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“A Multidimensional Experience”

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Point Cabrillo Light Station
Ranked #17 of 25 Mendocino B&B and Inns
Porterville, CA
Level Contributor
42 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“A Multidimensional Experience”
Reviewed 11 May 2009

We stayed at the Lighthouse Inn for two nights, and we will definitely return. The inn itself is an example of authentic restoration done with great attention to detail. Restoration enthusiasts will appreciate the work that has gone into it, historians will appreciate the innkeeper's tour of the lighthouse, and guests just wanting to relax will love the serenity and beauty of the site. The village of Mendocino is close by and is charming, but the Lighthouse Inn is a destination in itself.

  • Stayed May 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank avocadolady
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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34 reviews from our community

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English first
Forestville, California
Level Contributor
77 reviews
67 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 214 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 March 2009

I first stayed at the Lighthouse Inn at Point Cabrillo in May 2007, not all that long after they opened as a B&B (see my original review dated May 7, 2007 “Go to the Lighthouse--it’s a keeper”). My most recent stay of 2 nights this past week was very nearly as enjoyable an experience as the initial one. This time we shared the Inn with a few more guests than previously and that did detract a bit from the very selfish but exuberant feeling of having the property as a private retreat. During the day, of course, the State Historic Park is open to the general public. There were certainly visitors but not that many during our stay. Even with classes of school children present during certain periods, the property is so large that it's easy to avoid being in a group, if you wish. During special events and high season weekends, that would become more difficult.

This visit we stayed in the Lighthouse Room which has the only direct view of the Lighthouse itself. The unique vantage point was delightful as we observed the iconic structure and its surroundings in a whole array of different light and weather. At night the window shades did a decent job of blocking out the strong beam that swept over the grounds every 10 seconds. One could still see light at the sides of the long shades, but this didn’t keep me from a very restful and deep sleep. Thermostat-controlled heat kept us quite comfortable and we never needed to change the settings. I really liked having a small entry area in the room rather than walking directly from the hall into our sleeping area. This area also had a bureau chest for clothes (the rooms don’t have closets) and even had a small window, so all parts of our room had natural light. It was a real treat to have windows that fully opened and were without the screens that normally obscure views. In my original review I mentioned a “temperamental toilet” which needed to be flushed a couple of times. Well, on this stay I discovered the correct technique of holding down the chain of the overhead tank--and success!

Having taken the full, fabulous tour of the property given by Jim Kimbrell, the Innkeeper, the last time we visited, we opted for a shortened version given by Dan, a most knowledgeable and personable member of the Lightkeepers Association. The property’s history, geology, wildlife, and the technical aspects of the light station are so rich and complex that each tour reveals new and fascinating pieces of information, so even if you are a repeat guest, I recommend taking a tour during each stay. The special tour of the property for guests of the Inn used to be given in the evening, but are now begun at 10:30 a.m., perfect timing following the superbly delicious and incredibly filling multi-course breakfast. Breakfast is served rather late (for many people) at 9 a.m., but it is definitely worth waiting for. Coffee is available in the dining room by 7:30 a.m. Plan for very leisurely beginnings to your days. This is a place to stay and relax, not to rush off to pursue a packed agenda!

Some side notes regarding refreshments at the Inn: The hors d'oeuvres served each day in the late afternoon (4:30 p.m.) are ample enough that at least a couple of other guests were way too full to go out to dinner! We had to restrict ourselves to only nibbling a bit since we had dinner planned on both nights (the Mendo Bistro in Fort Bragg and Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino--both excellent restaurants). The Inn is restricted by State law to serving only one glass of wine per guest per evening, so bring or buy a bottle of your own; the congenial and attentive staff will provide glasses.

