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“Rustic, foggy, cosy” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Ventana Inn & Spa

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Ventana Inn & Spa
4.5 of 5 Resort   |   48123 Highway One, Big Sur, CA 93920   |  
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Ranked #2 of 8 Hotels in Big Sur
Certificate of Excellence
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15 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Rustic, foggy, cosy”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 14, 2011

Ventana Inn & Spa had been on our radar for more than a few years as a place we wanted to spend some time at. Finally, we decided to hit the 1 and head down to Big Sur for a long weekend. My first piece of advice would be to arrive at this place during daylight. We made the mistake of spending a little longer in Monterey and didn't arrive until 11pm at night. By that time the fog had well and truly moved in which made the drive down on the 1 a challenge but not as much as once we turned into the property and had to negotiate with limited lighting, narrow winding road and heavy fog. By the time we arrive my brain was gravy. But....we made it and the welcome, even that late at night was perfect. Special mention to Sean who was waiting for us and got us sorted right away. A bellman loaded our bags onto a golf cart and ushered us to our room. He showed us how everything worked and even lit our fire for us. We'd booked as a part of their "birthday bucks" promotion through the Joy of Life club and there was champagne and a birthday card waiting for my wife. After we'd settled in the room we took a quick scoot around the grounds at midnight - it was funny seeing a few couples robed up coming back from the japanese baths. In the dark, with so much fog the place looked stunning and we couldn't wait to see what it looked like in the morning.

Overall Impressions:
Extremely friendly staff, immaculate grounds, a tough place to want to leave each day to explore Big Sur below. In the end we ventured out each morning and made it home early each afternoon to mellow in the japanese baths - hot bath, cool plunge and into the sauna.

The weather was very foggy for the whole weekend so there was limited views of the coast. There was a brief respite on saturday afternoon for a couple of hours of sunshine.

Because no children are allowed the place was serene - an adult playground with couples everywhere.

The Room:
Our room was perfect. I kept commenting that the place reminded me of a more sophisticated Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World with its cost, rustic charm. The room was really spacious with window seat,balcony, fireplace and open bathroom with deep tub for soaking.. The bed was really comfortable and turn down each night a nice touch. The only problem we had was that we were in a two story building and had someone in a room above us who walked rather heavily. Because the place is built completely in timber it was noticeable.

Breakfast, albeit a Continental one, is included each day. The sticky scrolls are to die for but I recommend you robe up, come down early and get some take away coffee, load a plate and head back to your room for a cosy breakfast in bed.

Wine & Cheese Hour:
Every afternoon at 4pm they serve a selection of wine and cheese in the main lounge area. My tip is to again, robe up, head up from the pool area and grab a few glasses with a plate of cheese and chill back down by the pool.

We took the morning guided walk around the property which lasted for about an hour. It was really great to get an overview of the area, learn about some of the local wildlife and head down into some redwood groves. Stunning

The Fitness Centre is open air, compact and tucked further up in the resort near one set of Japanese baths. It had a good selection of cardio equipment and free weights.

There are two pools and two sets of Japanese Baths. The set that is higher up on the property is for resort guests only and is a clothing mandatory. The second set is down near the spa and includes a Sauna as well - this set is clothing optional. The baths themselves are amazing with lovely private alcoves separating what is essentially one large warm pool. Highly recommend coming down later at night we had the place to ourselves to relax with a glass of bubbly.

Also worth noting the library right at the top of the property. They have complementary yoga classes there each morning. There is a large balcony with rocking chairs and many books to leaf through. There is also a computer and printer with complementary internet access here as well.

Did I mention the free WIFI on property. Nice touch.

We didn't book treatments at the Spa nor did we dine at the on property restaurant. We did stop in one night and the vibe just didn't suit us - it seemed like a large space with few people there.

Two tips:
if you want an amazing (and I mean "the best meal we had on this trip" amazing) then head to the Big Sur Bakery and Cafe for dinner. Stunning! I asked to meet the chef after we'd finished to say thanks for such a wonderful meal. The resort concierge made our bookings and they offer a complimentary car service to take your down and pick you up at the end of the night. Seriously, this place put Solbar at Solage to shame.

The second tip is to take a quiet walk around the property at night and you will catch glimpses of some native wildlife which was a real thrill - especially seeing a mother red fox and her babies.

Special mention:
The bellman here are a top bunch of guys. Always helpful, always friendly and always having a few sly jokes. These guys deserve a pay rise and your tips. Cheers fellas.

Next time we're in Big Sur, we'll be staying at Ventana. Pricey, but well worth it in every respect.

Room Tip: Try and get a room that's on the top levels. We were on a bottom level and had a rather heavy fo...
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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840 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (196)
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English first
Level Contributor
53 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2011

Fabulous rooms. High ceilings. Whirpool tubs, real fire places, stone tiled showers. Resort features Japanese baths (one of which is clothing optional), nightly wine and cheese party and a fabulous view. Staff is extremely kind and accommodating. Resort is peaceful as kids are a no-no!!!!! Room rates break the bank, but otherwise superb!!!

