Just spent 3 nights in the Vineyard Suite at the Ballard Inn and had a wonderful time. We didn't really know what to expect as Ballard is the tinest town that doesn't appear on all maps. It's actually in the perfect location for wine tasting in 3 main regions of the Santa Ynez area...less than 10 minutes drive to Solvang, or Los Olivos or Santa Ynez. There must be over 60 wineries within a 30 minute drive from Ballard so the biggest challenge is which ones to visit! Inb Los Olivos, you can walk two blocks of the Grand Avenue with a dozen+ tasting rooms side by side -- a very efficient way if you're pressed for time or don't want to drive, although without the fun of visiting actual wineries.
The Vineyard Suite is very charming with furniture that looks as if it were made from grape vines....much more comfortable than that sounds. The room has a king bed and small glass dining table with 2 chairs in a nice size room. Interestingly, the basin is in an "antique" vanity in the main room, outside of the shower and toilet room. It works.
I peeked in a couple of the other rooms and they're all decorated quite uniquely, but all very nice. Some of the suites had a fireplace, but no dining table. Note that all the sleeping rooms are on the second floor...and there is no elevator. There are also no tv's in the rooms -- a smallish set is hidden in an armoire in the public sitting area.
The included breakfasts are a step above a normal b&b, with 4-5 selections on the menu. It's basically a small restaurant with fruit, juices, cereals and muffins set out. Each guest then orders a hot dish. There were two special breakfasts offered each morning.
There's nightly turn-down service with freshly-baked cookies left on the pillows. At 4:30 - 5:30 daily, there's complimentary wine and finger-food in the living room where it's fun to meet the other guests in the inn.
We had dinner in the dining room one evening and were impressed with the cuisine. The chef is originaly from Indonesia but he's had a lot of West Coast experience which results in an interesting menu with an international flavor. It's one of the top local restaurants and non-hotel guests drop by just for dinner; you definitely need a reservation. The restaurant is closed on Monday and Tuesday, which sent us out searching for other outlets. There is a great selection of excellent restaurants nearby -- our favorites being Don Carlitos and Trattorio Grappolo.
I'd have no reservations recommending the Ballard Inn for couples. It generally seems to host an older clientele and would definitely not be appropriate for families with children.
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- Also Known As:
- Ballard Hotel Ballard