Ojai Valley Inn illustrates the appeal of a property that has stood the test of time. Guests heading to the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star resort — 90 minutes north of Los Angeles in Southern California’s Topatopa Mountains — can look forward to a seamless stay. Everything runs like a well-oiled machine — from the efficient valets who whisk you to the luxurious rooms to the bartenders who shake the tangerine margaritas poolside while sharing that the region’s famed Pixie citrus varietal used in the drinks was plucked from trees in the property’s extensive orchard. As the resort prepares for its 100th birthday (it opened in 1923 as a country club that catered to Hollywood’s elite), there is no better time to book a stay and see why Ojai (pronounced “oh hi”) Valley Inn is one of our favorite historic retreats.
With wonderful-smelling roses blooming well into November, majestic ancient oaks adorned with lanterns and fragrant eucalyptus casting shadows on the golf course, the 220-acre grounds are gorgeous. Citrus and palm trees grow like wild, and the unique east-west orientation makes for a stunning sunset. Each afternoon as the sun falls behind the mountain range, the sky transforms, making the mountains appear rose-hued, a phenomenon called the “pink moment.” Pull up a chair next to a fire pit on the grand lawn and watch as the natural wonder unfolds. Consult a sign near the front entrance of the lobby to find out what time the daily pink moment occurs.
The Spa and Artist Cottage
Last winter, Five-Star Spa Ojai underwent a $5 million renovation and debuted with a new look, along with 24 treatment rooms and two penthouse suites. To enjoy the state-of-the-art amenities (serenity lounge, infrared sauna, indoor whirlpool and steam room), you’ll need to book a service, but it’s worth it. Local herbs and aromatics grown on the property are ingredients in essential oils, body butters and scrubs used in most offerings.
A Swedish-style relaxation massage soothes muscles, while a rosemary sage salt scrub removes dead skin. For something more spiritual, try the Kuyam Experience. Led by a Chumash Native American, it features a desert clay application and inhalation therapy. The spa also has a fitness center and complimentary morning yoga and mat Pilates classes.
What to do with the kids while you’re at the spa? Drop them off for an afternoon of activities at the Artist Cottage. This charming two-room studio is open daily for all ages. Aspiring artists can paint mandala stones; make candles, bath salts, soap and ink dye coasters; build a succulent terrarium; sample raw honey from the inn’s bees; and more.
The Golf Course
Ojai Valley Inn boasts one of Southern California’s most beloved 18-hole golf courses. The par-70 course, designed by Jay Morrish, has hosted seven major PGA tour tournaments and many celebrities, from Bing Crosby and Bob Hope to Kevin Costner and Will Smith, have played on it. The course’s steep ravines and woody trees make for a fun yet challenging game. If you’re new to golf, consider taking a half-hour clinic focusing on a specific skill, from putting to full swing, offered Thursday through Sunday.
While Ojai, the town, contains a handful of delicious eateries, you don’t have to leave the property for a memorable meal. The inn has five distinct culinary experiences, ranging from fish tacos and burgers at all-day eatery Jimmy’s Pub to elevated fine dining fare like housemade pasta and delicate scallops with celery root puree at Olivella. Grab coffee and snacks at Libbey’s, and if you need a salad after a round of golf, you’ll find it at Spa Café. The Oak serves sensational huevos rancheros at breakfast and herb-roasted chicken at dinner. Finally, mix and mingle with other guests at the Wallace Neff Heritage Bar while sipping an artisanal cocktail or glass of wine from a nearby producer.
In 2019, Ojai Valley Inn debuted an exciting new epicurean venue and event space, the Howard Backen-designed, modern-farm-inspired Farmhouse. To celebrate the resort’s 100th anniversary, The Farmhouse will host a series of guest dinners with a new chef popping up each month. These meals are reason enough to spend a weekend at the luxury resort. California culinary queens Nancy Silverton and Nancy Oaks will prepare a multi-course family-style menu on January 21. In March, The Restaurant at Meadowood’s chef Christopher Kostow will serve a champagne-fueled brunch inspired by his Napa “Jew-ish” deli, Loveski.