Big Sur — On a cliff 1,200 feet above the Pacific, the Post Ranch Inn is a standard bearer for environmental architecture. Undulating buildings mirror the surrounding mountain ranges; gnarled wood, slate and grass-topped roofs appear a natural extension of the landscape; and private infinity pools appear to drop straight into the ocean. Natural attractions supplant technological ones (no TVs or clocks here).
Santa Monica — Kelly Wearstler’s rococo touch made this hotel an overnight star when it opened in 2002, and its design still looks as fresh as the day it opened. Emerald, white and black lacquer, mirror-upon-marble-upon-mirror, and updated retro touches—a foo dog lamp here, a chinoiserie table there—feel deliciously, indulgently over the top.
Palm Springs — The hotel now known as the Parker Palm Springs has always had big names attached to it, from Gene Autry to Merv Griffin and now Jonathan Adler, who capably brought some whimsical sanity to the Versailles-inspired architecture with his 2005 redesign. Inside Moroccan spangled handiras, Adler’s signature poppy pillows and animal skin rugs add playfulness to the mix of mid-century, campaign-style and Hollywood Regency furnishings.
Napa Valley — A Napa icon, Auberge du Soleil corners the market on romance with a sylvan hillside property tucked into an olive grove. French doors open onto sunny terraces, fireplaces glow in rooms renovated in 2005 to resemble a Cote d’Azur hideaway. And the hotel recently treated its Michelin-starred restaurant to a new look—persimmon linens, boho objets d’art, petrified wood and pewter—in honor of its 30th anniversary.