What Golden State hotel spas are worth their weight in gold (or sea salt, or warm lavender oil, or rosemary shea butter…)? Join us on a spa tour of California, where we lay out the very best hotel spas, from Beverly Hills to San Francisco.
When renowned spa Miraval opened at Monarch Beach Resort in 2016, it marked the Tucson-based wellness brand's first expansion outside of Arizona. Miraval tweaked many of its signature treatments to highlight ingredients that nod to the new location's California coast setting -- sea salt, algae, marine mud, and apricot seed kernels, to name a few. The spa's 70-item-strong treatments menu goes way beyond the usual scope of massages and facials. Here, there are wellness programs focusing on mindfulness and stress management and classes like yoga and Pilates -- even cardio drumming and floating meditation. The spa's amenities are nearly as robust as its treatment menu and workshop and event list: a sauna, eucalyptus steam room, and three-lane lap pool are rather standard for a spa of this caliber, but Life in Balance Spa's Drybar blowout salon, Deborah Lippmann nail studio, and Miraval Spa Cafe (whose menu features organic and vegan fare and sustainable wine) are next-level perks.
Monarch Beach's Miraval outpost has a whopping 24 treatment rooms, but the Spa at Terranea Resort manages to one-up Life in Balance Spa (literally): this 50,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor spa has 25 treatment rooms, many of them with spectacular views of the Pacific. Some of the rooms are designed for couples, with freestanding bronze soaking tubs, private rainfall showers, and ocean-facing balconies. Saunas, steam rooms, cold plunges, and the 25-meter Spa Pool -- surrounded by cabanas, fire pits, and outdoor hot tubs -- are all accessible with a booked treatment or a spa day pass. The Fitness & Wellness Center has floor-to-ceiling windows, top-of-the-line equipment, and a separate spinning studio. (There are also outdoor spin bikes pointed directly at the ocean -- the sights and sounds of the crashing surf beat an in-machine flat-screen TV anytime.) Classes such as beach yoga and TRX cost extra. Spa Cafe serves healthy Mediterranean-inspired fare, as well as a drink list of smoothies, juices, wine, beer, and cocktails made with organic spirits.
The adult-only Post Ranch Inn is one of the world's most beautiful hotels. Its spa's four treatments rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the surrounding Ventana wilderness and wonderful design elements, such as beamed ceilings and fireplaces, which perfectly befit the redwood-forest setting. (Guests can also opt to have treatments done in their rooms or on their decks.) Massages, body treatments, and facials are a given on the exhaustive menu, but Post Ranch's spa specializes in alternative therapies, like reflexology, craniosacral therapy, reiki, and vibrational resonance. Post Ranch also has what may be the perk to end all perks for true wellness devotees: A shaman is available to aid guests' mental and emotional well-being through illumination, soul retrieval, divination, and fire and drum ceremonies. Shaman sessions and spa treatments come at fees, of course, but organized events at the hotel like morning yoga, meditation, nature hikes, and star gazing are all free.
Like Post Ranch Inn, Ventana Inn & Spa sits on picturesque oceanfront land in Big Sur. Ventana is more inland than the clifftop Post Ranch, and though its location is slightly less dramatic, Ventana lures spa-seekers with its Japanese baths -- one of the many facilities at its large spa. There are also two pools (one of which is clothing-optional) and a sauna in its outdoor relaxation area. Treatments have an upscale and New Age twist: Facials incorporate ingredients like caviar and chamomile, hot-stone massages are administered with jade and basalt, and in-room sessions focus on chakra energy healing, astrology, and guided mindfulness. In terms of luxe rusticity, Post Ranch Inn and Ventana Inn & Spa are practically neck in neck, but we gave Post Ranch the lead because of its breathtaking built-into-cliffs setting.
