The Olema Charms

James Baigrie

An instant classic in California, plus two more seaside escapes.

There are head-high candelabras standing watch and casting calming light over the ground floor of The Olema. They’re vaguely Gothic, gorgeous and potentially hazardous, which I mention in passing to the owner. “That doesn’t daunt me,” says Margaret Grade, a woman who lost her last hotel and restaurant, the legendary Manka’s Inverness Lodge, to a 2006 fire. (A wake fit for a head of state was held shortly after.) Nothing seems to daunt Grade and her partner, Daniel DeLong; they recently bought—and completely transformed—the frilly, fancy Olema Inn, just down the road from Manka’s. While the surviving Manka’s cabins are hidden in the Inverness hills, The Olema occupies the relatively busy intersection of Highway 1 and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, an hour north of San Francisco. DeLong helms the excellent ground-floor restaurant, Sir and Star, which has already become a kind of high-end, hyper-local roadhouse for the neighborhood cognoscenti, a place where the owners of Drakes Bay Oyster Company and the cult winemaker Sean Thackrey wave to one another across the dining room. The Olema Inn was painted white; Grade’s first improvements were to drop “Inn” from the name and, as the song goes, paint it black. Gone are the mirrored armoires, the Laura Ashley, the brocade. Grade and DeLong’s vision for The Olema is Shaker-like in its simplicity, Scandinavian in its precision and attention to detail and somehow inviting in the seductive, come-hither sense. The rustic Croatian linen Grade sourced for the napkins is also found on the beds, and the large windows in the rooms are fitted with black shutters split in the middle so that when the top half is thrown open, all you see are trees and sky. The aim, Grade says, is an environment that echoes the serene and haunting open space of West Marin. Rooms start at $200; 10000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.; 415-663-1034; Stan Parish

And on the Other Coast…

The suites and gated cottages at The Inn at Windmill Lane, a two-hour drive from Manhattan, feel like guest quarters at a significant home in the Hamptons, if the owners did nothing but attend to the wants of their guests. The interiors are a mix of dark wood floors, white walls and white marble in perfect proportion; the short trip to Indian Wells beach is negotiated via stylish cruiser bike or chauffeured SUV. Breakfast is laid out in the main building’s expansive kitchen, which can be used by guests who’d like to throw a dinner party as if they owned the place. By the end of summer, the inn plans to open 21 House, a four-bedroom cottage that will function like a Hamptons rental with five-star service—and without the anxiety that comes with missing a weekend. Rooms start at $375; 23 Windmill Ln., Amagansett, New York; 631-267-8500; Stan Parish

Provincetown, Massachusetts, is the capital of kitschy B&Bs. Salt House Inn, a sophisticated take on the Cape Cod hotel, opened in May as an antidote. Bright white rooms with a touch of (tasteful) nautical flair and impeccably meticulous service are what happens when the COO of André Balazs Properties and a former designer for Morgans Hotel Group take over a historic building minutes from action-packed Commercial Street. Rooms start at $150; 6 Conwell St., Provincetown; 508-487-1911; —Anthony Rotunno

Learn more about Provincetown.