Mill Rose Inn, Half Moon Bay, California

Wednesday November 6, 2013 at 8:08 AM | 0 Comments

Incurably Romantic — the Mill Rose Inn in Half Moon Bay, California

Incurably Romantic — the Mill Rose Inn in Half Moon Bay, California

Last month, the hubs and I celebrated our ten year anniversary. I figured it was a significant milestone that merited a special place to honor it. Someplace pretty, romantic, sumptuous.

The Renaissance Rose Suite at the Mill Rose Inn in Half Moon Bay is such a place.
Tucked away off of Main Street in Half Moon Bay, the sprawling early 20th-century former farmhouse is surrounded by exquisite  gardens. We walked through the magical rose garden in front and were greeted by Terry, one of the proprietors. He and his wife Eve used their individual talents (interior design, landscaping) to transform the inn into an elegant B&B with no amenities overlooked.
Dan (the hubs) and Terry hit it off right away when they discovered their mutual love of comedy. Turns out Terry is quite an aficionado and the two had lots to chat about. Terry showed us to our suite, which was spacious and luxurious, with a parlor, comfy bed, fireplace, and refrigerator stocked with complimentary beer, wine, and water.We could have stayed for a week, and seriously considered squatting. The interior, while a little fussy for my taste, is elegant and true to the period with handsome antique furnishings and thoughtful little touches everywhere from the decanter of sherry to the bowl of taffy.
The Renaissance Rose Suite at the Mill Rose Inn in Half Moon Bay.

The Renaissance Rose Suite at the Mill Rose Inn in Half Moon Bay.

Terry made us dinner reservations at Pasta Moon on nearby Main Street where we enjoyed a delicious pork chop and I was able to order gluten-free pasta, a real treat in a restaurant.

We returned to the inn to relax under the stars (and twinkling lights) in the private hot tub that’s tucked inside a lattice work gazebo.

The dining room is always open for tea and cookies (or a slice of the decadently delicious pound cake). So we capped the night off with champagne and cake by the fireplace in our suite.

Seriously, you’d be hard pressed to find a more romantic place than the Mill Rose Inn.

Next morning, we were treated to a champagne breakfast served in our room. We spent the rest of the morning lounging in our room and in the lush gardens perfumed by rose blooms.

Before we left, we wandered around the charming streets of Old Town Half Moon Bay. I really love this little town and return often. Before heading out, we had a bite on the sunny back deck of the historic San Benito House. This inn/saloon is rich on character and you often can catch live music here.

When we were there the deck was awash in orange — the town was gearing up for the the annual pumpkin festival because everyone knows that Half Moon Bay is recognized as the “pumpkin capital of the world.” Or now you do.

Insider Tip

Drop down a bit south from Half Moon Bay and take a left onto Highway 84 in San Gregorio. At the intersection of Stage Road is the San Gregorio General Store. Here you’ll find everything from farm tools to toys, t-shirts to tequila at this country store/saloon. Order a beer, pull up a chair, and check out the impressive selection of books. There is live music every weekend and even a post office.
Spectacular gardens surround the B&B inn.

Spectacular gardens surround the B&B inn.

Mill Rose Inn Hotel

615 Mill Street
Half Moon Bay, California 94019-1726, USA
650-726-8750 | 800-900-7673
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Post contributed by Lisa Crovo Dion of Friscomama. Photos by Dan Dion. We were guests of the Inn.

Frequent Fliers: Earn with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Shopping

Monday November 4, 2013 at 1:01 PM | 0 Comments

Alaska AirlinesLet’s face it, traveling can be stressful and expensive. While most airlines offer frequent flyer mileage plans, the million dollar question is: what’s in it for me? With Alaska Airlines’ new Mileage Plan Shopping program, members can earn up to 12 frequent flier miles for every dollar they spend when they shop at more than 800 participating online retailers, including, Home Depot, Macy’s and Sephora.

Get rewarded for shopping

I’m a savvy shopper. I’m a huge fan of clearance sales and always take advantage of free shipping offers. With this program, shoppers may earn miles and take advantage of special offers such as dollars-off and free shipping when they purchase gift cards and products from a host of retailers, including Coldwater Creek (yes, I’m a One Creek member and love their sales) and Lands’ End.