I had two interesting experiences during my stay which may or may not have been encounters with a resident ghost. My husband had gone out at dawn to photograph while I was still sleeping and had locked our door (the rooms now have locks and keys which was a change from my first stay). After I got up I was in our room standing several feet from the door... when it slowly opened. No one else was around. When my husband came back he confirmed that he had locked the door. The first night of our stay, while lying in bed, I heard in the distance, the very distinctive sound of footsteps that a small child would make running back and forth in short bursts. There were no children at the Inn. In the early 1900’s the lightkeepers did have families and children were ever present in the house that became the Inn. Who knows? When I mentioned these occurrences the next morning at breakfast, another guest nodded, saying “oh yes, they ARE here”.

Since our visit was in the midst of the gray whale migration season, our expectations were quite high---and they were fulfilled in a most spectacular way. I had read that one should allow an hour or more of scanning the ocean and to be very patient in the search. We literally walked up to the edge of the ocean bluff, gazed out to sea... and immediately saw whale spouts! In fact within several minutes we saw MANY spouts as well as numerous bodies break the surface of the water. The most thrilling moment came soon afterwards when I had the great fortune of seeing a fluke completely emerge from the water--I just happened to have my binoc’s positioned exactly in the right spot. WOW! Later we walked one of the trails thru the expansive nature preserve and came eventually to 2 waterfalls which spilled down the cliff and entered the ocean. There were also steps (steep but negotiable) that ventured down to the beach. We admired clusters of bright daffodils and wild iris amongst the grasses, saw deer roaming and grazing, and were escorted on our walks around the lighthouse by “Gilbert the Goose” who had been in residence there for about 6 months, apparently forsaking his former flock at Van Damme State Park (south of Mendocino) and resettling where he had “more space”. He chose well! One guest took an early morning walk and saw both of the coyotes that live somewhere in the preserve. Sunset brought a beautiful display of crimsons and purples washing across the sky as the clouds and light merged over the expanse of dark ocean. These are the kinds of moments that are all there awaiting guests of the Lighthouse Inn at Point Cabrillo! It remains an incomparable and magical place.

  • Stayed March 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Forestvillian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
14 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 168 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 September 2008

My husband and I stayed at the Lighthouse in for one night in September 2008 for our anniversary. Overall it was a really nice stay. The Inn is about a 5 to 10 minute drive from the main town of Mendocino, located inside a nature preserve whose main attraction is the lighthouse. It's quite shocking to me that people would visit this lighthouse if they weren't staying at this Inn, but there were in fact a lot of visitors. The location is very quiet, idyllic. There are 4 rooms in the main house and 2 separate cottages. We stayed in one of the cottages.

Pros:
--hotel stocks Softsoap handsoap instead of bar soap for the bathroom sinks - love that
--good breakfasts
--very thoughtful, friendly staff - they love their jobs and it shows, Jim the lighthouse keeper even wrote us a lovely anniversary card
--very cute, comfortable bed and breakfast overall

Cons:
--hotel has black towels and black bathroom rugs - to me that means they're never bleached and existing dirt is masked - would suggest they change to white when the next opportunity arises to purchase bathroom linens. Along the same lines, duvet covers over comforters would make me feel better than intricate comforters that are clearly not washed/dry cleaned after each guest. I don't think it would take away from the period decor for the beds to have white washable duvet covers like most top hotels.
--the cottage is a separate stand-alone building, which means that it's right in the middle of nature without any barrier. This means that there are going to be a few insects in the room, in spite of how immaculate the staff keeps it (we saw a couple moths, 1 spider, and a couple webs in some corners). If this is an issue for you, I'd suggest getting a room in the main house as opposed to the cottage. The views are also better in the main house than the cottages since the rooms are higher up.
--I would prefer a location in the main town, so that we could have spent more time walking around Mendocino itself. Just something to keep in mind.

  • Liked — Softsoap hand soap in the bathrooms
  • Disliked — Black towels in the bathrooms
  • Stayed September 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank roguet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Silicon Valley, CA
Level Contributor
30 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 June 2008

We stayed in one of the cottages for 2 nights. The bathroom was a nice size w/huge shower (wheelchair accessible) & the room was bigger than most in the main inn. It's also more private.

