RANCHO VALENCIA – SPA FOR A SPOILING SANCTUARY
Hidden among immaculate horse ranches and polo fields just a short drive from LA. California’s only Relais & Chateaux property is a quiet, romantic, solidly slick operator. A recent makeover includes two stunning destination restaurants and a gigantic spa-as-sanctuary with a Balinese-style yoga pavilion. While most of the interiors are pure Southern California, you’ll be wowed by the treatment rooms which are glowy and Moroccan-inspired, with flower-filled terraces, rain showers and deep outdoor tubs.
The exotic and good-enough-to-eat treatments use limes, lemons and other fruit from the gardens in original, nurturing treatments such as desert-fig facials (they smell divine and really pep up tired skin), avocado body wraps and Valencia-orange massages. The two-hour couples’ treatments use custom-blended essential oils, a clay body mask, bath soak and massage followed by a private poolside lunch. There’s also a gentlemen’s menu of facials, body scrubs and deep-tissue massages. It’s the essence of the West Coast in big, soul-nourishing doses, and pretty much unfaultable in execution.
The moodily lit restaurant, Veladora, has won many awards for its rustic, seasonally inspired Cali-Med food. There’s an original Damien Hirst butterfly painting, wrought-iron chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling windows with views over the lawns. It’s worth coming just for the freshly baked buttery focaccia served with aged Parmesan flakes doused in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Try the black-truffle risotto or the ricotta gnocchi with white wine and chilli flakes. Despite the lavishness of the food, almost all the ingredients are sourced from nearby Chino Farms and on-site beehives, herb gardens and olive groves, and meals are served on reclaimed cast-iron or slate boards.
This place has charm in spades: even the bar has a cosy beach vibe, opening onto a terrace with fire pits and cushy sofas among the trees. The 49 Spanish-style casitas have four-poster beds, wooden floors and sunken living rooms. And every morning, freshly squeezed orange is delivered to your door, along with a newspaper.