Cypress Inn, California review: Five-star hound-dog heaven

Read our writer's views on this property below

Fido gets the Hollywood treatment at Doris Day's Cypress Inn in Carmel-by-the-Sea, writes Rachael Oakes-Ash.

THE 93921 postcode in the US means a lot if you're a dog. Fido doesn't care if you are former mayor Clint Eastwood; he just cares if the sun has risen and if it is time for a wag in the Pacific waters on the friendliest dog beach in California.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a two-hour drive south from San Francisco, on the famous Highway One scenic drive. The town is dotted with Spanish-style mansions and narrow streets lined with thatched-roof houses straight out of the pages of a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale – a place that breathes squeaky clean America with perfect teeth.

It might be home to a mere 4000 locals who can afford the pricey real estate but it is also home to 870 canine critters who, like their owners, are a friendly lot to the 2 million tourists (and their "best friends") who visit each year.

Old-glamour-Hollywood stalwart Doris Day calls Carmel Valley home and has the keys to the famed Cypress Inn, a 44-room, boutique lodge-style hotel that first opened its doors as an art gallery in 1906. Each en suite guest room and suite has an individual style with four-poster beds, high ceilings, fresh orchids and soft furnishings one would expect from Doris Day.

The modern world is attended to with flat-screen TVs, iPod docking stations and free wi-fi.

Check in here with Fido and expect tasty treats at turn down, a Wag and Wine cocktail hour by the piano and doggy beds in the guest rooms.

Mollie and Maximillion have been making their annual pilgrimage from West Hollywood each year for the past three. The pair sport the glorious blonde hair only found in California, shined weekly by their stylists. Mollie and Maximillion are soft wheaten terriers and I find them in the dining room at breakfast time. They are here with their butler, sorry, owner, who tends to their every whim.

They spend their morning reading the locally published Doggie Gazette before a turn around Carmel Plaza's "Fountain of Woof". This is followed by lunch at Forge in the Forest restaurant, where Maximillion chooses the Quarter Hounder for $US4.95 ($4.80) and Mollie nibbles on the Hot Diggity Kosher Dog for $US3.95, happily paid for by the butler. The afternoon is spent at high tea in Terry's Lounge back at the Cypress Inn mingling with the other pooches – Ike and Mamie the corgis visiting from San Diego, Storm the giant schnauzer and his pal Logan the rottweiler boxer cross from the Bay Area of San Francisco– all supping on iced Evian and doggy scones.


They compare notes on Carmel's dog-friendly dining establishments and the hotel's recommended pet sitters that look after them when the butlers take time off.

Doris Day clearly understands animals. Her Doris Day Animal League campaigns against animal testing and puppy mills and for horse protection.

At 87, she rarely visits Cypress Inn but when she does it is without notice and with much delight from the regular hotel guests, who come back year after year.

As a devoted dog lover, I couldn't think of anywhere better to stay during a recent visit to Clint Eastwood's Carmel Art and Film Festival.

Yes, Clint was here, so was James Franco and Matthew Modine and their friends but they don't wag their tails the same way when I pat them on the head.

When travelling, there is something about a canine cuddle that makes you feel at home. Plus, a dog opens up a world of conversation with locals and travellers bonded by animal love. But be warned, if you fancy a stroll along Carmel Beach at sunrise, you will be followed. In a good way.

Trip notes

Where Cypress Inn, Lincoln and 7th Street, Carmel-by-the-Sea, + 1 831 624-3871,

Getting there Carmel-by-the-Sea is a two-hour drive from San Francisco along the scenic Highway One.

How much Standard queen rooms start at $US225 ($217) a night, including continental breakfast. Suites offer ocean views, a fireplace or private entrance and start from $US490.

Top marks Complimentary doggy treat jar at reception, doggy beach towels for morning walks and in-room cream sherry and snacks.

Black mark Rooms close to the courtyard can be noisy.

Don't miss The magical fingers of Dick Whittington, jazz pianist, in Terry's Lounge on a Saturday night when all the locals come out to play.