White Water Cambria

White Water Premiere King Room
White Water Premiere King Room

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.

White Water Main Lobby
White Water Lobby

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.

Ocean View King Tub
Ocean View King Tub

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.

White Water Bicycles
Bicycles for guests

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.

Moonstone Beach Boardwalk
Coastal Boardwalk

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.

The Details

White Water, A Lodge on Moonstone Beach, 6736 Moonstone Beach Drive, Cambria, California 93428, United States.

Tel: +1(805) 927-1066

Website: https://whitewatercambria.com

Email: hello@whitewatercambria.com

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

Author Bio:

Jolie Loeb is a Luxury Lifestyle columnist based in Los Angeles.

Photographs courtesy of White Water Cambria and by Jolie Loeb

36 Comments

  1. Wow, this place looks amazing! I was in Cambria many years ago for a wedding and have always wanted to go back. This looks like the perfect place to visit. Thanks for the great write up, I’m definitely adding this to my list.

    • This place looks incredible. Sign me up! We’ve been meaning to take a family weekend away. You’ve made us believers, Jolie!

  2. I’ve been wanting to go to this hotel! So glad you loved it and can’t wait to make the drive up to visit.

  3. I want to go back to Cambria and stay at White Water! Camping in Cambria was beautiful, but I think I would prefer the Parachute bedding and green tubs! It really is a charming little town & can’t wait to go back to stay at that gorgeous place.

  4. Cambira is one of my favorite places on earth! But too often we’ve ended up staying in a kind of old fashioned b&b – this looks like the perfect upgrade to the best little town in CA!

  5. I LOVE Cambria and will definitely check out this gorgeous place!!! Thanks for another wonderful review!

  6. Mitch and I are hoping to take a vacation in Northern California when the girls are at overnight camp. White Water Cambria sounds like just the place. Thanks for the recommendation.

  7. Loved this spot as well. The staff were so lovely and welcoming…Almost like they were coming off of a pandemic! And that tub is amazing! I was missing a bathtub when I stayed there. Who knew some rooms had them.

  8. I just love Cambria, so laid back, unlike up north and down south. Have been up there several times and next time up will make it a point to stay at the White Water. Great proximity to the ocean, but seriously, no clocks in the room ?

    • HA! It troubles me too! I am wondering if this is a new hospitality trend, with the assumption that everyone travels with a smartphone? The past few places I’ve stayed have been sans clock. It is curious.

  9. Ana and I loved it there and will definitely go back! This place looks amazing and so many things to do! Thank you for continuing to bring such great ideas!! And I love that they are “local”

  10. Green. Tub. Outdoors. And seriously…why doesn’t anyone talk about Cambria? I love all the details (including lack of mirror and clock). What is the nearby food situation?

    • I know with the tub, right?? I remember reading something about how she (designer Nina) made them from powder coated stock tanks! I love an upcycle, particularly the kind you can soak in while soaking in an ocean view. Dining wise, the two consistent staples I return to are Robin’s and Lily’s. Robin’s for the garden (and spectacular service), Lily’s for the pie (and spectacular service). Hidden Kitchen I really wanted to try, but their hours are super limited, we missed the boat. If anyone’s been, please weigh in.

      • I went to Hidden Kitchen when we went to Cambria last summer. They had great smoothies and really fun savory waffles in a super cute outdoor setting. Totally recommend!

  11. This boutique hotel looks incredible. I want to be relaxing in that tub and riding thru down on those cute bikes this summer!!!! Cambria is a hidden gem.

  12. This Lodge really seemed like found treasure. Each guest seemed anxious to share their latest discovery and delectable meal. (LINNS is unapparelled))! Watching our granddaughters enjoy every aspect from filming on the beach to nature discovery and choosing the exactly perfect antique memorabilia. The soft spoken ease plus perfect weather and unsurpassed sunsets all combine to make life long glorious memory.

  13. Oh it sounds so lovely! And I am just so happy to be reading your delicious reviews once again!!

  14. Jolie, I have been wanting to head up there forever and now I know exactly where we should stay! Your magnificent and delicious words always inspire and delight! Keep it up!

  15. We’ve always loved visiting Cambria and especially the quaint stretch of motels/travel lodges on Moonstone Beach. Usually, we’ve been on our way to Big Sur or somewhere else and Cambria is an idyllic spot along the way. But, this is the first time we’ve spent a few days there with Cambria as our destination and White Water Inn was the perfect place to stay. Everything there felt a little cozier, the air a little fresher, and definitely a nice slow down from the LA crazy. This is also the beginning of my favorite drive in California — from Cambria up to Big Sur. If you’ve never done it, that may be worth the trip alone. Either way, if you can get a room, White Water is a fantastic place to stay and do day trips to the beach, hikes, etc.

  16. Now I really can’t wait to get back to Cambria. Thank you, Jolie, for helping me discover and rediscover great places for a family getaway.

  17. What a sweet place! Totally my speed. (Which is slow). And volume (which is yearning for wave-accented quiet). The rooms look lovely, but I’d probably just want to camp out in that lobby! Thanks for another gorgeous temptation!

  18. Such a tempting idea; Cambria. Hope to get out there in the fall – thanks for the wonderful info and help with our trip planning! You sure have an amazing way with words – thanks!!

  19. I LOVE this part of the coast. Was just in the area a few weeks ago. Will check out White Water next time. Looks fantastic. That tub alone is worth the drive. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Sounds fantastic!! Thanks for letting us know about another great place!!! Your reviews are the best!

  21. This place looks amazing! Have never been to Cambria but seems perfect for a weekend getaway. Definitely bookmarked (and forwarded as a strong hint to the husband).

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