The inn at Mattei’s Tavern has been lovingly restored for years to come
To capitalize on the upcoming Pacific Coast Railroad station at Los Olivos, California, enterprising Swiss immigrant Felix Mattei opened a convivial hotel and restaurant in this stretch of the Santa Ynez Valley in 1886. Today, it has evolved into a 67-room luxury inn in Mattei’s Tavern, part From the Auberge Resorts group.
“Mattei Restaurant was a Central Coast bus stop that charmed everyone along the way,” says Nicole Campion, design director at Auberge. “Because of its history and the way people relate to it, we wanted to honor that — the building, the family, the close-knit community. Everyone there has a little piece of Matty.”
The renovation, courtesy of Santa Barbara-based DMHA Architecture and the San Francisco office of AvroKO (the firm recently designed Bear Restaurant at Auberge Resorts Stanly Ranch in Napa Valley) blends carefully preserved original structures with fascinating layers of storytelling, starting with the bar, the heart of The hostel.
“It’s been fondly remembered across generations,” says Greg Bradshaw, co-founder and principal of AvroKO, whose team uncovered the old back bar from storage, used distressed plaster on the walls, and restored the wood finish on the wood paneling. Importance”.
In the former ticket office, now the pub’s reception area, a dressing room display upholstered in existing carpet refers to the ‘carpet mat’ luggage of the past. Recent photographs of Felix and his wife Lucy — who deliberately moved away from the bar to capture her enthusiasm for the temperance movement — are also on display in the restaurant, which are rounded out by the work of their artist son Clarence at Felix’s Fed & Coffee, a transformation of the one-time Red Room decorated with a chandelier of the same color and paper Old wall. Meanwhile, Gin’s Tap Bar is conveniently located in what served as the sleeping quarters for Gin Lung Gin, the head chef in Mattei’s first incarnation.
Wandering between the buildings is part of Los Olivos’ appeal, and AvroKO wanted to extend that small-town vibe to the lodge, where the site’s small sizes create opportunities for “outdoor seating areas, fire pits, herb gardens, and lush lawns.” “The historic water tower in the middle of the property is a great focal point,” says Bradshaw.
The modest materials — white clapboard, oak, and painted brick — are also in keeping with the simplicity of the past. “Even the plumbing fixtures are all-natural brass that’s meant to tarnish over time so nothing looks too modern,” he adds.
Many details such as tarpaulin, burlap and iron are reminiscent of the area’s well-established ranching culture, including Los Rancheros Visitadores, a social club that counted among its ranks the likes of Walt Disney and Ronald Reagan. In the bar, for example, there is an installation of antique horseshoes mounted on horse nails and supported by plaques bearing the names of the members’ horses. Behind the reception desk are glass showcases displaying a sculptural set of stirrups and spurs, while the hand-painted tiles in the Tavern restroom depict bygone rancheros from a found book of Western-themed illustrations.
All of the fresh and homely guest rooms, complete with outdoor retreats, also pay homage to the lodge’s cottage roots by pairing “crisp white farmhouse veneer,” Campion says, with a “beautiful, sunny palette of golds, sage greens” and silvery lavender that connects with the earth.
This article originally appeared in the October 2023 issue of HD.