Big Sur, United States

Ventana Inn & Spa

Rates from (inc tax)$650.00

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD719.55), via, using today’s exchange rate.


Modern California cabin


Redwoods and wild flowers

Perched above Big Sur’s breath-taking sea cliffs and surrounded by its giant redwoods, Ventana Inn & Spa hotel is an oasis among some of the most beautiful natural surroundings on earth. That it has a sublime natural spa, a California-fresh restaurant, sprawling rustic-chic lodgings, daily yoga and two swimming pools is all just a bonus. 

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

$75 resort credit for spa, restaurant, etc



Need to know


59, including 25 suites.


1pm. Earliest check-in, 4pm.


Double rooms from $650.00, excluding tax at 10.7 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of $2.00 per room per night on check-out and an additional resort fee of $55.25 per room per night on check-out.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD719.55), via, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

Rates usually include an extensive breakfast buffet, but do not include a $55.25 per person per night resort fee that covers an afternoon wine-and-cheese hour, daily yoga or tai chi class, guided grounds hike.


Start your day off with activity and rejuvenation: each morning, a free yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi class is held in the library at 8am. Explore the 243 acres of Ventana’s land and learn about the history of the area with a free guided hike that leaves from the lobby each morning at 10am

At the hotel

Two swimming pools, Japanese hot baths, spa, hiking trails, gym, library and game room, gardens, DVD library, art gallery, free WiFi throughout. In room: walking sticks, binoculars, sensei sandals, bathrobes, flatscreen TV, DVD player, radio and iPod dock, minibar, coffee- and tea-making facilities, Lather toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

For honeymoon-suite-style privacy and the sounds of the woods as a soundtrack, opt for the Cottage House, with its cosy leather armchairs and oversized deck looking out over the hills towards ocean. Otherwise, we’d like to move into a Pacific House room, with its clean-lined modern look, wall of windows, two-person slate soaking tub and high vaulted ceilings with skylights.


The hotel has two swimming pools; one has a clothing-optional policy and is close to the spa, and both have sunlounger- and umbrella-dotted decks for hours of basking. Attached to each pool area is a Japanese hot bath, a winding, wood-walled heated pool that is especially atmospheric at night.


The Spa at Ventana offers a range of natural treatments inspired by native herbs and plants in its seven rooms. Favourites include the Essence of Big Sur Herbal Massage and Advanced Renewal Facial. Technicians are trained at the nearby Esalen Institute.

Packing tips

Bring your hiking shoes for the miles of trails on the grounds and in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, but leave your walking stick and binoculars at home – each room comes equipped with both for your outdoor adventures.


Guests must be at least 21 years old.

Food and Drink


Top Table

If the fog hasn’t come in and brought a chill with it, nab one of the tables at the edge of the patio, with pure ocean views.

Dress Code

Your plush bathrobe for wandering around the grounds, from the spa to the pool; hiking boots and yoga clothes for exploring crunchy Big Sur.

Hotel restaurant

Recently reimagined by pedigreed New York chef Paul Corsentino, the Restaurant at Ventana serves a regularly changing menu of imaginative, fresh Californian dishes inspired by the local bounty in a lodge-like dining room or on a breezy, ocean-view patio. Hungry diners can opt for the four-course chef’s tasting menu, though any dish – from a silky beet gazpacho to a buttery osso buco with local mushrooms – can be ordered à la carte. Lunch includes more casual options, such as a pulled chicken sandwich and a calamari and quinoa salad. An extensive international wine list (though we’d suggest choosing one of the excellent local California options) and some top-notch cocktails complement the cuisine. An extensive breakfast buffet of fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, yoghurt, granola and the like is served in the restaurant as well. Note that the restaurant is a 10-minute walk from the rest of the hotel, though free golf-cart shuttle rides are available at any time. 

Hotel bar

At the front of the restaurant, the low-key bar serves both inventive and classic cocktails and an extensive wine list – perfect for an aperitif should you arrive before your reservation. Also, a wine and cheese hour is held in the lobby every afternoon, so you can sample local California wines as the sun starts to set. 

Last orders

Breakfast is served 7:30–10:30am, lunch 11:30am–4:30pm and dinner 6–9pm.

Room service

Breakfast, lunch and dinner can all be ordered to your room during the hours they are served in the restaurant.


Ventana Inn & Spa
48123 Highway One
Big Sur
United States


The closest international airport is San Jose (SJC), 107 miles or approximately two hours from the hotel. Oakland (OAK) and San Francisco (SFO) international airports are each another hour’s drive away.


Big Sur is only reachable by car, via California’s famously beautiful coastal Highway One, so hire a car at the airport. Be aware that the drive along the coast south of Carmel-by-the-Sea is mostly along a winding, two-lane highway that runs next to the ocean – it’s an oft-travelled road, but not for amateur automobilists. On-site parking is free.

Worth getting out of bed for

It’s all about the coast and the mountains here. Reaching any of the beaches will require some form of hike, so pack your boots and pick up some information on walks from the hotel. A number of state parks in the area are the perfect places to get out and about and make the most of the impressive scenery; order a picnic lunch from the hotel to take with you on your hike. In April and December, watch the coast for whales, who pass through on their migration route. Cruise up and down the single-lane Highway 1, one of the country’s most dramatic drives, stopping at scenic lookouts to snap some photos. If you're up for a cultural adventure, Hearst Castle – once home to newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, aka Mr Citizen Kane – is an hour away by car. Not far from the hotel is the Henry Miller Memorial Library, a non-profit cultural centre and library honouring the late writer and one-time Big Sur resident; events are held throughout the warmer months (April–October).

