We stayed here the last weekend in July.
On Sunday morning I woke up at 5:30am to walk around the lavender fields, stork-visited lagoons, and old trees. I’m an avid hiker, so that morning I was very pleased to find, only about 200 feet from my room door, an adult California lynx or bobcat. I didn’t have a camera, but I managed to get 20 feet from it and observe for about 3 minutes, until it went slowly off into the property’s lavender fields.
As we walked through the grounds on Saturday afternoon, it was also a treat to find at least 6 wandering skunks, a tunnel-like olive grove with trees that look hundreds of years old (probably about 150 yrs), and also the largest oak tree I’ve probably ever seen, supposedly about 1,100 yrs old. We also saw 2 owls on a hike in the next-door canyon and dozens of rabbits.
Walking around the grounds, we were pleased to find historic tidbits all around the property. The pool is worth a visit (we felt transported back to the 1920s) even though the Jacuzzi was out of service; the lobby has a wealth of information on the history of the property (it started as a hotel/resort in 1884), ie, Einstein was a regular visitor, and a lot of other interesting info. Old fountains were also a nice surprise, as was the architecture of the various room wings, although some of them have been added over more recent time periods. For haunted-hotel enthusiasts, something involving a fire or other catastrophe apparently happened in the pool house at some point in the past. The staff off-handedly mentions that people sometimes hear screams in and around the pool house. We walked into the pool house during the day, and you can definitely feel a very strange vibe.
The service was always friendly, although missing some depth as to employee initiative, knowledge of the product, and training. But all-in-all acceptable due to staff’s friendliness and their willingness to solve issues as long as you ask for a solution.
Our room was in the 800s wing (room 813) and other than a few ants which is normal during summer, the room looks recently remodeled and with attractive finishes that complement interesting antiques showcased inside the room. Frog song from a pond 15 feet away lulled us to sleep. When you reserve, ask for details for each room wing, because some have TVs and some don’t, some have different views, etc.
Like other reviewers mention, some of the building exteriors look very tired and even decrepit. But we kept in mind that the upkeep of such a large and ancient property is extremely expensive, especially when you only have a few rooms as income. A full refurbishment is apparently what the owners are envisioning, judging from what we saw regarding refurbishments that have already been made.
However, the lobby and restaurant buildings have been meticulously refurbished to their historic peak-conditions. Apart from the food being very good (we had dinner), it’s a pleasure to walk into the lobby, bar and restaurant and see such commitment to conserving the history of the property.
For the continental breakfast, they included what seemed like home-made pastries, using very tasty jams.
If this ever gets fully refurbished, the rates will be much higher. I’m glad we took advantage now. It was absolutely worth it.
Another plus for us was that it’s relatively close to Forest Falls.
The 800s wing is recently remodeled (we were in #813)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.