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“Perfect romantic hideaway, refreshing & serene!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Whale Watch Inn by the Sea

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Whale Watch Inn by the Sea
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35100 S. Highway 1, Gualala, CA 95445   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #5 of 7 Gualala B&B and Inns
Orangevale, California
Top Contributor
57 reviews 57 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
90 helpful votes 90 helpful votes
“Perfect romantic hideaway, refreshing & serene!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2010

My husband & I selected the Whale Watch for our 16th anniversary celebration and our very first trip without children. We were looking for a quiet, low-key getaway to refresh our spirits and marriage. We were not dissappointed!
We booked the Crystal Sea room, and it was perfect. From the moment we arrived & walked through the lush garden setting to the check-in area, we felt like we stepped out of time (or reality) for a few days. We were given seats in front of the ocean view, offered a glass of wine or other refreshments, while Stephanie retrieved our check-in paperwork. Everything was brought to us, while we sat & took in the view & the cute sitting area. We were then lead to our room.
When I made the reservation, I had mentioned in passing that this was our anniversary, but definitely did not make a big deal out of it. I didn't even think they noticed. So imagine my surprise when we entered our room & there was a complimentary bottle of chilled wine, 2 glasses, a pair of chocolate dipped strawberries & a hand written note from the owner, Kazie, welcoming us & congratulationg us on our anniversary. What a wonderful touch!
We explored our room & were really pleased with all of it. The furnishings are...I wouldn't say dated, they are more like antique replicas. The colors were a bit outdated, teal blues & mauves, but definitely not tacky or ugly. It has a muted, relaxing feel to it. The sitting area invites you to relax & watch the ocean. The fireplace is a real woodburning one, and they supplied us with plenty of wood, replenishing anytime we asked. The jacuzzi tub is HUGE, definitely big enough for 2! You can sit in the jacuzzi tub & see out the sliding glass door to the ocean. We brought lots of candles & used the tub to unwind each day after we explored the area; what a treat. The room was spacious enough for us, didn't feel cramped or crowded at all. Skylight over the bed was a great touch. The room is situated so that no one can see in the room from the outside, so it felt very private & secluded, which we really appreciated. The balcony overlooked the Anchor Bay beach down below, we got the pleasure of white water (waves crashing on the beach) and blue water (out to sea) views. We ate our lunch on the balcony, just wonderful!
It is true, there are no phones or tv. But we loved that. Our cell phones (Sprint) worked fine, & we were able to pick up the free wi-fi on our laptop in our room, if wanted to connect to the real world, or check on our kids.
The breakfast arrived exactly at the time we ordered it all 3 mornnings. It is not a huge breakfast, but definitely delicius & unique. Every morning was different. We always had plenty of coffe, & the fresh baked muffins were a lovely touch. It arrived on a beautifully laid out tray each morning. We sat in our sitting area, set up our breakfast on the coffee table & watched the ocean & planned our day.
There is music piped into the rooms, but it is an older system, & it would cut in & out. There is a knob on the wall to adjust the volume; we just turned it off. We both preferred the sound of the ocean - that is what we came for!
We slpet with the sliding glass door open each night so we could fall asleep & wake to the sound of the ocean; loved it!
The beach...what abeautiful spot!!! It is NOT private, & if you read the website carefully, it says "secluded" I beleive, and even mentions that it is shared with another lodging place across the road. But we visited mid-July & only saw a few other people, definitely no crowds. There are tide pools when the tide goes out. (Ask in the office area & they can tell you the tide schedule). Also, when the tide is low, you can walk all the way to the other end of Anchor Bay. Yes, the stairway is quite steep, but what did you expect being so high up on a cliff over the ocean? If you have trouble climbing stairs, or with your balance, or heights, then this isn't for you. But even the view from the Private "for Whale Watch Patrons only" sitting area at the top is beautiful.
We were there for the Saturday evening wine & appetizers in the Whale Watch Room; very nice! Plenty of snacks available, plenty of wine (3 kinds), and a pleasure meeting some of the other guests. Kazie (owner) oversaw the evening & we enjoyed meeting her & chattting. We didn't find her "pushy" or any of the other negative things we read here.
On our last day, we watched a sea lion catching & eating crabs in the surf directly in front of us on the beach - very cool!
We loved the little towns of Anchor Bay & Gualala; found the people to be kind & interesting.
All in all, this was a very refreshing trip. We felt pampered, but in a very inobtrusive way.
On a last note, the journals in the rooms...if you aren't sure what you'll read, or dont want intimate details, it's really simple, DON'T read them! However, we were feeling adventurous & did read them. We didn't read a single thing that was even remotely "detailed". Some of the entries actually made me cry; people mostly wrote about how this place restored them, was a balm to their soul after sadness or tradgedy in their lives, or how they just fell in love with it & their partner, again.
Hope you enjoy your stay as much as we did!