Breakfast was good but you do have to be a fan of eating @ 9am on a communal table w/other guests, of which we're not.

The inn/lighthouse keeper, Jim, gave us a tour of the lighthouse one morning. We weren't able to go up the lighthouse tower but enjoyed listening to the history of the lighthouse.

The park & inn are immaculately maintained by a staff that takes great pride in everything that they do. They make you feel welcome from the minute you arrive. A very nice bunch of people!

  • Stayed June 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank norcalite
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Southern California
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 June 2008

We loved the remote location and the quiet nights. There was time for a leisurely walk along the bluffs with coffee in the morning before breakfast - which was outstanding. Jim, the inn keeper, was a wealth of knowledge on the history of the lighthouse and lightkeepers house. If you are looking for peace and quiet and a place to unwind, this is the best.

  • Liked — The historically accurate refurbished room.
  • Disliked — Our toilet backed up and wasn't noticed or fixed by the maid service.
  • Stayed April 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank AspenMeadows
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
190 reviews
46 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 327 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 May 2008

Great views, solitude, great gourmet breakfasts. Very expensive overall, in our opinion, but worth it. During the day, you will encounter loads of people walking down the road and around the grounds. It's not that peaceful at all, frankly, during the day. We counted approximately 200 people there at one time on a weekend day. This is fine, but makes staying here awkward. People glare as you drive down the road on which they are walking.. At night, the place closes and that is when you can really relax and enjoy the views. We viewed this place as a once in a lifetime stay and are reluctant to write a review of this place.. for fear CA might add high-rises to the property. We loved the other guests, hosts, and the lightkeeper, Jim. At night we walked the areas and listened to the surf, same with mornings. We slept soundly. The room was great, in the house, has antiques, a nice firm queen sized mattress, great shower, no hair dryer (fyi). We have never had such a relaxing vacation. We paid about $300 per night after tax, though and found this expensive, but worth it, to us. No TV or phones, which was refreshing. No cell phone coverage, either. We liked this place and felt we really "got away." We will return. We did not care for Mendocino's shops, etc much.. too touristy. We found this inn to be charming, quaint, exclusive, and accomodating. We did not care for the crowds during the day and left the grounds during the day for that reason. But if you can deal with the fact this is a state park and that you may have a lot of other visitors, some of whom gawk at you within the house, you will be fine. We were there apparently during a touristy time (CA people visiting). We loved the place and are just explaining the pros and cons.

  • Stayed April 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank blah114
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
136 reviews
112 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 605 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 April 2008

When you drive past the "Private, Handicapped access only" sign and down the longish 1/2 - 1 mile road to the Lighthouse Inn B&B, look to your left and right into the fields and perhaps you'll spot one (or a few) of the deer or wild turkeys that live on the grounds. As you walk into the building (it's the center house of the three), you'll probably notice countless gopher holes across the caretaker's otherwise immaculate groundskeeping. The East house is a museum demonstrating how the lightkeepers lived in the early 1900's, while the West house is Jim the caretaker's residence, not restored nor open to the public.

If you manage to arrive between 4 & 6 p.m., there's a welcome & socializing reception with sliced fruits, nuts, chips, various hors d'oeuvres and wine or juice in the dining room. The living room has extremely comfortable couches & chairs dating from the lighthouse's heyday (early 1900's), and there's a glassed in gallery room in the front of the house with chairs and binoculars where you can watch the finches and other birds raiding the always-stocked birdfeeders. The rooms themselves are upstairs. Four in all, each with their own bathroom & shower (the Lightkeeper's room has a separate W.C. room and shower room). No TV's here (and I consider this a good thing... there's plenty enough to see around outside).

If you must have some kind of link to the outside world, there's WiFi access in the house and you can get the password from one of the staffers. The two days of my visit, I wasn't able to make it out to the internet (although the router was definitely working and I was able to connect to it's configuration page, I just couldn't get any further than that... the router probably needed a reboot, which I was too sheepish to follow up with any of the staffers to do).

