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Inn at Schoolhouse Creek

Old-Fashioned Hospitality

In the cozy Mendocino seaside hamlet of Little River, youíre likely to feel that youíre far from the vagaries and cares of city life. Rested, even. This diminutive village is home to a medley of inns and bed ní breakfasts that take full advantage of the exquisitely windswept landscape and craggy bluffs that plummet into the ocean and find themselves replicated on many a postcard. There may be a dozen Victorian-style B&Bs where you can cozy up fireside while drinking in the view, but the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek definitely takes the cake as one that holds fast to old-fashioned hospitality and homey accents without playing up the chintz and doilies overmuch.

Covering over nine lush acres of gardens, meadows, and foliage -- not to mention quaint cliffside cottages that date back to the houses of turn-of-the-century mill workers -- the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek boasts the title of oldest resort on the Mendocino coast. While it has undergone a slew of renovations since its completion in 1932 (sharing a birthday with the completed Shoreline Highway), much of the Innís charm can be found in the old-fashioned details: from delectable hot breakfasts to antique bathtubs.

On our visit, we stayed in Ledford Cottage, the comfortable, two-bedroom hideaway that was used as a mess hall for the Coast Guard during World War II. Despite the lack of a coastal view, a commodious yard bivouacked in wild grass and lush fir trees accentuated the peacefulness and privacy of the place, while a wood-burning fireplace and generous Jacuzzi tub provided for hours of sunset luxuriating.

Those intent on some R&R may want to check out the on-site spa, situated close to a canopy of redwoods, with stunning views of the ocean. An open-air yurt that allows sunlight to filter in was designed with specific attention to the natural beauty and healing elements of the area. Custom-blended products hail directly from the Innís bountiful herb gardens, and a creekside facial or massage always comes with customized aromatherapy elixirs.

Even if you donít go in for some creekside pampering, the Innís grounds are extensive enough to facilitate plenty of lazing around and languid rumination in nature. This includes lounging in the hot tub, taking a nap in one of the forest hammocks, plodding down to the creek, or picnicking on the shore at the secluded Buckhorn Cove, which Inn guests enjoy private access to. A daily wine hour in the main lounge gives you the opportunity to mingle with other visitors, while a daily breakfast buffet with a delectable hot entrťe prepares you for the day ahead -- whether that entails kayaking, horseback riding, or wine tasting in the nearby Anderson Valley.

While the Inn is perfect for honeymooners and couples looking for a reprieve from oversaturated boutique hotels, itís also kid- and pet-friendly. At times, when the Inn is close to capacity (for instance, when we were visiting), the lounge area can seem a tad bit too small for casual, unhurried breakfasts and wine hours. And while the amenities are charming, ďluxuryĒ isnít exactly the first description one would use to refer to the Inn. All the same, there is a certain sense of antediluvian appeal and hospitality that permeates the place, making it an apt retreat for anybody nostalgic for the kind of simplicity and warmth the area seems to promise. If you find yourself idling along the Mendocino coast, a visit to the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek is a requirement.