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“Great Place To Disconnect”

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Artists Loft Julian
Reviewed 31 July 2008

Recently during a business trip to Santa Monica, I reading an article in Los Angeles Magazine entitled “WEEKEND GETAWAYS 2008,” which focused on a list of ideas for weekend escapes…..one in particular caught my eye, it featured a place in Julian, CA, named the New Artist Loft. The article mentioned Julian as the Apple Pie Capital of California.

Not being a big fan of apple pie, nor any pie for that matter; still the idea of spending a night atop a mountain in a town named Julian might be a little different (I also wondered what happened to the “old” Artist Loft).

I called the phone number and inquired as to whether there was space for two for one evening….the voice at the other end wanted to know if either of us smoked….we said “No,”…and the voice replied there was availability for the night in question. “Are you interested in a reservation?” I said we would think about it and call back.

The following day, we called back and spoke with Nan (whose voice had inquired about smoking). She accepted our credit card and gave us explicit driving directions (I wanted to use my GPS, but Nan suggested I simply follow here directions….they always work).

One of the prior postings in tripadvisor indicated the owners (Nan & Chuck) asked too many questions before accepting a reservation. Personally, I don’t think they probably ask enough questions!

If I owned the three cabins (using the term “cabins” tends to denigrate these accommodations), I would probably require a full background check by the Home Land Security before allowing just anyone to enter this tiny slice of paradise!

btw…their brochure proclaims this to be a Bed and…..”do it yourself Breakfast”……great concept…..they stock the place with more than adequate supplies for a great breakfast and you can fix it the way you want it or not fix it at all! We made the customary stop of Trader Joes on the way out of town and brought along a few extras supplies…..Oh yeah, we included a fine Rodney Strong Cabernet and an equally fine Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay….to fuel our dreams pleasures for the evening.

The refrigerator was well stocked with juices, bottle water, organic brown eggs, a fabulous loaf of locally baked apple bread as well as basic spices and even some fresh basil from the prior guests. Coffee beans (both decaf and high octane) and a grinder are set in place by the coffee maker.

The cabinets are fully stocked with a wide array of cooking utensils, plates, bowls and assorted dishes, as well as knives and flatware. So if you want to stop along the way or make a run into town and shop or just bring your own supplies along….there is no real reason to drive to a restaurant for dinner, if you care to cook.

Although there are some excellent restaurants within short driving distance, we decided to stay in for the evening. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fire up the 1952 O'Keefe and Merritt gas range with griddle and "grillovator"(similar to a stove my grandmother owned), and whip up some snacks for grazing.

We telephoned Chuck and Nan and invited them up for a wine tasting and some freshly prepared finger food…..Nan said she was tired and needed a shower after working outside all day……….but she would think about cleaning up and possibly making up a bowl of her award winning guacamole! Sounded like a plan was coming together….

There is no television at the New Artists’ Loft….perfect. We were totally honored and entertained by Chuck and Nan agreeing to visit with us and providing some history on the place….after a glass or two of wine, they even discussed some details of the terrible wild fire which devastated the community in July 2002 (including the original Artists’ Loft).

The evening passed all too quickly, the food and wine vanished as the conversation was most entertaining. Shortly after midnight, Chuck and Nan were headed out the front door and back down to their place.....after all, they had put in a full day of back breaking labor before we arrived and there was still more working to do in the morning.

It was a beautiful cool, clear and star filled night on the mountain……Chuck pointed to some lights in the distance and told us it was Tecate, Mexico (wonder if the cerveza night crew was busy).

Then we pointed skyward and identified the Big Dipper….Chuck, a self professed astronomer, immediately clarified we were in fact looking at Ursa Major and if we looked just a bit above the “dipper cup” we could see Ursa Minor (looked like the Little Dipper to us). Chuck suggested we come back again on another clear night and he would take us to a friend’s home who was a serious astronomer with an impressive telescope and would arrange a “night with the stars” for us.

As a rule, we don’t usually do repeat visits to most destinations, we tend to move on in search of something new and different……Chuck, Nan the town of Julian and the New Artist’ Loft will likely cause us to make an exception to this rule.

If your travels take you in the general area and you need some time to “disconnect” from the stress of everyday life….see if you can spend a night or two or maybe even a week at the New Artist Loft!

  • Stayed: July 2008, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank omegaet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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37 - 41 of 47 reviews

Reviewed 30 May 2008

We stayed at Strawberry Hill Cabin 05MAY08 for 2 days.
The cabin had lots of charm and History. As soon as we entered the cabin we knew we had made the right decision. The music selection was great, the fireplace was romantic, and the
patio was a nice bonus. The night storms really put you to sleep.. and the morning fog was magical. I guess the only
sad part was to see the aftermath of the fires. The fires really devestated the area. We saw all sorts of wild life.. Including deer having their afternoon snacks in the garden near BigCat.

