A bed for the night in California

The location

The location

On California's Highway One, at Big Sur. The Post Ranch Inn perches on a wooded ridge above the ocean, its 30 rooms scattered across the clifftop with views of the sea and the Ventana mountains. Built from organic materials, including stone, slate and wood, great care has been taken to create structures that complement the rugged surroundings. The sloping roofs of the Ocean Houses are planted with grasses and wildflowers, while the stilted Tree Houses sit among the branches. The round Coast and Mountain Houses echo the great redwood trees that grow in the area, while the three-storey butterfly house looks like the insect in flight. Each room is named after the original Big Sur settlers.


The ultimate in secluded luxury - and those views.

The comfort factor

You're in the wilderness - and the lap of luxury. Slate, marble and wood combine with fine linen and down duvets to provide the best in rustic elegance. Open fires are supplied with plenty of logs and kindling, offering the option of a cosy night in. Beds are king size and incredibly soft, and there's also a private terrace and a massage table where one of the therapists from the resort's spa can help you to unwind further. There's no distracting television in the bedrooms, but there is a stereo system. The fridge is well stocked with food and drink, which is replenished free of charge.

Don't miss the chance to take a dip in the warm waters of the cliff-edge basking pool. There's also a heated lap pool set in a meadow, the mountains providing a spectacular backdrop.

The bathroom

A slate spa bath big enough for two and a separate power shower. Soft robes and slippers are provided as are toiletries made from natural ingredients.

The food and drink

The setting of the Sierra Mar restaurant must be one of the most spectacular and romantic in the world, positioned on the edge of the cliff, with floor to ceiling glass walls. Arrive at sunset to watch the sun turn into a bright orange ball and sink into the sea. Dine inside or on the terrace from a superb menu of new Californian cuisine, with Asian, Mediterranean, Hawaiian and Pacific Rim influences, which changes daily and uses organic produce.

The people

This is a popular place for Americans, but it also attracts its fair share of European guests, almost all of whom are couples enjoying a romantic break. The hotel's over-18s only policy maintains the peace and quiet.

The area

On site, there are free guided nature walks, al fresco exercise classes including yoga, and nightly planet-gazing through a Meade tracking telescope, led by an experienced astronomer. The hotel has a spa set in a redwood grove offering a wide range of treatments.

Further afield, pretty Carmel is a short car journey away, from where you can pick up the scenic 17-mile drive to Monterey which has an acclaimed aquarium.

Several hiking trails leave from the property, and there are beaches, kayaking, fishing and whale-watching tours available nearby.

The access

Access for wheelchair users is possible, thanks to the porters who ferry guests up the steep slope from reception to their rooms, although not problem-free.

The damage

Rooms start at $495 (£260) per night, including breakfast.

The address

Post Ranch Inn, Highway One, Big Sur, CA 93920 (00 33 831 667 2200; www.postranchinn.com).