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“Beautiful Surroundings, But Expensive for What You Get” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Big Sur Lodge

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Big Sur Lodge
San Diego
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Beautiful Surroundings, But Expensive for What You Get”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 1, 2007

Been coming here since 1980. Rooms have been redone in the past few years, but they're _not_ all alike for the same rate. We booked a four-night stay with "room with fireplace and queen", and were shocked to see that our room was not even equipped with a dresser! The decor looked like "Southern California Paint-It-White-Overhaul". It was awful.

Complained to the management, and they gave us another "Room with Fireplace"; _This_ one had a skylight, dresser, writing table, sofa and easy chair that the other one didn't. (Funny, as this was the kind of room we'd had on our LAST trip here a year ago, and was expecting to find again!) Walls were painted a nice color with some nice pics, although they could use a couple of more; rooms have a lot of blank wallspace.

Nice things: No phones, TV's, radios, clocks, internet, or anything else. Pool is pin-clean and warm. Firewood brought to your room daily w/maid service. Quiet. Anyone who needs constant nervous excitement should not come here, it's a different trip. Bring a journal, hiking boots, a paintbox, or a chess set and cards. Bluejays, deer and wild turkeys abound, and are easily seen by anyone from their porch/patio. Saw a rare California Condor this trip. (!) Beautiful surroundings, housekeeping fairly good, but inconsistent from day to day. Plenty of hot water for showers. Great hikes, tho a bit strenuous due to rugged terrain.

Cons: Rates have gone up 30% _in excess of inflation_ over the past 10 years, and it's expensive now for what you get. In the middle of Spring, the place was nearly deserted in the middle of the week, something I had not seen before. $3.50/gal gasoline is beginning to bite, and this management better start cutting rates; maybe they make enough off weekenders not to care. The property has undergone a change of owners in the past few years, and is owned by a concern based in Virginia, who lease it from the state, I think, as a concession. Maybe the state is sticking them for higher fees. No discounts for week-long stays. AAA discounts do not apply in high summer, and when they do apply it's 5%, not the customary 10%. Units that get western afternoon sun can get HOT. No screen doors, so if you open up all the way to ventilate, bees/insects get in.

The prices at the restaurant for dinner are high. Service is indifferent; the staff seems very occupied with staying in the kitchen, and being out on the floor as little as possible. Breakfast is best, although if you go up the road for 2 miles it's 20% less. Some servers don't seem to speak English very well. Eat at the Big Sur River Inn (great burgers!), or The Roadhouse, or The Big Sur Bakery for dinner. The last is very nice, and service is fairly good. The people there are very friendly.

NOTE: The place is CRAWLING with Poison Oak; watch where you step! This is natural to cold rainforests of the Northwest.

All in all, still a nice place, but they need to bring their rates down.

Stayed May 2007
Helpful?
7 Thank Lepidus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Portland, ME
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 31, 2007

Overall, this is an adequate place to stay, and the most affordable option in the area (other than camping). The room was clean and spacious, furnished with a couch and armchair in front of the fireplace, a small table with chairs, and a coffeemaker and coffee. The skylight and pitched ceilings were a nice touch.

The location is great - right inside Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. It's also close to the Big Sur ranger station and other nearby state parks (we hiked at Julia Pfeiffer State Park). It's very convenient to actually be inside the state park.

One problem is the room temperature -- the last week of March, it was probably in the 40s at night, and not much warmer in the room (no central heating). We had a room with both a fireplace and a gas-powered heater (but we weren't allowed to run both of them at once). The fireplace was nice, but didn't provide a ton of heat. They also provide an electric space heater, which we ran at night. There was plenty of bedding, so as long as you are prepared, it shouldn't be an issue.

The firewood provided by the lodge was slightly damp, so building a fire was somewhat difficult. But when we called maintenance to come and start a fire with drier wood, they came within 10 minutes of our call.

Tip: If you're itching to get out on the trail, don't eat breakfast at the (overpriced) restaurant that's part of the lodge. We waited over an hour for our coffee and oatmeal because there was only one waiter working the entire dining room. Meanwhile, it was a beautiful day outside and it was an hour spent inside instead. You're much better off picking something up to go. You can also buy pretty decent sandwiches in the lodge's snack bar ($7) to eat on your hike.

This is a fine alternative to the pricey resorts nearby. Our room was $187 per night, and we didn't have trouble booking a room two weeks in advance for the last week of March.

