Best Places to Stay Along the Northern California Coast: The Unrivaled Inn at Newport Ranch

The latest subject in our series of articles about luxuriously uncommon coastal lodgings in northern California is unique in many respects. This coastal cattle ranch covers 2,000 remote acres chock-full of forests and plains. It’s the perfect location for a wedding, corporate gathering, or a romantic getaway.

The property stretches along a mile of picturesque bluffs overlooking the Pacific, complete with magnificent rock formations that rise from the sea and have endured ions of pounding by the wild California surf.


Hard Road to Reality

It’s not easy to get permission to build anything anywhere along the California coast. And so the several buildings that make up the inn took years to plan and develop. The result is an unusual architectural oasis anchored by a signature cypress tree in a vast meadow of rolling grass.

What We Missed that You Shouldn’t

We visited the ranch during a storm with just minutes of rain abatement between downpours. The inclement weather kept us from experiencing what the ranch had to offer outdoors – a sad state of affair indeed. Consequently, we missed the all-terrain vehicle tour and opportunities to hike or bike the 20 miles of trails that traverse the property.

What We Didn’t Miss

The inside of the rustic/elegant inn is both interesting and inviting. Immediately upon entering, you are greeted by a magnificent map of the ranch.

With your back to the map, there is a delightful gathering room complete with comfortable ranch furniture and a warming fire.

Exploring further, the smaller room opens up to a grand room which is adorned with more relaxed seating, a small bar, and a game table.

Everything is situated for maximum enjoyment of the custom BUILTrock-and-boulder fireplace. During nice weather, guests can enjoy a splendid wrap-around deck and BBQ pit.

Our Fellow Travelers

There were ten people staying at the inn during our visit. We met all of them at the fireside happy hour between 6 and 7 PM over hors d’oeuvres and a complimentary first glass of wine, beer or cocktail.

After friendly self-introductions and some pleasant chat, we all retired to the Newport dining room, warmed by a large, walk-in fireplace, for a highly anticipated dinner at the communal table.

Dinner at the Inn

When you make your reservations at the Inn at Newport Ranch they email you an invitation to join them in the Newport dining room for a gourmet dinner. Just a day or two before your visit, the inn will email a choice of menu main dishes for the day of your arrival. They request that you email or call with your menu selection(s) by 11 AM on the day of your visit. The price of the three-course dinner service at the time of our stay was $65 per person.

Our choice of mains included one of the following:

  • Local Ling cod with soy ginger glaze, spicy kale slaw, pickled turnips, and delicata squash.
  • For the beef lover, they offered beer braised Covelo beef with porter braised onion, ale braised farro, pickled onion, and mostarda.
  • The poultry choice was seared chicken breast with smoky tomato risotto, chard, lemon-parsley pan jus.
  • Lastly, there was a roasted garlic panisse with beet and kale slaw, roasted garbanzos, and herb tea.

We both chose the beef, and it was delicious! The opener was onion soup, and all mains were followed by an aptly-named chocolate decadence.

No Hotel Sameness at this Inn

There are only seven guest rooms and suites at the ranch, and all are unique; three guestrooms are in the main building, with the rest spread over two other buildings. The owner’s four-bedroom oceanside vacation home “Sea Drum,” is also available and sleeps up to ten.

Our Own Suite

Our accommodation was the Birdhouse Suite, on the second floor of the Redwood building. . An unusual name for a really different sleeping room arrangement. Courtesy umbrellas kept us from getting wet, but we dashed most of the 500 feet or so from the main building anyway. What we found when we opened the door to our temporary home made the potential soaking worth it. The rustic-luxe Birdhouse Suite is hard to describe, so we will let the pictures do most of the talking.

If one could afford it, this suite could be a very livable space indeed, for any duration.

It comes with rural-cozy appointments, a complete well-furnished kitchen, and a dry sauna room.

There's also a super little pot-bellied stove, as well as a deck with a grill and an excellent view. It felt very private even with two other guest suites located in the same building, along with the Fireside Spa and a conference room.

The bed was super comfy and we enjoyed listening to the howling wind while snuggling under the warmth of an old-fashioned quilt. At that point we didn’t care how bad the weather got outside – we slept soundly.

Morning Came Too Early

It was still storming, but we were on a schedule, so we reluctantly did an early rise and shine. Breakfast at the inn (included in the rate) starts with a pastry bar at 7:30.

A full ranch breakfast is served an hour later.

Hospitable innkeeper Patricia Hunter stops to chat with some guests.


If You Go

The Inn at Newport Ranch is remote and provides exceptional access to the beauty of the northern California coast. It is 11 miles to Fort Bragg on Highway 1, and 21 miles to Mendocino.

If you would rather not navigate the winding coastal roads leading to the ranch, the inn can arrange helicopter service with Butterfly Aviation. It’s a quick 40-plu-minute ride from San Francisco, and 30-plus minutes from Santa Rosa.

For electric car owners, the ranch is equipped with a charging station.

For more information, pictures, and reservations check out The Inn at Newport Ranch or call 707-962-4818

Hint: Planning a wedding or an important event? It is possible to rent the entire Inn. However, plan early to avoid disappointment.

Happy Travels!

The opinions expressed in the article are the journalists’ alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any entity.

Copyright © 2019 Visit great vacation destinations with Wayne and Judy Bayliff

Photos Copyright © 2019 Judy Bayliff. Aerial photos and picture of the Fireside Spa provided by the inn.

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