Local restaurants

Down the highway, you’ll find Deetjen’s, a rustic ranch filled with 1950s clutter, serving hearty Mexican-inspired plate-loads at breakfast and dinner (+1 831 667 2377). Head to Nepenthe, originally owned by Orson Welles, for the locals’ favourite views of the coastline and some classic American fare (+1 831 667 2345). Across the road from Ventana, Post Ranch's Sierra Mar restaurant is renowned for its dramatic sunset ocean views and fresh, local cuisine; reservations are imperative (+1 831 667 2800).

Local cafés

For the best bread in town and other baked treats from the wood-fired oven, pay a morning visit to Big Sur Bakery (+1 831 667 0520).



Anonymous review

The drive south from San Francisco along Highway One (aka the Pacific Coast Highway) is one of the world’s most glorious stretches of roadway. A cruise along this highway, as it hugs the coastline with right-on-the-edge-of-the-world ocean views, is worth a trip to the West Coast alone.

However, Mrs Smith and I also had other plans in mind for our California escape: a pre-baby retreat at the Ventana Inn & Spa set deep in the woods of Big Sur. 

The sun was setting just as we pulled up, and the scattering of low-rise timber buildings were lit up in glowing contrast to the darkening sky. Not a bad opening scene, although we were initially wary as we followed the parking signs leading us quite far downhill from the main lodge.  

Thankfully a helpful porter, Mario, zoomed up in a golf cart to collect us. He ferried us not only to reception for check in, but then directly to our suite.

We’d booked the superior hot tub suite, which, as the name might suggest, had a sunken bathtub smack-dab in the middle of the floor (mindful of the California water crisis we skipped filling it). The spacious room – with a custom window seat and king-size bed – had everything we could want for, including a fireplace with easy-to-light wood packs.

Stepping out on our private balcony we noticed that the hot tub was already filled, so our water-crisis guilt did not stretch as far as to stop us from submerging ourselves in that for a spell. We eased into the warm water with drinks in hand and watched the stars appear overhead.

Hunger eventually kicked in, and we followed a forest trail for the pleasant 10-minute walk to the restaurant. Given that my wife was five-months pregnant, we were grateful when Mario reappeared with his golf cart to save us the walk at the end of the night. In fact, the hotel is happy to chauffeur you around the grounds in golf carts or further afield to nearby restaurants in Land Rovers. 

Inside the restaurant there was a fire roaring in a stone hearth (very welcome as the temperature drops at night), and the wood-panelled interior was just as warm and inviting. The only design misstep was the temporary exhibition by a local artist adorning the walls. I’ve always felt that this kind of conceptualism is better suited to dedicated galleries rather than restaurants.

However, I managed to forget about all of this once our very friendly and knowledgeable server Lionel began bringing the dishes from the three-course tasting menu (there is also a five-course tasting menu and a la carte offerings) to our table.

We dined on local seafood – octopus and sardines among them – followed by house-made pasta with a lamb ragu and a decedent dessert. It was simply sublime.

The next morning (after one of the best night’s sleep I’d had in months thanks to that luxuriously comfy bed) we awoke full of ambition. We bounded off to an 8.30am yoga class in the library – another wonderful wood structure with a fire blazing in the fireplace – with a pro instructor.

Breakfast was served on the patio perched high up on a hill overlooking the coastline and the Pacific Ocean below. We didn’t think it possible, but it was even more delicious than the previous night’s dinner. I piled my plate with tasty bites from the generous spread of fruit, house-made granola, yoghurt and pastries,  and ordered the ranchero-style eggs from the menu.

Following our feast, we joined up with a group heading out for a hike around the property. Greg, our informative guide, pointed out the vegetation, wildlife tracks (mountain lions!), and we even spotted a pod of migrating whales just beyond the ocean-facing bluff.  

The walk culminated near the lobby in a tight circle of giant redwood trees, known as a fairy ring in Irish culture, where we sat for a few meditative moments of peace and quiet.

It’s shocking to think that we had room for another meal, but we made our way across the road to for lunch at the Post Ranch Inn, after which we declared our ambition spent.  We recharged by lounging poolside, napping in hammocks and soaking in the Japanese bathhouses (there are two, and the one to the north end is clothing optional, which is the way to go).  

The mellow afternoon was capped with a visit to the spa (of course). My masseuse seems to have been distracted, but my massage was pleasant enough. More importantly, my wife enjoyed a thoroughly relaxing prenatal massage.

That night we took advantage of the hotel’s car service and travelled one mile south to Deetjen’s, a wonderfully quaint old Norwegian-style inn with a seasonal menu that changes nightly. It’s a fixture in the area and a worthwhile trip for an evening out.  

There are plenty of adventures – from cycling to hiking – to pursue for the actively inclined. However, happily using my wife’s pregnancy as an excuse, we ventured only as far as Pfeiffer Beach, roughly three miles north of the hotel. The huge rocks bursting out of the surf and the purple-hued sand make this an unusually beautiful place for a stroll or a picnic.  

We stopped off for coffee and snacks at the Big Sur Bakery before returning to the hotel to reluctantly say our goodbyes. Serious soaks, walks in the woods, whale spotting and top-tier dining made the Ventana Inn a deeply satisfying rest stop before we continued our adventure south… oh, and into that parenthood thing beyond. 

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith Hotel with us, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Ventana Inn & Spa’s Guestbook below.

We loved

The setting, the rooms, the peace, the scenery.

Don’t expect

Hustle and bustle.


Stayed on 12 Aug 2015

We loved

the wooden houses the tranquility the nice views

Don’t expect

reasonable food costs in the Big Sur !


Stayed on 16 Jun 2015