This Historic Wine Country Retreat is the Quiet Escape We’re All Looking For

The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos, now part of the luxurious Auberge Resorts collection of properties, reopened in February to debut modern guest rooms and an elevated, off-the-beaten-path experience not far from the L.A. bustle.

One of the cottages, your home for the weekend. Photos courtesy of The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern

The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern (, a historic property that’s been newly reimagined by luxury hotel group Auberge Resorts Collection, feels a bit like stepping back in time to the California of the late 1800s—just waiting for the rancheros to come riding into town, tie up their horses, and join me for a beer in the old tavern. Their laid-back version of wine country charm makes for a calm and quiet weekend, just north of Santa Barbara yet a world away.

The exteriors are a collection of thoughtfully and historically renovated buildings.

The newly built two-story guest houses are cozy, white clapboard bedrooms, each offering a garden patio, a terrace, or a sun porch with rocker and swing. At the touch of a button, my fireplace roared on a chilly night where all I wanted to do was hide in my room to read after a big dinner and a few glasses of local wine. The gorgeous fitness space was perfect for me and the in-house studio offers yoga, Pilates, and sound baths. My room overlooked the peaceful pool, where a separate bar will offer their own signature cocktails and poolside crudité carts during the summer—if that doesn’t sound amazing and refreshing on a scorching day, I don’t know what would.

A room in Cypress Cottage

Their farm-to-table restaurant, The Tavern, seems like a true social hub for locals and tourists alike. The food itself matched the whole property's vibe—sophisticated but approachable. Every dish was executed perfectly and was insanely delicious but there was no fuss in sight. As general manager Dave Elcon tells me, "the culinary program…represents the best of the ingredients found in our own backyard. We source some of our produce from Finely Farms, located just down the street from Mattei's. The lettuce is pulled from the earth in the morning and it's on your plate in the evening.” Highlights from dinner were local abalone with miso butter, smoked sweet potatoes with yuzu aioli and black garlic, the chicory salad, and crispy cauliflower with roasted garlic tahini.

Gorgeous sashimi and salad

“Chef Rhoda has created an ingredient-focused menu that features simple, yet elevated cuisine that represents the culture of the Santa Ynez Valley,” Elcon says. 

The thoughtful historical touches are honestly my favorite details of the tavern building—from the horseshoes on the wall as an ode to the old horse riding clubs (try to spot the one from “Minnie Mouse,” which belonged to Walt Disney, or Ronald Reagan’s “Sergeant Murphy"), exquisite paintings by Felix Mattei’s son, Clarence Mattei, and the rustic leather-filled bar where it’d be a shame to pass up a stiff drink.

The pool

“We restored the original buildings,” Elcon tells me. “Including the Tavern itself, along with five historic cottages, where guests can stay today. The design of the new structures are inspired by the original architecture, blending the old with the new and capturing the authentic spirit of the town of Los Olivos. Whether it's a boot jack on your front porch or a cauldron-style fire pit on your private patio, the details of the property honor the destination and history while offering a luxury experience.”

The oldest structure on hotel grounds dates back to 1886 and the town of Los Olivos itself—named after a nearby ranch of about 5,000 olive trees—to 1887. When the Pacific Coast Railway brought flocks of new settlers to Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley, Swiss immigrant Felix Mattei opened an inn in 1887, known as Mattei’s Tavern, which accommodated rail and stagecoach passengers making their way up and down the state.

The town itself is small, walkable, and quaint, but any weekend here should be sure to include an itinerary visiting nearby towns like Santa Ynez or Los Alamos, wine tasting, and picking up goodies like local olive oils. If a break from driving is what you’re really after, there are plenty of tasting rooms and shops to pop into on the main drag—a stone’s throw from Mattei’s Tavern—and then you can fill the weekend with spa treatments, yoga and sound baths, cocktails at the stunning bar, and check the hotel’s calendar for the many events and workshops on offer, like a Memorial Day Weekend seafood boil, tea cocktail making class, silk dyeing workshop, and even learning the craft of knife making.


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