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First Look: The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern

Airy interiors in a Mattei's Tavern guest room.

Auberge Resorts Collection

One more reason to book it to California.

Travelers have long been day-tripping from Santa Barbara to the Santa Ynez Valley for winetasting, but the vineyard-packed central California valley has lacked an upscale property in the heart of it all. That changed earlier this year with the debut of the latest from Auberge Resorts Collection, The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, a 67-room gem in bucolic Los Olivos.

One of the inn's restored cottages.

Auberge Resorts Collection

Auberge spent three years transforming the six-and-a-half-acre estate – originally a stagecoach inn opened by Swiss immigrant Felix Mattei in 1886 during the Pacific Coast Railroad’s boom – into a full-fledged wine-country escape. “Our paramount goal was to preserve this cherished and revered local landmark for generations to come,” says Dave Elcon, the general manager of the The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern. “Guests will find tales of Los Olivos and the Central Coast throughout the hotel, from its design to its culinary offerings and in-room amenities.”

Guest rooms are housed inside refurbished Craftsman-style cottages and new white clapboard buildings, and while they bring a relaxed, on-the-ranch vibe, they’re full of ultra-luxe indulgences, such as wool blankets from Faribault Mill Co., clawfoot tubs, and push-button fireplaces and fire pits. Every room has a private patio or porch, ideal for settling into an Adirondack rocking chair and taking advantage of the area’s famously mild weather.

We'll meet you at Mattei's bar.

Auberge Resorts Collection

The inn’s iconic water tower, a longtime symbol of the property, remains, as does the original tavern building, which has welcomed travelers, farmers, vintners, and legendary guests such as Clark Gable and Ava Gardner, for decades. Auberge retained the bar’s original look and feel, showcasing old ledgers and photos, while elevating its cocktail selection and wine list. The menu at The Tavern restaurant firmly showcases the California of today: fresh, seasonal cuisine shines in dishes such as crispy cauliflower with roasted garlic tahini and spiced local honey, and Hope Ranch mussels with fresh sourdough. The sun-dappled breakfast nook, Felix Feed & Coffee, specializes in scratch-made pastries, including an extra-large cinnamon roll that is definitely the best way to carb-load before a full day of winetasting.

Poolside bliss.

Auberge Resorts Collection

That winetasting kicks off at the nearby Crown Point Vineyards, where Mattei’s Tavern guests have exclusive access, including a special Auberge-branded barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon. The inn can arrange full-day Santa Ynez Valley winetasting excursions by car or bike, along with other activities such as watercolor painting and silk-dyeing workshops, private yacht excursions to Santa Barbara’s Channel Islands, tastings with an olive oil sommelier at Global Gardens, and more. There’s a small spa (with the bigger Lavender Barn spa coming later this year), daily yoga and fitness classes, and floating meditation sessions in the pool.

Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 hotel credit.

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