Offers on the site change frequently and there are often special promotions, so check back frequently for the best deals from the places you love to shop.

gift box

Get rewarded for shopping

“With Mileage Plan Shopping, members can ‘gift’ themselves with miles while they shop with their favorite merchants this holiday season,” said Caroline Boren, Alaska Airlines’ managing director of loyalty marketing and customer advocacy. “We’re excited to offer this program to frequent flyers to help them shop and save, while earning free flights on Alaska Airlines.”

How to use the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program

Members visit the Mileage Plan Shopping site, select a merchant offer and ultimately complete their purchases via the merchant’s website. It’s easy and secure. Miles will be automatically credited to your Mileage Plan account. To participate, you must be an existing Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Shopping member. If you are not a member, signing up is easy and can be done here. Now let’s get shopping!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

Review of Toll House Hotel in Los Gatos, California

Friday November 1, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 3 Comments

Toll House hotel, clock tower

Toll House hotel review in Los Gatos, California

Are you familiar with the phrase: bloom where you’re planted? My waiter tonight at Three Degrees restaurant is a perfect example of what this phrase means. Hector grew up in the restaurant business and ran several restaurants before immigrating from Guatemala, hoping for a better life in the United States. He has worked at Toll House for 16 years and considers the Los Gatos, California-based hotel to be his second family.

“I learned in my restaurant training to give 110% to what I do,” smiled Hector.

In my years of reviewing hotels and restaurants, I have seen that it is the people that make the property. A hotel is just an empty box without people inside.

Toll House Hotel

Opened in 1983, Toll House Hotel offers 115 rooms with three different lodging categories; deluxe, premiere and suites – from junior suites to parlor suites. I was drawn to the Toll House Hotel for their unique “Sips and Saddles” package. Offered at $489. (check the website for details) the Sips and Saddles package includes:

Deluxe hotel accommodations for two (upgrades to higher room categories are available)

Breakfast for two at Three Degrees restaurant

Horseback riding at Garrod Farms

Picnic and wine tasting at Cooper-Garrod Vineyards in Saratoga

This hotel package is only available on Friday and Saturday nights and requires one week advance reservations.



Toll House Hotel courtyard

Toll House hotel with courtyard or hillside views

Three star hotel sees green

With a nod to the environment, the Toll House Hotel offers 100% biodegradable hotel keys (they look the same to me) but I support any green efforts. The hotel offers recycling receptacles throughout the property, uses bulk soap, shampoo and conditioner dispensers in the combination bath/shower (bye bye tiny plastic bottles) and ozone machines in the laundry. As is standard operating procedure in water-challenged California, hotel sheets and towels remain in place for multiple nights, unless fresh linens and towels are requested.

Kid-friendly Toll House

While there is no connection between Toll House cookies and the Toll House Hotel, the hotel has embraced the concept of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies at the reception area and milk and cookies are featured on the dessert menu at Three Degrees restaurant. For the health conscious, there are fresh apples and infused water by reception and I had Fuji apples waiting in my hotel room, along with a small bag of pretzels, caramel gourmet syrup, tea and Carmel Valley Roasting Co. coffee next to the in-room coffee maker.

Toll House hotel room

Toll House premiere king #309

There isn’t a swimming pool at Toll House Hotel, there is an onsite fitness room and for those who prefer, guest passes are available at Los Gatos Fitness Club. Finally, there are s’more kits for the courtyard fire pit located via the second floor of the property.

Three Degrees restaurant

I sampled the butter lettuce salad with blue cheese, pears, candied walnuts, pear-walnut vinegarette $9.50 and the boneless short ribs, with garlic mashed potatoes, brocollini and shallots $19.00. A glass of Testarossa Winery Pinot Noir paired well with the short ribs.

Insider Tip

Three Degrees restaurant offers daily Social Hour specials with value-priced food and drink offerings from 3:30 – 6:30 p.m. They also offer Toll House cookies and milk on the dinner menu!

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter .

Toll House cocktail

Toll House Sweet Ginger Cocktail

If You Go:

Toll House Hotel  (408) 395-7070

140 South Santa Cruz Avenue

Los Gatos, California 95030

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of  Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Toll House Hotel.

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Things to See and Do in Saratoga, California