There are no resorts in Cambria. No chains. I don’t even know if there’s anything higher than two stories, come to think. It’s strangely undiscussed, this idyllic stretch, situated between its much-lauded neighbors, Big Sur to the north, Santa Barbara to the south. And yet there is something quietly special about this centrally situated alcove. And up until this last visit, I couldn’t have even told you a place worth booking.
With great delight, I can now retract that last thought. White Water, an unassuming, unpretentious, unexpectedly exceptional lodge has opened on Moonstone Beach. Bohemia by the sea, Scandinavian chic, and bountiful ceiling to floor vistas bathed in shoreline sunshine, this refuge is finally a place I can point you to when setting out to discover this most serene and unseen setting.
The lobby lets you know you’ve arrived. In from the off black and olive exterior, a wash of white welcomes you in. The panorama of views, Danish seaside furnishing, and montage of Monterey Pines, you can inhale and taste the sanctuary. And if you can’t, put a Negroni in your hand and give yourself a minute. (Note: White Water is the only Moonstone Beach property with a full liquor license. Have at it).
The rooms. Beds of Baltic birch slats and Parachute Home linens. Retro mini fridges (I want one). Local artisans’ artwork on the walls, beechwood floors beneath the feet. A gas fireplace. And my personal piece de resistance, Aesop amenities. Geranium leaf. My undoing.
The bathrooms are fun. Reflecting the green and golden hues of Cambria, they read a little retro. Conditioning in that cedarwood bark and lavender stem, it is clear, nothing here is by accident.
Featuring hot HoneyCo coffee in a thermos, plus a pair of fresh pastries, breakfast is delivered to your room each morning via picnic basket. You cannot keep the picnic basket. I tell you this because you will want to.
As for other Instagram candy, those sage green Linus cruisers, complete with brown leather seating and a toffee wicker basket up front, complimentary for exploring the town. The minibar snacks are not complimentary but do appear to be a carefully curated ode to Erewhon (their first hotel collab) amongst a tasting of local vintages. You could do worse.
Oh, but that coastal boardwalk. Two miles of magnificent wood boards beneath your feet, as you gaze upon those glorious Cyprus trees that announce you must be Carmel adjacent. (You are). Below, Moonstone Beach. As pebbly and idyllic in name as it is in experience, this beach. Its where golden hour goes to show off. Finally, it has a lodging complement worthy of its wonder.
Nina Freudenberger is who we must thank for this design project (her first in the hospitality realm), this Scandinavian coastal aesthetic that manages this most harmonious balance between luxury and simplicity. Halfway between LA and SF, the beach, the boardwalk, the moonstones and the Monterey Pines. At long last, the majesty has met its midcoastal match.
White Water, A Lodge on Moonstone Beach, 6736 Moonstone Beach Drive, Cambria, California 93428, United States.
Tel: +1(805) 927-1066
Cambria is a little seaside village in San Luis Obispo County, California, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, located along California State Route 1. Take the 101 the 1 and follow signs for Cambria. Self-parking is available for guests.
Type of Hotel: Boutique Lodge on Moonstone Beach
Number of Rooms: 25 rooms, complimentary Wi-Fi, self-parking priced in.
Price Band: Medium to high
Insider Tips: For a little extra decadence, book an Ocean View King Room. Those outdoor soaking tubs are a vacation unto themselves. Behind the northmost stretch of rooms is an Airbnb rental, which can get noisy. If this is concerning, request a room in the southern stretch.
Take note: there are no full-length mirrors in the rooms, and there are no clocks. There are lanterns in each room, for night walks down to the beach, and fireplaces for when you return.
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10
Jolie Loeb is a Luxury Lifestyle columnist based in Los Angeles.
Photographs courtesy of White Water Cambria and by Jolie Loeb