9 New and Newly Revamped Boutique Hotels to Visit in 2022
The past two years have not been kind to the hotel industry. But that didn’t stop several plucky hoteliers from going all out on renovations or even opening brand new boutique hotels. While many of us spent the past two years dreaming about travel while stuck at home on endless Zoom calls, these new and newly revamped California hotels have been busy transforming their properties into idyllic escapes. From modern spins on Victorian luxury to rustic chic wine country hideaways, they have reimagined hospitality for a post-pandemic world and rolled out the welcome mat in truly astonishing ways. When you’re ready to travel in 2022, be sure to check into these hotels.
The venerable McClelland-Priest Bed & Breakfast Inn underwent an extraordinary top-to-bottom renovation to reopen in September 2021 as the grande dame of luxury inns near downtown Napa. After longtime B&B owner Celeste Carducci-Ahnfeldt sold the mansion in 2019, the new owners took advantage of the pandemic’s auspicious timing to embark on renovations. Innkeeper Choolwe Kalulu said they had initially planned to just “spruce it up.” But the renovations quickly took them down a rabbit hole that involved lifting the house to pour a new foundation, conducting an earthquake retrofit, installing all new electrical and plumbing, adding an elevator, adding a showcase kitchen, and completely redesigning all the interiors. Rechristened The McClelland House, the renovation’s exquisite detail recreates the old-world grandeur of the landmark Victorian while appealing to modern sensibilities and luxury tastes. The rooms sparkle with stunning chandeliers, gilded accents, intricate tile work, deep soaking tubs, and opulent furnishings. Imported from France, a gorgeous blue LaCanche range is the centerpiece of the new kitchen. A Zumex juicer squeezes fresh orange juice each morning for the guests. The dazzling powder room that Choolwe refers to as the “Elvis room” features a toilet with a heated seat and 10 bidet settings. There are also more erudite choices like the goggles of Tuskegee Airmen on display in the Aviation Room and the letters floating up from the vintage typewriter in the Library Suite.
Newly rebuilt with massive stones and rough-hewn timbers, the redesigned Zaca Creek feels like an old-world estate transported to the rolling hills of the Santa Ynez Valley. Originally built in the 1960s by a descendant of Buellton’s founders, the original tavern and event space at Zaca Creek had been a raucous steakhouse and cowboy disco. It remained a wildly popular fixture until it closed in 2001. The buildings sat vacant for nearly two decades before new owners Chelsea Rushing and Stephen Villa purchased the property in 2018. They sought to reintroduce the historic tavern to a new generation while crafting an elevated sensibility befitting the destination. (Wine Enthusiast just named Santa Barbara County a wine region of the year.) They also sought to expand the hillside property to include multiple outdoor dining and cocktail areas, event spaces, and on-site hotel suites. The property’s six luxe suites opened in January 2021 and feature exposed stone walls, vaulted ceilings, intricately carved antique headboards, oversized baths with rainfall showerheads and soaking tubs, and keyless entry. Accessed through a tunnel of vines, a tranquil pool area beckons with cascading waterfalls, dreamy cabanas, and an outdoor bar area. Another highlight is the subterranean wine cellar. With a speakeasy vibe, the intimate space features hand-troweled brick walls and offers vertical tastings from a carefully curated wine collection.
Long before Pinterest, Patty Theodorides had been a collector of images of great design. For 25 years, she filed away interior design tear sheets, fabric swatches, and real estate brochures. When Patty first bought a run-down Victorian mansion in a historic residential neighborhood near downtown Napa, she had no plans to turn it into a boutique inn. She had merely fallen in love with the neighborhood and wanted to restore the home to its former grandeur. It was described in the National Register of Historic Places as “one of Napa’s most successfully executed examples of late 19th-Century residential architecture.” The home had been built in 1891 for a pair of prominent Napa newlyweds. Decades later, it was divided into apartments, fell into disrepair, and suffered further damage in the 2014 earthquake. After purchasing the property in 2016, Patty’s son and daughter urged her to convert the property into a B&B. Drawing upon her vast collection of interior design images and embarking on a painstaking five-year renovation, she and her family opened The George in March of 2021. The new nine-room inn remains true to the building’s historic architectural details while creating gorgeous interiors steeped in modern style and luxury. Highlights include a grand staircase, original inlaid wood floors, elegant modern furnishings, luxurious cloud-like beds, marble baths with heated tile floors, third-floor suites with exposed rafters and skylights, and keyless entry systems. The inn’s speakeasy is slated to open later this year.
