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California covers more than 163 million square miles and stretches for nearly 900 miles from north to south along the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Dreaming of honeymooning in the Golden State? We love the idea of driving up the coast and you can’t go wrong with SoCal. That said, there’s something so magical about NorCal. Anchored by San Francisco, California’s northern region has the seaside communities of Half Moon Bay, Big Sur, and Mendocino, plus Napa and Sonoma! Whether you choose one location or opt for a road trip, these resplendent hotels bring the romance.
Best for Luxury: Auberge Du Soleil (Rutherford, California)
Famed for its breathtaking backdrop and next-level hospitality, Auberge Du Soleil is a bucket-list stay that’s worth every penny. The word “perfection” carries a lot of weight, however this grown-up getaway warrants such a descriptor. It’s hard, nay impossible, to suss out a single flaw. Excellence isn’t the goal, it’s the norm.
Auberge Du Soleil delivers an unmatched five-star experience in a way that succeeds in being both refined and relaxed. Far from stuffy, it's laid-back luxury at it's finest.
Service doesn’t miss a beat. The concierge is on hand to coordinate exclusive tours at top wineries or an afternoon picnic with chilled rosé, cheese, and charcuterie in the sculpture garden. It’s also home to a pampering spa and a beautiful pool. While the Michelin-starred restaurant pairs gourmet cuisine and world-class vino with the most drop-dead gorgeous vineyard vistas in Napa Valley.
Best for Glamping: Ventana Big Sur (Big Sur, California)
Situated on 160 acres of pristine wilderness, Ventana Big Sur is ensconced by the majesty of Big Sur with cinematic panoramas of the towering redwoods, rocky cliffs, and sparkling sea at every turn. It’s an unparalleled environment to commune with nature.
Ideal for people who have always liked the notion of camping but aren’t really into the actual “roughing it” part, glampsites at Ventana Big Sur combine the beauty of the great outdoors and high-end amenities.
Canvas tents are equipped with comfy custom beds, knit blankets, running water, USB ports, s'mores kits. Private fire pits and Adirondack chairs beckon couples to snuggle up under the stars. Forget foraging for sticks, bundles of wood come standard issue as does daily housekeeping and nightly turndown service with hot cocoa.
Washroom facilities feature teak showers, heated floors, aromatherapy bath products, and spotless commodes. So, you won’t have to compromise in that department either.
Best for Zen: Gaige House + Ryokan (Glen Ellen, California)
Ready to put the anxiety of wedding planning in the past and start your new life together sans stress? What if we told you there’s a hotel in Sonoma County that marries the spirit of California wine country and zen-inducing traditions from Japan? Tranquility is the hallmark of Gaige House + Ryokan. With its calm and secluded creekside perch, this charming inn is a halcyon hidden gem.
Bask in the quietude of the meditation deck, landscaped gardens, yoga shala, heated pool, and jacuzzi. Embrace unhurried honeymoon mode to the fullest by booking a rejuvenating hot stone massage or shinrin-yoku (aka forest bathing).
Gently moving water supplies the soundtrack for the graceful rooms, which are swathed in soothing hues of cream, grey, and taupe. Bathrooms showcase showers with dual heads and granite soaking tubs. Thoughtful touches include homemade matcha cookies, yukata robes, zori slippers, wine and cheese receptions, as well as sake nightcaps.
Best for Foodies: SingleThread (Healdsburg, California)
A big deal in the farm-to-table hotel scene, the Relais & Chateaux SingleThread in Healdsburg focuses on traceability, transparency, hospitality, and exemplary service. Field-to-fork food is the star—and every detail reflects that. Travelers interested in the agrarian side of things can visit the chicken coops, check out the greenhouse, and meander through the heirloom orchards.
Fruit, vegetables, honey, and olive oil go directly from the farm to the Michelin-rated restaurant. It’s worth noting that you don’t have to snooze at SingleThread to snag a reservation. But after an extraordinary, bespoke 11-course tasting menu spotlighting the most delicious seasonal ingredients Sonoma has to offer, simply walking upstairs stairs seems a heck of a lot easier than hopping in a cab.
Each of the five rooms flaunts 14-foot ceilings, redwood beams, exposed brick, heated floors, and Aesop toiletries. Guests also get to revel in the palate-pleasing pleasure of a mouth-watering breakfast spread.
Best Coastal Escape: The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay (Half Moon Bay, California)
Poised on the rugged NorCal coastline just 45 minutes south of downtown San Francisco, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay is an utterly seductive escape. It’s also a splendid spot to squeeze in a few days of romance after a work trip to Silicon Valley.
This sprawling blufftop stunner boasts 261 luxurious accommodations complete with Egyptian cotton sheets, deep soaking tubs, and Asprey toiletries. (We highly suggest springing for a room or suite with access to the Club Lounge, which comes with perks like a dedicated concierge.)
