The California Getaway Guide
Wish they all could be Californian? Look no further than our curated list of the coolest and closest hotels, inns and resorts—from north to south and everything in between. Let the local lovefest commence.
WRITTEN BY JENNIE NUNN & DARREN ELMS | ILLUSTRATED BY CHRISTINE GEORGIADES
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe
Where: Lake Tahoe
13031 Ritz Carlton Highlands Court in Truckee | 530-562-3000 | ritzcarlton.com/laketahoe
Why We Love It: Tucked mid-mountain at Northstar California Resort, the luxe, 170-room hideaway—replete with a gas fireplace in every room—offers just about every activity known to man including mountain biking, hiking, guided nature walks and golfing. In the winter, die-hard skiers can revel in slope-side ski-in/ski-out access and ski valet and lift ticket services.
What’s New: The Lake Club, The Ritz-Carlton (exclusively for resort guests) consists of a modern, private, lakefront venue with sweeping views featuring a multi-level dining facility and bar, and access to a lawn, direct beach access, outdoor whirlpool, fire pit and boat pier.
Don’t Miss: Be sure to save time for an appointment at the 17,000-square-foot spa. Consider the new Tahoe Tree of Life treatment complete with a foaming salt soak and indigenous stones from nearby surroundings.
Where: Sonoma Coast
21780 CA-1 in Jenner | 707-847-3231 | timbercoveresort.com
Why We Love It: Other than some modern updates, the vast majority of the property looks much like it did when it was first built. The rooms are spacious and elegantly rustic, like the best overnight camp ever. Many overlook the ocean, much like the giant statue “Peace Obelisk” that hovers over the cliffs like a towering beacon. Apparently the artist, Beniamino Bufano, was none too happy that the “hand” at the perch was lowered onto the statue facing the wrong direction. Talk about a slap in the face.
What’s New: The in-house restaurant, Coast Kitchen, was designed by hot, trendy LA design firm The Novogratz with subdued simplicity that takes a backseat to the very tasty, locally inspired menu offerings (Dungeness crab beignets, buttermilk- brined quail, fresh house-made cavatelli pasta … all epic).
Don’t Miss: Jenner has some great cliffside restaurants, like River’s End right on Highway 1. If you’re in a tasting mood, head up the hill to Fort Ross Vineyard, a secluded spot with forest views and some delicious estate wines.
The Meritage Resort & Spa, Napa
875 Bordeaux Way | 707-251-1900 | meritagecollection.com
Why We Love It: Surrounded by carefully cultivated grapevines, this Tuscan-style getaway is a love letter to the area’s best-known export: delicious wine. Savor seasonal menus at the California- and Italy-inspired Siena, or sip vintages 40 feet below the sun-soaked soil in the Estate Cave, home of the exclusive Trinitas Cellars Tasting Room.
What’s New: The Meritage will soon double its profile with the addition of new rooms, suites and venues on the property. Currently the resort features 322 rooms, including 12 suites.
Don’t Miss: Nestled under the vineyards in the 22,000-square-foot Estate Cave, award-winning Spa Terra soothes with natural stone and copper accents, blended with old-world Florentine architecture and furnishings. Each deluxe treatment integrates Napa Valley influences with essential ingredients indigenous to Northern California.
The Inn at Union Square
Where: San Francisco
440 Post Street | 415-397-3510 | unionsquare.com
Why We Love It: Situated steps away from the hustle and bustle of Union Square and iconic cable cars on Powell Street, the 30-room boutique hotel is a nod to bygone days of San Francisco’s storied past with a hint of modern elegance. Guests enjoy complimentary breakfast and perks in a setting that’s as close to staying at a good friend’s home as it gets.
What’s New: Thanks to a massive renovation completed earlier this year, the property’s guestrooms are awash in calming sand and chocolate tones with pops of persimmon. Each is appointed with tufted headboards with nailhead trim, velvet lounge chairs, and artwork inspired by the beloved philanthropy and arts mogul Alma Spreckels (referred to as the “great-grandmother of San Francisco”) and her penchant for dancing and French baroque design.
