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If you’re willing to leave town for a weekend, you’ll find plenty of romantic charm and character just outside the main cities of California. Whether you’re booking an anniversary trip, celebrating an engagement or marking a special occasion (I.e. you got that promotion you’ve been waiting for), these three hotels are sure to offer you the charm, comfort and first-class service you desire – and deserve.
1. Carneros Resort and Spa
Located in the heart of Napa Valley, the Carneros Resort and Spa hotel is an award-winning, one-of-a-kind place to stay. Inspired by classic California farmhouses, the resort is made up of handsome and contemporary tin-roofed cottages, silos and barns all arranged around a lush garden and scenic vineyard.
You’ll enjoy beautiful views and pristine sunsets, while you relax in your well-appointed suite. If you fancy a drink or bite to eat, follow the path through the garden to the hotel’s three restaurants and two on-site bars. Or, ask the chef to prepare a private picnic for you, complete with your favorite vintage. You are in wine country after all.
2. Belmond El Encanto
Once a historic retreat for Hollywood stars, the Belmond El Encanto hotel is one of Santa Barbara’s true gems. Tidy Californian Craftsman and Spanish colonial-style bungalows overlook views of the Pacific Ocean. The sweeping views and landscaped grounds — dotted with fragrant fruit trees, tropical flowers, climbing wisteria and a lily pond — take center stage. But you’ll also enjoy time at the luxurious spa, or by the infinity pool.
Traveling with an art lover? Each room is appointed with local photography. Be sure to also point out the well-curated selection of art, including a Damien Hirst silkscreen of butterfly wings in diamond dust that hangs in the lobby, and Charles Arnoldi’s dramatic abstract painting that welcomes guests to the dining room.
3. Rancho Valencia
Just a short drive from San Diego in “Horse Country” is the Rancho Valencia hotel. Once a members-only tennis club, the hotel is still staffed with former champions, who offer daily private classes. True to its rugged surroundings, the hotel also offers a variety of activities, whether you crave a sunrise hike, want to work up a sweat with boxing classes, or wind down with pilates and yoga. Want to bring your four-legged friends with you? Not a problem here. The hotel will provide pet beds and food bowls for a small additional fee.
The Spanish-style suites recall architecturally-stunning haciendas, each featuring private patios that overlook the Southern California hills. Every room also has its own fireplace, perfect for cozy nights in with your partner. Tuck into the blankets or complimentary robes and order room service from the coastal-ranch menu, knowing that you’ve found the perfect spot to relax, romance and getaway.
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