Head down south to San Diego County for best-in-class service at this one-of-a-kind venue.
Suite Spots: California's Best New Wedding Sites For The Day of Your Dreams
It has never been easier to tie the knot in the Golden State as a recent boom of new properties from Palm Springs to Paso Robles has introduced a variety of venues ready to welcome wedding weekends.
Take your love to new heights by checking into the 73-story-high InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown (dtla.intercontinental.com), the tallest building west of Chicago, where downtown LA edginess (think art installations inspired by LA’s notorious traffic) meets advanced technology (in lieu of buttons, elevators have touchscreens!) and pro hospitality. The massive entrance foyer features Korean artist Do Ho Suh’s “Screen,” and while the art installation looks like undulating rainbow tile, it’s actually thousands of glass human figures stacked atop each other like vintage wooden toys.
There’s nothing small about this 889-room property: The lobby is on the 70th floor; its Spire 73 is the tallest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere; and the Grand Ballroom, with 1,779 seats, is ready for any large reception. The 94,000 square feet of event space comprises a diverse group of venues, from a rooftop lounge, complete with a unique water and fire feature, to a breezy garden patio with views of Seventh Street’s historic facades. Other options include intimate dining rooms at the La Boucherie on 71 steak house; Sora, a sushi restaurant and vodka bar; and a smaller ballroom, for as many as 250 guests, which features a retractable garage-style door that lets natural light stream in.
For a fee, the pool can be transformed into a dramatic aisle with a Plexiglas covering. Other bonuses: no noise curfew as the venues are located away from guest rooms; a decked-out dressing room near the ballrooms, which cuts down on the bride’s travel time; personalized Le Labo toiletries; and 360-degree views, from the Hollywood sign to the ocean (on a clear day), any of which promise to deliver one of the coolest photo backdrops in Southern California.
Hotel Indigo (hotelindigola.com), the boutique brand’s first LA offering, is a quirky, 350-room spot in downtown boasting an eclectic design. Imagine loud wallpaper, video projections, oversize sculptural light fixtures, patterned carpets, and a haute hodgepodge of yellow, turquoise, orange, navy and fuchsia.
The bilevel foyer of the events and exhibits floors is dripping in lighted three-dimensional, diamond-shaped pendants, and the windowless ballroom (capacity limit is 410) has chandeliers that resemble tennis bracelet links, in a nod to the nearby jewelry district. There are also doses of Art Deco, Asian imagery and old Hollywood glamour as the property’s muse is Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American movie star who was born and raised on a block nearby. The 1,400-square-foot presidential suite, which could be booked for bridal party preparations, carries the Wong theme even further with spotlights. Ancillary activities or less formal receptions also can be held in a window-filled meeting room, which opens to a private terrace, or in 18 Social, a glitzy penthouse speakeasy serving strong pineapple mules and twinkling city views.
The 216-room Kimpton Everly Hotel (everlyhotelhollywood.com) opened last summer in the shadow of the iconic Capitol Records building. The Hollywood property looks like a chic industrial loft, thanks to its matte-finish concrete, big windows, collage walls and succulent centerpieces. Prep like a VIP in the Lola Suite, which opens to the rooftop pool and features a pedestal tub and a private patio with spectacular La La Land views. Intimate ceremonies unfold in the glass-enclosed Conservatory (10 or fewer guests) or under the stars on the fifth-floor Skyline Sun Deck. Then it’s time for dancing and locally sourced Italian slow-food favorites, such as charcuterie boards and forest mushroom pizza, courtesy of Jane Q in the high-ceilinged Beachwood Ballroom. Finally, retire to Ever Bar for drinks and a round of pool. Kimpton is known for its pet-friendly policy so your fur baby is welcome to accompany you down the aisle.
Not many brides can say their catering was curated by a three-star Michelin chef, but this is one of the perks that at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills (waldorfastoriabeverlyhills.com). The new 12-story, 170-room affluent hotel promises a gourmet experience with Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his deft team in charge.
The Rooftop by JG, with its 360-degree views of the LA basin and its velvety emerald accents, sets a stunning ceremonial scene, especially at sunset. After snapping photos on the grassy promenade next to the pool, groups of 150 (seated) can dance the night away under the 3,000-square-foot Astor Ballroom’s cascading crystal chandeliers. Smaller groups (50 or fewer) can use the connected Waldorf Room, which also makes an excellent place to stash the young guests or to stage a bridal shower. The private dining section of the ground-floor flagship—with its floral motif, white and green leather banquettes and upholstered chairs, and curved side patio—is also an option for 25 or fewer guests.
Extend the celebration with the gift of bubbles and dessert, which the concierge routinely sends to new spouses on the expansive balcony of a Villa Suite. Other amenities that will come in handy are the La Prairie Spa and celebrity hairstylist Tracey Cunningham’s salon.
As everybody knows, it’s cooler in the Shade (rb.shadehotel.com). That’s especially true at this 54-room Redondo Beach boutique hotel that opened in late 2016 offering the rooftop Aquadeck, the open-air Sky Level, and the Horizon Level ballroom and its accompanying lanai. Lager lovers will appreciate that both dedicated event spaces feature bars with 24 craft beers on tap. The budget savvy should inquire about Friday and Sunday incentives, and capitalize on the complimentary cake pops left in the tranquil rooms. Free Wi-fi means immediate postings to your social accounts of sunset kisses or rides on the branded beach cruisers. Public spaces are enhanced with eye-catching seashell lights, which also make an excellent place to hang the dress for photos.
