I used to think the best kind of San Diego staycation would involve a coastal location and view of the water. But then two weeks ago I stayed at Rancho Bernardo Inn, a resort located about 15 miles east of the water, and I realized that not once did I think about missing the beach.
That’s because RBI has created a SoCal oasis, one with lush, verdant landscaping (olive trees! tangerine trees! roses!), a gorgeous spa pool, and dreamy Spanish-style architecture. They’ve done something that’s hard to achieve: instill a sort of laid-back comfort to a space so decidedly luxe. Relaxed but regal, and very SoCal.
I was invited to a stay at Rancho Bernardo Inn as part of their INNfluencer program, and though last weekend’s crazy torrential rainstorm dampened things a bit on Saturday, the rain actually made the greenery smell that much better. #glasshalffull
Here, four reasons Rancho Bernardo Inn is oh so magical: The Landscaping. Yes, RBI has golf and putt-putt, and pools, but you could spend a decent chunk of time just wandering through all the gardens. The variety is pretty astounding, from olive and eucalyptus trees to rose bushes, succulent walls, and bright golf greens.
The Amenities. I have a soft spot for hotel robes and bath products, and RBI, you won me over in a big way. They included a sprig of rosemary—from their on-site gardens—in the robe and stock their bathrooms with C.O. Bigelow. By far the most charming was the mini Marvis toothpaste. (I would’ve loved slippers, too, but now I’m just being a brat.) If you can, book a room in The Greens, a building which overlooks the golf course.
The spa and pool. The hotel has two pools for all guests—one geared towards families and another for adults only (genius)—but the spa pool is the pièce de la resistance. Flanked by cabanas and tall trees that lend extra privacy, this area is most definitely a highlight. When San Diego friends saw via Instagram that I was staying at RBI, most of them gushed about the pool. If you’re not getting a spa treatment, access to this area is $30 for hotel guests and $35 for locals. Cabana rental rates range from $85-155, depending on half-day versus full-day and weekday or weekend.
Lucky for me, I was headed for the spa. I was treated to their signature Made Fresh Daily treatment. For the summer “Tropical Twist,” that meant a coconut oil massage, lime body scrub, a quick shower to rinse off, and a mango butter wrap ($180 for 80 minutes). I’m a big, big fan of tropical aromas, so this was right up my alley. Even better, I got mine in one of their outdoor treatment rooms. It’s like a private, enclosed hut in the forest and an absolute must is you’re booking a spa appointment.
The food. The thing about fancy hotels is their restaurants are often a bit unpproachable and even, dare I say, pretenious. Not so at RBI. At Veranda , the more casual of the two restaurant options, we sat on the beautiful outdoor patio overlooking the golf greens for a breakfast of carbs and more carbs. (The chocolate chip pancakes were the best.) But Avant, RBI’s fine dining restaurant, was the true highlight. Formerly known as El Bizcocho restaurant, Avant feels relaxed but upscale and very much in tune with the rest of the vibe at RBI. They often have live music, and that night singer Nadia Keilani performed acoustic covers of everything from Amy Winehouse to Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.”
We dined on ahi tuna sashimi, an excellent cheese platter, foraged mushroom tartine, and those lovely donuts (above). The mini cinnamon-dusted donuts come with a side of Bailey’s ice cream—I don’t like alcohol-tinged desserts, but it wasn’t quite detectable here—and a shot of just-poured espresso. It’s warm, comforting, and perfect to share.
Rancho Bernardo Inn provided accommodations, one spa treatment, and dinner. As always, all opinions are my own. Last two photos via Rancho Bernardo Inn.