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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117 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (21)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Fresno, ca
1 review
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed April 11, 2010

When my wife and I chose this hotel, we chose it for the view and the ambience. It said we would have classical music pumping through every room, champagne with breakfast, a skylight above the bed so we could see the stars at night and a private beach for only guests of the hotel. I read all the reviews before making the reservations, and the only review I read that was bad was bashing the décor. Yes, I agree, the decorations could be updated, but I didn’t have a problem with that. Yes, the tub and showers would do well to be resurfaced and painted, but I didn’t have a problem with that. And yes, the breakfast could have been better, but I have had worse, so I don’t have a problem with that either.
What I do have a problem with were the spiders that were on my bed when I came in and the cobwebs in the skylight, which was above my bed. I especially have a problem with the fact that when my wife went down to tell them about the spiders, the lady she spoke to went to the back and my wife could overhear the owner state “ Oh here we go again!” Now, I’m not sure she was stating that this happens more than it should, or she was used to people complaining and not wanting to fix it. When someone did come to fix the spider problem, they simply were going to change the sheets. That still wouldn’t fix the spiders hanging above the bed.
My wife wasn’t feeling comfortable and wanted to leave automatically, but I convinced here to ask if they had another room for us. They thankfully did, so I moved our bags over to the other room. The room was nice, as I said before, could use some work but I didn’t care about that. The fireplace and tub were great and my wife was satisfied with the room, though she still wanted to leave. We finally got situated and went out to enjoy the surrounding town of Anchor Bay. The people in the city, from the young clerk at the local grocery store to the waitress at the Redwood Grill, were so welcoming. I very much recommend, as long as you don’t stay at the Whale Watch Inn, to go to the Redwood Grill. The service was great and the food was amazing. Those who love food will be greatly surprised, and don’t let the look of the outer or inner area fool you, a great chef works there.
That night when we went back to our room, I was able to make a fire in a good size fireplace. The only thing the Whale Watch Inn was the wood they supplied for the fire. The first night was fine, and we spent the whole next day in Fort Bragg. If you decide to go to the Mendocino area, do not miss Fort Bragg. However, that night, with the smallest amount of wind gusting through the area, we heard all of it through a whistle in the windows and sliding glass door. It wasn’t enough to stop us from sleeping, but it was annoying. Later in the night, the light wind changed to a raining storm. And with that pick up of wind, came whistles to rival a whistling contest. We hardly slept two consistent hours through the entire night. In the morning, around 6, we simply woke up, got dressed, packed, and left. We didn’t want to wait for the breakfast, we simply gave our key to the cooks and left. We called at nine this morning and made sure they new we had checked out, since there wasn’t a hostess or anyone other than the cooks available.
After we left and were about to have lunch in San Francisco, I received a call from the owner stating that one of their robes was missing, and that if we wanted to keep it, we needed to pay. When I left, I looked upstairs where the shower and Jacuzzi were, and one robe, which wasn’t used, was still rolled up and in place. The other robe, which I used after my shower, was lying across the chair in front of the fireplace. When I told the owner it was there, she stated that I may have taken it by accident, but still had to pay. I assured here that I in fact did not have it. After I hung up, I went straight to my car, checked my entire luggage and was confirmed in my knowledge. I did not take the robe, and thank goodness I never used my credit card, for she would have definitely charged it and would have had no way but to go all the way back to show we didn’t have it.
Moreover, to top it all off, the private beach was only accessible during low tide, and took an experienced hiker to get down to. My wife was unable to even see the so-called beach that consisted of more rocks than sand.
Therefore, to recap, we were expecting elegance and grace; we received bugs and bad attitudes. We were expecting classical music in the room and champagne for breakfast, we received annoying whistles through the windows and orange juice for breakfast. Finally, we were expecting a private beach, and received a twisted ankle waiting to happen with no view. If you are deciding to go to the Mendocino area, I recommend the Albion River Inn. Had dinner there and received in the short time we were there the accommodations we were expecting at the Whale Watch Inn. Do not be fooled by the other reviews, I am not just one person bitter about a small defect. I am a man whose eighth anniversary was almost ruined by the Whale Watch Inns “False Advertisement”.