The 150-room boutique oasis Hotel Paseo (www.hotelpaseo.com) will open its doors this March on the Rodeo Drive of the Coachella Valley in Palm Desert. This property offers mountain views and amenities aplenty, including a rotating art gallery, a restored 1950 Airstream for rent, morning tai chi, and 24-karat gold facials in the spa. Couples will love the dividable 3,200-square-foot ballroom with its neutral palette, and the versatile event lawn for fun under the sun or moon.
There are a lot of great places to exchange vows in the Coachella Valley, but only one has a rooftop hang and that’s The Rowan (rowanpalmsprings.com). The 153-room Kimpton boutique, which opened in November as part of a massive mixed-use complex, is the first to feature a pool perched atop the rafters. The terrace also includes the Jacinto event room; High Bar bungalow, specializing in light bites and retro cocktails; and 4 Saints, which serves seasonal shared plates, such as dry-aged duck with stone fruit. Those seeking a more traditional ballroom setting can opt for the window-heavy 2,300-square-foot Sky Ballroom. Find inspiration for your wedding decor (the cake topper, perhaps?) from the 16-foot macramé owl installation behind the front desk.
Location, location, location! The 121-room Hotel Californian (thehotelcalifornian.com) debuted in downtown Santa Barbara in September. The resort is located on the restaurant-and-retail row known as State Street, just steps from the ocean and the picturesque pier (making toes-in-the-sand shots very convenient), and adjacent to the Funk Zone, a buzzy district of galleries, wine tasting rooms and boîtes. Even within the property, which marries terra-cotta Spanish architecture with a beach vibe, the developers made sure to create charming spots, such as the palm-lined grove, long staircases, fountains and a 3,500-square-foot encaustic-tiled rooftop with panoramic views. The Alhambra ballroom, full of Moorish flair and with enough space to accommodate 285 guests, is beyond perfect for saying “I do.” Even the bedrooms establish a sense of place through bold textural elements, such as headboard grommets, velvet seating and painted ceiling medallions. Hit the Moroccan-inspired spa for a tea-infused couples’ massage, or blend a signature scent at the Aromatherapy Design Bar.
Late October brought Pismo Beach a brand-new treat from Pacifica Hotels, the Inn at the Pier (theinnatthepier.com). Most of this oceanfront luxury Craftsman-style property’s 104 rooms face the sea, have private balconies, and provide easy access to the sand and the boardwalk. For an even better view, rendezvous at the rooftop pool and bar (the only one in town), a 3,600-square-foot, salt-air-scented space that can be rented for weddings. Or consider the first-floor Monarch Room, with its 60-person capacity, private entrance, built-in bar and catering by Blonde, the hotel’s contemporary American bistro, which specializes in local seafood, burgers and brunch.
Want more intimate lodgings that can handle a weekend’s worth of wedding activities? Look no farther than the Paso Roble’s 150-acre hideaway HorseTail Ranch (horsetail-ranch.com), nestled among rolling hills and majestic oak trees, and close to a historic wine trail. Between a modern five-bedroom villa and a rustic solar-powered cabin, the Creston-based ranch sleeps as many as 18. And with four different site locations, including a private lake and 12-stall horse barn, it’s possible to create any style of wedding. Kids can spend hours collecting wildflowers or hanging with the farm animals at the stables before a group horseback ride around the property. Schedule a day of tastings with nearby vintners and afterward, drink your finds while relaxing in the hot tub. The dock at the private lake is a serene place for saying your vows while the caterers prepare a feast at the house for as many as 100 guests. Other activities include watching the sun set from the bistro-lit patio and serving s’mores at the fire pit. And best of all, you can feel free to book your favorite band and dance the night away, as there aren’t any neighbors to disturb for miles.
The latest addition to the Napa Valley hotel scene is an exquisite pairing of indulgent luxuries and culinary delights, 10 years in the making, at Las Alcobas, A Luxury Collection Hotel (lasalcobas.com). The hotel rooms are a mélange of muted grays, blacks and whites with occasional pops of color (chartreuse chaise lounges at the pool; purple thistle in a vase). The hotel staff can help organize pre-ceremony group activities, including a winery bike tour, yoga class, hot air ballooning, or a guest-exclusive tasting at neighboring Beringer Vineyards, which backs up to the four-acre property. The same vineyards can be seen from the hotel’s unique event “lawn,” made of alternating stripes of grass and concrete. The “ballroom” building’s exterior resembles a barn, while the interior features vaulted ceilings and room for 120. The Acacia House, housed in a renovated Colonial Revival with a wraparound porch and leaded-glass windows, is Top Chef Masters winner Chris Cosentino’s superb restaurant, offering a seasonal menu inspired by the Cosentino’s garden and his exceptional imagination. The pastry chef, while capable of making a tiered cake, suggests dessert tables boasting his signature éclairs in your favorite flavors. Choose the alfresco patio at the restaurant or the boardroom above it for rehearsal dinners or goodbye brunches. A suite with a balcony bathtub and fire pit is a must for your first night as a married couple.