Intercontinental The Clement Monterey hotel review, USA: A stylish stalwart in the heart of the action

Our rating

4.5 out of 5

THE LOCATION

Smack bang  in the middle of Monterey's historic Cannery Row, overlooking the calm waters of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and next door to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. You're also just metres from Cannery Row's waterfront restaurants, bars and shops, and a short stroll from Fisherman's Wharf.

THE SPACE

The spectacular location isn't the only thing that will get you through the door. The grey-and-white Hamptons-style building, the 208 rooms and 15 luxury suites are stunning. The outdoor waterfront bar area known as Pacific Courtyard, which sits next to the hotel's boardwalk and is kitted out with wooden armchairs and an oversized fire pit, is a lovely touch, and the perfect spot for a sunset tipple. Take a dip in the small but lovely outdoor heated pool and relax in the hot tub, or book in for an appointment at the Spa.

THE ROOM

Rooms with balconies on the waterfront side are the pick of the bunch, although the partial ocean views from my king room, which sits across the road from the main building, are still very nice. My balconette looks down onto Cannery Row and across the road I can see Monterey Bay. It was a bit of a mission getting to my room, having to take one elevator, cross a pedestrian bridge, take a second elevator then navigate a few winding corridors, and I did manage to get lost on my first attempt. When I do finally find my room – kitted out with chic blonde wood furniture and dove grey upholstery – cranking up the gas fireplace is the first order of business, closely followed by a soak in the marble tub.

THE FOOD

Monterey has some fantastic dining options, so you probably won't spend loads of time eating in the Intercontinental's C restaurant, which has incredible views of the bay from the floor-to-ceiling windows. Whatever you do, don't miss dinner at the 48-year-old Sardine Factory, a five-minute walk away. Book a table in the conservatory-style dining room, choose from an astounding 1800 wines, and keep an eye out for celebrities (everyone from Tony Bennett to Clint Eastwood has dined here) as you gobble the legendary abalone bisque. Work off your meal dancing the night away in the Sardine Factory's ridiculously fun piano lounge, and if you're still not done, kick it to live blues down the road at Sly McFly's. The Cannery Row Brewery Company is a great lunch option, with a menu full of delicious heart stoppers such as Guinness-battered corn dogs and super-sized plates of chicken and waffles, and more than 75 beers on tap.

STEPPING OUT

You could easily spend a couple of days here simply eating, drinking and dancing but then you'd miss the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where you can ogle sea otters, penguins, sharks and more, and the Cannery Row Antique Mall, set in a beautiful historic building with more than 100 stalls offering a fantastic selection of antique jewellery, kitchenware, clothing and more. If you have a car, it's well worth paying the $US10.50 to do the spectacular 17-mile Drive, which weaves through the Pebble Beach area, taking in Pacific Grove and Carmel.

THE VERDICT

A stylish stalwart in the heart of the action with fantastic views. An excellent vantage point from which to explore Monterey, which is a great Highway One stop-off point on your way from San Francisco to Los Angeles (or vice versa).

ESSENTIALS

Rooms from $US225 a night. See ictheclementmonterey.com

HIGHLIGHT

Alfresco sunset drinks by the fire pit in the Pacific Courtyard.

LOWLIGHT

The confusion involved in getting to rooms located across the road.

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Nina Karnikowski was a guest of Intercontinental.