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Rugged coastline above the clouds

Big Sur is a mountainous, lightly-populated township located on California State Route 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) about two hours south of San Francisco. Once named the ‘greatest meeting of land and water in the world’, this 1,571m high mythical stretch is the longest and most undeveloped coastline in the US, and a testament to those who have protected it from development.

Coastal redwoods and rare Santa Lucia fir trees pepper the rugged mountain cliffs and are home to mountain lions, bears and deer. The most important resident is the critically endangered California Condor, North America’s largest land bird which was nearing extinction in 1987 before a captive breeding program began in Big Sur. Now boasting a free-flying population of 34 condors, you may be lucky enough to witness this rare animal soaring high above the clouds as you cruise along the highway.

The Post Ranch Inn is one of the west coast’s best kept secrets, tucked away in the protected hinterland that lines Route 1. Natural wooden architecture accentuates the rustic vibe of the property, with 39 rooms barely leaving a footprint on the yawning 100 acres that make up this world-leading exo-luxury resort. A never-flinching commitment to the land and environmental stewardship is the foundation of Post Ranch, however its true genius is the magnificent location above the cliffs, serving guests the sensation that they are perched high above the clouds.

Our personal favourite is the Ocean Room, a free-standing structure cloaked in enchanting wildflowers like a scene from a fairytale. You can kick back and view the glistening Pacific Ocean from the comfort of your bed, bath, couch or private terrace with uninterrupted views from nearly every last corner of this exquisite room. If you are chilly, you have the option of warming up with a double-sided fireplace in front of the bed, or for that extra touch of romance try running a warm bath in the oversized soak tub. 

Sierra Mar is a ranch-style restaurant with sweeping views of the mountains, cliffs and ocean, courtesy of enormous windows edged with wooden-beamed interiors to showcase the sights. The acclaimed chef adds new dishes to the menu daily, whipping up Californian fare with French and Mediterranean influences such as the trio of scallops, roast rabbit and Alaskan halibut. We suggest the tasting menu for either lunch or dinner, and if you are a coffee lover don’t be afraid to request the fancy option, it’s worth the show.

There’s also a bar in the restaurant, boasting wonderful concoctions such as the lavender martini, made with fresh ingredients from the organic garden. If leaving your room is just a little too hard after a day of outdoor adventures, you can always order room service.

Sierra Mar (restaurant & bar); Yoga classes; Guided nature walks; Tai chi classes; Spa; Gymnasium; CD/book library; Wifi across the entire property; Handmade toiletries; iPod dock; CD player; Complimentary wine bottles in each room; Room service.

Big Sur is all about the outdoors activities so pack your bags with adventure in mind. The conditions can get wet, and absolutely will chill you to the bone if you don’t bring a decent coat. Casual smart outfits for dinner will get you by.

Beyond the Post Ranch Inn perimeter lies a wealth of sights and activities to delight the outdoor enthusiast, including some of the best walking trails, beaches and scenery the country has to offer. Make sure the camera is charged and an extra battery packed, because you will need it. 

If you are worn out from exploring and feel like a rest day, there are a number of galleries and historical sights to pique your interests . 

One hour south of Post Ranch Inn lies the vast Hearst Castle, once home to noted newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and the inspiration for the protagonist in Citizen Kane. Be sure to stop and check out the sea lions near the exit to the castle.

Post Ranch Inn sits on California State Route 1 about two hours south of San Francisco, and just under six hours north of Los Angeles. It does not matter whether you are heading northbound or south, the journey is incredible with mind-blowing scenery around every turn. Easily one of the best road trips we have ever done, it is highly recommended as a must-do when in CA. If it sounds like the drive is too far, the closest airport is one hour away in Monterey, with rental cars available at the airport. 

The view. There is not much more to be said about this location, it is utterly spectacular and Post Ranch absolutely maximises the effect with its brilliant and deliberate design. Bravo.

$1,300 – $5,000 USD