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“Total emersion in quiet and reflective atmosphere” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

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Tassajara Zen Mountain Center
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39171 Tassajara Rd, Carmel Valley, CA 93924-9316   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Carmel Valley
Olympia, Washington
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
“Total emersion in quiet and reflective atmosphere”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2011

Nothing happening here. If you are a practitioner of Zen Buddhism you'll know what I mean.
If not, know that the food is the best on the planet, the bath houses are like something out of a dream with hot spring fed outdoor soaking pools, and if you bring your own wine there is a refrigerator next to the dining room where you can chill it. It's a place to sleep, eat, read, soak, and get a taste of monastery life if you desire. And the coffee is excellent - if that matters and it does to me. Every guest house has many kerosene lanterns for night time lighting so if you like to read in bed, bring a little reading light.
It's remote and a hair raising drive into the valley but oh, so worth it

Oh, nothing like room service in case that's your deal.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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14 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (4)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
San Francisco, CA
Top Contributor
93 reviews 93 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 57 cities Reviews in 57 cities
117 helpful votes 117 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 10, 2009

I just returned from my fourth visit to this magical place and feel renewed and relaxed. Tassajara isn't for everyone, especially those who needs lots of activities and a steady stream of media (TV, internet, phones, etc.). But those who appreciate the splendor of nature, the taste of a locally-grown organic food, and richness of mindfulness activities like hiking or meditating, this place might be for you. Separated from the rest of Carmel Valley by an unimproved and twisty 15-mile road, getting to Tassajara is an odyssey and once I arrive, I feel like I am very far away from civilization...akin to being on Santorini or Corsica.

The cabins have a rustic quality, with kerosine lighting and simple furnishings. But everything is done with a zen-like attention to detail, including quality bedding and sheets, beautiful woodworking, and cleanliness. There is no media of any sort -- just one telephone for all the visitors to use, if they must. As a technology executive, I really welcome the opportunity to be this unplugged.

There is a Japanese-style bath house that is wonderful. The setting is green and lush, with the sound of rushing water in the background due to the stream, with hotsprings, that runs the length of the valley.

All meals are taken communal-style in beam and stone-faced dining room. Going alone? Not a problem because you meet interesting people at every meal. The recipes are from the famous Tassajara cookbooks. I am not a vegetarian but enjoy the meals and never feel hungry or short-changed afterwards.

Be sure to book a massage, which is done outdoors in a screened tent. One of the best I have ever had...the resorts invites a different massage therapist every week to stay at the resort and provide massage services.

Like I said, this is not for everyone. But if you like unstructured time to hike, nap, and read, talk and cuddle with your partner, this is the place. It is a truly unique experience that leaves me with the feeling that I went faraway...even though it is just four hours away from San Francisco.

Highly Recommended.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
California
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 11, 2009

I didn't know what to expect when my partner invited me to Tassajara. I thought "oh my God" another spa-like place in Carmel Valley. Not that that is bad but I really didn't understand what Tassajara was til I got there. It is gorgeous, serene and the subtext of Zen students who quietly make the place run without a glich is quite something. It's all the attention to details, the food is exsquisite. The bells to wake you in the morning sound like sleigh bells on rain deer. The laterns that light the paths at night. The outside tubs where you can star gaze and hear the river ripple by. And the rooms, so peacful and well appointed. I don't think calling them cabins is quite accurate. Of course there is no electricity but I didn't feel deprived. I also loved being able to get a taste of zazen, which is sitting quietly in meditation. But I didn't feel like I had to.

My favorite was the outdoor courtyard where everyone gathers for tea in the afternoon. What a relaxing place.

  • Stayed May 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 25, 2008

I have been going to Tassajara from when I was 7 years old. I'm now 53. I lived in Jamesburg at one time and also in the mountains off the county road. I now live in Seattle, Washington and have returned after many years. I love Tassajara. My only complaint was the women working in the book store was rude and not interested in helping us. The monks and lay monks were wonderful. It has more beauty now then ever. I was so sad to here of the fires. I truly hope all can be restored and its not to much for the monks.
Kimberly

Stayed August 2006
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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sherman oaks
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 20, 2008

Nestled in the Carmel Valley mountains, very rustic, wonderful hotspings. Redwood cabins with woodburning stoves. There is a creek that runs through the property. Hiking, swimming in an olympic sized pool filled with mineral water from the mineral spings, and beautiful Japanese bathhouse with natural hotsprings. The food is vegetarian and GREAT! This is not a fancy 5 star resort. It is laid back, relaxing and out in nature.

  • Liked — Rustic, relaxing, mineral hotsprings
  • Disliked — bugs
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
California
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2007

For years my wife and I had heard interesting reports of the Zen Center. We finally decided to stay a few nights and experience it for ourselves. We were independent guests and not part of a workshop or other organized event.
Accommodations are very basic, but the food is good. Overall we found the experience boring and confining. The facility is very remote. The site is dry and dusty. The routine is regimented and the atmosphere is somewhat gulag-like. In three days we read seven books between us.
In our opinion the road was not as difficult as the website implies. I wish we had driven in and then been able to leave when we wanted.
It is also quite expensive. What three days cost us we could have spent nearly a week in San Francisco.
It wasn't our cup of tea, but others may find it delightful.
Bring you own alcoholic beverages.

  • Stayed June 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

Address: 39171 Tassajara Rd, Carmel Valley, CA 93924-9316
Location: United States > California > Carmel Valley
Amenities:
Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Carmel Valley
Number of rooms: 26
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A temple sanctuary by the beautiful boulders and waters of Tassajara Creek, a small mountain river flowing toward the sea. Long known as a place of healing, the hot springs of Tassajara were first used by the native Esselen people, who lived among the soaring ridges of the Santa Lucia Mountains for a thousand years or more, appreciating the hot springs for their restorative properties. Today,Tassajara offers a rare opportunity to step back from the busy demands and pressures of life. Find the rhythm of your own breath supported by the sounds of temple bell and creek-song. Feel the summer breeze, enjoy delicious food, immerse yourself in the water of the hot springs and relax in the shade of maples and sycamores. Since Zen Mountain Center’s inception, the Guest Season has been an integral part of this monastery's yearly cycle in these mountains. From April until September, focus turns from our primarily inward activity of “practice period” to the work of serving the community at large, sharing the experience of Zen practice and the joys of Tassajara. Like the proprietors of earlier times, we hope you will find this valley a place of delight and renewal. Please consider yourself a part of Tassajara, for it is your contributions which make it possible for us to continue to take care of this fragile ecosystem and provide a curative, healing environment. Accommodations include three gourmet vegetarian meals daily, with bag lunch available to allow for flexible day plans. Guest afternoon tea is served daily in the dining room. The courtyard coffee-tea area is always open. Personal beverages are welcome in the guest rooms and dining room. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Tassajara Zen Mountain Hotel Carmel Valley

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