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California Hotels

Hotel city
Auberge du Soleil
180 Rutherford Hill Rd., Rutherford
Set up on a hill above an endless—and undulating—vista of vineyards, Auberge du Soleil has been maintaining the luxury standard in Napa for thirty years. Though it's since spawned two sister hotels (Solage and Calistoga Ranch), Auberge du Soleil is the reigning patriarch in Napa Valley, particularly when it comes to old-school indulgences and creature comforts (the other two spots are a bit more modern and laid-back). Here, the cottage-like rooms are organized into private little villages (they all feature patios and terraces). With two Michelin stars, Auberge's main, global-inflected restaurant draws a crowd that swells well beyond hotel guests—the Japanese breakfast is particularly dreamy. Don’t miss the spa: While hotel treatments often aren’t that great (particularly for their generally inflated price tags), this was one of the best massages we’ve ever had, particularly because it was followed by a soak in the outdoor bathtub. Meanwhile, Quintessa Winery, one of our favorites, is just across the street.
Bardessono Hotel
6526 Yount St., Yountville
Just a short walk from downtown Yountville and its bevy of great restaurants, Bardessono definitely boasts one of the best locations in the valley. With sleek, streamlined décor, excellent tech in room, and the almost impossible-to-accomplish LEED platinum rating, the vibe here is decidedly modern without sacrificing luxury. The grounds are incredibly lush, with the addition of a few well-placed water features, giving you the sense of an outdoor experience despite the relatively compact property.
Belmond El Encanto
800 Alvarado Place, Mission Canyon
Perched on an olive tree-studded hillside overlooking the Pacific ocean, the Belmond El Encanto is more than deserving of its Forbes five-star accolades. The 92-room hotel (consisting of Craftsman-style suites and freestanding bungalows) re-opened in 2013 after undergoing a comprehensive renovation, which added a pool and tricked-out fitness studio to the grounds. Thankfully, the historic property’s architectural integrity and immaculate gardens were kept intact. Complete relaxation is the name of the game at the full-service spa where guests and day-trippers are pampered by way of water therapies, steam rooms, and local ingredient-inspired, seasonal treatments. When planning his California-coastal menu, Executive Chef Leo Andres Ayala takes full advantage of Santa Barbara’s bountiful produce offerings—including herbs from Ayala’s on-site herb garden and cheese made from the milk of the Belmond’s resident cow, Ellie.
Calistoga Ranch
580 Lommel Rd., Calistoga
This hotel has its own cabernet-producing vineyard, so you get the full Napa Valley experience without even leaving the property. There's plenty else to do on site, from walking the stunning grounds and hanging out at the pool, to gathering eggs from their deluxe new coop. Should you book a stay in the early fall, you can join the pruning, harvesting, and crushing of the grapes. Each of the fifty rooms has a fireplace and a private deck, and occupies its own, secluded lodge, which guarantees plenty of privacy. While Calistoga Ranch makes for a great romantic holiday, it’s kid-friendly too, with a new family pool and a lunchbox menu just for little ones. Should you want to go out (it is Napa, after all) you can borrow one of the ranch's cars.
Cavallo Point
601 Murray Circle, Sausalito
Nestled at the foot of the Golden Gate bridge, Fort Baker is spread out over acres of prime Sausalito real estate, which up until recently has been left at the mercy of the elements. Then in 2008 a hospitality group stepped in and teamed up with the National Park Service to completely restore and preserve the area. The resulting 142-room lodge, healing arts center, and spa, are spread out over a cluster of Colonial buildings that meet and exceed all of LEED's sustainability requirement.
Charlie Hotel
819 N. Sweetzer Ave., West Hollywood
Though it's just steps from the neon-lit Sunset Strip, the quaint, hidden Charlie Hotel is a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of the city; it blends into the neighborhood, so it's largely unknown, even to locals. The cozy spot is low on amenities—you won't find a pool or spa—but what it lacks in extravagance it more than makes up for in charm. The hotel itself is made up of 14 West Hollywood bungalows, each outfitted with a full kitchen (several have multiple bedrooms), painstakingly restored and tastefully decorated by loving hotelier Menachem Treivush, who rescued the site from demolition in 2002. Cottages are named after some of the Hollywood luminaries who lived in them in the early Hollywood days—the hotel itself is named after Charlie Chaplin, who lived here back in the '20s when it originally opened.
Chateau Marmont
8221 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood
Originally constructed in the ‘30s as an opulent apartment building (its design takes after the Gothic chateaus of the Loire Valley), the Chateau quickly morphed into a hotel. It has official historic landmark status for a million reasons: It’s played host to everyone in Hollywood (sadly, John Belushi died here), and despite an André Balazs re-do in the ‘90s, it still feels wonderfully old-world. Its popularity has never waned, to the extent that you generally can’t grab a bite or a drink here unless you’re checked-in, or meeting a guest. Images: Nikolas Koenig
Clift Hotel
495 Geary St., Union Square
This year, this gem is celebrating its 100th birthday (it did receive a Philippe Starcke makeover in the interim) making it particularly good time to book a stay. In the famously ornate lobby you'll find furniture pieces by Ray and Charles Eames and Salvador Dali; the standard rooms while on the tight side make up for it in comfort and beautiful pastel-hued décor. Downstairs, the plush Redwood Room is perfect for drinks and snacks at the stretch bar which lent the local-approved lounge its name.
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