I’ve always wanted to take a road trip through California, and this May my dream came true. Although the Big Sur Highway was closed due to a landslide, driving through the inner landscape of the state was still breathtakingly beautiful, and so unlike what I had been expecting.
My mom and I flew into San Diego and headed to Rancho Valencia in Rancho Santa Fe for our first destination. The property is part of the Relais & Château collection, so we already knew it was going to be great, but it was even better than we had imagined. Not only did the hotel have a super healthy menu and yoga/reformer Pilates classes, but it was absolutely aesthetically pleasing at every turn.
After Rancho Valencia, we headed to the Beverly Hills Hotel for a night. We shopped around Rodeo Drive, hung out by the pool and ate on the twinkle-light-covered back patio, which was way more quaint and charming than I had expected. From the typography to the jaunty pink hues, the hotel’s aesthetic had a uniquely Californian feel, and it felt surreal to visit somewhere I’ve been hearing so much about for years.
Then, after a brief stop in Laguna Beach (I didn’t see LC or Stephen, unfortunately) we drove north to Carmel-by-the-Sea, a quaint town full of adorable cottages and some of the most unique vegetation I’ve ever seen. Carmel originally began as an artist colony in the early 1900s, and since then, it’s grown into a booming (but still quaint!) tourist destination. We stayed at another Relais & Château called L’Auberge Carmel, which felt very European with its sweet little courtyard and quiet atmosphere.
With the thick fog, massive waves and Monterey Cypress trees framing it, the beach in Carmel was unlike any other I had ever seen. I especially loved Carmel’s fairy tale architecture, though, especially its adorable City Hall building (Clint Eastwood was once mayor of the town!).
If you end up in Carmel, be sure to visit Doris Day’s hotel, the Cypress Inn. The patio had such a charming vibe and you can just feel the glitzy, glamorous history emanating from the building.
After Carmel, we stopped for a night at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. I had originally seen pictures of this hotel on Amber Fillerup’s blog, and I loved its retro vibe at first glance. The inn did not disappoint in person: it looked like a life-size dollhouse with kitschy details and bright colours at every turn.
Finally, for our last night in San Diego, we stayed at the Pendry Hotel. It had a super cool contemporary vibe and a great restaurant called Provisional Kitchen (order the cauliflower steak if you go!), but by this point we were so tired from our road trip we just flopped for the night.
Have you been to California? What’s your favourite part?