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A Romantic Staycation in Rancho Santa Fe

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

San Diego might be one of the fastest-growing major cities in the U.S., but just thirty minutes north sits the postcard-perfect community of Rancho Santa Fe. A rural paradise, its rolling hills are home to citrus groves, darling 1930s Spanish-Mediterranean architecture, beautifully maintained trails, stableyards, and prized thoroughbred horses. No matter the season, the hamlet's tranquil and secluded environs quietly whisper romantic weekend away, Southern California style.

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

And where better to base oneself for said weekend than a luxurious countryside resort? Set on 21-acres of landscaped grounds The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, a Tribute Portfolio Resort & Spa by Marriott, combines rustic charm with 1930s glamor and some prestigious travel credentials – the property made Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2019 list as the number two Top Hotel in Southern California. 

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

Founded in 1923 and designed by pioneering architect Lillian Rice (one of the first women to graduate from University of California, Berkeley’s architecture school) as a Spanish Revival-style guest house for the railroad’s citrus farm workers, today La Morada or “the house of many rooms” as it was originally called, is home to signature restaurant, Morada, The Huntsman Whiskey Bar, and The Spa at The Inn.

Laidback Luxury

Pathways wind their way across the grounds through manicured gardens and lawns to a total of eighty tastefully-appointed guest cottages, rooms, and suites – most with private outdoor patios and wood-burning fireplaces. In the bathrooms expect clawfoot tubs, separate rainforest showers, plush bathrobes, and soft slippers. Pet owners take note: there is a no-fuss check-in policy for well-mannered dogs. 

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

Cocktail Lab with Dutch House 

With a nod to the old Santa Fe Hunt Club, a drink beside the fire at The Huntsman Whiskey Bar is a must before dinner. While there are 160 whiskeys from 9 countries and 15 states available to sample – whiskey educator and lead bartender Dutch House is the consummate guide – for those who prefer something a little more hands-on, the weekly Cocktail Lab is a fun and informative way to become part of the creative process.

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

Every Saturday Dutch leads a small group mixology class touching on experiential craft cocktail fundamentals – from the backstory to drinks like the Prohibition-era Corpse Reviver No. 2 and tackling somewhat intimidating ingredients (like egg whites), to shaking, mixing, and muddling techniques.

Dine at Morada

Helmed by executive chef Chris Haas, Morada has dining covered from breakfast or brunch on the patio at weekends, through lunch to a sit-down evening meal in the swanky dining room – upholstered in tufted cobalt blue leather, be sure to nab a horseshoe-shaped booth. 

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

The menu is seasonal and hyper-local with coastal ranch inspired entrées ranging from pan-seared scallops with sweet potato grits to braised beef short ribs with parsnip puree. If it’s a stretch to leave the room, be decadent and have dinner, some wine, and one of pastry chef Elisabeth Woesle's desserts delivered instead. Room service runs from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

The Spa at The Inn

A weekend getaway wouldn’t be the same without a trip to the spa, and The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe does not disappoint. Spacious yet serene, its 3,000-square-foot sanctuary boasts five treatment rooms, including a couple’s room with a private patio and fabulous copper soaking tub.

Treatments range from manicures and pedicures to massages and facials, with enhancements like cupping, reflexology, and CBD balm. Guests can recharge with on-site yoga, chakra cleansing and sound meditation sessions too; or ask for The Inn-Tuitive massage with spa therapist Christy.

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

The indoor relaxation area is cozy and comes stocked with complimentary spa water, tea, fresh fruits, and the full Morada menu – if there’s time for lunch or perhaps a glass of Prosecco, the outdoor lounge is a lovely late afternoon suntrap to sit in quiet reflection with your partner in bliss.

Home on The Ranch

Whether a novice rider or experienced equestrian, the Inn's Home on the Ranch experience is a charming optional add on for couples, not to mention a quintessential way to bookend a stay in Southern California horse country.

Mon Cheri Photography

In addition to an availability dependent room upgrade, the package also includes a Whiskey Romance Welcome amenity (a fun S'mores kit for two, plus a barrel-aged cocktail specially crafted and bottled by Dutch House) and the choice between an hour-long English riding lesson or guided trail ride for two at The Riding Club Academy in Carmel Valley.

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

If horse riding doesn’t appeal the Inn has plenty of other activities in store – from croquet on the lawn to outdoor education and dinner series, Feast in The Field, held spring through fall in its very own citrus orchard with local nonprofit, Smarts Farm. Offsite, hot air balloons can often be spied floating over the hamlet, which, thanks to its dark sky policy, makes a prime spot for nighttime stargazing. 

Visit theinnatrsf.com for reservations or more information.

Keri Bridgwater

A native Brit, Keri Bridgwater spent time in-house at several magazines and publishers in Sweden, New Zealand, and Telluride, Colorado before moving to San Diego over a decade ago. As a freelancer, she specializes in travel stories, destination guides, hotel reviews, and interview profiles for various publications and websites. Her byline has featured in the London Evening Standard travel section,...(Read More)