Enjoy!

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — Service at the restaurant
  • Stayed March 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank somainer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, IL
Level Contributor
15 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 14, 2007

My husband and I stayed here for 3 nights in February. Now we knew this was a lodge and not to expect top quality, but there were definitely some issues with the place.

The main one being that the rooms were very cold especially between midnight - 7 am when the sun came up. As noted in previous reviews, you can't run the fireplace and the heater, due to a carbon monoxide risk. So the first night we ran the fireplace, which was OK until the fire went out around 2am. My husband woke up and checked the temperature and it was 48 degrees in our room. So we turned on the heater, but it never warmed up past 54 until after daylight sank in.

The 2nd night we learned from this experience and ran the heat. But even so, the temperature never got above 64/66 in the morning.

The rooms were older-styled, but we didn't have a problem with that, knowing we were staying in a lodge in the Forest Preserve. But for $221 per night, I did expect some heat in my room. Again this wasn't an issue during the day, the room was warm when the sun was up, but at night ... brrrr!!

The good news? The shower was hot, real hot, which you needed given the cold mornings. It was really nice.

The location in the middle of the state park was perfect for us as we headed both north up to Monterey and south down to San Simeon to see Hearst Castle, and were still able to take hikes.

The restaurant was mediocre. Dinner service was pretty good, the food was OK. Breakfast service was spotty. We're early risers - the place is supposed to open at 8am but staff were late one morning so it was closed until they arrived. We did get free coffee though due to the wait.

We learned from these experiences and began eating dinner/breakfast off site. The Big Sur Roadhouse is excellent for dinner.

There were other little things that the Big Sur Lodge could do to make itself better in my eyes. Even though we stayed in a non-kitchen lodge, for example, a mini fridge in the unit would have been nice to store our soda, water, beer, etc. Also a wine bottle opener/beer can opener would have been appreciated - we had to buy one.

The coffee pot/coffee in room was nice, but the pot didn't work very well. You couldn't pour coffee without spilling it all over.

To sum it up, the Big Sur Lodge needs to fix it's little problems - and the one big problem - mainly the heat issue. My husband and I do plan to come back to the area again sometime and I'm not sure where we'll stay. We can't afford to splurge $1,000 a night at the Post Ranch. We'd consider staying again, but we'll most likely try our luck elsewhere.

  • Stayed February 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
8 Thank wandrerr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego
Level Contributor
29 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 27, 2006

We've stayed at the Big Sur Lodge before, and this was not our best experience there.

You can't beat this location for day-hiking with - or without children. You are literally in the middle of the redwood forest and the trail heads are just a stone's throw from the cabins. No TV or phone, no internet hookup. Because of the forest, it gets dark early - very dark.

The weather when we were there was warm and our kids really enjoyed the heated pool. Plus, when you stay here, you also get a pass to the other neighboring State Parks, where there are also beautiful hiking trails.

That's the good............... now for the not as good........

First of all, I had read that the lodge rooms are undergoing remodeling (much needed). I asked for a remodled room with fireplace.........and booked way in advance. The clerk told me no problem. We arrived and had a yet-to-be-updated room without a fireplace - and no rooms to switch to. The registration staff was very nice and could not imagine what had happened (even though my reservation said fireplace on the billing form).

We didn't really care about a newer room, but a fireplace would have been nice....it gets cold at night and the wall heater is noisy. The beds were comfortable and warm, bathroom shower stall had a large, ugly, patched hole in the floor! Rooms are very dated and tired, but we knew not to expect a five-star hotel. Remodled rooms look nice (I peeked into one). Walls in all cabins are thin - the woman next door our first night snored so loudly, my children thought they heard a bear!

Secondly, the restaurant, which in the past was excellent and reasonable, is no longer either. The food was nothing special and is now expensive - especially for what you get. The service was surly and not attentive, despite very few customers. We were very disappointed. (The dining room view remains gorgeous). They have a moderately priced kids menu. (I saw one woman ordering two meals off the kids menu, to go. I didn't see any kids with her. :) (Smart!)

We will probably not stay here again. If we did, next time, I would book a kitchen room (so we can cook our own food).

Hopefully, all the units will be remodled soon? It seems there maybe a third of the way through. I'm not sure if the kitchen units also have fireplaces, but if you want a fireplace, be really, really sure the booking person knows what they're talking about. Middle units NEVER have a fireplace. The cabins are bunched in groups of connected threes. You want an end unit!