The lighthouse itself is probably about 1,500 feet down the path from the house, and yes, it really does cast off a remarkably strong, blinking beam at night. There are thick pulldown shades in the windows that block most of the beam in all the rooms (the "Lighthouse" room gets the full blast of the light, while the Lightkeeper's room gets a side blink). It was mesmerizing to watch the beams track along the ground during the night, but my girl insisted for me to keep the blinds down. Each room has it's own climate control, but I was very content to keep my room windows open for a fresh ocean breeze.

Breakfast is advertised as five courses. First serving was sliced fruit & some yogurt on top, second course (served at the same time as the fruit & yogurt) was extremely fresh & tasty (almost certainly made on site) scones & juices; third course was a fruit smoothie; fourth course was quiche & turkey sausage (on our first morning) and french toast & bacon (on our second morning). Sorbet is the finishing course. Everything was beautifully prepared and nothing was excessive (in other words, just the right amounts of everything).

The staffers will offer recommendations for places for dining in the nearby towns (Fort Bragg is about 5-7 miles north, Mendocino is about 2 - 3 miles south). We enjoyed Sharons by the Sea (tiny place, make a reservation ahead of your visit!) and Mendo Bistro both up in Fort Bragg.

There are deer and other critters wandering all around the nature preserve (soon to be a full blown California state park) that this B&B sits upon. I doubt you could go more than an hour without seeing any deer. On both days of our visit they were very close to the B&B buildings, and when we returned from Mendo Bistro on one night a pack of at least four deer were lounging on the lawn between the parking spots and the houses. On our exit from the Nature Preserve, we got a nice view of a flock of wild turkeys. The paths around the nature preserve are easy & scenic walks, almost always in sight of the lighthouse & buildings. We noticed jellyfish in the water in the coves next to the walking paths. Depending on the time of year you're at the lighthouse, you'll certainly see whales spouting off in the water. I saw plenty of spouts during our visit (in April), a few whale backs and even one or two tails. No scenic whale breeches, no idea why (maybe the water was too shallow or they weren't in the mood for it or).

Jim Kimble the keeper is just as friendly as other reviews have stated. You'll invariably speak with him at some point before or during your stay (your reservation can be made directly via the Inn's website or, amazingly, it looks like the inn can be booked through Expedia as well). He provided us with an hour long history & explanatory tour of the public areas of the lighthouse. The light itself is off limits to the public (which is typical for most lighthouses in the USA, the U.S. Coast Guard "owns" them). There are four days per year when the light is open for tiny groups (of 4 people, must be at least 12 years old) to examine.... For 2008 that would be May 3rd (Mendocino Historic Preservation Days), June 7 (Light Station's 99th Birthday), August 2 (National Lighthouse Day) and September 27 (Cabrillo Days). I can see why only a few people would be allowed up there at any one time.... there's not that much space to move around upstairs. The people who did the restoration of the lighthouse and the residences did an amazing job.

Overall, the Lighthouse Inn is not the cheapest place to stay (our two night visit came out to be $1,200), but the money goes for a great cause (keeping the lighthouse & the inn beautifully maintained). It is certainly one of the most unique and picturesque destinations along the California Coast. I'm thankful we got to stay there before this place gets very well known and difficult to book.

  • Liked — so incredibly scenic and peaceful
  • Disliked — no links to the outside world, but for most stays here that is a good thing
  • Stayed April 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank MichaelInSF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Point Cabrillo Light Station

Property: Point Cabrillo Light Station
Address: 45300 Litehouse Rd, Mendocino, CA 95460-9736 (Formerly Lighthouse Inn at Point Cabrillo)
Region: United States > California > Mendocino County > Mendocino
Amenities:
Free Parking Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #17 of 25 B&Bs / Inns in Mendocino
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Stay on the Mendocino coast in one of our vacation rental homes. We have two of the original Lightkeepers' houses and two cottages available for overnight stays. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Lighthouse Inn At Point Cabrillo Hotel Mendocino

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