The expansive property also has a pool, fitness center, a 16,000-square-foot spa, two championship golf courses, six tennis courts, an outdoor terrace with romantic fire pits, a ritzy seafood restaurant, and a more casual eatery that serves Cali comfort food.
Despite its grand size, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay never feels impersonal thanks to top-notch service and one-of-a-kind extras such as sunset bagpipe performances.
Best for Sustainability: Cavallo Point Lodge (Sausalito, California)
Some properties have lived many lives and Cavallo Point Lodge happens to be one of ‘em. Set on a former military base at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, this LEED Gold-certified Sausalito retreat redefines what it means to be a sustainable stay. It proffers proximity to urban escapades while providing a restful and environmentally responsible venue to relish recreation of the restorative ilk.
Rise and shine with a morning yoga class. Join a guided hike. Try a cooking lesson. Reap the balancing benefits of acupuncture, followed by a cup of chamomile tea, an eucalyptus-infused steam, and a dip in the pine-shaded pool. Go sightseeing. Better yet, just open the blinds. You literally don’t have to emerge from bed to take in commanding views of the San Francisco Bay and its most recognizable feat of engineering.
Four-legged friends are welcome, too. Imagine the look on Oreo’s face when he discovers the pup-approved swag bag stocked with organic treats.
Best for Serenity: Post Ranch Inn (Big Sur, California)
Teetering atop a dramatic cliff above the Pacific Ocean, Post Ranch Inn is without question one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful, memorable, and peaceful places on the planet. This adult-only respite puts an emphasis on relaxation, a philosophy reflected by the absence of noisy kids, television-free accommodations, and ample serenity-inducing pursuits.
With forested trails, yoga, sound journey meditation sessions, guided nature walks, wine tasting, garden tours, stargazing, and an infinity-edge Jacuzzi, there's plenty for couples to do without ever leaving the property. If you ask us, many of the most special moments are those spent just hanging out and appreciating the company of your other half.
It appears that the team behind Post Ranch Inn understood that when designing the dreamy treehouses, spacious rooms, and stand-alone huts. Reserve a table at Sierra Mar for local fare and spellbinding ocean vistas. You might even peep whales and dolphins frolicking in the blue waves.
Best Elevated City-Break: Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco (San Francisco, California)
There's a slew of terrific overnight options in the Bay Area, yet the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco consistently proves it’s among the very best. Located on Market Street in the buzzy SoMa district, it’s within walking distance of Union Square as well as storied attractions like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Yerba Buena Gardens, and Ferry Building Marketplace.
Plus, you can always hop on an iconic cable car or hoof it up the hills on foot to see more of the Golden Gate City. Revamped rooms are swathed in sophisticated grey tones, sleek furnishings, sculptural fixtures, and sumptuous fabrics. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in tons of natural light.
Of course, the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco is more than a posh crash pad. Besides stylish digs, you'll find a swanky lobby bar, spa, indoor pool, fitness center, and fifth-floor restaurant. The private-dining spaces present an opportunity for an unforgettable date night.
Best Cozy Inn: Brewery Gulch Inn (Mendocino, California)
Planning a road trip along California's Highway 1? Be sure to stop at the Brewery Gulch Inn. Standing atop a bluff overlooking Smuggler's Cove, this rustic-chic lodge was constructed using eco-salvaged redwood from the Big River.
With just 10 rooms, it’s a cozy and intimate home base for exploring Mendocino county. Evening wine hour with hors d'oeuvres is the perfect complement to a day filled with scenic trails and sandy beaches. Curl up in a leather chair and challenge your hubby to a game of Scrabble while sipping local vino personally selected by the innkeeper. Savor a dinner of culinary delights prepared by the acclaimed chef before retiring to your love nest where feather-top mattresses, gas fireplaces, and decks with mesmerizing views of the Pacific Ocean promise an atmosphere of romance. Before heading out the next morning, fuel up for the drive with an extensive menu of made-to-order breakfast dishes.
Best Amenities: Meadowood Napa Valley (St Helena, California)
Once a private country club and later a winemaking estate, Meadowood Napa Valley is now one of the most stunning and upscale properties in Northern California. Tucked back from the Silverado Trail and surrounded by verdant vineyards, this five-star sanctuary has a reputation for catering to (and pleasing) travelers with a penchant for the upper crust.
Anything short of flawless doesn’t fly for the demanding honeymooners, A-listers, and tech millionaires who frequently stay at Meadowood Napa Valley. That’s evident in everything—the service, accommodations, manicured grounds, and lengthy list of resort-caliber amenities.
Rooms range from studios to large suites with private patios. Wherever you decide to slumber, King beds, marble bathrooms, and wood-burning fireplaces await.
With championship croquet lawns, seven tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course, hiking trails, two large pools, and an award-winning spa, you’ll never want to leave.