We had dinner at Jeremy's On The Hill. Their food was out
of this world!!! A new restaurant, and a must if you plan on visiting Julian!

Heads up to the Staff of this charming place @ Pine Hills.
Good Job!!

Terrance and Apple

  • Stayed: May 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Redman67
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 January 2008

I get bored really easily, I must admit. So I was skeptical of staying in what seemed like the middle of nowhere in a rustic cabin in Julian, California.But I knew my wife would probably like it, so we booked a weekend stay. That was three stays ago, and I can honestly say that given the chance to stay anywhere in Southern California, Big Cat would be my choice, hands down!

If you need to unwind and relax, this is Mecca. Whether it is curled up with a good book in front of the beautiful rock fireplace, or napping in the afternoons on a lounge in front of the cabin with your I-pod playing your favorite music, or sipping a cup of coffee on the back porch watching and watching scores of birds positioning themselves to eat their breakfast from the bird feeder and sipping from the bowl of water at your feet while you wait for the invariable flock of wild turkeys and /or family of dear to come by to pay their respects as they go about their morning routine; there is nothing that melts your anxiousness or pent up stress quite like Big Cat.

No TV...no problem! I am slave to that thief too much as it is! Julian, the town is only a mile away as the crow flies, so we can take quick trips to town to enjoy the tasty cuisine that multiple restaurants have to offer. Look up "Apple pie" in the dictionary and it says "See Julian".

Enough of the flowery descriptions. If you want to relax and unwind, enjoy the beauty of God's handiwork, eat good food, enjoy a beautifully rustic, but well appointed cabin in the mountains, then you have to give Big Cat a shot! Just give Chuck and Nan a call...they are the ultimate hosts: friendly, thoughtful, very knowledgeable, and virtually invisible most of the time. Just don't reserve the days we want!

  • Stayed: October 2007, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank CommanderTom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 October 2007

Oh My, we loved our stay at the Cabin on Strawberry Hill. I had researched the area around Julian searching for something other than the usual motels for our visit. The Cabin on Strawbery Hill is stand alone and self contained but you are also nicely looked after by Chuck and Nan if you so desire.

As we entered the cabin soft music was playing on the CD, the green leather couch set in front of the red fire place called our names but the view drew us outside. We could sit on the screened porch or outside, on wooden rocking chairs or a willow settee. We tried them all and even moved the rockers outside so we could enjoy the sunset with a glass of wine. We read, dozed, slept cozily in the big bed, talked and didn't talk in front of the fire.

The kitchen was well stocked with juice, water, eggs, fabulous apple bread and the basic spices including a bulb of fresh garlic. Coffee beans were ready to be ground for our morning coffee and there is nothing quite like fresh ground French roast on a foggy morning by the fire. We had planned on eating most of our meals out but so hated to leave that we ended up eating out only twice.

We enjoyed the deer, the dense fog that isolated us so cozily our second night, the Hungarian restaurant Chuck recommended and most memorably the sixteen wild turkeys that gobbled us awake one morning.

Will we go back? We certainly hope to. Will we recommend to others? Most definitely if you can appreciate the experience of a beautiful artisan cabin, absolute quite outside your door, cozy flannel sheets and the lack of hustle, bustle and car traffic.

Is this the place for everybody? Thank Goodness, No.

Thank you Chuck and Nan. We enjoyed our visit, chatting with you and seeing all you have created. Sincerely, Cathy and Gary

  • Stayed: October 2007, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank ladicate
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 July 2007

Let me start off by saying this, there is no A/C, no television, no drapes in the bedroom and no barriers to hearing the nature outside in the morning. But, that is exactly why we chose Big Cat Cabin. In celebrating our anniversary we decided to take some time away from the hectic grind of life. We had a beautiful and peaceful short stay and we can't wait to come back. We enjoyed the architecture of the cabin and the unique touches that only Nan and Chuck could think of. We never left the cabin and the property because we were so in love with it. We spent hours bird watching, walking, relaxing and enjoying nature and each other. We played Scrabble for hours.........something that our busy lifestyles and big screen tv have deterred us from doing in the past. We enjoyed watching the wild turkeys, the spotting of deer and the beautiful forest. Chuck and Nan are the best. They took the time to explain things to us and share some of their stories and history of the wonderful property. I can't say enough good things about these people and their lovingly cared for properties. We live on a budget and the price for this cabin was worth every penny. We don't usually have the opportunity to indulge like this and it was so worth it. THANK YOU and I hope that we are back soon to experience the snow.

Stayed: July 2007
2  Thank alikac
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Artists Loft Julian

Address: 4811 Pine Ridge Ave, Julian, CA 92036-2408
Region: United States > California > Julian
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 13 Speciality Lodging in Julian
Price Range: $182 - $307 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 3
Also Known As:
Artists` Loft b&b - Big Cat Cabin, Strawberry Hill Cabin
Artists` Loft Bed And Breakfast - Big Cat Cabin, Strawberry Hill Cabin Hotel

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