As daylight fades in Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe, the night sky fills with stars so numerous that it’s almost impossible to pick out the constellations among the multitudes of twinkling lights above. If you’re lucky, you might catch sight of an occasional shooting star on which to cast your wishes. All is quiet, as cooling breezes dance down the valley and you savor the day’s last glass of wine in one of the Western Hemisphere’s hot destinations for wine and food lovers. The magnificent star display is just one more value-added benefit of spending the night in the Valle.
Until recently, where to stay had been a conundrum with limited choices. Luckily, the stars have aligned and there are more beds than ever now. But, take heed: Almost all lodgings are small B&Bs with just a few rooms, and they fill up fast.
Here are some of the newer options. (English is spoken at all of these listed).
Casa Mayoral: This intimate B&B is tucked away down a long dirt road off the east side of Route 3, the main road that runs from Ensenada to Tecate, at about km 88.6 (Look for the easy-to-miss turnoff sign next to a cell tower). The four peaceful, rustically contemporary casitas are well appointed, airy and spacious, with very comfortable beds. An abundance of brick and wood in the décor gives the rooms a pleasantly organic feel. Each casita, three of which sleep up to four people and one that sleeps up to six, has a private wooden deck, perfect for relaxing on while gazing out over the valley.
A multi-course breakfast is included in the al fresco dining area. Dinners are available by advance arrangement.
Casa Ocho at Bruma: Opened since November 2015, Bruma is one of the newest B&Bs. Located at the northern end of the Valle on the road to L.A. Cetto winery, the architecturally intriguing complex makes liberal use of the native boulders and other materials, as well as a surfeit of glass to blur the boundaries between outside and in. Each of the five existing guest rooms are unique in design, with several additional rooms coming soon. Breakfast under one of the four huge oak trees or in the welcoming kitchen is included, and lunch and dinner are available with advance reservation.
On a lovely summer day, few things can beat lounging by the infinity edge pool and jacuzzi overlooking the vineyards, or dozing in a hammock in the shade of a leafy oak with a chorus of birds to set the soundtrack.
Casa Ocho is the first phase in the Bruma complex that will eventually include a 40-room hotel, winery and event space, but for now the tranquil solitude is most appealing.
Finca Divina: As if it weren’t enough that chef Javier Plascencia is one of the most respected chefs and restaurateurs in Baja (Misión 19, Finca Altozano, Erizo Baja Fish House, etc.) and San Diego (Bracero), he has expanded his repertoire to include this “divine” B&B recently opened in San Antonio de las Minas, at the southwestern end of the Valle.
The formerly rustic family home has been snazzily remodeled to include three gracious guest rooms and baths, with eight additional rooms planned in the next year. Guests can enjoy the house’s large great room and dining area, and a full kitchen, all with a comfortably contemporary ambience. The outdoor amenities include a pool and Jacuzzi, and a full grilling station.
Hotel Boutique Valle de Guadalupe: With 21 brightly colored rooms, family-run Hotel Boutique is currently the largest lodging option in the Valle but, even so, is almost always completely booked. Beautifully landscaped grounds, a large pool and Jacuzzi, an organic garden that supplies produce for Fuego, the hotel’s restaurant and bar, vineyards and a stable whose denizens include horses, goats, sheep, a potbellied pig, peacocks and various other barnyard fowl, all add to Hotel Boutique’s amenities. Bikes are available for guests who want to brave the surrounding bumpy dirt roads along the Valle’s vineyards, and horseback riding, with or without wine tastings, is offered as well.
Hotel Boutique is located in the El Porvenir area, down a zigzag of dirt roads outside of the town of Francisco Zarco.
Rancho L-86: The Valle’s newest B&B has just opened this month in the town of San Antonio de Las Minas, at the former site of a brick factory (whose bricks were always stamped L-86). Guests can choose between five two-story lofts with fully equipped kitchens or six single rooms. All are air conditioned and include Wi-Fi. The spacious property also includes a large outdoor event space, greenhouses and a soon-to-be-opened wine shop and deli. A full restaurant is planned for next year.
Long standing favorites in the Valle de Guadalupe include:
Adobe Guadalupe: Adobe Guadalupe was one of the first winery B&Bs in the Valle, and in the last year, the six guest rooms have been updated to a cheery freshness. Full breakfast in the cozy kitchen and wine tasting for two in the “cava” are included. In addition to widely acclaimed wines, Adobe Guadalupe is known for its herd of Azteca horses, offering horseback riding and equestrian events at the well-kept stables. Other amenities include a pool and Jacuzzi, seasonal al fresco restaurant, a casual food truck, and the option of four-course dinners in the formal dining room.
La Villa del Valle: It may not be the easiest place to get to, but the six guest rooms at genteel La Villa del Valle are often completely booked on weekends for months in advance. Follow the small signs down winding, bumpy dirt roads and eventually you’ll come to a grand Tuscan-style villa, perched high on a hill with commanding views of vineyards, gardens, the internationally acclaimed restaurant Corazón de Tierra and the Vena Cava Winery, all elements of the 70-acre property owned by British ex-pats Phil and Eileen Gregory. Shady verandas, a pool, Jacuzzi, bocce court, and labyrinth are some of the amenities guests enjoy outdoors; indoors, they can make themselves at home in the gracious living and dining rooms, and indulge in a complimentary full breakfast and an evening glass of wine and botana.
Casa Ocho at Bruma: Carretera Tecate-Ensenada km 74, Valle de Guadalupe; http://bruma.mx; email@example.com; phone (from U.S.) 011 52 646-116-8031. About $250 per night. Adults preferred, but families with children have the option of renting the entire house. No Wi-Fi.
Finca Divina: Route 3, km 93.5, San Antonio de las Minas; www.fincaladivina.com/eng; firstname.lastname@example.org; phone (from U.S.) 011 52 646-156-8045. Rates are $215 weekdays, $235 weekends, and include a full breakfast. The entire house is available for $750 (no breakfast).
Hotel Boutique Valle de Guadalupe: Camino de los Ranchos No. 1, Parcela No. 7;www.hoteldelvalledeguadalupe.com.mx; phone (from U.S.) 011 52 646 155 2164. Rates are $170 to $240.
Rancho L-86: Calle C sin numero, San Antonio de las Minas; http://ranchol86.com; email@example.com; phone (from U.S.) 011 52-646-155-3180. One-bedroom loft (sleeps 4) is $250 per night; two-bedroom loft (sleeps 6) is $300; single room (sleeps 2) is $175.
Adobe Guadalupe: Parcela A-1, Col. Rusa de Guadalupe; www.adobeguadalupe.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; phone (from U.S.) 011 52 646 155 2094. About $210 per night
La Villa del Valle: Rancho San Marcos Toros Pintos, S/N km 88.300, Francisco Zarco, 22750;www.lavilladelvalle.com; email@example.com; phone (818) 207-7130. Rates are $225 weeknights, $245 weekends (two-night minimum on weekends); rates higher for festivals and holidays.
Lemlin is a San Diego-based freelance travel writer.