It might be difficult to come by, but time spent in Crystal Cove's Cottage #33, also known as the Romantic Retreat, is well worth the effort. Hanging onto the edge of a cliff overlooking California's Crystal Cove State Beach, this retreat will give you memories to last a lifetime.
The cottage features a charming kitchen with an old fashioned refrigerator and a modern microwave; the latter is hidden from view. Paper plates, napkins and plastic utensils are provided. Plenty of counter space and storage are available in this restored cottage originally built in 1938.
What an amazing view!!! This is one of 13 historic cottages in Crystal Cove State Park. These old cottages have been restored to their previous glory. But let's qualify that; these structures were never more than cheap cabins built in the 1930's and 40's, often by crew who were working on movies being shot in this idyllic beach setting. So, even today, after much restoration, they are still very basic.
Cottage number 33 is called the Romantic Retreat. It is a one bedroom rental with a sofa bed and several ocean view window seats that can be used as beds. Even thought this cottage can accommodate more than two guests, don't forget this place is a romantic retreat. Don't waste that aspect of its reputation.
The bathroom is small and outfitted with old fixtures. In keeping with its historic nature, you will find odd hangers throughout the cottage. Towels and hand soap are the only toiletries provided by Crystal Cove.
The bedroom is located at the back of the unit; it is small and has two little windows. The full sized bed was comfortable. The cottage has one heater located in the large main room. As a result, winter visitors will find it can get pretty cold at the beach. Even with its Southern California location, nights can get surprisingly frigid between November and February. Crystal Cove provides extra blankets.
How about a cup of coffee to go with this amazing morning view of the beach? #33 is one of a handful of cottages that are on a bluff overlooking the ocean. Other rentals are located right on the sand. Attention: Want to post your morning view to Facebook? Instagram it out to your friends? You may have connectivity issues. Cell data service can be hit and miss depending on your carrier. No Wi-Fi here at the beach.
If the view from inside wasn't good enough for you, then step outside and take up residency in a weathered chair, enjoy the sun, feel the breeze, listen to the surf. Some guests might prefer staying down near the sand, especially a family. But being up here, overlooking the beach, adds to the privacy of this romantic retreat.
It is hard to top this when it comes to alfresco dinning; the outside table will become a favorite spot for snacking away the hours with a glass of wine. A grill is provided; bring your own charcoal. Several shopping options are nearby. Just south on Pacific Coast Highway are the Crystal Cove Promenade shops, home to a Southern California favorite, Trader Joe's. It also has a great bakery/coffee shop and several high end restaurants. Additional shopping is available in Laguna Beach.
With your coffee in one hand and your romantic retreat partner in the other, head down the long stairway to the beach. Here you will find additional historic cottages, a gift shop, an excellent restaurant/bar, a vendor with beach supplies, and a small museum.
These restored cottages are part of one the most successful private/public partnerships in the US. The operation of the cottages is run by a non-profit, the Crystal Cove Alliance, while the State Of California owns the property and operates it as a State Park.
From below you can see cottage #33 as its wall of windows look out at the Pacific. A quick note about parking. When you check-in, you will have easy access to transfer your personal items to the cottage. During your stay, you park your car at a large remote lot. You can access the lot via a shuttle or walking. Note that between 10pm and 6am, there is no vehicle access to Crystal Cove Cottages.
One of the ocean front historic cottages has been converted into The Beachcomber Cafe/Bar. It offers excellent food at reasonable prices. Get something nice to go and head back to your romantic retreat.
Ruby's Shake Shack is an outdoors restaurant located along Pacific Coast Highway which overlooks Crystal Cove State Beach. They offer burgers, shakes, and fries, along with hotdogs and sandwiches. A long set of stairs will take you from the beach up to Ruby's.
The other beach cottage rentals at Crystal Cove are all very unique. Some are individual stand-alone units. Some are larger with guestrooms you can rent, sharing common spaces and baths. The party crowd should note that a "quiet time" runs from 10pm to 8am.
Look familiar? Fans of the movie BEACHES with Bette Midler may recognize this cottage from the final scenes of the movie. It is now a film history and media center for the Park.
Lots more work to be done as several old cottages sit along the beach waiting to be restored to their former glory. Now, after all this, the bad news... It is very difficult to get a reservation here. Cabins are offered on the first of each month, six months before the month of booking. And it is no surprise that within minutes, most of the cottages are booked. Another of the most popular cottages is #14. Booking details can be found here.
The glow of Los Angeles may fill the night sky to the north, but it will seem like it's a million miles away as you relax, unplug, and enjoy Crystal Cove Cottage #33, the Romantic Retreat.