Don’t Miss: Grab a good book and unwind by a wood-burning fireplace in one of the inn’s parlors (there’s one on each floor), and mingle with other guests at a nightly complimentary wine and cheese reception.
Majestic Yosemite Hotel
Where: Yosemite National Park
1 Ahwahnee Drive | 888-413-8869 | nationalparkreservations.com
Why We Love It: This historic, granite-and-log hotel (formerly the lauded Ahwahnee Hotel) is located smack dab in Yosemite National Park with direct access to hiking trails including Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and El Capitan. Built in 1927, the 123-room hotel is a National Historic Monument and has welcomed a long line of notable guests and dignitaries including Dwight D. Eisenhower, Queen Elizabeth II, Greta Garbo, Ansel Adams and John F. Kennedy.
What’s New: Yosemite Valley has a host of summer activities including camera walks, “bike to hike” tours and guided adventure hikes to Vernal Fall.
Don’t Miss: Dinner in the Majestic Yosemite Dining Room with 34-foot-high beamed cathedral ceilings and wall-height windows framing the surrounding conifer trees and woods. You might just feel like royalty.
Junipero Street & 8th Avenue | 831-625-5222 | hideawaycarmel.com
Why We Love It: The artistic enclave on the Monterey Peninsula stays timeless thanks to its inherent appeal and small-village vibe. Taking the place of the former Cobblestone Inn, The Hideaway brings a contemporary touch to the area without sacrificing an ounce of its natural charm.
What’s New: Owned and operated by the PlumpJack Group, the boutique hotel opened its doors in spring 2016. This highly anticipated 24-room inn now showcases sleek yet comfortable interiors, an airy lobby and a courtyard fire pit where guests can enjoy complimentary wine and cheese hour as well as an extensive European-style breakfast, complete with mimosas.
Don’t Miss: Pets are welcome at The Hideaway. Your four-legged friend will enjoy a comfy bed, doggie treats, a bowl for food and water, cleanup bags and a customized Hideaway guest ID tag. Woof!
1576 Mission Drive | 805-688-3121 | thelandsby.com
Why We Love It: The modern, Scandinavian-style hotel in bucolic Solvang (founded in 1911 by three Danish pioneers) is equipped with an on-site eatery, Mad & Vin (“food and wine” in Danish) headed by Chef Beto Huizar, and a lobby bar. Outfitted by Santa Monica–based design firm Studio Collective, the serene refuge is dotted with fluffy, flokati throws, charcoal-hued wooden headboards, brass task lamps, Eames-style molded desk chairs, and black-and-white graphic prints.
What’s New: The property has just debuted nine additional guest suites (bringing the grand total to 50 rooms) and upgraded the interior courtyard.
Don’t Miss: Swap the day’s news in the hotel’s light-and-airy lobby, or grab a glass of wine and retreat to the outdoor courtyard lined with modern fire pits and lounge chairs.
Bacara Resort & Spa
Where: Santa Barbara
8301 Hollister Avenue in Goleta | 855-968-0100, meritagecollection.com
Why We Love It: Located along California’s most spectacular stretch of Pacific paradise, with 78 acres of oceanfront property including two miles of natural beach, sun-drenched Bacara is equally matched in beauty and bliss. Enjoy vista views of the sea and sky while embracing an innovative, artful design of low-storied buildings terraced to the sea and connected by lush, meandering garden paths.
What’s New: There is classic, and then there is expected. Angel Oak is anything but the latter. Chef Vincent Lesage has created a culinary experience that takes a modern approach to the traditional steakhouse, set against a stunning ocean backdrop.
Don’t Miss: Set above the calming blue waters of the Pacific, the spa features an expertly trained staff, adults-only pool, Jacuzzi, unique redwood sauna, eucalyptus steam room, fireside lounge areas, wellness classes and a rooftop terrace. With holistic, therapeutic treatments and amenities designed to illuminate a better way to live, the Spa at Bacara doesn’t just relax; it transforms.
