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“Don't get me wrong, Deetjens is MAGIC, but there's problems too...”

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Deetjen's Big Sur Inn
Ranked #5 of 8 Hotels in Big Sur
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed April 4, 2008

I love Deetjens. I've loved it for as long as I can remember, and I've stayed many many times. I've tried to come back at least once a year, even after I moved to the East Coast. But after my last experience, I'm not sure we'll be back. My last visit to Deetjens was in June 2007. I brought my boyfriend, and left with my fiance, now my husband. In the interest of privacy and magic, we had booked the tiny Castro Cabin. We had booked 4 months in advance just to get 3 consecutive days in the cabin, and we had changed our travel dates to match our booking of the cabin. We arrived in the late afternoon, and were told by the desk clerk that we'd be in Franklin room. No, we said, we booked the Castro. We were told that we didn't, and we said, no we changed our plans just to get the cabin. Then we stood there for 20 minute while they looked for any record of our reserving the cabin. We were then told that the cabin was not ready. There had been a plumbing issue in the cabin, and cabin had been out of commission for several days - it might be fixed and ready, but the maintenance guy had already left for the day and there was no way to tell if the job was done or not. We walked over and took a look - the cabin showed no signs of maintenance work, and appeared ready for our stay. However, the desk clerk, who emphasized several times that she "doesn't really work here, is just filling in", refused to let us move into the cabin, instead insisting that we move into the other room. And she's really smug about it, doens't care a bit that we've been planning on the cabin for 4 months.

Now I don't know about you, but I HATE poor service and rudeness, and I also hate moving rooms. I really hate it. I hate it even more when this is all going on on a night that I'm probably going to get engaged! Well, this person that does not work there insists that we go to the other room, and we'll move to the cabin tomorrow if we can. Oh, and can we make sure to get up really early and come back and talk to the manager, to make sure that they don't accidently give the Castro to someone else when it's ready?? We were aghast at this.

Incredibly disheartened, and very upset over the rude rude welcome, we move into the other room. By this time, we've missed our reservation time at the Deetjens restaurant, so we cancel and head up to Nepente for drinks. On returning to Deetjens much later that night, we find a note on our door - Castro is ready. There is no apology, nothing else. Just Castro is ready. I go to the desk clerk, and ask about this note. She says that we should really move in now, so that they can give the other room to someone else if they show up. I told her that it was really a good thing that she "doesn't really work here", and that she should try and find another job.

We move into our now tainted cabin. It's lovely and private and oh so romantic. In the morning, we are trying to move past all this and enjoy Deetjens, when the manager comes and starts yelling at me and saying that I had no right to talk to his employees that way. I told him that she made it clear that she was not an employee, did not care, and was clearly trying to sabotage our special trip that we had arranged 4 months in advance. When I cried, he offered to comp us a night - I think this may be a Deetjens first. I have never before cried at Deetjens.

Later that day, we were engaged!! It was awesome, and so special. We went to Ventana to celebrate, and this too was awesome, and so special. The next night, we went to dinner at Deetjens. The food, as always, was magnificent, I've never had a bad meal at Deetjens. With coffee and dessert, and happy conversation, we sat next to the fireplace and were warm and cozy. As I always have at Deetjens, occassionally I would add a log to the fire. When we were the last table remaining, and still enjoying coffee, I went to add one last log. The manager approached, stood behind me, and in low, gutteral tones said "oh.... please..... DON'T." I could not believe it! Are you kidding me??

I grew up in Ca. Deetjens has always been a hideaway, a magic place, a home away from home. I love that the walls are thin, and the bathrooms with their odd configurations. I love the beds, I love the creek, I don't mind the Highway 1 traffic. But I am not a tourist, I am not just passing through, and if you expect to see me again, I expect a little respect and the ability to make myself at home. I have given my love and time and money to this place time and time again, and no, it's not cheap. But I will not stand to be treated this way, and that may mean that I will take my good memories with me and never return. If Deetjens has always been a part of me, I will keep the good parts and not allow any more of the bad in. And if that means I never go back - so be it. That said, I can't think of a better place to stay in Big Sur - I have a moral block against spending $400 a night at Ventana, and the snob appeal of Post Ranch does nothing for me. I guess I'll just have to rent houses from here on out - if that's the only way to try and feel at home. If you've never been to Deetjens, at least check it out, there's nothing else like it. But don't expect much - even those that return again and again can't expect that anymore.

  • Stayed: June 2007, traveled as a couple
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33  Thank Bluestar8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 6, 2008

