When this season’s contestants on MasterChef Australia started stretching their culinary boundaries into California, they found a rich selection of wines, local crops, and thoughtfully sourced cheeses and olive oils. They also stayed in some great hotels—from luxurious resorts in San Diego to excellent values in wine country. If you want to follow the culinary trail left by the show, here are four hotels, listed north to south, where you can recharge along the way.
Hampton Inn & Suites Napa Valley
This recently opened branch of the reliable brand offers proof that a wine-country getaway need not be extravagant to be a little indulgent. Located in the town of Napa, the hotel has excellent access: You can easily walk to the Napa Valley Vine Trail, the paved, 75-km hike-and-bike trail that runs from Vallejo, to the south, all the way to Calistoga.
The hotel offers solid creature comforts like a heated pool and a stone patio with fire pits, and plenty of rooms come with balconies and views of the Napa River. Either way, you get the free perks that the brand is known for, like the all-important free hot breakfast, and a complimentary “evening social” that includes tastings of local wines. Ask about specials that bundle your stay with day trips on the nearby Napa Valley Wine Train.
Hotel Zeppelin, San Francisco
A short walk from Union Square, this 196-room boutique hotel has a rock ’n’ roll heart, but without feeling unruly. It channels San Francisco’s counterculture tradition with retro-mod décor, a brushed-metal colour palette, and vintage concert posters paying tribute to local music icons from Jerry Garcia to Huey Lewis. Some rooms even feature vintage turntables, stocked with vinyl ready for spinning.
Stop in the lobby at the Zeppelin Cafe and you’ll find a microcosm of excellent San Francisco coffee culture, too. The coffeehouse offers pour-overs, cappuccinos, and more made with locally roasted Sightglass beans, as well as scones, brioche, and muffins from Fillmore bakery Jane San Francisco. And while the café includes an after-hours bar, the hotel expands its definition of partying with its basement Peace game room, equipped with quick-shot basketball, Skee-Ball, and a huge electronic Bingo board.
InterContinental Los Angeles
Like any L.A insider, this 359-room hotel in Century City has an elegant reserve: a décor of cool neutral tones and a very respectable address. It sits just outside Beverly Hills and offers plenty of A-list-worthy amenities: Every room has Italian marble bathrooms and a balcony or terrace, many with views of the Hollywood Hills and beyond. Plus, you have free use of the hotel’s town car service, which can ferry you to Rodeo Drive, scarcely a mile away.
The onsite restaurant Mari, meanwhile, features an organically minded menu—with anything from a Thousand Island–topped burger to a Peruvian rock snapper stew. Pair your dinner (and good people-watching) with a Lemongrass Mojito or a Looking Glass cocktail made with raspberry vodka, white cranberry, and Prosecco.
Estancia La Jolla
Tucked discreetly behind palms and Torrey pine trees in the San Diego enclave, this 210-room hotel puts you surprisingly close to what people love about La Jolla: You’re a short drive from the beaches and Torrey Pines Golf Course, and you’re nearly walking distance from the La Jolla Playhouse the Birch Aquarium.
It’s tempting, though, just to stay put at this AAA Four Diamond Spanish-style resort, with its cabana-lined saltwater pool and a renowned spa (try the ESPA sea-stone massage). Don’t miss dinner, either: Mustangs & Burros, in an adobe-brick setting, serves Southwestern small plates—like duck enchiladas or Soyrizo-and-sweet-corn empanadas—alongside house-made sangria and Herradura tequila margaritas.