NorCal's secluded beachfront hotels promise stunning summer luxury
(Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay)

NorCal's secluded beachfront hotels promise stunning summer luxury

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As the sun sets to the haunting breath of a lone bagpiper on the bluff, fire pits spark to life across the broad terrace of the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay. I sit wrapped in a blanket worshiping its flames in the fog.

Like the grand seaside lodges of the 19th century after which the Ritz is modeled, the hotel is secluded and romantic. If Emily Brontë had set her Wuthering Heights on the English coast instead of its moors, it would feel just like this.


Just hours ago, Navio, the hotel’s refined, oceanfront restaurant debuted its summer tasting menu, a veritable encyclopedia of local seafood and produce: silky, emulsified pine nut and chive oil drizzled over meaty ahi tuna loin, briney Fort Bragg uni with rich beurre blanc and housemade tagliolini pasta; bright, sweetly sour petrale sole with sunburst squash, zucchini blossom, and orange. Carefully curated wines like the Santa Cruz Mountain-grown 2013 Ridge Monte Bello bring out the menu’s subtle details, culminating in a show stopping 118-year old Madeira paired with a uniquely playful white chocolate pluot that cracks open to reveal poached fruit in an almond chocolate mousse.

A white chocolate pluot filled with poached pluots and almond chocolate mousse accompanied by bellini sorbet is the dessert featured on Navio's summer menu. It comes paired with a showstopping 1904 D'Oliveira Bual Madeira.(Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay)

In the morning I’ll follow the coastal trail at the terrace’s edge for miles along the lonely ocean cliffs. I’ll wander a narrow path to the wide beach below the lodge and dig my toes in the sand. I’ll make an appointment for the spa’s redwood forest ritual, a hot poultice massage that incorporates indigenous plants and herbs.

But not tonight. Tonight, I’ll warm my feet by the fire. And when the fog transforms into a drizzle so light it doesn’t just fall, it pirouettes to the ground, I’ll take refuge inside, the window of my fifth floor room open to the beauty of the Northern California coast. // Ritz-Carlton,1 Miramontes Point Rd. (Half Moon Bay), ritzcarlton.com/half_moon_bay


Check into more luxurious stays on the Northern California coast.

Timber Cove Resort, Jenner

(Courtesy of @timbercoveresort)

Set on the dramatic Sonoma County coastline, Timber Cove Resort is a midcentury-born lodge dressed in exposed timber and stone. With 23 acres of rugged seaside at its doorstep, the hotel features 38 guest rooms and eight suites, each with record players and vinyl to spin, and an outdoor “living room” with fire pits, ping pong, and billiards. The amenities—which include the ocean view restaurant, Coast Kitchen—are just one reason Timber Cove was nominated for the 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards at Conde Nast Traveler.// 21780 North Coast Hwy (Jenner), timbercoveresort.com

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

(Courtesy of @postranchinn)

The California coast puts on one of its best shows in Big Sur and the Post Ranch Inn is perfectly placed to take full advantage of the views. The award-winning luxury lodge has 40 redwood-accented rooms and private homes, with not a single television or alarm clock in sight. On its cliffs, where two infinity pools skirt the rocky edge, decadent wine and estate-grown eats grace the menu at the fine-dining restaurant Sierra Mar.// 47900 CA-1 (Big Sur), postranchinn.com

Sea Ranch Lodge, Sea Ranch

(Courtesy of @thesearanchlodge)

You’ve never seen Sea Ranch Lodge, the Mendo-noma coast’s 60-year old mainstay, like this. The hotel has just reopened with a host of subtle updates that emphasize the landscape’s natural beauty. Even on cool days when the outdoor Adirondack chairs seem uninviting, the light and color of the Pacific drenches the wide-windowed interiors. You’ll find the best of it in the Dining Room, unparalleled views made better with craft cocktails and sea-to-table fare.// 60 Sea Walk Dr. (Sea Ranch), thesearanchlodge.com

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