Deetjen's is one of the miracles on this planet, a divine experience with some minor annoyances that are CONSIDERABLY overshadowed by its perfections. Great food, great staff. I live about thirty miles away, go often for superb breakfast, sometimes dinner (also exquisite), and have stayed overnight a number of times. What is important to understand is that the original owner, somewhere in the 1920's I believe, built this scrappy heroic spot out of nothing in the nowhere, and just kept building little bits of houses to accomodate family, friends, and an army of cats. Tres bohemian. It hasn't changed much. Very well cared for gorgeous flowering landscaping and cabins. And no, it's not a luxury hotel, it's more like a shelter from the storm with great lighting and fluffy beds and running water indoors as well as the musical stream outdoors that heads down the mountain through montrously huge redwoods and ferns. It's spectacular. But you have to love the roughing it. It's tucked inside Big Sur's famous redwoods on land that rises soon and steeply unphill. The ocean is across the small winding Highway One, you can walk into wonderful woody places so rich in earth and plant aroma you nearly pass out. Swank cocktails at Ventana is a hop skip jump away if that's what you want, and a gorgeous view. But Deetjen's holds the promise of returning you to an uncluttered wilderness experience within driving distance of galleries and stores, and within walking distance of their beyond-perfect ambiance in Deetjen's restaurant. Maybe you can hear guests through the walls as others suggest, and maybe the hand hewn wood isn't your cup of tea, but it's a miracle to me they haven't sold out long ago and gone to plastic beds and marble tubs. It's beautiful there, and a bit primitive. Your spirit, your sense of freedom, your re-discovery of what matters in the coast of Big Sur is worth any adventuring required by the accomodations, which I think are beautifully done and a delight. Deetjen's is what the pioneers to early California built with their own hands, bringing in supplies on unimaginably steep narrow dirt roads with horse and wagon, from very far away, and they were in it for the adventure.

  • Stayed: June 2006, traveled solo
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5  Thank Buccaneer1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 26, 2008

If you enjoy visiting Big Sur but are not willing to spend upwards of $500/night on a room, it can be difficult to find accomodations. We stayed at Glen Oaks on our last trip because Deetjen's was boooked, but we stayed at Deetjen's this time around. Advantages - affordable, has the rustic, genuine Big Sur charm, cozy accomodations with tasteful, ecclectic decor, the restaurant on site serves good hearty food, lots of options for room types and ability to select the specific room that you want, location - not too far south, but on the southern end of town.

Disadvatages - walls are paper thin, you can hear alomst everything your neighbor says/does (thankfully you spend most of your time out enjoying the scenery), not all rooms have private bathroom and shared bathrooms are very small and can make the experience feel a little like camping.

If you want a place that feels like Big Sur and you're willing to accept accomodations that are a little rough around the edges in exchange for an affordable room, then this is probably the place for you. Resident cat(s) are cute and curious and some guests may let them into their rooms , so beware if you are highly allergic to cats - potential problem.

  • Stayed: February 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank weekend_getaways2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 24, 2008

Very cute and romantic place along the beautiful coast of California. We visited during that HUGE rain storm and even then the place was still great, despite working on gasoline powered generators and losing electricity after midnight. We stayed in Lower Creek which had an amazing bed, small nook area and a great fireplace that we used during our stay. There was a little creek that was running next to our cabin that just made the stay more pleasant. Staff was nice as well, but we really didn't bother them that much. Location was perfect, in the middle of it all. Recommend eating at Big Sur Bakery and checking out Esalen at night (that is amazing as well)

  • Stayed: January 2008, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank ECMedbooks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 24, 2008

Despite the dreadful weather we had a fantastic overnight stay as part of our round the world trip from the UK. The accommodation has a rustic charm whilst maintaining high quality. The wood burning stove was well appreciated and enhanced the whole experience. Our dinner at Deetjens was excellent, though the quantities were a trifle too much for us. We breakfasted on wonderful eggs benedict and found the staff really helpful when advising us about driving the Big Sur in such awful weather. We are going to advise all other English visitors to consider staying there. Thank you Deetjens for a unique experience. We will return!!

  • Stayed: December 2007, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank JAandCA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 24, 2007

There are people that don't realize just how short it has been since we as humans lived without things that would be defined as "basic necessities". Those that complain, should have done their homework. Enough said.

My wife and I came to Deetjen's, riding a wave of austere views all the way down Hwy. 1. Our first anniversary, and we picked the PERFECT place to enjoy it. Nothing could have been better, from the EXCELLENT staff, wonderful food, and Mario, the cat.
We stayed in the Chateau Fiasco, and it had an amazing balcony that overlooked the main area, yet had enough foilage to provide privacy. I liked the way that they worked AROUND the existing plantlife; their is a tree branch blocking the entrance, and instead of cutting it, it is merely painted it(only to avert lawsuits, I'm sure).

We have decided to return to Deetjen's for our 10th, and wait on baited breath.

  • Stayed: September 2007
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4  Thank baileycat0519
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 17, 2007

We stayed here on our way back from New Zealand. My cousin, an American, booked it for us. A charming place with individual log cabins. We stayed in Edies room. Very comfortable, very quirky and individual. Do look at the written statements from previous guests in Edies room - 5 volumes of compelling reading! Look for the one where a woman talked him out of commiting suicide many years ago and when he happened to stay in Edies room the woman he had seen many years ago was Edie!
A must to visit and stay.

  • Stayed: February 2007, traveled with friends
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3  Thank Tripper100England
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Deetjen's Big Sur Inn

Address: 48865 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920-9512
Location: United States > California > Big Sur
Amenities:
Restaurant
Hotel Style:
#4 Romantic Hotel in Big Sur
#4 Top resorts Hotel in Big Sur
#6 Family Hotel in Big Sur
Price Range: $110 - $195 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 19
Also Known As:
Deetjen`s Big Sur Hotel Big Sur
Deetjens Big Sur Hotel
Deetjens Big Sur Inn

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