I love a hotel with character. When we travel, the last place we look to stay is the ubiquitous chain, whether it’s five-star or not. That’s why we were very excited as we drove through winding eucalyptus lined two lane road into Rancho Santa Fe. We were checking into the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, a Southern California icon with character coming out of its ears.
Our destination was just 30 minutes north of San Diego International Airport and minutes from the beaches and the upscale seaside towns of Del Mar, Solana Beach, and La Jolla
Everything about this fabled hotel was fascinating, from its architect, Lillian Rice, to the rich and famous that had walked its grounds and laid their heads there for over 90 years. This was the temporary home hundreds of stars and celebrities like Bing Crosby, America's Sweetheart Mary Pickford, Hollywood hero Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and even Bill Gates and Frank Lloyd Wright. The stories the walls could tell – and now we would be a part of hotels history in our own small way.
The newly restored Inn at Rancho Santa Fe is located on 21 acres of landscaped grounds including flowering gardens, lush lawns and winding pathways between cottages, guest rooms and suites. Although it’s a luxury hotel with all of the trimmings, it has an unpretentious and easy going character that instantly made it feel like we belonged there. The cottages scattered through the gardens made it feel like a peaceful enchanted village rather than a hotel.
After a quick and friendly welcome and check in we made our way to our home for the next three days.
The clean almost Spartan Spanish influenced architecture of the exterior of our room belied the country inspired sophistication of our suite. First of all it was large, with a full sized kitchen, a large bedroom, two desk areas and an even larger living room highlighted by a working wood burning fireplace. Again, the casual elegance of the ranch inspired furnishing made us feel like this would be a place we could actually live in – not just visit. It also had all of the toys to make today’s modern traveler happy, including WIFI that works without a password, two large flat screen TVs, and a professional looking espresso machine that needed a professional to figure it out.
The interior design of public areas of the hotel is impressive, reflecting the same casual ranch elegance as the room with and little more contemporary feel. A giant fireplace with a roaring fire anchored the main lobby and entrance to the Morada restaurant, a hidden culinary gem. The recent major renovation included enhancing the Inn’s arrival experience at the front parking area, constructing a new meeting space, adding new private dining rooms and planting event lawns, herb and produce gardens.
Mary enjoyed a treatment at the recently opened The Spa at The Inn, a new 3,000 square foot full service spa and relaxation courtyard offer guests and residents a place to relax and be pampered.
Certainly one of the highlights of our stay was our experience at the Inn’s Morada Restaurant. The Inn's new restaurant named for the original title of the hotel, opened on July 3, 2013. The elegant contemporary ranch style interior design also embraces the Inn's indigenous history and the Rancho Santa Fe lifestyle with historic photos of famous guests featured on one great wall. The dining room is large but cozy, with comfortable seating and nice lighting and acoustics. The patio dining outside fronts the greens slopping down into the village.
Executive Chef Todd Allison’s take on California cuisine was fresh and inspired. His sea bass blew me away. All of the dishes we sampled reflected the seasonally fresh and locally sourced directly from local sustainable farms and farmer’s markets as well as produce and herbs ingredients grown on the Inn’s property.
The wine and food service was professional and friendly and the wine selections for each course were spot on. Allison and Morada should be on everyone’s list when visiting San Diego, and by the look of the patrons on the night we dined the locals who live in the ranch have discovered Morada and have made it one of their regular dining haunts. We can’t stay every month at the Inn but we sure can come back and enjoy the restaurant.
Our three days at the Inn didn’t disappoint – it was infused with charm and character. The staff was friendly, professional and kick-back ranch. And the quite rooms with comfortable beds and silky linins made for a good night’s rest. The Morada restaurant was world class. But it was the feeling that we were walking – and sleeping among the essence of giants of another era that made this experience to remember and savor.
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- Also Known As:
- The Inn At Rancho Santa Fe Hotel Rancho Santa Fe
- Hotel At Rancho Sante Fe