Nestled at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, Cavallo Point is a luxury hotel in Sausalito, California and one of my absolute favourite places on earth.
The first time I visited Cavallo Point was in November 2008. My husband and I had just returned to North America from a trip around the world that took us from Belgium to India to China and finally San Francisco. We’d had a narrow escape in India – we’d been scheduled to check into the Taj Mumbai just 36 hours after the terror attacks that claimed 150+ lives. Needless to say, we didn’t go to the Taj hotel but our trip had taken a very sad turn and I have never been so happy to return to North America as I was that day we touched down in San Francisco. Even though San Francisco is not home for me, it was close enough and I relished being back on North American soil.
We headed straight from the airport to Cavallo Point and I fell in love. When my husband and I visited again a few months ago, nothing had changed – I am as in love with it now as I had been then.
Why I love Cavallo Point
Both times I stayed at Cavallo Point, it was late in the year. The first time was in December and the second, was in November. The property is so cosy and welcoming that coming inside from a crisp fall or winter day is like being embraced into a warm hug. Hyperbole? Not really. Cavallo Point feels like home thanks to its charming, rustic decor and friendly staff. But it’s more than that – a feeling that’s difficult to put into words. I never wanted to leave – for me, Cavallo Point posesses an atmosphere that I’ve not experienced elsewhere. A sense of calm comfort, a sense that I’d arrived home.
Cavallo Point is a historic property situated at Fort Baker, a former US Army post. Used as an army base since 1866, Fort Baker officially became a park in 2002 and in 2008, the hotel opened. Cavallo Point is comprised of a collection of historic rooms and contemporary rooms. Both times I visited, I stayed in a historic room and while I’m sure the contemporary rooms are lovely, I adore the historic rooms because of their history and homey feeling. The rooms are more like small apartments, which makes sense since they were formerly officers’ quarters. There are 68 of these lodges, all built between 1901 and 1915. Cavallo Point has received many awards for its renovation and preservation efforts, which means that visitors today can enjoy the authentic design elements of the rooms like the gorgeous tin ceilings, wraparound windows and front porches (complete with rocking chairs), that afford guests a front row view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Constructed about a century later, the 74 contemporary rooms and suites take a different approach to design. Instead of quaint and historic, these modern rooms honour sustainable design and feature solar power construction, radiant heat floors and renewable materials. Despite the differences between the two types of rooms, they have one important thing in common: Preservation.
Take a peek inside the gorgeous historic rooms:
What to do while you’re there
You don’t want to miss the spa at Cavallo Point Lodge but note: this isn’t just any spa. Sure, the massages are exceptional but what I found most interesting is the spa’s approach to holistic healing. In fact, this 11,000-square foot facility is called a Healing Arts Centre & Spa. The emphasis here isn’t just on relaxation but on healing mind, body and spirit from the inside out. On my last visit, I had a 30-minute session with Dr. Brad, the on-site doctor who provides guests with health guidance based on their individual needs. Dr. Brad takes an integrated approach to wellness, combining both traditional medicine with alternative methods. I made an appointment to address two nagging concerns: difficulty sleeping and a frequent feeling of anxiety. I walked away from my appointment with three practical things to try immediately and after just a few days of putting Dr. Brad’s suggestions into practice, I felt my symptoms decrease. An incredibly affable guy, you should definitely see Dr. Brad while you’re visiting – and get a massage, too, because who doesn’t need a massage?
Food is a big part of the experience at Cavallo Point. There are two on-site restaurants: Murray Circle, which dishes up modern Northern Californian cuisine made with locally sourced, organic, responsible ingredients; and Farley Bar, which has a more casual atmosphere and is the perfect spot to relax throughout the afternoon and evening for a bite (try the charcuterie platter) and a fine glass of wine.
But apart from the restaurants is the cooking school, one of the property’s more interesting and unique features. Just like Murray Circle, the focus here is on cooking with local, seasonal ingredients and guests can participate in afternoon or evening classes in the spacious demonstration kitchen that’ll make any foodie or food-lover want to whip on an apron and get to work. On my first visit during the holidays, I attended a class on making eggnog. Fun, festive and the perfect thing to do on a cold winter’s night. It was the highlight of my stay.
Cavallo Point holds a dear place in my heart – but so much of what makes it special is a feeling that can’t be jotted down on paper or expressed through a careful selection of words. If you have the opportunity to visit, I hope you do. There’s something magical about the property. The history, the location and the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay combine with the charm of the rooms and the friendliness of the staff to create the perfect place to let stress slip away. Organic doesn’t just apply to the food here – there’s a wholeness to the experience that is sure to stay with you long after you check out.