Checking In: Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego North

rancho bernardo inn
Spa Pool

A trip to San Diego brings to mind sandy shores and crashing waves. But a visit to Rancho Bernardo Inn will treat you to the underrated side of California, away from the crowded beaches.

Spa Pool

Just 25 minutes north of downtown San Diego, tucked back at the end of an unassuming neighborhood, I arrived at Rancho Bernardo Inn. Surrounded by lush greenery, overlooking the 18-hole championship golf course, the property is home to stunning fireplaces with cozy seating, dangling lanterns, Mediterranean fountains and winding walkways lined with green trees and blooming flowers. Every aspect of the resort is inviting, like somewhere ideal for staying up late at night while sipping wine with your closest friends.

The Rooms

For starters, the rooms have a cozy feel with charming character. Wood-beamed ceilings, warm interiors and shutters that open up to a private balcony make this somewhere to curl up with a cup of coffee while taking in the towering trees and rolling green hills. While the hotel has a boutique feel, it has all the amenities of a large resort so you get the best of both worlds.

Spa Pool Cabanas

The Spa

Perhaps the most notable amenity is the spa. Not only is its entrance the most breathtaking part of the resort (and also the most Instagam-able), but it’s easily one of the most amenity-packed spas around. The usual suspects are present like a relaxation room, steam rooms and selection of soothing treatments. Book one in the treatment casitas, located in the outdoor spa garden. Like something out of a tropical dream, the outdoor casitas feature rich wood shutters and perfect for the Floral Infusion Spa Package.

The farm-to-spa experience starts off with a trip to the resort’s herb garden where you can handpick the fresh herbs before the spa therapist grounds them up to make a custom body scrub. I plucked everything from lemongrass and peppermint to vanilla and lavender. (Bonus: the extra scrub is bottled up so you can take your custom creation home with you!). After the body scrub, the experience ends with a full body massage.

The Spa Amenities

The indulgence doesn’t stop there. A booked treatment meant I was able to enjoy the private heated saline pool that’s surrounded by spacious curtained cabanas. The pool, which is reserved for spa guests only, doesn’t skimp on size and is backdropped by the expansive golf course. Spa guests have full access to the pool the entire day of their treatment. And since it’s sans kiddos, it’s a quiet escape, perfect for soaking up that Cali sunshine in peace.

The pool also has its own bar and guests can order poolside eats from the spa menu. To my hungry surprise, the spa menu is a step above your usual post-treatment choices. Be sure to order their famous frosé, which is the best frosé I’ve had to date. End your day at the spa in the outdoor Jacuzzi, complete with a cascading waterfall and relaxation lounges.


The Food

For the best views, Veranda Fireside Lounge & Restaurant overlooks the 18th green and the San Pasqual Mountains. Order the California BLT and add chicken to it. It’s simple but to die for thanks to the sun-dried tomato aioli. Not to mention, the glowing lanterns, fireplace and brick patio adds to the perfect ambiance that makes you want to stay awhile. For fine dining, AVANT will wow. A worldly menu with California flair, it’d be hard to go wrong here (probably impossible, really). We spent one night in the main dining room and one night at AVANT Table 65, a private demonstration kitchen for small groups. The space is perfect for private parties looking to chat with the chef, see how dishes are made and dine in an interactive setting.


Overall, Rancho Bernardo Inn is great for all types of travelers. Two family swimming pools and its convenient location to nearby attractions like the San Diego Zoo make it great for families, while golfers can spend the entire time on the lush course and wellness enthusiasts can take in the spa. There’s plenty of romance to go around for couples but it’s also an easy girls’ getaway for when you just need to escape.

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