"Phenomenal," "extraordinary," and "fabulous" are some of the ways our hotel reporter described this secluded luxury property in Napa Valley after his visit -- that first adjective was dedicated to Calistoga Ranch's spa. Immersed in the hotel's 157-acre forested property, the spa really is as sensational as our investigator reported. The indoor/outdoor spa has an organic design made from stone and wood; throughout the space are open-air lounges with wood-burning fireplaces, a eucalyptus steam room, an outdoor heated mineral pool, an outdoor watsu soaking pool, and relaxation decks gazing out on surrounding oak trees. All that's really audible is the rustling of leaves in the breeze, the tinkling of garden fountains and a nearby creek, and maybe a fellow spa-goer settling in for their outdoor massage (massages can also be held in spa treatment rooms and guests' private lodges). Signature treatments include guided water therapy and the two-and-a-half-hour Calistoga Cure, which starts with a body scrub, then continues with a private, open-air mud or mineral bath and an energy-balancing exercise. All of this is capped off with a customized massage. Free wellness classes like yoga, Qigong, Pilates, and circuit training are held regularly.
Our prior three picks have been wooded spa sanctuaries in Big Sur and Calistoga, two legendary wellness destinations that encourage soul searching and nature communing. Our number-six pick is more in the spirit and style of Miraval Spa and the Spa at Terranea Resort; we're back in Southern California, this time at a destination resort about 20 minutes west of Santa Barbara. The Spa at Bacara is a massive Mediterranean-style villa dedicated to wellness and rejuvenation. Massages, ranging from Ayurvedic to Swedish, dominate treatment menu, and skin-care services include LED light facials and exfoliating peels. There are 36 treatment rooms, and massages can be conducted inside and outdoors, sweeping ocean views and all. A salon handles make-up, hair, nail, waxing, and bridal needs, and dedicated yoga and Pilates studios hold free classes. Beachside yoga, Qigong, tai chi, and meditation exercises are on-going, and personalized wellness programs and private classes can be set up. The indoor/outdoor spa cafe features healthy, all-organic menu items (even the wine). Spa appointments come with access to the spa's tranquility pool, sauna, whirlpool, Swiss showers, and eucalyptus steam room.
The iconic, adult-only Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa is renowned for its natural mineral springs, focus on a healthy West Coast lifestyle, and glamorous Hollywood past (rumor has it that this was a one-time hideout for Al Capone). The spa is what attracts many guests to the property; it has watsu therapy pools and mud baths, where guests float in a combination of peat moss, mineral-rich clay, and healing water. Treatments like facials, massages, and wraps are conducted in outdoor gazebos, and yoga classes are held in a 3,000-square-foot passive earth mound dome (does it get anymore California than that?). Lush, natural landscaping and rock walls line the pool deck of the two hot mineral springs grotto pools, which are kept at 104 and 99 degrees -- ideal for an evening of star gazing, even when the weather is chilly. Grounds filled with hiking trails, lakes, tennis courts, and a walking labyrinth add to the Californian-cool vibe.
This elegant A-list retreat is one of the best hotels in Beverly Hills, and perhaps in all of Los Angeles, so it's little wonder that its spa is exceptional. The Peninsula Spa doesn't just have the usual massages, facials, and nail treatments -- here, the therapists use oils containing rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and diamonds, depending on the issue being addressed. Adjacent to the spa is the hotel's heated 60-foot rooftop pool and whirlpool; private cabanas available.
Famous for its many natural hot springs, Calistoga has been a well-being hot spot for over a century. Located on the outskirts of downtown Calistoga at the northern end of the Napa Valley, Indian Springs Resort is a historic resort and spa that has peaceful scenery down pat: it's spread over 16 acres of hilly wine country filled with gardens, ponds, olive and palm trees, rosebushes, and lavender plants. The hotel's main pool is a gorgeous Olympic-size mineral pool -- one of the largest in California -- filled with highly mineralized water from the location’s own thermal geysers. The geysers also provide mineral water to a second adult-only pool and the spa’s mud baths. Private massage rooms are spread along a wooden walkway leading to the hotel's Buddha Pond; nearby there's a shaded outdoor veranda with a covered lounge and fireplace.
