Southern California, with its beautiful beaches, exotic landscaping and over-the-top architecture, has been a romance destination since its beginnings. Movie stars and everyday folks flock to the many secluded, romantic and unique hotels and hideaways that are scattered throughout the balmy (mostly) southland.
Hotel del Coronado
The Victorian splendor of the Hotel del Coronado was the setting for "Stuntman" with Peter O'Toole as well as Marilyn Monroe's "Some Like It Hot," and USA Today named it as one of the top ten resorts in the world. Separated from San Diego by an impressive two mile elevated bridge, the tiny town of Coronado is home to this elegant beachfront resort that has been treasured by movie stars and newlyweds since the 1920s. Built in 1888, the Del has been lovingly maintained and technically updated so that although you may feel you are back in time, you will still have great plumbing and wi-fi. The Romance Package ($470 per night in 2010) includes a dozen roses, champagne, chocolate strawberries, breakfast for two and valet parking. The Some Like It Hot package ($325) includes a collector's DVD of the movie and a $25 credit, as well as the chance to walk in Monroe's footsteps on the beach. Prices for these packages will be higher for ocean view rooms or suites.
Hotel del Coronado 1500 Orange Ave Coronado, CA 92118 (800) 468 3533 hoteldel.com
Casa del Mar
Just a short walk down the beach from the Santa Monica Pier, the sweeping front window of Casa del Mar Hotel immediately catches the eye. With all areas carefully restored to the look of the hotel's glory days when Clark Gable and Carole Lombard cavorted there, the ambiance of luxury and romance remains intact. Enter the lobby and bask in the glamor of the 1920s design of architect Charles F. Plummer, and then amble over to the beachfront champagne bar. Beach-facing rooms start at $425 (2010) and feature a marble bathroom with a deep Jacuzzi tub enclosed by glass French doors that open out over your bedroom to the ocean view beyond. Four-poster beds, down duvets, Italian linens, lush bathrobes and fringed period furniture add to the romance.
Casa del Mar 1920 Ocean Way Santa Monica, CA 90405 (310) 581-5533 www.hotelcasadelmar.com
San Ysidro Ranch
It's the same romantic retreat where Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh were married and where Jack and Jackie Kennedy spent their honeymoon: San Ysidro Ranch, in the hills of Santa Barbara, is known for its beauty, luxury and seclusion. The top of the line romance package includes a two night stay in a junior suite with a private outdoor rain shower and a hot tub, champagne, breakfast daily and a VIP winery tour with a gourmet picnic for two. A massage for two in your room may be substituted for the wine tour. The rate is $1250 (2010) per night, with a two-night minimum stay. Sailing and horseback riding are also offered for an additional fee.
San Ysidro Ranch 900 San Ysidro Lane Santa Barbara, CA 93108 (805) 565-1700 sanysidroranch.com