At a Glance
A discreet location famous for romantic encounters (including the honeymoon of Jack and Jackie Kennedy), San Ysidro Ranch has played host to legendary guests from Lucille Ball to Winston Churchill. Which makes sense, since the 550-acre property epitomizes the idea of the American Riviera. The 38 freestanding cottages, hidden behind their own private gates, are set amid the lush gardens that make up the sprawling grounds—birdsong and the scents of orange blossom and rosemary included. Interiors of richly polished wood, stone or brick fireplaces and king-sized four-poster beds are complemented by décor that transports you either to the French countryside or rural New-England-meets-California coast. The cottages with patios surrounded by gardens are definitely worth the splurge here. Guests can relax and enjoy the hot tub or outdoor rain shower and views all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Two restaurants and a wine cellar also make this an ideal hideaway for a special occasion.
**The Standout:**The setting—a sprawling ranch of verdant gardens, rolling foothills, mountains and ocean views
**Don't Miss:**A day trip to the Santa Ynez Valley to explore wineries and tasting rooms
- Interiors that beautifully evoke a sense of place
- Outdoor rain showers
- The glorious gardens, citrus groves and olive trees
- Private tastings of wines from Santa Ynez Valley and beyond
Santa Barbara and its upscale neighbor, Montecito, bill themselves as the American Riviera, and nowhere is that more true than at the area’s most renowned resort, San Ysidro Ranch. Originally part of a Spanish land grant, the 550-acre Ranch is dotted with 38 freestanding cottages. The bliss-inducing grounds, which offer sweeping views from the Santa Ynez foothills to the Pacific Ocean, are full of birdsong and the scents of orange blossoms, rosemary, and eucalyptus. Not surprisingly, San Ysidro Ranch has witnessed (discreetly, of course) plenty of romantic encounters, including the marriage of Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, the honeymoon of Jack and Jackie Kennedy, and uncounted rendezvous of other couples, some of whom were married to each other.
2009 saw the end of a $150 million renovation, where everything from the gardens to the cottages was completely made over. Even the olive trees were hand-selected by owner Ty Warner. Interiors range from French Provençal-meets-English countryside to New England-meets-California coastal, though most have beamed ceilings, stone or brick fireplaces and canopy beds. Furniture and fabrics are mostly antiques and both hand selected and placed by Warner himself. Bathrooms are sumptuous and seventy-five percent of the cottages offer outdoor rain showers on private patios that also house hot tubs and two chaise lounges. It is worth the splurge to get a cottage as the real treat about the property is being outdoors on the sumptuous grounds. The overall effect makes you want to move in permanently.
The formal Stonehouse restaurant and more casual Plow & Angel pub are two of the best in Santa Barbara and share a market-fresh lunch and dinner menu augmented by a few holdover classics such as mac-and-cheese and braised short ribs. Try ordering that on the French Riviera.
Who Should Stay
Primarily couples looking for a quiet and private experience.
Written by Indagare