  • Stayed August 2011
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
39 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2011

After staying last year at the Ventana Inn, we decided to return this year. As happened last year, we were upgraded from a regular fireplace room to a more deluxe room. This time, it appears we were upgraded two grades as our room, #45, was quite deluxe. It had a huge and lovely bathroom, with the bathtub opening into the room, a large TV area with fireplace, a wonderful four poster bed and a huge balcony/deck overlooking the mountains and canyons of the area. The room was perfect. In fact, i don't see how it could have been improved.

We enjoyed each breakfast at the Ventana. The servings were a good mix of hot and cold choices and all were quite good. We also enjoyed the wine and appetizers at four in the afternoon. Additionally, we took advantage of the Japanese clothing optional baths. Very enjoyable.

The many well landscaped paths at the Ventana Inn are lovely. This year, we took the complimentary "morning walk" with a guide and recommend doing that during your stay. It starts at 10am from the reception area. Next year, we think will be pay to take the more extended hike with a guide.

This year, we enjoyed two lunches at the El Cielo, Ventana restaurant. We sat outdoor with an ocean view and the food and atmosphere was wonderful. While the food was good, we didn't think having dinner indoors was as special as lunch, so next time, we will probably only do lunch. Perhaps some special music or some other entertainment would make dinner indoors more special. The bar is nice. We enjoyed walking on the path from the inn to the restaurant and recommend taking advantage of that lovely route.

While the Ventana Inn is expensive, we think it is worth it--considering all the amenities and the beauty of the inn.

One suggestion: It would be fun to have breakfast or the afternoon wine at the beautiful library building. It appears underused, which is a shame. It has a lovely porch with an ocean view.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles
Level Contributor
72 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2011

Beautiful in every way. We wanted peace, and were not disappointed. The pool was serene, the lighted walk to the restaurant each night was accompanied by deer eating nearby, the redwood trails were stunning, and unoccupied. We enjoyed that you could open the "wall/door" on the jacuzzi bathtub and see the fireplace; or close it completely for privacy. Heaven on earth. Highly recommended for couples.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Westchester, NY
Level Contributor
14 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 9, 2011

We had an absolutely perfect but too short stay here. Our check-in was warm & welcoming with an explanation given as to the ongoing events. Wine & water were offered at check-in. Our 2 rooms were immediately upgraded to 2 beautiful suites with gorgeous views, outdoor hammocks, etc. The rooms themselves were clean & comfortable in a woodsy yet modern way. The bathrooms were spacious & the in-room robes were the softest I have ever received in a hotel. The complimentary breakfast is truly lovely with far more than a traditional "continental" breakfast. Everything about Ventana is dedicated to tranquility, beauty & relaxation - from the pools & gardens to the gently bubbling fountains. Lounging by the upper pool we appeared to be at cloud level - it really was that heavenly! We had an excellent dinner at the hotel. We would have loved to have stayed longer but local hiking & further travel beckoned. Next time we're in Big Sur we will undoubtedly return here.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
59 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 9, 2011

This was a remarkable stay in the mountains of Big Sur. Breathtakingly beautiful facilities and grounds that made us not want to leave. We will definitely be going back there on our next trip to California. We stayed in a contemporary designed suite with a hot tub on our balcony. It was one of the most romantic places we have ever stayed. Food and service were very good. A bit pricey, but you have to pay for what you get.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Zurich, Switzerland
Level Contributor
25 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 9, 2011

Just the drive to this hotel makes you curious to see more and the area of Big Sur is in general one of the most dramatically beautiful places I've seen. The grounds of the property were very nice and inviting. So was the decor of the rooms very tasteful indeed.

The big downfall is the reception, they seem fully uninterested in their guests. We asked for a nice room, not too dark (as many rooms look back into the valley). The receptionist guarantees the room is not dark. WRONG: it was very dark because all windows looked out to the back. On the last night the mosquitos feasted on us, although we had nets (how did they get in??). That was a desaster. Not at all comfortable.

Room cleaning was not in the least what you would expect from such a top class hotel. This I mentioned at check out, but nobody seemed the least bit concerned by my remarks. However, some people have knocked the food in the on-site restaurant. This I cannot agree with although I am very picky regarding food quality. I thought it was very good food and appreciated the relaxed and comfortable atmosphere of the restaurant.

Try for a room with a view unless you want to house like a mole. Otherwise check whether it is worth the money at all. Spa costs are a huge extra. But please - do go to Big Sur!!!!

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ventana Inn & Spa

Address: 48123 Highway One, Big Sur, CA 93920
Phone Number:
Location: United States > California > Big Sur
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Big Sur
#2 Romantic Hotel in Big Sur
#3 Family Hotel in Big Sur
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Ventana Inn & Spa 4.5*
Number of rooms: 62
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Ventana Inn & Spa is a luxurious resort nestled in the mountains above California’s central coast. Situated on 243 acres of wooded hillside, 1,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean on the Big Sur coast, Ventana Inn & Spa is quiet, secluded and beautiful. The Inn provides a peaceful and soothing atmosphere enhanced by its proximity to the area’s natural wonders. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Ventana Inn And Spa
Ventana Hotel Big Sur
Ventana Resort Big Sur
Ventana Inn Big Sur

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