Spread over 500 verdant acres at the foot of the Santa Ynez Mountains, and just a short drive away from Santa Barbara’s grand oceanfront mansions, San Ysidro Ranch is one of the most storied addresses on the West Coast. Starting in the early 1900’s, it became a favorite haunt of celebrities like Groucho Marx, Lucille Ball and Audrey Hepburn. Actors Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, who went on to have a tumultuous love story, got married there in 1940. A decade later, John F. Kennedy and his new wife, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, spent the last days of their honeymoon at a spacious cottage ensconced in orange groves and lavender fields (the hotel’s cottages have private gardens, crackling fireplaces, four-poster beds swathed in soft toile, Persian rugs, and plush sofas. A few also have views of the Pacific Ocean shimmering down below). But San Ysidro’s history started well before the advent of Hollywood. Franciscan monks used the site as a way station in the 1700’s, and for much of the following century, it served as a citrus farm. Some of the constructions that give the property its unique character were built during this time. In 1825, Tomas Olivera, a farmer whose father had served as a sergeant at Santa Barbara’s Royal Presidio, built an adobe home for himself and his bride. Now a historical landmark, the adobe stands nearly untouched and is one of the most unique dining rooms in the United States.
Now a historical landmark, the adobe stands nearly untouched and is one of the most unique dining rooms in the country.
With some advance notice, hotel guests can have a transporting dinner at Olivera’s former home, dubbed the Old Adobe, where the rusticity of weathered stone walls, thick wooden beams, and wrought-iron lamps is combined with a luxuriously set table and impeccable service. A personal server, dressed in a pressed white shirt and black tie, will tend to your dining needs during the cozy, candlelit meal. Your menu can be completely customized or ordered from the main restaurant, The Stonehouse, where chef Matt Johnson uses produce from the property’s organic garden and locally sourced seafood to create dishes like pan-seared Santa Barbara abalone served with fresh capellini and wild mushrooms or a classic steak Diane flambeed tableside. Dessert choices include a layered lemon-ricotta torte, housemade raspberry sorbet, and dark chocolate souffleé. From your welcome glass of champagne to your parting sherry, the grace and leisure of times past come to life inside these charming walls.
To learn more about San Ysidro Ranch or to make a reservation in the Old Adobe, please contact the concierge upon making a reservation.