Hotel Review: Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay

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Even though the resort is huge at around 14 acres and 300,000 square feet, the majestic Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay sits up over the jagged cliffs unassumingly. One of the only hotels to be added to that Northern California coastline in the last decade, the property was constructed carefully so that it compliments the nearby rolling hills, crashing waves, and weathered barns. Just a half an hour away from San Francisco airport, it feels like you’ve been transported to a remote area somewhere in Scotland.

I breathed in the salty sea air as I stepped inside, and the first thing I saw was a nautical compass pattern on the floor, pointing me towards the reception area.


Half Moon Bay was first settled by Portuguese fishermen, and the hotel gives a nod to this history by mixing local paintings with rich Portuguese tapestries and artifacts.


I had booked three nights, two free as part of a summer promotion where you stay two and get one free, and the third paid. Check-in was quick and I was assigned a Club Coastal View guest room in the main building.

I headed up to the room. Right inside the door there was a chest with waters and tea/coffee.


There was a desk with an ornately carved chair.


Under the desk there were recycling bins. I couldn’t recall seeing bins like this before in hotel rooms, but I really liked the idea.


The wardrobe had a TV, and there was a smaller cabinet with the sign, “Private Wine Cellar”. Cool idea.



Inside were several wines, along with the price list.


The bathroom had an extra deep bathtub, with additional handheld shower.


There was a single sink and ample lighting on both sides. A basket sat underneath the sink to hold extra towels.


The amenities were by Asprey.


There was even a little picture in the toilet room, of a windswept tree on a cliff.


The cups in the bathroom and also in the room had a paper covering, and everything was really clean.


In addition to the wine cabinet there was a regular minibar stocked with juices and sodas.


I’d not eaten much on the plane and wanted to see what the Club lounge had for lunch. It had lots of seating areas, and didn’t feel crowded at all. The seaside town of Half Moon Bay boasts an impressive pumpkin festival each year, so they had out some decorations on display.


Fresh flowers were in the middle of each table.


There was even a fireplace, with tiny pumpkins lining the mantel.


Two fridges held waters, juice and sodas.


There were the usual cookie bins and candy jars, cheeses and meats.



I was surprised to also find snow crab claws, Half Moon Bay Artichokes, Asian seaweed salad, French ham and Chorizo salad with truffle vinaigrette. The hotel features lots of local produce and seafood, which was quite a treat.


I saw Moroccan couscous, local beet salad, oriental salad. and eggplant tapenade.


I left the hotel for a while to go around the local area. Returning in the evening the resort looked almost golden in the waning light.

I went back to the Club lounge to see what new goodies it had. Desserts included a white chocolate crème brulee,


French macarons,


Raspberry tarts,


and chocolate mousse tarts with gold flecks.


Done for the evening I went back to the room, and put the do not disturb sign on the door. I liked that it was in a half-moon shape.


The bed was dreamy, with soft sheets, and pillows with just the right loft. There was a little sitting area off to the side, and the room was decorated in pale colors and light blues that matched the seascape outside.


Bedside lamps almost looked like large white shells, and a swath of fabric reminiscent of seaweed was draped across the bed.


A chair the color of the sea sat in the corner.


In bed I could hear the crashing waves just outside, but there was no noise from the other guest rooms. What a great night’s rest!


Breakfast the next morning in the Club lounge was pretty amazing. There were freshly made breads, and local yogurts. This one from Saint Benoit was creamy and delicious.


There were pastries, bagels, local jellies, and even Nutella spread.


The buffet was kept clean, so that even when items were taken they were quickly replaced by staff.


There was a coffee and tea station.


Fresh juices sat next to champagne.


Returning to the room I enjoyed stunning views of the misty coastline.


I was lucky enough to get a room with a balcony, but some rooms just had the view and no balcony.



Down below there were fire pits, a gazebo, two golf courses and walking paths.


I would absolutely stay at this hotel again. Even though it was just half an hour from San Francisco Airport, the resort felt remote. Though this is not the place to go if you fancy a swim in the ocean (it’s quite cold), the views are spectacular and there’s a small-hotel feel even though the resort is huge.

Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay

Ritz-Carlton Tier 4. 60,000 Ritz-Carlton or Marriott Rewards points for a free night.

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  1. Ric Garrido

    This is a nice place to visit, although I have only dined and lounged around the property; never stayed there. I’ll be spending time in Half Moon Bay next week and I am sure I’ll get there again.

    Since the property was a new build hotel on the coast, California law required public access be maintained. While hotel guests must pay daily parking fee, day visitors can park for free at the garage for beach access.

    • Melinda

      Thanks for reading Ric! I’m sure folks will be happy to hear about the free garage parking.

  2. Nybanker

    I’ve stayed at this hotel three or four times over the years and consistently find it to be among the top Ritz properties in the US. The quality of the physical build and level of service are truly noteworthy.

    Your report did a very nice job of capturing the experience at the property.

    They also have what we called a kids’ “closet.” It is a kids’ camp program, but with very few attendees. My wife and I took advantage of the program so we could golf one day. I think the cost was $100 for two kids for six hours of what ended up being private care. They spent lots of time with the instructor outside looking at flowers, etc.

    Golf is an integral part of the resort. The guest’s course is very nice. The member’s course, which I’ve not played, looks perhaps even nicer.

    Even on damp evenings, there are often small groups of people out huddled by the fire pits in the “L” of the hotel.

    One weakness at this property is the pool. They have access to a vintage-1980 glassed-in pool over in the residences area. It is perfectly fine, but completely out of character with the rest of the property.

  3. local

    Fiji water?
    this hotel was very controversial when it was built. It still is. Fertilizer runoff from the golf course, building on the beach when it is suppose to be public property etc…. Lots of CA people refuse to stay there on vacation.

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