The newly revamped San Luis Creek Lodge in downtown San Luis Obispo features a modern California aesthetic that blends modern farmhouse design with an easy-going surf-inspired vibe. Led by Los Angeles-based interior designer Nina Freudenberger, the redesign for the 25-room lodge emphasizes natural materials, strong architectural lines, neutral coastal-inspired color palettes layered with texture and pattern, and a mix of vintage and modern elements. Reopened in August 2020, the lodge features white-washed exteriors trimmed with striking black accents. Inside the guest rooms, natural elements such as rattan chairs, grasscloth wallpaper, dried floral arrangements, and light oak floors offset the deep, saturated accent colors of blue, green, and black. Bold artwork and throw pillows from Los Angeles’ Block Shop lend a hip, retro-edge. Spacious interiors, individual work desks, sleek modern lighting, and large flat-screen televisions with state-of-the-art movie systems make the rooms as functional as they are stylish. All of the guest rooms are furnished with luxurious Fili D’Oro linens, Aesop bath amenities, and locally sourced minibar items. Some of the rooms also feature cozy gas fireplaces. A continental breakfast served each morning in the lobby fuels guests with local coffee and freshly baked pastries.
Completely redesigned in 2021, Milliken Creek Inn is an exclusive hideaway tucked along the banks of the Napa River. The tranquil, three-acre setting offers sleek fire pits, trickling fountains, a koi pond, and intimate seating areas. Guest can play a game of croquet on the expansive lawn or walk the garden paths meandering alongside fountains and stands of mature trees. The luxe interiors were redesigned with modern furnishings, hardwood flooring, and muted color palettes that play off the verdant views to create a serene ambiance. Sleek gas fireplaces framed with textural white tiles add a cozy warmth while deep soaking tubs and dimmable lighting add to the romance. Many of the rooms have private decks or patios overlooking the river. Some also have their own private outdoor fire pits. Each of the 11 rooms features king-sized beds with luxurious linens and down comforters, Nespresso coffee makers, and L’Occitane bath products. Tech upgrades include Tivoli Bluetooth speakers and large flatscreen televisions with complimentary Apple TV streaming services. In-room iPads allow guests to make breakfast selections, scan recommended lists of restaurants and attractions, and place orders for wine and small plates to be delivered to the room. Stays at Milliken Creek Inn include afternoon wine, cheeses, and freshly baked cookies, complimentary cordials and s’mores kits in the evening, and a made-to-order breakfast delivered to the room each morning.
With whimsical and daring décor, The Winston is an unexpected gem housed inside Solvang’s historic Old Mill Clock Tower. The 14-room boutique hotel debuted in August 2020 and each of the rooms has been carefully curated so that no two guest rooms are the same. Each is a unique jewel box with fascinating touches—like the deep green velvet headboard framed by blush, linen-textured wallpaper or the intricately embroidered chairs set against a bold red wall or the meticulously hand-carved, inlaid dressers. The design for each room started with a vibrant color palette. For example, a dark teal paired with tangerine and cream. Then every headboard, armchair, and coffee table were hand-selected to introduce texture or create dimension within the color palette. From the selection of books in the library to the assorted throw pillows on the beds, no element of the design at The Winston was left to chance. In addition, the hotel has created a refined form of “invisible service” to provide a luxurious stay with utter privacy. Rather than a standard check-in process, the hotel provides unique key codes to access the building and the rooms. Rather than a loud, public lobby bar, they stock a private, guest-only honor bar. And rather than a buffet brunch, they deliver breakfast to the guest room door. Guests may never see a staff member, but they’re always just a text message away.
