The Top 10 Resort Hotels in California
In a year when sweeping wildfires yet again ravaged portions of the state, California has shown that it’s as tenacious as it is welcoming. It’s a beloved destination for T+L readers, who flock to the destination for its picturesque forests, deserts, and beaches.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.
Related: The World's Best Awards 2019
The Southern California resort hotels that readers championed this year were mostly coastal properties that shone for their impeccable service and beautiful, secluded grounds. Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa (No. 2), which ranked highest in SoCal, drew praise for being “discreet and not fussy or pretentious,” according to one reader. Another fan echoed the sentiment, saying “there is a warmth and comfort that can’t be replicated easily.” Readers also found the Ranch at Laguna Beach (No. 6) to be an impressive escape, likening it to “a private village…tucked away but right near Laguna’s shops and nightlife.” The sole desert hotel on this year’s list, Holiday House (No. 10) in Palm Springs, also struck that delicate balance between being a true hideaway and being situated near a lively downtown area with plenty to do.
Up north, readers praised California hotels that combined unparalleled natural beauty with top-notch culinary and wine experiences. Post Ranch Inn, last year’s category winner, appears at the No. 4 spot. One reader called it a “romantic retreat with deer and wildlife all around” and was especially fond of the Pacific Ocean views from the Big Sur property’s restaurant. Another stunner, Meadowood Napa Valley (No. 3), in St. Helena, lived up to its reputation as one of the “most consistent, innovative, delicious, and creative meals we have had,” said one reader, noting that the restaurant “delivered an experience that was superb, but not pretentious.
Scroll through to find out which other hotels blew readers away, including the property that ranked No. 1 this year.
10. Holiday House, Palm Springs
More information: holidayhouseps.com
9. Rosewood Sand Hill, Menlo Park
More information: rosewoodhotels.com
8. The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Beach
More information: pelicanhill.com
7. Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection, Calistoga
More information: aubergeresorts.com/solage
6. The Ranch at Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach
More information: theranchlb.com
5. Vintage House at The Estate Yountville, Yountville
More information: vintagehouse.com
4. Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur
More information: postranchinn.com
3. Meadowood Napa Valley, St. Helena
More information: meadowood.com
2. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, San Diego
More information: ranchovalencia.com
1. North Block Hotel, Yountville
More information: northblockhotel.com
Situated on the main thoroughfare in one of Napa Valley’s most picturesque and popular towns, this boutique property puts guests in “a location perfect for exploring the wineries,” wrote one respondent. But what sends it ahead of the competition is its staff. “Everyone working there had a wonderful disposition and immediately knew us by name,” wrote one reader, who also lauded the “top of the line” property for its “especially luxurious” bathrooms. Another appreciated that the hotel’s small occupancy — just 20 rooms — affords guests a sense of privacy and tranquility. “There’s always a seat and an overall calm feeling at the pool,” wrote one fan. And while there’s no shortage of phenomenal dining options in town, it doesn’t hurt that one of the most popular, Redd Wood, is on site.
Want to experience one of the World’s Best resorts for yourself? This October, join Travel + Leisure editor in chief Jacqueline Gifford and Food & Wine’s executive wine editor Ray Isle for an intimate trip to California’s Wine Country during fall harvest season. With the iconic Meadowood Napa Valley as your home base, you’ll be treated to exclusive tastings at some of the region’s best wineries, including a handful that are typically closed to the public. Book your trip now before spots disappear.
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2019.