Hotels? Sure, we’ve got those. But sometimes you want something different — something special, splurge-worthy or downright out there.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic escape, a relaxed retreat or a kid-friendly getaway, here are just a few unique places to stay in Paso Robles wine country.
It’s just a 5-minute drive from the interstate, but Paso Robles’ Canyon Villa feels like a slice of Tuscany.
Proprietors Wills and Kath Carter welcome guests like old friends on the steps of the Italian-style inn, which has panoramic views of rolling hills, vineyards and olive groves.
Well-appointed living and dining spaces, and a secluded patio out back, invite you to sit and relax. Or you can simply retreat to your suite — one of just four at The Canyon Villa — to enjoy the luxurious bed, private balcony, gas fireplace and two-person jacuzzi tub.
Either way, be sure to emerge in time for breakfast, which at The Canyon Villa means a three-course feast starring elaborate dishes such as Tortina alla Fiorentina, an Italian-style quiche bursting with Mediterranean flavors, and avocado toast elevated with pickled red onion, French feta cheese, lemon juice and scallion threads. Finish with a decadent, decorative crespo, or crepe, with crema dulce, farmers market fruit, balsamic sugo and raspberry sauce.
The meals are the latest epicurean exploits of Wills, a chef who spent 30 years throwing world-famous parties as executive chef/food and beverage director at the Playboy Mansion.
He and Kath, who spent decades in the bustling fashion industry, came to Paso Robles a few years ago in search of the good life. But they weren’t content with just living it — they wanted to share it as well.
Effortless hosts, the Carters invite guests to embrace wine-country living, offering a wine hour with cicchetti (light bites) every evening, grilling pizza out back on warm evenings and hosting intimate “Sunday Suppers” with local winemakers.
“The guests become part of our lives,” Kath says, dropping by the kitchen to grab a snack or chatting about the day’s destinations over a glass of wine. Adds Wills, “It’s amazing to watch people relax and just unwind.”
No room at the inn? Try Summerwood Inn in Paso Robles instead, still intimate with nine rooms, farm-to-table breakfast and complimentary wine tasting at Summerwood Winery. (805) 227-1365 or www.summerwoodwine.com/Inn.
When you want to escape modern life, sometimes pampered luxury doesn’t cut it. You want a true retreat, a come-as-you-are spot to chill out and hang loose. You want Inn Paradiso.
A quirky slice of Big Sur bohemian refuge smack in the middle of wine country, the inn delivers a secluded ambiance just minutes from downtown Paso Robles.
Inn Paradiso’s three suites offer many of the same amenities as a luxury property — soaking tubs, balconies, gas fireplaces and fluffy beds — but with a whole different vibe.
Eclectic art, curios and carvings catch the eye at every angle. Vintage leather chairs and floor pillows invite you to plop down and flip through one of the many art books piled around.
A rope hammock overlooking the pool beckons for napping or contemplation, while interior balconies provide a unique perspective on the great room below.
The Gaudi loft, located in a separate building, features a rock-walled bathroom, spiral staircase and third-floor meditation space.
The overall feel at Inn Paradiso is less high-end hotel, more crashing at a friend’s super-cool pad.
The building itself is a curiosity, all wavy wood, intricate ironwork and stacked stone. “There’s not a straight corner anywhere you look,” Inn Paradiso manager Tova Chesnin says. It’s a bit of a mystery, too, its origins shrouded in rumors of hippies with a lot of cash and an IRS confiscation.
But Inn Paradiso is looking to the future, not the past.
Chesnin, who joined the inn in January, is working with owner Steve Werndorf to revive and expand the kitchen garden to supply food for the organic breakfast she prepares guests each morning. The pair brought in Ian Adamo of Somm’s Kitchen to curate wine offerings and Farmgirl Creamery to create cheese plates. And they’re working with local winemakers and chefs to plan pop-up dinners open to the public as well as guests.
“It’s just such a unique place, and it’s so cool to collaborate with local partners to take it to the next level,” Chesnin says. “We’re ready to let the genie out of the bottle.”
