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Luxury Travel

Top 20 Luxury Resorts in California, USA

California has it all. Its dramatic scenery, from coastline to mountains to lakes, its fabulous food, with its farm-to-fork ethic, and delicious wines, friendly people and sunshine, even in winter, has earned the state a special place in the heart of Ali Nicholls, our Head of Partnerships. Here she shares her unashamedly indulgent suggestions for where to stay on your next adventure Stateside.

This is a feature from Issue 13 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.

1. Four Seasons Hotel, San Francisco

While a few of the bedrooms may be a little small by some standards, the views more than make up for this. Located on Nob Hill and overlooking San Francisco, the Four Seasons is convenient for the cable car lines down to Union Square, Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf and is just steps away from a variety of shops, bars and restaurants in the Nob Hill neighbourhood.
However, you don’t have to venture out of the hotel to experience what is known as San Francisco’s best happy hour, found at the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar where Pacific Rim Asian cuisine is also served among the tropical setting that includes thunder and rainstorms.

2. The Ritz Carlton , Half Moon Bay

When California residents seek reprieve from the city, they head to the northern coastline, drawing energy from the scenic beaches, untouched nature and fresh air. Set amid this tranquility is The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, a blufftop resort overlooking the ocean. Opportunities to disconnect are abundant: walks along the beach, a few rounds of golf, a day at the spa, a glass of wine and a colourful sunset.

3. The Landing Resort and Spa, Lake Tahoe

Commanding a prime location just steps from the shores of Lake Tahoe, this stylish resort provides a superbly placed base for exploring this spectacular High Sierra region. Soak up the warm, welcoming lakeside ambience or take a short walk to the shops and restaurants of South Lake Tahoe town.

4. Farmhouse Inn, Sonoma

In a quiet corner of Sonoma’s Russian River Valley and surrounded by vineyards, this delightful Inn truly deserves the accolades it receives as one of the best small hotels not only in California but the entire country. This is understated luxury at its best. The Michelin starred restaurant is an integral part of the Farmhouse Inn experience. The food is sourced from the owner’s nearby ranch and local farmers and is paired with some of the finest regional wines.

5. The Setting Inn, Napa

Perfectly situated in the Napa Valley wine country, between the Michelin-starred restaurant Mecca of Yountville and the world-class downtown of Napa, its central location makes this hotel one of the best places to stay in the Napa Valley for enjoying all that California’s wine country has to offer.

6. Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

A stunning and serene adults-only retreat in a cliff-top setting overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Post Ranch Inn combines rustic elegance and a conservation ethos with ultimate luxury and comfort. The organic architectural design of the hotel blends into the
surroundings with floor-to-ceiling glass and the use of native natural materials, such as reclaimed wood and local stone. Many of the buildings are curved around trees to protect them, and the treehouses are built on stilts to protect the fragile root balls of the
surrounding ancient trees.

7. Treebones Resort, Big sur

For something a little different then you may want to consider the Treebones Resort which offers a unique lodging and dining experience on California’s breath-taking Big Sur coast. With spectacular panoramic views in all directions, the 16 yurts, have all the accessibility to nature of a tent with all the comforts of a cabin. You can sleep under the stars or just enjoy them through the sky dome from the comfort of your own comfortable queen-sized bed.

8. White Water Cambria, Moonstone Beach

Every room comes with perfect Pacific Ocean views and magical sunsets. Take a walk down the 2-mile-long coastal walkway and enjoy the surf and rock pools before exploring nearby cafés and shops on the hotel bikes. Also a great base to explore Hearst Ranch or Paso Robles wineries.

9. Brewery Gulch Inn, Mendocino Bay Big sur

While the Brewery Gulch Inn is rustic and laid-back, the service and attention you’ll receive here is anything but that. It’s the perfect blend of modern California flair, housed in a sturdy, arts and craft style lodge. The inn looks like it is part of the landscape and has been there for decades and, while the building itself is only fifteen years old, much of the lumber used to construct it, came from century old, salvaged logs, giving it its weathered and authentic feel. It borders 48,000 acres of meadows and redwood forests, making it the perfect escape to get away from it all. Take a kayak trip to the coast’s impressive sea caves or explore the waterfalls and turbulent waters of Russian Gulch. Nearby, the ancient Redwood Forest boasts some of the tallest trees in the world where Coast and Sierra Redwoods can grow up to 370 feet tall.

10. La Playa Carmel, Carmel-by-the-Sea

Located in one of California’s most prestigious neighbourhoods, the newly renovated La Playa Carmel oozes turn-of-the-century charm. Surrounded by quaint shops, galleries and restaurants it’s just steps from the sands of Carmel Beach. Featuring meticulously tended gardens, secluded courtyards and tranquil terraces this hotel makes for a serene stop on any California coast itinerary.

