“Top Ten Hotels in Northern California”
Pelican as a sea-faring name harks back to the 70-foot eighteen-gun sailor, later renamed the Golden Hinde, of Sir Francis Drake, who set sail from Plymouth, England, in November 1577 with the support and encouragement of Queen Elizabeth I, to challenge the dominion of the Spanish under Phillip II.
Surely that illustrious voyage, which more famously established Drake as the first captain to survive the circumnavigation of the world, has less to do with the popularity of “Pelican” as a symbol of haven for wayfarers than does the ancient heritage of coastal inns in England.
Yet in the Pelican Inn at Muir Beach both traditions have a special meaning.
“As soon as I enter the door of a tavern, I experience oblivion of care, and a freedom from solicitude. There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.”
Here on the Marin Coast Sir Francis Drake beached his “Pelican”, later renamed the Golden Hinde, some 400 years ago, to claim California for Queen Elizabeth I and her descendants forever.
The magical, secret cove of Muir Beach, only twenty minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge, is a spectacular setting worthy of 16th-century adventurers.
When an Englishman with a long lineage of innkeepers in the British Isles chose the site and the name Pelican for his inn on the California Coast, he looked both to his own past and the the historic landing of Sir Francis Drake.
In the folds of rolling hills by the sea, The Pelican is majestically positioned in a valley in the center of the Golden Gate National Recreational Park. In this pristine enclave, the inn evolved hand-made from the carpenter’s bench disciplined by local materials and the rigors of a coastal climate not unlike Plymouth.
Ivy-clad and whitewashed, under the shelter of ageless slate, The Pelican, crammed, packed and
Pelican History & Legends Book
The Pelican Inn introduces a new book that brings alive an intriguing cache of historical British innkeeping along with mystical accounts that led to the creation and birth of the Pelican Inn. This book is designed to be a companion piece to the experience of the Inn and is a available for sale at the Front Desk.
Our dedicated and friendly staff regard innkeeping as a public service with a duty to see that all our guests are properly lodged, fed and looked after.
Press & Accolades
“Perfectly nestled between Muir Beach and Muir Woods, the unabashedly English Pelican Inn offers an intimate respite during the holidays and year-round. Amid the winter green hills of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, this surely is a setting as fair as Camelot. The lodge’s Tudor architecture and traditional details are enough to send even the stodgiest English visitor into a dewy-eyed reverie and never more so than during the holiday season. Now, wreaths and mistletoe adorn the scene; Yule logs burn bright; and merry gentlemen and ladies come a-wassailing. Good cheer flows like ale at this gracious hostelry.”
“What does a 16th century-style English inn have to do with California’s Marin coast? A lot, it turns out. Sir Francis Drake beached his ship, the Pelican, nearby 400 years ago. If this inn had been around back then, Drake would have enjoyed the seven atmospheric bedrooms, all with canopy beds and Oriental carpets.”
By Harriott Manley
“A few days later, I went for a run along the road to Muir Woods, continuing past the park toward the sea. About three miles ahead, just before I reached secluded Muir Beach, I pulled up at the Pelican Inn. This charming lodge, an ivy-clad and whitewashed reproduction of a 16th-century Tudor country inn, has always been special to me: it’s where I spent my honeymoon night a dozen years ago. Today, my husband and I—like a lot of residents of the area—still covet weekend getaways there in one of its seven antique-filled rooms, enjoying a game of darts in the pub, roast-beef-and-Yorkshire-pudding dinners by an enormous fireplace in the dining rooom,then a cozy night in a canopy bed.”
“If your idea of a good time is to watch the sunset on a driftwood-strewn cove with your black Lab and a bottle of the region’s fine chardonnay, then seek out Muir Beach (and good luck, since the tiny seaside community is just a blip on some maps and not even listed on others). The best place to stay in town, the seven-room Pelican Inn, is modeled after an English country inn; pub dishes like bangers-and-mash are big hits on the California-British menu. Innkeeper Katrinka McKay cheerily directs guests to her favorite spot, the mediation garden at the Green Gulf Farm & Zen Center, a short walk from the Pelican.”
“This slate-roofed hideaway tucked in a valley at the center of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is so saturated in British hostelry tradition that in each of the seven guest rooms a tiny stone with a hole hangs over the bed to ward off witches and rickets. By day, guests can explore nearby hiking trails, catch some sea mist at rugged Muir Beach, and then refuel on prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, and cottage pie in front of the fireplace. At night–after a round of pilsners and darts in the paneled Tudor bar–they retire to snug rooms filled with English antiques, heavily draped canopy beds, and worn Persian rugs. Morning brings a classic English breakfast of bacon and eggs, bangers, and grilled tomatoes.”
By Eileen Hanse
‘I was ready to get off the bike and into the cozy pub of the Pelican Inn. Inside, a young Irish couple and their visiting mother sat close by, conversing in a thick brogue. ‘You know,’ said the daughter to her mother, ‘most so-called pubs here are just a lot of old furniture, but this is authentic.
And it is.
With whitewashed walls, leaded windows and period furnishings, the Pelican Inn is more 16th century England than modern-day Marin. Our spacious room was furnished with a queen bed flanked by tapestries, English country prints on the walls and windows that overlooked stables across the street. With its waterfall of a shower and a one-night price of about $205 plus tax, it was a far cry from our rustic cabin the night before–but without being too polished. Worn Persian runners, low ceilings and slightly off-kilter floors kept it charmingly authentic.
That night we ate near a roaring fire in the inn’s dining room. Breakfast, included in the rate, was hearty: grilled tomatoes, bangers, hickory-smoked bacon, eggs, toast, strong coffee and orange juice. I felt like I had swallowed a Buick. But later, as we climbed back over the mountain on a steep trail above Green Gulch, a Buddhist center and organic farm east of Muir Beach, it served me well.”
The Pelican is one of five hotels in a collection with each hotel being completely unique.
The range from a stately Scottish Highlands mansion where Bonnie Prince Charlie slept prior to the last land battle in Britain to an historic Swiss-style mountain lodge in Wyoming.
To learn more about our hotel collection please click on the Romantic Places logo below.