California dreaming? Check out some of the most magnificent, hands-down decadent hotels on the West Coast. From intimate, clifftop eco-resorts in Big Sur to celebrity havens in L.A., these are the four-and-a-half- and five-pearl properties that practically wrote the book on luxury.
The secluded, 157-acre Calistoga Ranch is in a class all by itself. Exquisite wood-and-stone private lodges beautifully complement their untouched natural surroundings, and feature an outdoor living room (complete with a fireplace, a top-of-the-line grill, and a fantastic outdoor rain shower). Add the hiking trails, excellent restaurant and spa, beautiful heated outdoor pool, bocce court, fitness center, wine-tasting seminars, and loaner Mercedes-Benzes, and you've got one of the most remarkable hotel properties in the country.
An elegant A-list retreat, this Hollywood destination has a doting, discreet staff; top-notch dining options; and a rooftop pool and whirlpool with serviced private cabanas along its panoramic sundeck. The 194 guest rooms have a floral, Renaissance-inspired decor may be too much for some, but with their French doors, fresh fruit, and Italian pink and white marble bathrooms, they are indisputably luxurious. Plus, a chauffeur and a Rolls-Royce come with the rates.
This hotel may just be one of the most beautiful hotels on the planet. Built into the cliffs of Big Sur, the rustic-luxe retreat offers a romantic, intimate stay amid breathtaking natural surroundings -- its organic architecture seems to grow out of the ground. The 39 spacious, eco-sensitive rooms (cottages and tree houses) have ocean or mountain views, wood-burning fireplaces, radiant floor heating, outdoor showers or hot tubs, and organic mattresses and linens. The hotel makes use of its peaceful environment by offering daily yoga, nature hikes, star gazing, and outdoor spa treatments. Post Ranch Inn's unreal clifftop pools and restaurant -- one of the best in Big Sur -- absolutely cannot go unmentioned.
Forty acres of lush grounds provide the backdrop for this 49-room luxury resort. Spanish-style suites, located in 26 casitas spread throughout the property, have vaulted wood-beam ceilings, fireplaces and patios. Stellar freebies (such as Wi-Fi, minibar items, parking, bike rentals, morning juice and newspaper delivery, and classes at the upscale fitness center) amplify the exclusive experience.
Despite its intimate size, this 50-room inn has all the features of a larger resort: a 7,000-square-foot spa, an outdoor pool and Jacuzzi, and a Michelin-star restaurant. Phenomenal views of the surrounding countryside, peaceful grounds, and the homey rooms that all come with huge terraces make this a truly special, romantic retreat, though visitors should know that there's nothing within walking distance. All in all, it is one of the most exclusive (and expensive) destinations in California wine country.
Built from the ground up in 2005, the St. Regis may lack a historical building, but inside you'll find what's arguably San Francisco's finest in luxury. High-tech rooms with feather-top beds and spacious bathrooms; a 5,700-square-foot, 24-hour fitness center; Michelin-starred Ame restaurant, and elevated service are just a few standouts of the impressive set of features. Its SoMa location lacks the prestige -- and high hilltop views -- of its Nob Hill competitors, but otherwise, this 21st-century hotel hits the mark in every category.
With its Spanish-Colonial-style architecture, marble columns, fireplaces, and wood accents, this 249-room resort in the rolling hills near Del Mar is pure grandeur. Of course its lavishness doesn't end with the decor: There are four pools, two tennis courts, a world-class spa, excellent restaurants, an 18-hole golf course, an Equestrian Center, and free Mercedes or Cadillac Escalade car service. Since it's inland, though, there are no ocean views; those in want of closer proximity to the water should consider L'Auberge del Mar.
The gorgeous beachfront resort offers simple yet stunning rooms and beautiful bay views. Perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, the romantic, 261-room hotel has excellent outdoor facilities, like cozy fire pits looking out onto the rocky coast, multiple walking/biking paths, and an 18-hole golf course. Foodies, beware: the on-site restaurants are lackluster.
Built in 1928, this 395-room icon is as Beverly Hills as Rodeo Drive. Even though it's a classic, the glamorous hotel feels surprisingly lively and unpretentious. With beautiful guest rooms, a trendy Wolfgang Puck restaurant, and a superb spa (facilities are free for guests), pool and fitness center, plus impeccable Four Seasons service, this top luxury pick is practically perfect.
If we had to find fault with this ultra-luxe hotel, we'd say that the size of the property is so immense (it has 332 bungalows and villas spread throughout 500 acres), guests have to take the resort's free shuttle to get around. Other than that, nearly everything else about Pelican Hill is superb, from the 23,000-square-foot spa and two pools to the two golf courses and five restaurants. All rooms are large, high-tech, and upscale, but the villas are where things get uber-fancy: they feature fully equipped kitchens, access to a separate clubhouse with a pool and fitness center, and a private staff.
Set in the mountains above Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort, this full-service, eco-friendly resort has 170 big, modern rooms; multiple outdoor saline pools and Jacuzzis (all open year round); and ski-in/ski-out access to the slopes. Stays teem with extra fees, though, such as the ones for Wi-Fi, valet, and shuttle service.
One of the top hotels on the Southern California coastline, this beachfront resort (complete with the obligatory resort fee) has an upscale, yet relaxed vibe, and attracts a well-heeled clientele of mostly couples. Its 121 spotless rooms have the homey feel of a luxury beach house, and its features include a renowned farm-to-table restaurant, full-service spa, modern gym, and two tennis courts. The outdoor pool is small, but offers padded loungers, cabanas, and a hot tub to relax in. A landscaped footpath from the property leads directly to Del Mar Beach.
The stylish and modern resort proves why the Rosewood brand's reputation is well-deserved. The 121 rooms feature HD TVs with surround sound, sizable showers (the rain showerheads have fantastic pressure), and large patios and balconies with views of the stunning landscape. Madera, the property's Michelin-starred restaurant; a splendid spa, and a kid-friendly outdoor pool all add to the experience, making Rosewood Sand Hill an option that leaves very little to be desired for business travelers or families alike.
Four Seasons' legendary service and commitment to quality is evident at this upscale hotel. Bright, modern rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and marble bathrooms (some have unappealing freeway views) and the spacious rooftop pool and hot tub offer free sunscreen. The spa is top-notch, though its high prices are a turnoff to some.
An elegant chalet decor and a host of amenities make this 77-room resort a luxury pick on Lake Tahoe. Its 77 stylish, lodge-like rooms have fireplaces, wet bars, 55-inch flat-screen TVs, private balconies or patios (some with lake views), and heated-floor bathrooms. Patio fire pits and a 350-person rooftop terrace round out the offerings. For a larger resort with more features, travelers could try The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, however, rates tend to be higher.