We explored the area quite a bit this trip and found some other nice places to stay. There is a really cute B&B down the road to the South. With the prices of food along this stretch of the Hwy. a place that includes a meal, is a good thing.

  • Liked — The location in the redwoods is unbeatable - serene and beautiful. Near hiking trails.
  • Disliked — They did not honor our reservations for a fireplace/remodled room.
  • Tips/Secrets — Get a kitchen unit.......the restaurant is too expensive.
  • Stayed October 2006, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
11 Thank JLC&N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York
Level Contributor
35 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 20, 2006

No phone, no TV, no e-mail--just the exquisite world of Big Sur. In certain respects the Lodge is basic: a one-entree restaurant, for example. But the cottages are entirely adequate, especially with updated heating for those cold mornings, fireplaces that work, really smart showers, and the amazing quiet. There are excellent restaurants nearby, including those at the incredibly pricey hotels just up the hill from Pfeiffer State Park, where the Lodge is located. I don't know why one would want to pay $1,000 a night to sleep and bathe when the lodge is about $190. Plus your day-tag admits you to all state parks in the area. All that aside, is there a more beautiful spot in the world than the coast down from Big Sur?

  • Liked — The area
  • Stayed October 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
Helpful?
4 Thank Heathcl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San diego
Level Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 23, 2006

Just returned from another stay here and while the location in the redwood groves is gorgeous and all the rooms have been refurbished, there were a few problems this time:

The clerk who took our phone reservation was very curt and unfriendly , the room rates have increased and they no longer offer any AAA discount, so the price of our non-fireplace room was quite a bit higher than last years' fireplace room.

Day temps in September can be quite warm and upon arrival, our room was a stiffling 90+ degrees, due to the heater's strong pilot light which is set to stay on 24/7. Flinging open windows and doors, we also found a large fan which helped, but we had to stay outside for half an hour while the room cooled off. People out on their deck next to ours were smoking, and our open room took on a lot of their smoke, which was annoying. There was also a couple of very noticeable large stains in the carpet that needed attention.

The lodge gave us written info that warned guests not to use the room heater and the fireplace at the same time, as there is danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. They said that using both could also cause the heater to completely shut off, leaving you without any heat. Our room retained the heat so much, we never needed to turn the heater on, but I don't see how that "no heater and fireplace" situation would work in the cooler months.

After dealing with the heat, we realized there was no soap nor an ice bucket in the room, so we had to drive back down to the lodge for that, then over to the ice place before we could go back to the room and unpack. With room rates over $200/night, it becomes harder to overlook these quirks.

The Lodge's resturant has a new chef who used to be the sous-chef at Deetjen's and our late-night meal there was pretty good. Our server, a very nice young man from the East coast was helpful and friendly. The ice cream station now carries several flavors of the Blue Bunny brand.

Decent, affordable lodging is limited in Big Sur, so I'll probably return to BSL, but I'll also keep my eyes open for other options.

  • Stayed September 2006
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
9 Thank Simones
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles
Level Contributor
14 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 8, 2006

We stayed two nights in mid September and were disappointed in some things but pleasantly surprised with others. The bad, well, I don't know about you but I like a heater that works. Ours didn't and Big Sur in September is in the low 50's at night. The first night we couldn't get it to turn on. The second night the "repair" left the pilot light making a very loud continuous noise that kept us up so I turned it off thus leaving us again with only the fireplace for heat. I could go on but basically, this was indicative of our experience. The room was drab and basic. The nice surpise was that the restaurant was quite good although their wine list was terrible and they were out of half of the selections. Service is very nice, the pool is great but the rooms need improvement. Big Sur is a magical place but it needs a good mid priced hotel. Post Ranch and Ventana are way too expensive for most.

Stayed September 2006
Helpful?
3 Thank Travlin_Man525
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Big Sur Lodge

Property: Big Sur Lodge
Address: 47225 Highway 1, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Big Sur, CA 93920-9542
Location: United States > California > Big Sur
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 8 Specialty Lodging in Big Sur
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Big Sur Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 62
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in the heart of Pfeiffer State Park, Big Sur Lodge offers single, double, and family size rooms with fireplaces and kitchenettes and a myriad of wonderful outdoor activities for all travelers' needs including hiking and swimming. There is a restaurant, outdoor patio, gift store, and deli. Wedding and corporate group events/dining facilities are available. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Big Sur Hotel Big Sur

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