11. The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park

The scenic setting of The Ahwahnee, combined with its historical architecture makes it an incredibly popular destination in the heart of Yosemite National Park. Blending Art Deco, Native American and Middle Eastern influences to create a unique fusion of architecture, this majestic Yosemite hotel is itself a major attraction and has welcomed royalty and presidents alike. The elegant property provides a very comfortable base from which to explore Yosemite, featuring giant stone fireplaces, large glass windows and hand-stencilled beams in its distinctive lounge, alongside an award-winning dining room.

12. West Cliff Inn, Santa Cruz

Situated on a bluff across from Cowell’s Beach and the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, this fully renovated Victorian inn features a breezy, coastal inspired with a mix of recycled woods, and locally found artisan accessories. Here you will find attentive, gracious service and the complimentary cheese and wine each afternoon is a lovely touch. Walk to the historic Beach Boardwalk, bike along the water, or shop at the most eclectic stores in California for the perfect getaway.

13. The London, West Hollywood, Los Angeles

Ideally located at the crossroads of Beverly Hills and central LA in buzzing West Hollywood, the London West Hollywood is a tranquil urban oasis that epitomises modern luxury. The suites combine sophisticated comfort, awe-inspiring views and a signature sense of California cool. It’s the perfect place to explore LA from, then chill out by the rooftop pool, which is exclusive to guests

14. Viceroy, Santa Monica

As part of Viceroy’s A Canvas For Discovery initiative, you will find original works created by innovative local artists at the forefront of the hotel so here is a place to be inspired by thought-provoking art. Of course, the external view of the beach and the ocean is also a great reason for choosing this as your LA base. Top tip is this is the starting point for your California adventure get an uber for the 7-mile journey from LAX and have your car hire delivered to the hotel when ready to move on with you adventure.

15. El Encanto, Santa Barbara

Perched high in the Santa Barbara hills, this iconic hideaway offers the best views of the American Riviera from its seven acres of secluded gardens (take a stroll around the wisteria-lined lily pond and spot woodpeckers, cranes and monarch butterflies). El Encanto opened in 1918 and has been part of Santa Barbara’s social scene ever since. The resort is gleaming and glamorous, yet relaxed and low-key, as you’d expect from a Belmond property.

16. Surf and Sand REsort, Laguna Beach

Smell the ocean, listen to the waves from your beachfront balcony and when you are ready to feel the sand between your toes you are just steps away. This is a contemporary haven for relaxation and rejuvenation and explore the local art scene.

17. L'Horizon REsort & Spa, Palm springs

With its iconic, mid-century modern architecture and a rich Hollywood history, L’Horizon offers a dreamy boutique-hotel experience just minutes from downtown Palm Springs. Built in 1952 by renowned  architect William F. Cody, L’Horizon was a favourite celebrity destination in the 50s and 60s, attracting guests from Hollywood’s golden era, including Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable, as well as several US presidents. After completing a multi-million-dollar re-envisioning by LA-based designer Steve Hermann in 2015, it is Palm Springs’ only luxury boutique hotel and its 25 bungalows, with private patios and outdoor showers spread across three acres, provide an exclusive and intimate feel.

18. Lido House, Newport Beach

The Lido area of Newport Beach has a rich and legendary history that began when Hollywood’s stars made Newport Beach their preferred getaway and home away from home. It references a time when boating and the waterfront life were only accessible to the rich and famous, but now it’s here for all to enjoy. Lido House aesthetically honours this sophisticated past while maintaining a truly modern appeal. It’s brand new and nostalgic all at the same time. A great location for exploring this wonderful area.

19. The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Beach

Italian inspiration, California splendour is the motto here, and the relaxed comfort of Pelican Hill takes its inspiration from the grand villas found across the Venetian countryside. And like the Italian hills, the sun-drenched climate of Southern California allows for indoor spaces to open up to the outdoors but with quintessential coastal breezes and panoramic Pacific Ocean views.

20. Hotel del Coronado, San Diego

Hotel del Coronado is the best of many worlds, from classic Victorian architecture to the modern SoCal scene, in one thriving coastal destination. The Victorian is the original iconic hotel built in 1888 where no two rooms are alike, and all are full of character. You’ll be transported by the lush, picturesque Garden Patio surrounded by spectacular Queen Anne architecture. Or chose The Cabanas the contemporary SoCal social and music hub, steps from the shimmering pool and Sun Deck, or choose a beachside room with a terrace and fire pit. If you want a home away from home opt for the Beach Village with sumptuous Beach cottages.

Ready to book a luxury vacation?

Click here to visit our World of Luxury, or call Lizzi, our Luxury Travel Concierge, on 020 3092 2558

This is a feature from Issue 13 of Charitable Traveller.