  • Stayed April 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Petaluma, California
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 30, 2009

If you need a quiet, beautiful place for a get-away, this is it. The warm welcome by owner Kazie and her staff start the visit off right. Gorgeous grounds and amazing views of the ocean and rocky cliffs make the Whale Watch Inn worth the value. We loved every minute of our 2-day stay, and booked our next stay before leaving. We stayed in the Cliffside Room, and while very small, the fireplace and sounds of the ocean waves below make up for the size. Had delicious breakfasts both mornings, and the best hot chocolate I have ever had in my life. We sat in the lounge e for a full day, reading and enjoying the circular fireplace and sounds of the waves mixed with the rain. (Thanks for the extra firewood, Miguel!) Truly enchanting. Seems only nice people stay there, as we met lovely couples both mornings during breakfast. If you want to reconnect with natural beauty, calmness and serenity, this is it. Its rustic, authentic charm are the real thing. Truly lovely, and we can't wait to go back.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Sonoma County, CA
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 2, 2009

Did you know that when seagulls rise on up-drafts from the beach below and are backlighted at sunset, there is a line of neon light outlning their wings and head?
And there's nothing like tai chi at down on the deck facing the east as the sun comes up over the hills, with the waves crashing below in the cove.

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled on business
    • 5 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 1
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Gosford, Australia
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 23, 2009

We called in to the inn without a reservation after a long day on the road. We were greeted with a welcoming, friendly smile by the duty manageress who, after confirming our room, sat us down with a glass of wine while she made some finishing touches to our room. Our room was the Rose Room, a room with a queen four poster bed, fireplace, bathroom with jacuzzi and a small deck. It was on the ground floor of the main building and because of the time of year (just after Labor Day) we were offered a reduced price for the room.
The inn has a great recreation room with wonderful views of the coast, tables, lounges, board games and Wi-Fi. There is also a great beach below, accessible by stairs.
In response to those poor reviews, yes, some of the decor is a bit tired and some items of furniture don't fit in, but this all adds to a feeling of homeliness which, along with the great attitude of the staff and owner and delicious hot breakfast brought to the room made it a perfect place to stay and encouraged us to stay an extra night. With some wonderful restaurants in the area to compliment the inn, I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone else.

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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S.F. North Bay Area
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 14, 2009

First, after having seen many, many places including Tahiti, Jamaica, Paris, Florence, and dozens of others, the Whale Watch Inn, with the people, the surrounding community, the great restaurants nearby, all taken together are just as enjoyable as any of those places for a weekend get-away. The Inn sits on a cliff high above a near-private beach, surrounded by redwoods. The view from the room is incredible, looking over the cliffs above the ocean. It’s a beautiful place made all the better by Kazie (she & Jim are the owners) and her team. Everyone, including the grounds crew, was extremely friendly and attentive. Kazie, Gretchen, and Monica work to make sure that your stay is relaxing and enjoyable, with special attention to detail. I mentioned that we were coming to celebrate our anniversary and when we arrived there was a chilled bottle of white wine, chocolate covered strawberries, and flowers for us. We were a little late getting there on a Friday night but Monica was waiting for us with a smile and took time to show us around and make sure we got settled-in. We had one of the rooms w/ a hot tub and with the fireplace inside; it just doesn’t get much better! The room was great – roomy, well appointed, and a very comfortable bed. For fun, the room has a guestbook in which people from all over shared their thoughts, feelings, and experiences (many very entertaining, some simply bizarre!). Breakfast every morning was delicious, and quite creative. Be prepared for an “unplug” experience though – no cell phone service, no TV (thank god!), no internet (double thank god!!). We celebrated our 27th anniversary in this perfect environment! We will definitely be back.

