San Marcos, California
What it is
A 40-room spa that’s a legend among bold faced names for its exquisite service, serene Japanese-inspired design and manicured zen gardens.
What it isn't
Nickel and diming you. Your 7-day stay includes daily in-room massages, attire (including cotton kimonos for lounging), a fitness regime, airport transfers, herbal wraps, mani-pedis, wellness-oriented (yet still delish) dining and much, much more.
What we think
Before you ask: yes, the entry door here is golden (and glimmering). And yes, it portends all the luxurious thrills to come. On these 600 acres, you’ll hike any of their 25 miles of private trails, wander two labyrinths, soak in the bath house, dip in a Watsu Water therapy pool, and, of course, be perfectly pampered with spa treatments themselves, which include everything from anti-gravity facials (yes, that’s a thing) to chai spice body polishes you’ll want to actually eat. The art you’ll see dotting the grounds was all cherry-picked from the 18th-century Edo period; the golden door itself was hammered with semi-precious stones from solid sheets of copper and brass in Tecate, Mexico.
You're here because
The retreat has a four-to-one staff to guest ratio, so service is truly exemplary.
You have to admit, a part of you worried that Golden Door wouldn’t be any fun. But then you spied the pool floats—flamingos! Sharks!—circling, and realized it’s not only fun, it’s the ultimate, ultra-luxury “adulting” summer camp.
Restaurants & Bars
Golden Door is an industry leader in bio-intensive farming, ensuring food that is not simply fresh, but wholesome, clean and flavorful. Pick your own vegetables and greens. Watch the hens roam the mountainside in a pen so large it almost doesn’t exist. Here, eating is good for you, good for the earth, and good for the farmers who grow it.
Secreted away in a hidden corner of California, a half hour drive north of San Diego. No wonder boldfaced names love this place—it’s barely on the map for paparazzi to find.