Avoid crowds while still enjoying a change in scenery at these cozy properties all within driving distance of major hubs
Words by SAMANTHA BROOKS
After months of shutdowns, quarantines, and intermittent beach and hiking trail closures, it is natural that we are pining for the great outdoors. And with exotic islands and the enchanting Mediterranean still out of reach, a handful of hotel happenings makes staying close to home that much easier.
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One of POST RANCH INN’s two heated infinity spa pools. Photo by Kodiak Greenwood Photography.
POST RANCH INN, BIG SUR
145 miles from San Francisco
The acclaimed Post Ranch Inn — the 100-acre, 40-room, no pets, no kids, no outside visitors boutique resort that defined California-rustic style ever since it debuted in 1992 — reopened mid-July post-COVID-19 closure with a slew of sustainable cleaning and disinfecting solutions developed by a specialized Danish firm. Toxic or harmful chemicals with an ammonia or bleach base are shunned in favor of Premium Purity, which exposes surfaces pretreated with CleanCoat to light, using photocatalysis as a disinfectant. The process decomposes microorganisms — including bacteria, molds and viruses — following CDC guidelines. Along with the new cleaning processes, other enhancements include new outdoor dining experiences, an expanded spa menu, outdoor yoga classes, a larger chef’s garden and the introduction of falconry as a guest activity. Unchanged? The stunning views of the tranquil Pacific from an elevation of 1,200 feet above sea level. From $925/night. 47900 CA-1, Big Sur, 831-667-2200.
A bright dining area features coastal influences at HOTEL JUNE. Photo by The Ingalls.
HOTEL JUNE, LOS ANGELES
3 miles from LAX
Instead of thinking of Hotel June as just north of the airport, think of it as just south of Venice, a mere 4-mile bike ride from Abbot Kinney. This 250-room property from Proper Hospitality group opened in summer with coastal-influenced interiors by Venice-based Studio Collective in a midcentury building originally designed by Welton Becket. All dining on property is overseen by Steve Livigni of nearby Scopa Italian Roots, and highlights include the two-level, open-air Caravan Swim Club, which acts as a restaurant and bar serving California- and Baja California-influenced fare. Check out the Kumamoto oysters, plant-based cauliflower nachos, and bar program with over 100 agave spirits. Locals can soon purchase public passes to the pool deck, which plays host to everything from firepit gatherings to creative meetings. From $250/night. 8639 Lincoln Blvd., L.A., 310-645-0400.
The bedroom suite at CAPRI HOTEL. Photo by Yoshihiro Makino.
CAPRI HOTEL, OJAI
77 miles from Los Angeles
Originally built in 1963, this 30-room retro motel has slowly been undergoing a transformation by Shelter Social Club (Ojai Rancho Inn, Alamo Motel, Sama Sama Kitchen) since early 2019. Come this fall, expect the final product to blend the Italian ’60s and ’70s with a Californian midcentury aesthetic. Striking original pastel oil abstracts from artist Mattea Perrotta decorate every Capri Hotel room as well as the lobby; handmade custom ceramic wall sconces and desk lamps in each room are courtesy of Queens-based Eny Lee Parker; and bed frames, headboards, side tables and desks are from Dusk Work. A restaurant and bar are planned in the next phase of the hotel, but you can currently find a shimmering pool and Jacuzzi surrounded by loungers, and rooms with refrigerators and 42-inch flat-screens. There’s even a King Suite with a private hot tub for two. Off property, check out the region’s hot springs, hiking trails and wine tasting rooms. From $199/night. 1180 E. Ojai Ave, Ojai, 805-646-4305.
Seating in a deluxe room at SAN LUIS CREEK LODGE; photo by Jonny Valiant. A guest’s bed awaits; photo by Jessica Alexander.
SAN LUIS CREEK LODGE, SAN LUIS OBISPO
95 miles from Santa Barbara
A pair of chic boutique inns open this fall from PRG Hospitality (The Prospect Hollywood; Casa Laguna Hotel & Spa; and Sparrows Lodge in Palm Springs), which worked with acclaimed designer Nina Freudenberger of Haus Interior for her first-ever hospitality projects. For the first, San Luis Creek Lodge, located in the heart of San Luis Obispo, the Los Angeles-based designer took the laid-back sophistication of the Central Coast town and infused the property with her signature bohemian charm. The result is one part surf shack, one part modern farmhouse, and entirely young and fun. The 25-room property is spread over four buildings and offers three unique room styles, each incorporating tones of blue, green or black that reflect the region’s natural beauty. Read about Freudenberger’s second project below. From $249/night. 1941 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo, 805-541-1122.
A NINA FREUDENBERGER-designed guest room at WHITE WATER. Photo by Shade Degges.
WHITE WATER, CAMBRIA
35 miles from San Luis Obispo
Located north of San Luis Obispo, Cambria exudes coastal cool, combining the terrain of Big Sur with the style of Santa Barbara, offering wineries, surfing and relaxation. Nina Freudenberger combined two existing inns to create the new 25-room property White Water along Moonstone Beach. The dark facade gives way to whitewashed interiors, where the designer combined elements of ’70s Scandinavia with unconventional accents inherent to the region. Look for vintage board games and copies of National Geographic from the ’70s in the library, and don’t miss the lobby’s general store or the daily happy hour — the hotel is the only one on Moonstone Beach with a liquor license. From $299/night. 6736 Moonstone Beach Dr., Cambria.
Feature image: The lobby at HOTEL JUNE in Los Angeles. Photo by The Ingalls.
This story originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of C Magazine.
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