Review: Cavallo Point in Sausalito, CA

Splurge-worthy surroundings and sweeping views of San Francisco Bay

Cavallo Point in Sausalito, CA
Kodiak Greenwood/Cavallo Point

Looking for an upscale hotel for a family getaway in the San Francisco Bay area? Just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, picturesque Sausalito exudes an upscale European vibe, thanks to its yacht-dotted harbor, charming waterfront, tony restaurants and impressive homes that climb up the Bougainvillea-covered hillside. 

In Travel + Leisure's most recent "best hotels" list, Cavallo Point was named the no. 1 hotel in the Bay Area and the no. 6 hotel in California. Set in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the luxurious hotel commands a one-of-a-kind historic vantage. Located on the grounds of Fort Baker, a former army post that was active through World War II, the buildings line what were the fort's expansive parade grounds. On a clear day the views across the bay to San Francisco are nothing short of spectacular.

At first glance, Cavallo Point may seem off-the-beaten path and better suited for a romantic escape than a getaway with kids. There is no swimming pool or children's program here. But families will love the very private accommodations that feel like stand-alone vacation homes, and the setting puts some nice activities at your doorstep, from the Bay Area Discovery Museum to numerous hiking paths, including one that brings you under the Golden Gate Bridge. In addition, the large parade grounds offer plenty of space to run around, play Frisbee, or fly kites.

The resort is about a five-minute drive from Sausalito's shops, restaurants and waterfront, and close to local beaches.

The atmosphere at Cavallo Point is upscale yet unstuffy, with a staff that's professional yet friendly. The main dining option is Murray Circle, which uses top-notch California ingredients, boasts an impressive wine cellar, and offers seating that spills out on a large porch overlooking the bay.

Guests dress smartly for dinner at Murray Circle. If the dining room feels too formal for little kids in the evening, there are plenty of casual options in Sausalito. Breakfast on the porch at Murray Hill is more laid back, presenting a good opportunity for families to enjoy the view and excellent food at reasonable prices.

Accommodation options include historic cottages and suites in what were formerly the officers' residences lining the parade grounds. These spacious lodgings retain period architectural details and have been renovated to feature up-to-date amenities, pullout sofas, and modern bathrooms. Some of the historic homes have been subdivided so that each unit occupies an entire floor of a house.

Alternatively, there are contemporary hotel rooms and suites that are eco-friendly and modern in design. Many feature sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge and feature floor-to-ceiling windows, radiant heat floor, and bamboo furnishings. 

Rooms start at about $400 a night but can be higher on weekends and during high season. There is also a $25 nightly resort fee. Be sure to check the resort's web site for special offers.

Best rooms: Whether you prefer the contemporary or historic accommodations is a matter of preference, but the historic lodgings definitely deliver on atmosphere, with rocking chairs on the front porches and other vintage features. Some of the homes feature steep steps leading to the rooms, so older or physically impaired guests may wish to request a first floor room or opt for one of the contemporary rooms.

Best season: The warmest months fall between June and October, when temperatures hover in the low to mid 70s. September and October are often the nicest months of the year, thanks to a shift in seasonal winds that bring the Bay Area less fog. 

Visited: July 2015

Disclaimer: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.