Bathtub with a view at Heritage House Resort & Spa, Mendocino, California, USA

Heritage House Resort & Spa
Mendocino, California, USA


Travelling up Highway 128, just before Mendocino Village, a humble yellow house appears after a sharp left turn and a sudden downhill drop – or so it seems. Despite its quaint appearance from this vantage point, this is merely the landscape-obscured entrance of the 1877 farmhouse that now overlooks the 37 acres of Heritage House Resort & Spa. It’s far from small today, housing a reception and the property’s restaurant, but we found the deceptively modest entry a charming welcome and stellar representation of the quiet luxury ahead.

After checking in, we were given a map and driving directions to our cottage—our first clue that this property was far larger than it seemed. Dropping further downhill, we drove past a well-populated frog pond (judging by their nighttime song) before a steep incline toward our clifftop cottage. The lane was narrow, more a private path than a road, twisting so tightly around massive tree trunks that we were left wondering what would happen if a vehicle ever approached from the other direction. But the cottages are scattered so thoughtfully that it never happened.

Entering the cottage from the rear, we were instantly struck by the floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors opposite the entrance—these marked nearly the entirety of the cottage’s front, drawing us out to a spacious deck with endless ocean views. But this is not the calm shoreline of the Caribbean; it’s high drama at its best. Crashing against the craggy cliffs of the coast, the waves are constant and the resulting upward spray is mesmerising. It’s a far cry from the quiet serenity of the vineyards, but the commotion is far below so it’s melodic, not disruptive.

Surrounding the deck are alienesque cones of vibrant purple and pink flowers soaring more than 5 meters skyward and buzzing with bumblebees and hummingbirds. The plant is known as the Tower of Jewels and, though originally from Spain, it’s a seamless complement to both the soaring redwoods of the region and the otherworldliness of this landscape in California. There are scores of these elegant beasts around the property, among myriad other blooms of varying colour and size in both the formal landscaping and the sprawling fields.

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While you’re Out There
While chic stays like Heritage House are found on the coast around Mendocino Village, the agricultural action is located a half hour south in Anderson Valley (and yes, that includes the grapes). Highway 128 passes through a few towns here, but make a point to stop at Pennyroyal Farm in Boonville. Not only does co-owner Sarah Cahn Bennett grow vines that produce award-winning wines here, her wife Erika McKenzie-Chapter raises the goats and sheep that supply the onsite dairy. Through a symbiotic relationship of regenerative agriculture, the pair produce wines and cheeses, among other treats, which you can taste during your visit. While there, you can tour the impeccable grounds and visit the animals, too.

The fields are well worth wandering and, though unassuming, a highlight of the property’s natural offerings. Leading toward the cliffside and bordered only by a non-obstructive, low wooden fence, the field’s border is sporadically populated with isolated benches, a gazebo, and other isolated spaces to appreciate the roaring sea below, feel the ocean breeze on your face, and admiring the sunset over rock formations and the horizon beyond. A stroll here is a must, and during one evening walk alone, we encountered three other LGBT couples taking in the views, as well.

At the southern tip of the property’s coastline, a secret stairway, nearly hidden by natural overgrowth, meanders down to Dark Gulch Beach below. Not for swimming, this is a rocky explorer’s beach that reveals spectacular views of the cliffs from below that you can’t catch anywhere else nearby. With no other access point, it also serves as an ideal space for meditation or other quiet moments of mindfulness.

Back up the hill at the yellow farmhouse (i.e., the Heritage House), a brick walkway leads to a shed of sorts, painted the same inviting yellow. Inside is the spa, open daily for treatments by appointment. The space is tranquil and well-appointed, but we were partial to the option of taking treatments on our own deck, where the waves below served as natural white noise. Even without professional treatments, though, zen moments can be found within the spa-quality washrooms of the cottages. We revelled in the decadence of a deep soaker tub, with fireplace flickers emanating through the frosted window between, before donning our robes and finishing a bottle of local wine back out on the deck.

This is the point of Heritage House Resort & Spa—to relax in refined style, soaking in the natural bounty of both the waves and the wine, the nature and the nurture, with creature comforts discreetly integrated.

Photography courtesy of Heritage House Resort & Spa

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