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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Sextantio, Le Grotte della Civita Hotel Matera

I first saw pictures of the fabulous Le Grotte della Civita hotel on and I was captivated. It's an incredible place and I can't resist sharing some of the pictures. The hotel is stylish but simple beautifully expressed as a pared down luxury. It is  the perfect marriage of a modern aesthetic joined with the natural  beauty and architectural form of  the traditional cave dwellings or sassi as they are known in Matera. Romantic, sparse, elegant and cool in the face of the blinding summer heat, the Grotte della Civita is one of the most memorable places I have stayed and I highly recommend it.
Our room was long and had been dug right out of the hillside. the door was the only opening to the natural light and so the room was lit with candles and discreetly hidden and dimly glowing bulbs. With temperatures above 40 degrees we were happy to shut out the heat. Behind the bed was an enormous low egg shaped bath which you can see below, and behind that a smaller, but not entirely separate, bathroom.
As you can see even the loo is trendy! Everything here was   deliberately chosen, even the wilted flowers left casually on the dining room tables. 

The hotel is on the edge of the old city overlooking the countryside. With a small patio to sit out and admire the view the situation could not be more beautiful. 

Tip: We asked to see an number of rooms and there were all lovely. Even the standard rooms are quite large. We booked through Kiwi Advantage for a free upgrade which I recommend.