the point of having a hotel along the river when you won't even allow your guests to enjoy it? Despite this we decided to eat there anyway and had a mediocre meal that cost over $100.

We spent the next day up the road and that night decided to give the River Inn Restaurant another try. I figured last night had to have been a misunderstanding but I was terribly mistaken... after asking to sit by the river, we were referred to a host who obviously had no authority. She then passed us on to a manager and no sooner had I begun talking, when he responded that using gestures when talking is extraordinarily rude. Well isn't that the best way to talk to a customer who is disappointed in where they are seated. Interrupt them to say using hand gestures are rude... Clearly this is the reason they have no guests here. They did nothing to help us. In fact another staff member told us that we were miserable people. So we just left without ever getting to eat dinner by the river.

The next morning we checked out and I asked one last time to speak to the general manager but was told he was not there. I decided to give up. We packed up our stuff and got ready to leave. As we were backing out of the parking lot someone knocks on our window. My boyfriend rolled down his window and the man said "my name is Rick... someone wanted to speak with me?" It was the general manager. The one who supposedly wasn't around? The one I wanted to speak to in a private professional manner was now chasing down our car banging on our window. I thought to myself wow he wants to apologize or ask how he could fix our terrible stay. Again I was wrong... why did he chase us down and bang on our window you ask? To tell me that I thought I was entitled and I "deserved the way I was treated." I told him this is probably why no one is here anymore and his response was "no you are the reason." Hmmm that makes sense. I now realize this has to be the same miserable old bald man who was kicking families out of the creek on labor day weekend. It is clear from all these terrible reviews that the management here has lost touch with reality and the times. Yes, people are entitled to good service, that's what any reasonable person expects when they pay you for something. It is sad to think, that a place so irrevocably endeared in my childhood memories, is so poorly managed.

Room Tip: Don't come here. Stay at one of the many other beautiful hotels in big sur
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  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
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12  Thank Tiffany G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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158 - 164 of 413 reviews

Reviewed 28 April 2014

We only stayed for two nights but found this little motel very pleasant and clean. It's conveniently located to all the beautiful sites Big Sur has to offer and the food was delicious. It was however a little pricey but overall a great place to stay!

  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank Erica P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 April 2014

We booked this thinking it was an atmospheric series of cabins in woodland. The reality was a motel on a main road. We probably should have paid more attention but nothing like the Big sur hotel a few miles south which is much more interesting and has an excellent restaurant.
The stop was however functional and there were shops, restaurant and a gas station and it would be best described as a stop over Motel.
Rooms basic, no TV , WI-FI but low speed and no streaming telephone signal poor.
It did the job but knowing what we know now would not have stopped there.

Room Tip: Ask for rooms away from main road….If they have any?
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  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Brian M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 March 2014

We stayed one night in this motel, in the rooms across the street from the inn. The room decor was nice, the room clean, the bed comfortable. The walls were thin; luckily, our neighbors did not stay up late or get up early. The bathroom was tight, but the water was hot. You pay for the location, right on highway 1 (our room was $145). I would have felt more secure if the room had a deadbolt; there is only a door knob lock. The restaurant across the street is quite expensive. We split a freshly made burrito from their grocery store. Both the breakfast burrito and a chicken burrito were huge and was enough for two people. No phone, no TV. They do provide wi-fi, which worked.

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank TravelLover1977_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 March 2014

The rooms are away from the main hotel and the river, across from the road, which was not adequately mentioned during the booking process. The bathroom door had no latch, and the wash basin tap water would either be scalding hot or freezing cold. It took some time consuming subtle manipulations to get the temperature right. And if you are the eco-friendly types who does not run the tap continuously while brushing or shaving, then you are in bad luck!

But what makes the hotel deserve a "terrible" rating is that there is no dead bolt or safety chain on the main door. It is a simple lock with metal key, and you have to check again and again to ensure that the door knob can not be turned from the outside to open it. For a room exposed to the highway, to haev a metal key which concept went outdated years ago, and more importantly no way to positively lock/secure the room from inside, is criminal.

Room Tip: Rooms across the road are terrible - try for rooms near the river, but they may be of teh expensive...
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  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank FL_FF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 March 2014

My wife and I stayed here for one night when driving down Highway 1 (which is an amazing experience which should be on everyone's 'bucket list'). Once you lower your expectations, and a few of the reviews on tripadvisor do this successfully, the rooms are adequate for a night as long as you're a heavy sleeper, not worried by noise or close proximity to traffic, and are just looking for a clean bed and running water. However, you either get given one of the tatty motel rooms across (and a few feet from ) Highway 1 or are stung for $225 a night for something quieter. In either case you're left feeling very ripped-off. The restaurant is ok and the log-fire very pleasant.

Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
1  Thank David W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 January 2014

Traveling down the coast we decided to stay in Big Sur, I bought a discounted room on booking.com.

1. When I arrived I saw "booking.com" stamped on my invoice--combined with the fact that they then put us in a noisy room across the street from the river, when the most of the rest of the hotel was empty leads me to believe that buying a room on booking.com means getting stuck in the dud room.

2. Between 6:30-9:30 pm a machine behind the room (a generator?) was in full force-- even shaking the beds and making it very unpleasant. We were trying to sleep bc we had a late night reservation at Esalen. There was no one at the desk to speak to after 5pm--and there are no phones in the rooms, and no way to get in touch with anyone that I could find. We would have asked to be switched--which might have changed our stay for the better, but it wasn't possible.

3. Again-- with the majority of the rooms open that night (we took a walk and looked since the noise was so awful in room 10) why would they stick us away from the river in a room that sounds like the machine room of a giant ship?

4. Finally, I booked a room here because of the price--which was decent but not CHEAP (~$170) --and because the website showed a common area with a fireplace. Upon arrival we discovered that the fireplace room and the restaurant were closed for renovations. This needs to be indicated on the website. Maybe this is a nice place to stay if you get lucky with the room and your timing, but for the money it cost we feel ripped off.

Room Tip: I think river side rooms are probably great. Avoid the other side of the street.
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  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with family
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2  Thank Elia O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Big Sur River Inn

Address: 46840 Highway 1, Highway 1 at Pheneger Creek, Big Sur, CA 93920-9507
Phone Number:
Region: United States > California > Big Sur
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 B&Bs / Inns in Big Sur
Price Range: £210 - £337 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Big Sur River Inn 3*
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A quaint stream-side inn. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Big Sur River Hotel Big Sur

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