Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Inn Above Tide

SAUSALITO, California - When I first heard the name of this splendid hotel The Inn Above Tide, I thought "Well, I hope so.'' That it's above the tide, I mean, not waterlogged.

No worries. The stylish boutique hotel, which bills itself as the only hotel actually on San Francisco Bay, is located right at the water's edge. Balconies outside the pricier bayside guest rooms hover a few feet out over the water. If you get clear weather, as my wife and I did at times during the Bay Area's typically foggy summer, you get a sparkling view of San Francisco from the hotel. Much nearer to the hotel, Golden Gate Transit and Blue and Gold Fleet ferries come and go, transporting commuters and cyclists with their bikes, along with plenty of sightseers. It's a lovely spot, insulated just enough from the hordes of visitors that throng Sausalito in summer, to feel private.

We stayed two nights, down from the originally planned three nights - not because we didn't adore The Inn Above Tide, but because we didn't adore its prices. Rooms fall mostly in the $400-$600 USD range, putting it into the 'special occasion' category for many people, including us. It should be noted, though, that it includes a full breakfast and a nightly wine and cheese reception (excellent cheese, OK wine) at 5:30 p.m.

We had a bayside room, so we got the extras, which included the aforementioned sweeping view of the bay, the city, the ferry docks, Angel Island, even glimpses of the industrial span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and slices of the East Bay. Our room came with a decent-sized bathroom, a Jacuzzi and a distinctive oval-shaped mirror. We also had a fireplace, generously stocked with that increasingly rare commodity: firewood. Wood fires are frowned upon, understandably so, in this age of climate change. If and when they are banned, we will willingly comply. Until then, there's nothing like the crackle and fragrance of a real fire. Gas flames, candles flickering in the hearth and hologramic "fires' are just not the same, and can't be.

The hotel doesn't have a full-service restaurant, so when you want lunch or dinner, you go out. There are plenty of eateries along Bridgeway, the town of 7,500's main street, several of them quite good, so leaving the hotel for a bite is not too arduous. Most of Sausalito's shops are short walks away. Oh, and the beds in the guest rooms are fabulous: spacious, with a good balance between soft and hard.

If the budget allows, and you're fine with staying across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County, rather than in San Francisco proper, The Inn Above Tide is a fine choice.

The Inn Above Tide is located at 30 El Portal, Sausalito, CA 94965 USA. Tel. 415.332.9535. E-mail: Web:

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