Sonoma County is one of the world's best wine-growing regions, so it's fitting that this charming European-style hotel's spa bases many of its treatments on the local harvest. Here, you can even straight-up soak in the stuff -- Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, or sparkling wine -- your pick. Those wanting to try a less immersive vinotherapy could opt for the Vinoperfect Facial (which uses massaging stones to lift and sculpt), Resveratrol Lift (resveratrol is a compound found in red wine that is thought to be an antioxidant), or the Matanzas Creek Lavender Scrub, which uses an exfoliator made by a winery in Santa Rosa, a 20-minute drive away. Couples who want the skin-care benefits of wine and want to drink it too could go for the Te Amo Couples Massage package, which includes two candlelit massages on the terrace and a bottle of bubbly.
The Langham Huntington is a luxury hotel with an exclusive atmosphere and 23 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. The hotel's Old World ambience and stunning natural outdoor space do much to provide a sense of escape and retreat, and guests who want to doubly ensure their mental respite can book time at the on-site Chuan Spa, which offers beauty and health treatments, many of which are rooted in ancient Eastern medicine, plus yoga, tai chi, and Pilates. There are 12 treatment rooms, including a couple's suite, as well as a sauna, an herbal steam bath, and a whirlpool.
Meadowood Napa Valley resort was founded as a private country club in 1964. Bought by two vintners in 1979, the property became a luxury resort where connoisseurs celebrate Napa Valley wines. In 2015, the destination resort opened an extensively renovated spa, with men's and women's relaxation gardens, a steam room, a sauna, a dipping pool, and spa dining menu. But Meadowood isn't just about kicking back in a spa robe or soaking in a mineral pool. The resort, which is spread over 250 acres of hilly oak forest, also has more than four miles of hiking trails, a nine-hole golf course, a croquet lawn, and tennis courts, and it offers golf and tennis lessons by professional instructors. There's an adult lap pool and a separate family pool, each surrounded by lounge chairs and umbrellas, and each with its own dedicated whirlpool. Daily classes such as cycling, aqua fitness, yoga, and Zumba are free for all guests, and the hotel does not charge a resort fee.
The 9,000-square-foot Remede Spa boasts beautiful facilities, an extensive service menu, and a serene 24-hour saltwater pool with poolside food/drink service and impressive views of San Francisco. For a daily fee, guests can use the locker rooms (where the whirlpools, steam rooms, and saunas are located) and relaxation rooms (chocolate truffles and Champagne are served). Remede Spa's treatment menu ranges from mani/pedis and brow-tinting to bathing rituals inspired by Calistoga's mud baths and San Francisco's historic Sutro Baths, a public pool complex that burned in 1966 and is still in ruins.
El Encanto is a gorgeous historic landmark overlooking Santa Barbara and the ocean beyond. Its wellness facilities are beautifully designed -- even the fitness center has aesthetic appeal with cardio machines set under an arbor on a brick patio. The spa has seven spacious and serene treatment rooms, many of them with roomy private showers with rainfall overheads. Spa staff often pick herbs from the hotel's garden to use in body treatments, and massages can be held in the luxurious bungalow-style guest rooms. The Spa at El Encanto has a dance/yoga studio, a full hair and nail salon, a relaxation lounge, and steam rooms.
Set on nine acres of vineyards, Meritage Resort and Spa offers a Tuscan-inspired, wine-filled retreat in Napa Valley. If the on-site vineyards, free bottles of wine, and wine bar don't make guests feel as if they've been transported to central Italy, Meritage's luxurious Spa Terra should seal the deal. Twelve dimly lit treatment rooms with tile mosaic floors, textured plaster walls, and barrel-vaulted ceilings make atmospheric backdrops for facials, massages, and waxing. Separate men’s and women’s lounges feature showers, whirlpools, and steam grottos lit by candles, wall sconces, and brass chandeliers.