La Bella Sera: Hidden Gem in Paso Robles
206 Alexa Court, Paso Robles, CA 93446
A quick escape from LA lays the quaint little town of Paso Robles. A 3.5-hour drive from the big city leads you to relaxing, beautiful landscapes of the wine country. Just right off the main highway, 5 minutes from the city center is the Spanish style boutique hotel called La Bella Sera, where I stayed. Right away, the friendly front desk staff welcomed me. I stayed in one of their suites which was indeed quite comforting, like a mini apartment. Opening the door to the suite, to the right was a decent sized full kitchen with a bar counter, which over looked the little family room. There was a fireplace, flat screen on the wall, and off the to the side a balcony with a table and chairs. On the other side of the room was the bedroom with a closet. The bed looked soo enticing as the King Bed, which took up most of the room, was laced with large fluffy pillows, and white sheets. Making the full circle of the mini apartment, back towards the front door, was the bathroom. Inside was a handicapped shower, toilet and sink. There was some sexy electric blue lighting under the sink as a nice little nightlight!
My partner in crime and I decided to get a cab to see what the downtown area was like, so the front desk called one for us, they did warn us there was only one cab company in town so would be a 20 minute wait. While we were waiting, we wandered downstairs to Enoteca Restaurant & Bar to enjoy some glasses of local wine, and appetizers. The food was really great! As a pescatarian, I was VERY excited to find out that their menu had a wide array of choices, and plenty of fish options! The bartender was very knowledgeable in his wines, and knew how to pair the wines with the food we ordered. He was a fun, friendly guy, with a lot of tasting knowledge. We also loved the fact that our food came out of the kitchen pretty quickly! Our 20 minute wait turned into 45 minutes, but time passed quickly as we were enjoying the bar’s atmosphere. The front desk called the cab company again, but one of the staff member’s heard what was going on, was just getting off of work and offered us a ride downtown! Like I said, VERY friendly staff, and I was much impressed! She was also new at the hotel. So we decided to take her up on the offer and she dropped us off in the middle of the downtown area, and informed us of some great places to check out! Now that is great customer service!
We met up with some friends at Pappy Mc Gregor’s Pub and Grill, and were ready to eat. The waitress wasn't the brightest in the bunch, but we were so hungry. The food was normal bar food, but the drinks were pretty cheap and delish. The bar had a band playing in the back, and then later a DJ, which soon turned into a packed nightclub. There were few tables out back, so try and snag one early if you can. Apparently this is the only place to dance and open for late night in town!
We woke up early the next day to grab some early breakfast in the restaurant. We devoured delicious fruit, yogurt, and oatmeal before we were headed to the short drive to see the famous Hearst Castle. Paso Robles is the best place to stay while visiting wine country, and Hearst Castle as it is so centered near it all. The Hearst Castle consists of 165 rooms and127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways. It was designed by Julia Morgan for William Randolph Hearst, who inherited the 250,000 acres of the ranch’s land back in 1919 from his parents. The Hearst originally made their wealth through mining, gambling, and publishing companies- pretty much every major newspaper in the US, and still owns several newspapers and many radio stations to this day. They were major celebrities in their time, and one of the richest families in the US. The castle is not only beautifully designed, but full of millions of dollars in all kinds of art, even dating back to the Egyptians, which you get to experience and see while taking the tour. The indoor Roman pool, and the outdoor Neptune Pool will keep you in awe, but do NOT be tempted to jump in these pools as it's a $750 fine to you issued by the state park! I was considering- but once you jump in, how long do you actually have before they catch you and drag you out? It sure looks worth the fine! But don't be fooled as the entire property is full of hidden cameras, so they’d yank you out in a matter of seconds. Darn! There was even a zoo, and occasionally you can still see the wild zebra grazing in the pastures near the town of San Simeon. This castle truly is a masterpiece and all should DEDFINITELY come check out this piece of history. If only the castle could open up a few rooms for us to stay in!
After leaving the castle, we drove a short 10minute drive to the southern point of Big Sur, San Simeon Beach to see the hundreds of Elephant Seals that covered the beaches. It was incredible! There was a ton of parking, even though it was packed. Don't forget to bring your cameras for this one- I have never seen so many seals before! Some were basking in the sun, others frolicking in the waves, even witnessed a few fighting!
We headed back up to wine country, and stopped at a few wineries before they closed. The only downfall of the area is that most wineries close at 5:30, with very few exceptions closing at 6:30pm- I still find this to be very early! So we first stopped at Eagle Castle Winery. I guess we were still in a castle mood, because it was the design of the place that definitely pulled us into their lots. It was a mid-evil castle design, even equipped with a moat! The tastings were cheap, $5 to sample a few wines. I made my way down the white wines list, while the rest of the group tried the red wines. I have to say I only enjoyed the muscato and their champagne. The rest was not very good to me. I guess in this case, the prettier the building to lure us in meant the worse the wine was! It was like the evil witch from Snow White lured us into this castle, and we needed a quick exit!
We escaped the castle and made our way to the next spot, SummerWood Winery & Inn. The Southern Style estate and tasting rooms were very inviting, and their wine was outstanding! Now this winery produces lots of ultra-premium wines. What a difference from the last place we visited! I loved everything and could not decide what to get, but found the port so incredible that I had to have it! The ambience was so cheery, and the land was beautiful. I did notice the area out back where you would stomp grapes, and I got a little bit tipsy and considered pulling a scene from “I Love Lucy,” where she was stomping grapes. But, this is why you have great partner in crimes, to talk you out of such ideas! ☺
We rode into town next to hit up the Parrish Family Tasting Room before they closed. This was another great place, and the winetender was very sweet. I also loved the décor of the place! We sampled even greater wines here. My greatest discovery was the Wine Away spray! Of course since I was wearing a white dress, Murphy’s Law means it was only a matter of time before I spilled red wine on myself, and indeed I did here. But I tried the wine away spray and could NOT believe how well this worked, and in seconds! It’s like a miracle spray and you all need to know about it! I should be the new face of it! Call me crazy, (many do), but I also spilled some chocolate on me not long after the wine, so I tried the spray again wondering if it would work, and it restored my dress to like new in seconds as well! You HAVE to try this! (http://www.wineaway.com/)
We made our way back to the hotel, and after a long day, decided to shower then rest up and watch some tv in bed for a bit. A few hours later, our group wandered down to the pool area to enjoy some glasses of wines in the hot tub! The hot tub and pool were very relaxing, and dimly lit, to make it a sexy evening outside on our last night in town! If you have time, you should also check out The Spa at La Bellasera. They offer a wide range of spa treatments such as massage, warm stone massage, organic grape seed scrubs, facials, patchouli and lavender massage, reflexology, wellness packages, and more! They even have a little boutique store right next to the front desk check in where you can buy all types of organic lotions, soaps, candles, knick knacks for the bathroom and wine accessories since it does sit in the heart of the wine country! I had a hard time deciding on which soaps to choose but finally decided to buy one of each scent!
Check out was a breeze, and I really had a great stay at La Bella Serra! Paso Robles is a really great little town to visit with lots to experience and do! Just 3.5 hours from Los Angeles, and 4 hours from Modesto, it was a great meeting spot for our group to escape to. What a great weekend getaway without having to travel to far!