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Written by Jenny Bradley

If you’re anything like me, choosing a hotel is as much about the design sensibility as the location. That’s why I was so happy when a designer friend told me about The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe—a charming, family-run inn in southern California that is as well-appointed as it is perfectly located. I love a chic boutique hotel as much as the next girl, but what I really crave is a comfy, cozy retreat with rooms I can curl up in and never want to leave. All the comforts of home as they say…

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The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe is nestled in the rolling hills outside San Diego—just miles from Sea World and the San Diego zoo—but you’d never guess it. It feels seriously secluded.

Lilian Rice and team

Lilian Rice and team

Designed by architect Lilian Rice (one of the first women to graduate from Berkeley’s School of Architecture) in the 1920’s, the Spanish-style architecture has certainly stood the test of time. It remains as enchanting and appropriate to the surroundings as it did then.

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Historic DR

Purchased by Stephen Wheeler Royce in 1958, the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe has now been under the same family ownership for 50+ years—a definite rarity these days. Having met a few of those family members, I can tell you that inn-keeping seems to be in their blood. They absolutely love what they do…and it shows.


Rooms are romantic and one-of-a-kind—down to the unique works of art by local artist Robert Ferguson. (Decorated by an in-house design team, designer Catherine Dunne recently updated many of the public spaces.) All but a few have wood-burning fireplaces. Deep tubs and showers-built-for-two are the norm. Terraces open to perfect privacy.

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With 87 rooms/cottages scattered throughout the perfectly manicured 23-acre property, staying here feels less like a hotel experience and more like a visit to a private hacienda—although with all the amenities of a luxurious hotel. Spa? Check. Crystalline pool? Check. Restaurant complete with award-winning chef? Check.


And the quaint town of Rancho Santa Fe offers a host of shops and restaurants to keep you busy if you’re not lounging poolside or off surfing Del Mar beach (it’s just four miles down the road). I spent the day wandering through the boutiques and design shops on Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach (SoLo is a must see, by the way) and in Rancho Santa Fe itself (make sure you check out The McNally Company Antiques). And there is certainly no lack of good restaurant options.

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Scallop Photo for Poster

Try Mille Fleur for a full-on French affair or simply swing by Caffe Positano for coffee and decadent baked treat. Just make sure you don’t skip InnFusion restaurant at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. Chef John Beriker’s Roasted Chilean Sea Bass is a must. Or just make a meal of the Lobster and Avocado Bomb. I still dream about it!

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe is located at 5951 Linea Del Cielo, Rancho Santa Fe, CA, 92067. For reservations or more information, call 858/756-1131 or visit



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