Too quirky? If you prefer a more classical take on art and architecture, try the Allegretto Vineyard Resort in Paso Robles. Museum-quality paintings hang from the walls, statuary dots the courtyards and tunnels, and stained glass turns a simple chapel into art that changes with the sun. 805-369-2500 or allegrettovineyardresort.com.
Ever get nostalgic for summer camp? Tap into childhood joy with a stay at Paso Robles’ Cava Robles RV resort, whether you bring kids along or not.
No recreational vehicles are needed – and there are no draughty, cobweb-filled tents here. Cava Robles offers modern studio, one- and two-bedroom cottages, each with a covered porch for taking in the scenery, and several sporting a loft and upper deck.
The sprawling 74-acre property provides plenty of room for the kids to roam or to find a secluded spot of your own. Take a dip in the two pools, one with a splash pad area, then soak your soul in the three jacuzzis.
Get some quality family time over a game of billiards or bocce ball or let the kids run off some energy at the playground. (There are multiple off-leash dog parks for children of the canine variety.) Rent bicycles to tool around town, or relax with a message in the wellness center.
In the evening, snag a comfy seat around one of the fire pits and enjoy a nightcap.
There’s even a kids camp if you want to duck out for some adult time. But with a bistro and wine tasting bar on site, you may not feel the need to.
Open since summer 2018, Cava Robles is one of the newest resorts by Sun Communities —and it embraces its wine country location with weekly wine tours, local winemakers pouring their wares, live music and more. Those are the kinds of camp activities we’re looking for.
All full? Sun Communities purchased the nearby Wine Country and Vines RV resorts around the same time it purchased the land for Cava Robles, so expect to find similar, albeit a bit older, amenities at those two properties. (866) 550-2117 or winecountryrvresort.com. (877) 820-0940 vinesrvresort.com or (877) 820-0940.
Imagine floating above rows of grapevines, with nothing between you and the canopy but glass, wood and a few metal supports.
That’s the vision for Geneseo Inn at Cass Vineyard & Winery, an ultra-modern cluster of rooms being constructed from recycled shipping containers perched over the Paso Robles vineyard. Each of the suites will feature a private balcony, contemporary decor and 12-foot floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize natural light and vineyard views.
Cass — the Central Coast Wine Competition’s Winery of the Year for 2015 and 2018 — has garnered attention not just for its wine, but also for its onsite café offerings. So Geneseo Inn guests should expect to start their day with fresh-baked pastries and chef specials.
The gourmet breakfast provides fuel for exploring the winery’s many farm education programs, which can involve vineyard tours, wine seminars, cooking classes, apple-cider making and even beekeeping and harvesting honey from the estate hive.
“We want people to leave the unit thinking they’ve never had an experience like that before,” winery owner Steve Cass says.
Cass is aiming to open Geneseo Inn in May, though hold-ups in the permitting process may cause delays.
Can’t wait? Check out the Trailer Pond, where you can stay in a vintage trailer tucked high away among the vines at Alta Colina winery. Hike the vineyard, relax on the covered dock, cook up a tasty meal at the outdoor kitchen or arrange to have one prepared for you. 805-458-8010 or thetrailerpond.com.
Choose your own adventure
The advent of Airbnb has opened up a whole new world of places to stay.
Many are relatively unremarkable, but there are also places like The Cottage at The Vintage Ranch in Paso Robles, a postcard-perfect rental featured on the Netflix show “Stay Here.”
Experience the architectural wonder of a Buckminster Fuller dome house, brought to you by Inn Paradiso proprietor Steve Werndorf, with stunning views from its hilltop perch. Or embrace your caveman roots at the Rock Loft, literally built into a hillside on Paso Robles’ west side.
If experiencing wine country is your main goal, why not stay right on site? Wineries from Asuncion Ridge to Zenaida Cellars have opened up vacation rentals to guests. With options ranging from small studios to lavish homes that can accommodate large groups, you’re sure to find your perfect getaway.
Cassandra Garibay and Lindsey Holden contributed to this article.