A Look Inside California’s Most Exciting New Luxury Hotel

A former 19th-century stagecoach stop is reborn as the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, Auberge Resorts Collection, in the heart of California’s Santa Ynez Valley wine country.

Exterior of the white Inn at Mattei's Tavern with gardens in front

The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern is located on the grounds of a former coach stop.

Courtesy of the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, Auberge Resorts Collection


The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, Auberge Resorts Collection

The vibe: Laid-back California luxury at its finest

Location: 2350 Railway Ave., Los Olivos, CA | View on Google Maps

Book Now: Website



The AFAR take

In 2004, the now-classic wine film Sideways debuted, introducing pinot noir from northern Santa Barbara County and the Central Coast of California to viewers around the globe. This too was California wine country, but it wasn’t quite like Napa or Sonoma to the north. Tourism in the Santa Ynez Valley—where the movie was set and shot—boomed and pinot producers multiplied.

Fast forward nearly 20 years: There are now seven recognized American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs, in the region, and upwards of 280 wineries. Recently, a new generation of chefs and vintners has brought fresh energy to the area, opening hip restaurants and winsome tasting rooms in the towns of Los Olivos, Los Alamos, and Santa Ynez. Yet aside from a couple of roadside motels, inns, and B&Bs, there weren’t a lot of lodging options in the valley. That changed in February 2023, when California-based Auberge Hotels & Resorts opened the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, a luxury resort set in a converted stagecoach stop and tavern, smack in the middle of Los Olivos.

As with many Auberge resorts around the world, the architecture, interior design, and food and beverage at Mattei’s are top notch and feel grounded and site-specific to the surrounding location. This is a place where everything has been thought through with meticulous attention to detail, from the poolside crudité platter of seasonal produce and Jono Pandolfi ceramics in the restaurant to the antique horseshoes hanging on the tavern walls and in-room Stetson hats and Pendleton blankets. Heritage, handmade, and small-batch goods enjoy prime billing here. A specifically Californian brand of good taste runs throughout the common spaces and guest rooms. There’s also a constant connection to the surrounding landscape and a celebration of indoor-outdoor living: Eucalyptus branches hang in the yoga room and olive trees surround a pool in a setting that looks plucked from Provence.

Interior of a white two-bedroom suite at the Inn at Mattei's Tavern featuring a fireplace and hardwood floors

A suite at the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern

Courtesy of the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, Auberge Resorts Collection.

Who’s it for?

Auberge Hotels & Resorts loyalists, couples looking for a food- and wine-filled weekend away, friends traveling together, families with young children, LGBTQ travelers, Californians (and lovers of California) looking to get to know or reconnect with a different part of the state. Travelers with pets are welcome: The resort allows up to two dogs of any size per room, for a charge of $150.

The location

Located 125 miles northeast of Los Angeles, Los Olivos is a tiny—and tony—town off Highway 101. Surrounded by oak-studded hills, horse paddocks, cattle ranches, and vineyards, it has been home to spotlight-shy Hollywood celebrities for decades. Swaying, old-growth palm trees mark the spot.

The rooms

Designed by AvroKO and Auberge’s own director of design Nicole Campion, the resort’s 67 guest rooms and cottages have a luxurious modern farmhouse look and feel. The four historic cottages date to the 1910s on the 6.5-acre property, while the rest of the accommodations are in new buildings designed to blend in with the existing architectural vernacular of the region (think wooden barns and white exteriors). Bathrooms are large and clad in zellige tile and brass fixtures, while TVs in the bedrooms and living rooms of suites are thoughtfully covered by roll-down canvas shades above fireplaces. In room, guests can enjoy Nespresso machines, Felt + Fat mugs, St. George Spirits gin, kilim-covered window seats, and outdoor patios or decks. I loved the design so much, I snapped pictures of everything for my own craftsman house remodel.

There’s also a constant connection to the surrounding landscape and a celebration of indoor-outdoor living.

The food and drink

Since opening in 1886, Mattei’s has served as a lively watering hole for residents and travelers passing through. Though the building and grounds have been completely remodeled and expanded, the vibe is still welcoming to both locals and hotel guests. There are several places on property to sup: the Tavern restaurant; the Bar; the poolside bar; and for pastries, toast, and coffee, Felix Feed & Coffee, named for Felix Mattei, who originally established the hotel.

Today, executive chef Rhoda Magbitang oversees all the hotel’s food and beverage. She came to the role after working with such culinary legends as José Andrés and Suzanne Goin and at two iconic Los Angeles hotels, the Chateau Marmont and Petit Ermitage. Her food is hearty and refined, inspired by regional ranch cooking, with a menu featuring lots of wood-fired fish and meats.

Brown sofas next to wood-burning stone fireplace

A lounge area at the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern

Courtesy of the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, Auberge Resorts Collection

Equally delicious are the vegetable dishes, such as crispy cauliflower with tahini and dukkah, and Okinawan sweet potatoes, hickory smoked and served with black garlic and yuzu aioli. The wine list is full of such locals as Stolpman, Storm, and Foxen. Don’t miss the Painted Saddle cocktail, a mix of pink peppercorn–infused gin, fino sherry, dry vermouth, and bay laurel. The night we ate in the tavern I spotted two actors. This is a place that works hard to make sure everyone—stars included—can sip their Negronis in peace.

Staff and service

Employees throughout the property—from the front desk to the restaurant—are friendly, gracious, discrete, and happy to provide traveler-specific recommendations for things to do in the region. On arrival in reception, guests are offered an Arnold Palmer (spiked or nonalcoholic) from a vintage bar cart, a perfect small touch on a hot summer’s day.

Overhead view of several black or white bowls of food

Chef Rhoda Magbitang’s menus center on regional ranch cooking.

Courtesy of the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern, Auberge Resorts Collection


Most of the resort’s common spaces (registration, restaurants, meeting and events spaces, and swimming pool) are on the ground floor and accessible from the hotel’s public entrance. Service animals are welcome, and braille and tactile signage is provided for permanent rooms and spaces. For more details, visit the hotel’s accessibility page.

Family-friendly luxuries

This is a rare wine country resort—and region—that welcomes kids. The “pequeños” menu in the Tavern and the Bar includes a rice bowl, potato gnocchi, spaghetti Bolognese, and more. Little sweet tooths (and their caregivers) should not miss the banana split and the chocolate soufflé served in the Tavern. Our wonderful server Aimee recommended two wineries in the area most friendly to families with small children: Vega in nearby Buellton and Folded Hills in Santa Ynez. Both are working farms that allow families to interact with animals. The resort also arranges custom experiences for guests: My elementary-school-age kids and I loved visiting Zaca Creek Ranch, a working cattle ranch that’s home to llamas, alpacas, and an 800-pound pig named Walker.

Julia Cosgrove is vice president and editor in chief of AFAR, the critically acclaimed travel media brand that makes a positive impact on the world through high-quality storytelling that inspires, enriches, and empowers travelers who care. Julia lives in Berkeley, California.
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