What it’s like in Harry and Meghan’s Montecito
As the Sussex’s celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary, we spend a weekend in their neighbourhood
This week Harry and Meghan celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. The pair tied the knot on May 19, 2018 in what was one of the most joyous royal weddings of all time. Back then, on that sunny day in Windsor, no-one would have predicted that by their fifth – wooden – anniversary, they would have made the ultimate tree-change and moved to Montecito, California. Our fabulous American Royal List reporter, Frances Rivetti, took a trip to the Pacific-Ocean-fronting paradise to report what it’s like to live there:
Montecito, the peaceful, super-private, panoramic enclave of a not-so-secret roster of ultra-elite residents, is home-sweet-multi-million-dollar-home to Harry and Meghan’s family of four. And if it’s good enough for the Sussexes, it’s good enough for us.
A winding, two-hour drive north of Los Angeles brings you to Montecito. We soak in its subtle Southern California vibe and pleasant, Mediterranean climate with a drive-by of its upper-village gates of gorgeously-landscaped, lavish, hillside estates of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their star-studded neighbours, Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Rob Lowe, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ariana Grande, Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom.
Locals are largely unfazed by celebrity sightings. Sitting next to someone you’re accustomed to seeing on the screen as they sip their morning green juice or dandelion coffee-alternative is no biggie in the boutique eateries of effortlessly-chic Coast Village Road. Everyone will tell you no-one bats an eyelid when Harry and Meghan step out for a casual mid-week brunch at Lucky’s, Montecito’s classic, old-school steakhouse with its wainscoted walls and friendly service.
Sometimes the Sussex’s venture to neighbouring Santa Barbara, dining at small, Central Coast seasonal specialty restaurants such as The Lark. Like his dad, King Charles, Harry is a fan of locally-sourced and responsibly-grown food.
Montecito Country Mart is the modern, open-air, mini-mall for those who already have almost everything. Splendid shops include Poppy Marche for a curated collection of luxe childrenswear with the kind of heritage and European brands fit for princes and princesses. Toy Crazy calls for a treat or two from its shelves of high-end children’s games, puzzles, creative play toys, arts and crafts and outdoor activity kits.
Residents stock up on expensive scented candles and table linens from Hudson Grace and kit themselves out in casual clothing from James Perse. Then they refuel in the scrumptious and stylishly-minimalist Merci Montecito. Down the road is one of the world’s top jewellers, whose discerning billionaire clients are drawn to veteran adventurer and artist Daniel Gibbings’ classically-inspired designs.
Top pick for booking an ultra-exclusive stay in the Montecito noble-hood is Rosewood Miramar Beach Club with its unparalleled views, perched on the ocean edge in 16 sweeping acres of beachfront suites and family bungalows. Beach yoga, sunset waterfront walks, craft cocktails, six restaurants, two pools and a five-star athletic and spa facility, bubble hour, beach bootcamp and stars and Smores for the kids seal this imperial deal. Another five-star luxury inn is the legendary San Ysidro Ranch whose historical guest list includes Winston Churchill and honeymooners John and Jackie Kennedy. Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh exchanged midnight wedding vows on these hallowed grounds.
Resist the urge to photobomb Montecito’s famous locals as they frequent both Stonehouse and Plow & Angel for magnificent and memorable meals amongst the property’s groves of gnarled oaks, citrus and olives trees. Sweet orange blossom, magnolias and jasmine scent this romantic location with its cottages of antiques, stone fireplaces, four-posters and outdoor rainfall showers.
Anyone for a princely game of polo? Established in 1911, the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club is the third-oldest polo facility in the US and where Prince Harry plays. There is plenty to do in the area for the rest of us. From sunbathing to surfing, hiking out to Inspiration Point and a visit to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, the epic Madame Ganna Walska’s Lotus-Land and the zoo. The Old Mission, several museums, historic landmarks and outstanding wineries await.
And for music lovers, check the schedule for the iconic outdoor Santa Barbara Bowl, tucked into the foothills since 1936. Harry and Meghan were spotted at a Jack Johnson concert, held at the bowl last October.
How to get there: You can fly from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Santa Barbara, or drive from LA to Montecito in around two hours.
For more information: Visit Santa Barbara.
Read more from Frances Rivetti at southernsonomacountrylife.com
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