JFK and Jackie chose San Ysidro as their honeymoon spot, Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier married here and Sir Winston Churchill loved the place so much he described it as ‘grand opera scenery idealised’. San Ysidro Ranch dates back to 1893 and has long been considered as one of the country’s finest hotels.
Set on 500 acres, San Ysidro Ranch lies in the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountain Range overlooking the Pacific. Six miles from Santa Barbara, it is part of the exclusive enclave of Montecito, a haven for celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Rob Lowe and Tom Cruise.
Address: San Ysidro Ranch, 900 San Ysidro Lane, Santa Barbara, California 93108, United States.
Style & character
Private cottages wind along the Ranch’s hillside creek and tree-lined paths. Each cottage is individually decorated: the overall look is upscale country-chic. The gardens are the ranch’s hallmark, signalled by the lavender-planted driveway leading up to the property. Between the cottages are fig trees laden with fresh ripe fruit, tomato vines, orange trees and herb gardens. Each cottage and room has its own secluded outdoor space, catering to a clientele that values privacy above all else.
Service & facilities
Service is first rate. Unlike most hotels, where you can expect to wait a while for any request to be fulfilled, items materialise as soon as you put the phone down. There are extras here you never knew existed, such as headed San Ysidro Ranch notepaper with your name printed followed by “…in Residence/Geranium [the name of one of the cottages]”.
The hotel has a spa and picturesque pool beneath an orchard of lemon trees. There is also an extensive library which includes books by some of their famous guests such as John Galsworthy, Somerset Maugham and Sinclair Lewis. Front desk staff are knowledgeable about the area and have maps for local hikes, which lead directly off the property and up into the mountains.
Built in classic bungalow style, all rooms have fireplaces, and many have decks with sweeping views and outdoor hot tubs. Bedrooms have four-poster canopy beds with Rivolta Italian linen bedding and goose-down duvets. The bathrooms are large with bath tubs and separate showers – both indoor and outdoor. Toiletries are by Bulgari, and Persian rugs cover the floors. The cottages are designed for lingering; several have separate sitting rooms and all have outdoor sun loungers and comfortable sofas. All tech amenities and Nespresso machines.
Food & drink
Two restaurants, beloved of celebrities and with good reason. The food is outstanding in the romantic Plow and Angel, where lights are strung through the branches of trees on the outdoor patio. Especially good is the grilled hearts of cos lettuce with radicchio, gruyère cheese crouton and anchovies and the lightly smoked king salmon. It looked like Ellen DeGeneres on the next-door table was having the same. Upstairs is the more formal Stonehouse restaurant, where the food is equally good, but pricier.
The in-cottage breakfast menu includes excellent eggs Florentine with basil hollandaise and ranch potatoes.
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