Where: Santa Monica
1515 Ocean Avenue | 310-458-1515 | shorehotel.com
Why We Love It: An eco-friendly, beach-chic property with a heated outdoor pool and hot tub located just a short walk from the Santa Monica Pier. The 164-room LEED Gold-certified hotel uses low-flow showerheads and select lobby and guestroom furniture made from 100% pre-consumer recycled polyester and Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood.
What’s New: The hotel has teamed up with Perry’s Café and Beach Rentals on offerings including beach butler services. Guests receive two chairs, umbrella, table, two towels and two bottles of water. You can also have the option to purchase food from Perry’s Café at an additional cost from their butler, plus bike rentals.
Don’t Miss: Take a stroll down Ocean Ave to restaurants such as Herringbone and Red O, or take in a picture-perfect sunset from the balcony of your room.
Fairmont Grand Del Mar
Where: San Diego
5300 Grand Del Mar Court | 858-314-2000 | fairmont.com/san-diego
Why We Love It: Inspired by the work of architecture giant Addison Mizner, the elegant, Mediterranean-style property designed by San Francisco–based interior design firm Warren Sheets Design features more than 2,000 pieces of custom-designed furniture, Venetian-plaster walls, iron and glass doorways trimmed with 22k gold accents, a lobby library with a 13-foot-high carved limestone fireplace, and manicured gardens and walkways.
What’s New: Enjoy complimentary “Dive-in” movies and snacks by the resort pool on Friday nights, complimentary s’mores at the fire pit on Saturday nights or try your hand at a sand castle-building class with the help of experts at San Diego Sand Sculptures.
Don’t Miss: A private tennis lesson with on-site pro Lynn Lewis (a three-time UCLA All American and NCAA Doubles Champion), a guided horseback ride through the Los Peñasquitos Canyon, or a spa treatment at the five-star spa equipped with wet and dry saunas and outdoor courtyards.
Island Hotel Newport Beach
Where: Newport Beach
690 Newport Center Drive | 949-759-0808 | islandhotel.com
Why We Love It: The stylish, urban oasis with 292 guest rooms and suites offers views of Newport Harbor, Newport Back Bay and the ocean; a 3,000-square-foot outdoor heated pool framed by a large, cozy fireplace; a fitness center and spa; and an on-site restaurant and lounge. Feel like venturing off-property? Choose from stand-up paddleboarding in nearby Newport Aquatic Center, shopping at Fashion Island or electric boat rentals in Newport Harbor.
What’s New: After an 18-month transformation, the property has debuted a fresh, coastal-modern look in all rooms and suites complete with a text concierge program; a customizable, in-room mini-bar; Keurig coffee makers; and a 24-hour Market Place for last-minute provisions and gourmet snacks.
Don’t Miss: For your stay (for an additional fee), opt for access to the Island Club: an exclusive, 2,100-square-foot lounge replete with extras including an enhanced continental-style breakfast, daily beer and wine happy hour, a special pillow menu, iMac workstations and a DVD library.
L’Horizon Palm Springs
Where: Palm Springs
1050 East Palm Canyon Drive | 760-323-1858 | lhorizonpalmsprings.com
Why We Love It: One of the new kids on the block, this glamorous 1950s gem once served as a playground for Hollywood A-listers and U.S. presidents alike. Thanks to the unique aesthetic of renowned designer Steve Hermann, the renovated resort is better than ever. Oh, and it’s ages 18-and-older only … so leave the little ones at home.
What’s New: Combining the stunning mountain views with L’Horizon’s mid-century heritage, The Spa is a blend of relaxed elegance with its white canvas cabanas, serene indoor-outdoor setting and private outdoor showers. The Spa features four treatment rooms and a relaxing outdoor space. Indulge in massages, facials and body treatments, aromatherapy and fresh juice bar.
Don’t Miss: Dramatic, refined and intimate, SO•PA offers a unique alfresco dining experience on-property. Enjoy a table for two or dine family-style at the 26-foot live edge walnut communal table. Making new friends is encouraged.