The close-by eateries are excellent. In Anchor Bay, about 5 minutes down the road, the Redwood Grill was terrific for dinner. The Mexican place was great for nachos and a margarita in the afternoon. And DO NOT MISS St. Orr’s for dinner down in Gualala!! And if you haven’t been and have a little extra time, go see Point Arena for fun.

So pack-up a couple of bottles of your favorite wine, bring a bottle of sparkling wine to make Mimosas for breakfast like we did, bring a good book, your favorite toys, and prepare to spend some of the best hours of your life decompressing and getting to know each other again. Like I said in the guestbook, re-learning to stop moving w/ jack hammer intensity and start moving with the rhythm of the waves that steeps through the air.

Kevin & Shari
San Rafael, CA

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 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.
Top Contributor
118 reviews 118 reviews
51 hotel reviews
Reviews in 91 cities Reviews in 91 cities
232 helpful votes 232 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 24, 2009

The Whale Watch Inn lived up to my expectations, and high expectations they were after reading all of the other reviews. The setting is more or less perfect. We had great weather—cloudy in the morning, sunny in the afternoon. No whales in sight, though others said there had been some reported.

The Inn is located just off Highway 1, a half mile north of the little village of Anchor Bay. The closest building is probably 50 feet from the road and furthest is about 100 feet away. There is substantial foliage that buffers the sound and, at least in the room where we stayed, highway noise was simply not an issue. All the rooms are oriented towards the ocean so the sound you hear is crashing waves, not traffic.

The famous Kazie was not there when we arrived. She was at her other home in Lodi, but she showed up in time for the terrific Saturday afternoon wine and cheese spread. Because we all ate breakfast in our rooms, this was the only interaction among the guests. Kazie told us that she would be celebrating 19 years as owner of the Inn this coming November. She also told us something others have mentioned: the vast majority of her clientele consists of return visitors. If you are looking for an endorsement, that is it.

We stayed in the Country French Suite to celebrate our 30th anniversary. It was quite a place. We especially enjoyed the upstairs sitting room with the wonderful fireplace. We also ate our breakfast up there.

A couple of negatives should be mentioned, though I still give the Inn very high marks. The breakfast was not very impressive. I would compare it to a good airline breakfast. We had tea (or coffee), a small glass of juice, a muffin, a small fruit compote, and a small hot entrée, one day frittata, the next two small blueberry pancakes. Not bad, but not great and not much to it. The other negative about our suite was the balcony. It is a very small wedge-shaped deck, just off the main room downstairs. With a small table and two chairs, it was crowded. The view was great, but it was not a lounging area by any stretch of the imagination.

We poked our heads into a couple of the other rooms in the main building. They all looked very nice, but I am glad we chose the somewhat larger suite.

  • Stayed August 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Whale Watch Inn by the Sea

Address: 35100 S. Highway 1, Gualala, CA 95445
Location: United States > California > Mendocino County > Gualala
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 7 B&Bs / Inns in Gualala
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We have a motto here at the Whale Watch Inn and it is to provide you with "World Class service in a World Class setting." With 18 beautifully decorated guest rooms each with a dynamic view of the ocean, our rooms also all include a private deck and wood burning fireplace. Also included with your stay is a full gourmet breakfast delivered right to your room every morning of your stay! Our staff here is committed to making your stay an out of this world experience by accommodating your needs, and paying attention to the details. We hope you will join us soon, the ocean is waiting! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Whale Watch Inn By The Sea Hotel Gualala

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