Being that this region has quickly become one of my favorite places to travel to in California, I have surely found the best lodging in Santa Ynez Valley! If you’re looking for the best restaurants in the area, where to drink & what to do that doesn’t involve food or booze –– check out those previous links! There is also an SYV guide on my instagram with quite a few places if you like that format!
During the beginning months of the pandemic I fed my travel bug by continuing to explore my home state of California, clocking in a total of 6 trips up the coast. I started traveling along the 101 with my parents before I can remember, while in my mama’s belly. Our yearly family vacations were always to Cambria, making it basically a second home to us. We’d usually supplement the trip with a drive further up the coast to Big Sur. I also ended up going to college in San Luis Obispo, so have driven 100s of times on that same route.
Santa Ynez Valley was always a section off the highway that we would just drive by. I’m so glad that changed when my friend group planned a wine tasting trip to Los Olivos a handful of years back. Admittedly I didn’t do much more exploring than that until more recently.
I’ve been to the area 4 times in the last year and each stay has been uniquely perfect –– from my usual move (a house rental), to a couple newly renovated motel/hotel (now boutique hotels) and even camping on a farm!
The best lodging in Santa Ynez Valley California – Hotels
Hotel Ynez (Solvang)
When you walk onto the grounds of Hotel Ynez (Skyview’s newly opened sister property), you immediately let out that breath you’ve probably been holding for the last year. The courtyard is a beautifully curated garden, surrounded by oak trees & fire pits –– making up plenty of outdoor space to social distance. It’s almost as if you’ve been transported to that European vacation you’ve been daydreaming about, but without the jet lag.
Each room has a private patio with chairs and a hammock! I mean could it get more chill? The decor is a little country, a little boho + a lot of light & airy.
Oh and did I mention you’re in the heart of Santa Barbara wine country, they’re woman-owned AND they’re pet friendly?!
I know you want to know about the food! They offer al fresco breakfast daily, perfect to fill up your tank for whatever your plans may be for the rest of the day! We also enjoyed an interactive BBQ style dinner on our private patio. Just text the staff and let them know when you’d like them to wheel over a BBQ for you to warm up the delicious meal!
Note: If you need anything during your stay, you are given a phone number to text at anytime. I love the ease of this feature that both Hotel Ynez and Skyview have integrated.
Skyview (Los Alamos)
Skyview is an iconic roadside motel turned boutique luxury hotel that offers 33 guest rooms, a full-service restaurant, heated pool, bicycle access, firepits and a working vineyard (be sure to try the perfectly crisp Skyview Rosé during your stay). When I say iconic, I mean supposedly the Beatles stayed there & The Mamas and the Papas wrote “Monday Monday” during a stay on a Monday long ago. Perched on a hillside overlooking Santa Ynez wine country, the 5 acre outpost merges mid century style with modern rustic chic. It often felt like a little slice of Palm Springs on the California Coast.
In response to the pandemic, Skyview reimagined their operations and environment. Everything felt extremely safe!
If you need anything during your stay, you are given a phone number to text at anytime. Also, if you have leftovers from a meal during your trip, the staff will gladly hold them in the fridge near the front desk for you, with 24hr access, just in case you need a midnight snack.
When you check in, the staff will ask you what time you’d prefer your breakfast delivered! Fresh OJ, coffee & pastries definitely hit the spot! Oh and as you can see, they’re super pet-friendly –– I’d even go as far as saying, pet-encouraged, there were so many pups on the property.
The heated pool was perfect on the gloomy morning we took a dip! Be sure to schedule your 2 hour time slot beforehand so everyone stays safe while enjoying the property. Obviously I had to order an Aperol Spritz to enjoy poolside once the bar opened up at 11AM.
If you’re feeling a little famished after that aforementioned dip, or just craving a delicious cocktail, you’re in luck because Skyview’s on-site restaurant, Norman is just steps from the pool (they’re currently offering patio seating and require reservations, but that’s just one phone call or text away). We grabbed a quick lunch and I HAD to try the Old Fashioned, because duh it’s me. The Beet Hummus and the Old Fashioned are both a MUST order.