Opened in March 2021, the Palihouse Santa Barbara is a stylish new boutique hotel nestled in downtown Santa Barbara’s historic presidio neighborhood. Housed in a 1920s Spanish Colonial, the hotel’s swoon-worthy design is described as “vintage preppy” meets the American-Riviera. The 24 spacious guest rooms feature a curated blend of modern and vintage furnishings, pops of pattern, and bubble-gum pink bathrooms. The rooms are also outfitted with fully stocked minibars, retro-style SMEG refrigerators, Nespresso coffee machines, large HDTVs, Marshall Bluetooth speakers, rain showers and deep soaking tubs, cozy fireplaces, and private patios with courtyard and poolside views. The public spaces abound with plenty of spirited “Palisociety” flair featuring quirky art, decorative bowls of tennis balls, and a bright red band running along the base of the pale blue stucco walls. There’s a sparkling pool for daytime lounging and a cozy pink-chandeliered bar for sipping cocktails. A leafy courtyard café with umbrellas and rattan chairs serves breakfast and lunch. Guests can also take a spin on the fitness room’s Peloton bikes or borrow a Linus bike for a ride through the neighborhood. Complimentary lemonade and candy bars are served each afternoon.
Inspired by small European art hotels, the R INN NAPA originally opened in 2018 in downtown Napa with 10 courtyard guest rooms. Housed inside of a historic building, a father and daughter team (Maurissa and Dion Heffran) had transformed the interiors into an unexpected oasis of modern design featuring bold, original artwork and sophisticated décor. In January 2021, the inn unveiled its Loft Building with five new two-story loft suites, adding another layer of modern indulgence. The new loft suites feature 20-foot ceilings, floating wood staircases leading up to the master bedroom, sleek décor, and every high-tech comfort imaginable. The first floor offers a cozy living room with a sofa sleeper, gas fireplace, and a wet bar. A spacious first-floor bath is equipped with heated stone floors, a deep soaking tub, a rainfall showerhead, and one of two remote-controlled bidet toilets with heated seats. A second bidet toilet is upstairs in the half bath off the master bedroom. The bedroom overlooks the living room and features an adjustable king-size bed with a lofty down duvet and luxurious sheets. The building and rooms are accessed via unique key codes. Guests can enjoy the inn’s bocci court and tranquil outdoor seating, a fully stocked kitchen, and a dramatic lounge with plush velvet seating, a sleek fireplace, large-scale art, and chandeliers of glowing disks suspended on wireframes. It’s an inviting space that takes an even more dramatic turn by night.
On a stretch of highway between Solvang and Santa Ynez, a classic California motor lodge has been reimagined as a rustic-chic wine country escape. During the pandemic, new owners of the former Meadowlark Inn worked their renovation magic to transform the property into the new Hotel Ynez, which opened in March of 2021. Each of the 18 spacious guest rooms has been thoughtfully redesigned with luxurious Mascioni bedding, vintage vanities, large screen televisions, and a mix of furnishings that exudes a bohemian vibe. Many of the rooms also feature fireplaces and well-stocked wet bars; some also have stylish new kitchens. The rooms open to front patios facing a central courtyard and each of the patios are outfitted with woven hammocks for lazing the day away. Beneath the shade of a sprawling old oak tree, the courtyard serves as an outdoor living room with a bocce ball court, romantic loungers, tables for picnic wine tastings, and fire pits for enjoying an evening under the stars. Guests can also take a spin through wine country on complimentary bicycles or enjoy a refreshing dip in the pool. The staff serves a complimentary continental breakfast each morning and will deliver a Weber barbeque grill complete with Santa Maria ribs and veggies for a cookout on your patio.