It’s official – I have a new favorite hotel in California. If it weren’t obvious per most of my recommendations, I definitely seem to have a type when it comes to what I consider to be “the best accommodations”.
Checklist items include:
- must have history or at least a good story
- must have modern updates where necessary
- be photogenic
- must be fairly priced
- definitelyhave pool
- must have a bar
Checking all of those boxes doesn’t always happen, but when it does… home.run. Enter said new favorite hotel, Cuyama Buckhorn.
BEST ROAD TRIP FROM LA: CUYAMA BUCKHORN
THE HISTORY, STORY, & DESIGN
Cuyama Buckhorn is located just 2 hours north of LA in a little town in Santa Barbara County called New Cuyama. Buckhorn officially opened their doors only a few short months ago, and slowly but surely this gem in the “Hidden Valley of Enchantment” is bringing buzz back to this once-thriving oil town.
The roadside motel was originally built in 1952 a classic Mid Century Modern design and was quite the chic party destination in its day. It boasted a restaurant, pool, entertainment, a restaurant – the full works. The property was actually originally designed by George Vernon Russell—the same designer of The Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, and the University of California Riverside— and construction for the buildings was originally completed by Griffith Co. of Los Angeles.
The property lost its way for a number of years, that is until two (insanely talented and inspiring) Angelenos with big dreams came to the rescue with the goal to restore Buckhorn to its former glory. I actually had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out for a bit with owners/business partners Ferial Sadeghian and Jeff Vance, and hearing the story of the entire process behind the project was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Seriously – this story could be made into a movie. While the property has its obvious charm, it’s what this place means to their community, and the lengths this team went to preserve its history, are what ended up truly stealing my heart.
From the history behind the sign, the tales from the restaurant, the story behind “Lamar”, the original design elements (sourced and even excavated), to the intention behind, well, everything… once you catch one nugget of the story, you’ll want to know it all. And trust me, it’ll make the stay all the more memorable.
CUYAMA BUCKHORN NOW
I’m a sucker for a story, and Cuyama Buckhorn – clearly – might be one of my absolute favorites. But there are of course plenty of other reasons to visit this place outside of its super cool history. Let’s discuss:
Oh my god, the pool. Absolutely gorgeous, plenty of lounge chairs, there’s even a big jacuzzi, they host weekend happy hour by the pool, and most importantly – this is the place to be to catch the most stunning sunsets in the evening.
Absolutely darling, and feature all of the updates you’d want or need in a “new” hotel. Simple yet beautiful design, Brooklinen bedding, beautiful bathrooms, and a couple of cowboy hats for decor (that you can totally wear). In case you’re curious, there are 21 rooms on the property.
They’ve dubbed it “Mid Century Farmhouse” and that pretty much sums it up perfectly! It’s Mid-Century Modern meets Western, and I live for every single damn inch of this place. Let’s just say it’s very gram-worthy.
The food & beverage program.
It’s the only place to eat in town, and it’s the only one you’ll want or need to eat at. We nearly drank them dry of the pre-batched cocktails they make (it’s their own fault for making them so damn delicious) but they offer a variety of *amazing* adult beverage options. I love that the Buckhorn focuses on forging connections with local farms, ranches, and wineries. It makes for an elevated and unexpected farm-to-table experience with comfort food for everyone and makes the experience all the more “special”.
The coffee shop.
Bless an actual coffee shop, a great coffee shop at that. And don’t skip out on those freshly baked breakfast treats. I am STILL thinking about those scones.
Seriously… the best, most fun, and friendly staff on the planet. We were in love with everyone.
The price point.
Not too pricey, not cheap either – just right, and completely fair for the value. $229 -$259 for a Classic Queen Room, $259 -$294 for a Deluxe Queen or DeluxeDouble Room, $279 -$329 for a Deluxe King Room, $389 -$434 for The Enchanted Suite
Buckhorn is founded on a number of principles, but this place truly puts their money where their mouth is. From the preservation to the level of care that went into making the property as sustainable as possible, their efforts are downright heroic, and they don’t go unnoticed. That goes for the level of care they put into making sure this would benefit and include the New Cuyama community as well. Every local we spoke to had nothing but praise and gratitude for Cuyama Buckhorn, and if that doesn’t speak volumes of this place, I don’t know what does.
SO WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO IN NEW CUYAMA?
New Cuyama is basically the California version of Marfa Texas. It’s a little out there, kinda in the middle of nowhere, but slowly but surely there’s an interesting little creative enclave beginning to form and there’s actually more to do here than you think! Personally, I could just stay at Cuyama Buckhorn and sit by the pool all day, but I get the desire to expand your horizons and explore. Here are a few other things to put on your itinerary:
You are technically in Santa Barbara County after all! The more well-known winery in the area is called Condor’s Hope, and they practice what is called Dry Farming. It’s a 2-hour experience, pretty traditional, but very casual. For my true wine lovers… see if you can get a tasting at Sagebrush Annie’s with owner/winemaker Larry. Larry’s 87 and producing some BADASS Cabernets, mind you. You have to call to book, have the hotel help you with anything, leave a msg and cross your fingers because our tasting with Larry was one of the most unforgettable tastings I’ve ever had.
Hiking. Biking. Wildflower Viewing.
Most folks head to Los Padres National Forest for hiking/biking, but also check out Aliso Park, Ballinger Canyon, and Carrizo Plain National Monument (especially for the wildflowers)
The hotel can help book your reservations, but Hidden Creek Ranch offers a few different equine experiences. You can either book a 1-2 hour “Equine Connection” experience (umm, yes please), or they also offer “Horseback Archery” – if you book this you have to tell me.
Experience the Local Wildlife.
You can do some excellent bird watching at Bitter Creek Wildlife Refuge – which just so happens to be a California Condor release point! Be sure to also check out gaining access to Chimneas Ranch Foundation for some more (and much larger) creature watching.
Blue Sky Center.
I actually stayed at Blue Sky Center a few years ago, it’s a really cool concept! I’m a bit too bougie to go back but it’s an undeniably cool spot. And while you’re there check out the local airstrip, snap some pics.
1952 Vintage Finds.
Open only on the weekends and offering an epic collection of vintage goods (as you could only imagine in a place like New Cuyama). It comes highly recommended by Buckhorn owner Ferial (who sourced all of the incredible vintage design elements!)
Book A Themed Weekend at Cuyama Buckhorn.
Just to wrap this all up in a neat little bow, it’s worth noting that Buckhorn hosts a number of themed weekends/events/experiences to jump in on. They just hosted a whole “Wine & Wildflower experience”, but there are a number of wellness and even foodie-focused events in the works! Be sure to check their schedule.
If you have any questions or need any further travel recommendations, please do not hesitate to reach out. You know where to find me! And for an even deeper look into Buckhorn Cuyama, please feel free to visit my Instagram page and click on my “New Cuyama” highlight for a detailed account of my trip – and/or – watch my Cuyama Buckhorn Instagram Reel!