Another spot I have been eying in the area to say is The Inn at Zaca Creek // we dined at their wonderful restaurant (The Tavern, pictured above) before the rest of the property was open. They are now a full on wedding venue, inn and restaurant!
The best lodging in Santa Ynez Valley California – House Rentals
Wine Country Guesthouse on Horse Ranch (Santa Ynez)
2 bed, 1 bath (sleeps 4)
This is our latest stay in SYV! It is so wonderfully peaceful and centrally located to get around the valley. The decor is super cozy and chic. They have all of the necessary amenities and more. We loved the fire pit outside!
Alisal Vacation Cottages (Solvang)
2 bed, 1 bath (sleeps 4)
I found this gem before our last trip to SYV! The property has 4 cottages – each perfect for a couple, mother-daughter, family of 3-4 or even for 2 couples. We stayed in one with a king bedroom + a sofa bed in the living room. It included a well-equipped with private kitchen. Located on a side street in Solvang, it’s quiet, but has enough foot traffic to people watch from the porch. We loved how walkable it is to all of downtown Solvang! It was SUPER affordable, especially for your own entire house! Also the woman who hosted us was super communicative, flexible & left us a delicious pastry from one of the bakeries in town! We booked through booking for our trip, but I noticed the price is much better on the direct website that I linked in the title above.
1 bed, 1 bath (sleeps 2)
I have more experience staying in Airbnbs but we ended up booking a VRBO when Walter and I headed up to the area for this stay. It was during the thick of the pandemic, so we were happy to getaway and stay a bit off the beaten path. This is also a great (more affordable) option for the SYV!
This spot was perfectly cozy for a couple! Our neighbors were literally horses and I loved the quietude of being somewhat out in the “country”. The kitchen was fully equipped and ready for us to prep meals!
We planned to cook most of our meals at our place and everything turned out perfectly. We loved the various seating areas we could enjoy a coffee, a meal or some peaceful time at sunset!
Need menu ideas? Here are my go-to vacation recipes.
This trip we made shrimp burgers with sweet potato fries, steak & veggies, sandwiches for a picnic, cheese boards and s’mores! I introduced Walter to s’mores on our first trip up the coast together, so we obviously had to make them again. Since we didn’t have a fire pit this time we made them in the oven and they were perfectly toasted. Not quite as fun as camping s’mores around an open fire, but just as delicious.
Bodega (Los Alamos)
2 bed, 2 bath (sleeps 4), pet-friendly
This beautifully decorated place is attached to Bodega which is a space where you can enjoy natural wine & beer. They also have a wonderful shop where you can purchase goods.
I would highly recommend staying here for a girls trip. The bedrooms are quite close quarters, but the location is perfect to explore Los Alamos & the surrounding areas!
Here are more great Airbnb options (all linked individually below):
- Bob’s Well Bread Cottage 1 & Cottage 2 (Los Alamos) – 1 bed, 1 bath (sleeps 2)
- Farm Studio (Solvang) – 2 bed, 1 bath (sleeps 3)
- Popular Downtown Hideout (Solvang) –1 bed, 1 bath (sleeps 2 – 4), pet-friendly
- Casa Estrella (Santa Ynez) – 2 bed, 2 bath (sleeps 4)
- Pico Cottage (Los Alamos) – 1 bed, 1 bath (sleeps 3), pet-friendly
- Vega Vineyard & Farm (Buellton) – 4 bed, 1 bath (sleeps 8), pet-friendly
The best lodging in Santa Ynez Valley California – Camping
I bet you didn’t consider camping in SYV! A friend and I decided to skip town the day of the 2020 election for a much needed getaway. We stayed at Summerset Farm through Hip Camp. It’s an organic pick your own vegetable and fruit farm! When we stayed they had rows of sunflowers blooming, plus a bunch of pumpkins and gourds in their farm stand. I’d browsed Hip Camp before, but never booked a spot. I love the ease of booking, the opportunity to stay in not-so-ordinary places, how affordable it is, and the contact-free check in!
Update: it looks like Summerset Farm (they’re still open to visit as a farm) isn’t on Hip Camp anymore, but I did a quick search and there are a ton of other options in the area! Curious about Hip Camp? Use this link for a discount off of your first booking!
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