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The Inn Crowd

From the Central Coast to the Southern Border, we curate the raison d’etre behind SoCal’s most sizzling hotels.

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

The Beverly Hills Hotel is as lavish as ever, thanks to a meticulous restoration by Tihany Design, part of the storied hotel’s 100th anniversary celebration. As one of the city’s most famous landmarks (The Polo Lounge! The awning stripes! That C.W. Stockwell-designed banana leaf wallpaper!), it’s a study in razzle-dazzle Hollywood history. So what better place to stay while surveying the newly unveiled Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County? The museum’s new Becoming Los Angeles exhibition explores the rich history of L.A., dating back to the missions. A history lesson never sounded so good. Prices start at $490 per night,

Nestled between mountains and the sea, El Encanto, Santa Barbara’s secluded hideaway where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard once took refuge, is ready for its close-up after a seven-year remodel of its 92 luxurious bungalows. Any season in Santa Barbara is stunning, but, from fall to early spring, the colorful migration of monarch butterflies takes place at the nearby Coronado Butterfly Preserve. On the property, the indoor-outdoor restaurant is so locavore, they make their own cheese (from Ellie, the hotel’s own cow). And the hotel’s spa spreads out over a 4,500-square-foot oasis. Prices start at $400 per night,

Vacation-mode sets in instantly at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, thanks to the property’s peaceful hush. Sure, you hear the martinis being shaken at the firelit bar, and there’s a din from the new Morada restaurant, where crystal chandeliers twinkle. But, on the whole, the rambling property—its iconic California ranch design is by pioneer Lilian J. Rice—is a realm of serenity. Post its $12 million refresher, even the rooms are about understated elegance. Cottage suites, many of which boast secluded patios with Jacuzzis and fireplaces, are adorned in casually sophisticated decor in calming hues of teal, gray, cream and chocolate. For the ultimate in plush repose, head to the sparkling new spa, where organic French treatments (the signature facial is already a local fave) are bliss, and the private cabanas are ideal for mimosa sipping. Prices start at $179 per night,

Even its location is dramatic, perched between Central Cali’s rugged wilderness and breathtaking coast. So it’s no surprise that Big Sur’s Ventana Inn has become the place where Tinseltown A-listers and other movers and shakers go to satisfy their penchant for the great outdoors—in posh five-star environs. Spotted? Actresses Anne Hathaway and Natalie Portman, plus Facebook mogul Sean Parker. Part of the appeal is its duality: It doubles as a retreat for couples seeking romance and relaxation, and a destination for adventurers craving action-packed activities. There are morning yoga classes, as well as breathtaking hiking and horseback riding. Prices start at $800 per night,

Talk about suite success. After three interior designers from the latest HGTV Star redesigned the suites at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas, the desert burg of Rancho Mirage became our No. 1 destination for design lovers. The trio tapped Palm Springs’ rich Hollywood history for an over-the-top design scheme that hits all the luxury sweet spots. Our fave: the Valencia suite, blending bits of baroque with playful patterns and splashes of color for a regal, elegant vibe. The sprawling suites (which start at $1,000 a night) are a welcome addition to the family-friendly resort, which also boasts world-class golf. Prices start at $349 per night,

Learn to shred like a local while staying at one of the region’s most luxurious resorts, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. The SoCal Surf Experience (starting at $595 a night) can accommodate guests of all ages and skill levels, from newbies to those who want to rip it. The package includes your room reservation and two hours of curated surf lessons led by local experts, and equipment is courtesy of big surf industry brands like Billabong. You’ll hit the waves at some of SoCal’s most iconic spots, like Trestles, Thalia Street and Salt Creek. October, SoCal’s Indian summer, is an epic month to score the swells here. Prices start at $395 per night,

There’s hotel fitness programs, and then there’s the revved-up offerings at Rancho Valencia. The resort’s cycling program is so legit, it lures Tour de France rider Christian Vande Velde and pro rider George Hincapie to instruct guests during top-level clinics. It’s all thanks to owner Jeff Jacobs, an Ironman and dedicated cyclist who dons a custom Rancho Valencia-emblazoned uniform. The yoga pavilion brings instructors to rock-star status with an infinity-edge perch from where they teach. So revered is the hotel’s staff instructor, Katie Brauer, she’s given TEDx talks on yoga’s benefits. Say “om.” Prices start at $675 per night,

It started in 1940 as just a tranquil Tecate resort, a place to recharge a short hop-skip over the San Diego border, but today, Rancho La Puerta is a boldfaced foodie destination. The culinary center, La Cocina Que Canta, offers hands-on cooking classes and tours of the six-acre organic farm (the cuisine is all lacto-ovo vegetarian), plus regular visits from top toques who are passionate about the farm-to-table movement. Prices start at $2,850 per person per week,