“A book of verses underneath the bough, a loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou” defined romance for the Persian poet Omar Khayyam some 900 years ago. While the book of poetry might be optional now, modern romance seekers will find Sonoma Wine Country well-stocked on the bread and wine front, and equally so on discreet bowers for romantic getaways. Here are some of our favorites, from in and around historic Sonoma to trendy Healdsburg.
Featured Photo: Kenwood Inn & Spa
El Dorado Hotel & Kitchen
With just 27 rooms, this boutique hotel and companion restaurant provide an intimate oasis on Sonoma Plaza. The rustic-industrial chic rooms, featuring terrazzo tile floors and wrought-iron bed, overlook the pool, patio with fig trees or the historic town square; all offer plush bed linens and comfy robes, and many have plantation shutters and French doors leading to a private balcony or terrace. El Dorado shares its name and address with El Dorado Kitchen, whose executive chef Armando Navarro lists Daniel Boulud and Le Bernardin in New York as well as Napa Valley’s Auberge du Soleil, and Redd among his culinary credits. His Sonoma-sourced menus are available daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, with brunch on weekends.
TIP: When temperatures drop, warm up at the guests-only fireplace lounge, or perk yourself up with the in-room espresso machine. The new El Dorado Cantina offers Navarro’s to-go take on Mexican and Central American street-food specialities, including tacos, nachos, and pupusas — take on a picnic lunch or nosh in your room.
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa
Named for the historic site 2.5 miles south founded by Franciscan monks from Spain, this grande dame of Wine Country hotels was built in 1927 on the site of an earlier hot springs resort. In more recent years, it’s been renowned for its 40,000-square-foot, European-style Willow Stream Spa, including 30 treatment rooms, outdoor mineral water baths, Watsu pool and a custom “rain tunnel.” Couples can luxuriate with dual 60- or 90-minute massages in the private couples’ suite. The 13-acre grounds are large and lush enough to discover private outdoor nooks as well.
TIP: Excellent dining and drinking options abound on site, from casually elegant (Sante Kitchen) to just casual (Cali Forno food truck), with more romantic dining nearby, on Sonoma Plaza. Even smaller rooms — starting at 320 square feet — seem commodious, but book a suite for the most sumptuous experience; the 600-square-foot Williams Sonoma Suite, for example, showcases furnishings and accessories from the famed retailer.
Harmon Guest House
Set in the charming thick of things in downtown Healdsburg, this modern, eco-friendly hotel with 39 rooms is loaded with thoughtful touches at every turn. All rooms have balconies or patios with views of the mountains, interior courtyard, or Creekside Deck. Works created by California artists are displayed in guestrooms as well as public spaces including halls and the main stairwell. Green elements and amenities include LED lighting, a solar thermal water heating system, electric car charging stations, and a rainwater harvesting system. The property earned the prestigious LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2019.
TIP: Bamboo thriving between balconies in the hotel’s interior courtyard provides welcome privacy and shade. Surrounded by woods, the solar-heated pool offers an intimate escape. The Rooftop terrace boasts views of the Healdsburg skyline and Fitch Mountain. It’s a lovely spot to order a before dinner drink and watch the sunset.
Healdsburg Inn on the Plaza
Another well-priced property for wooing in the Wine Country, this is right on the trendy main square of Healdsburg. The 12 guest rooms in this 1901 building offer high ceilings and tall windows, and some sport balconies, exposed brick walls and/or period details like claw-foot tubs and crown molding, creating a sense of spaciousness and intimacy at the same time. As a member of the Four Sisters Inns collection, rates include a chef-made breakfast for two, delivered to your room, as well as a “mini-picnic” bag of wine, cheese and homemade cookies.
TIP: Concierge services are complimentary and can help focus forays into Healdsburg and the Russian River Valley’s rich trove of wineries and restaurants. Check out free loaner bicycles for two-wheel touring around town.
Hotel Les Mars
Just a block away from Healdsburg’s bustling town square, but brimming with French charm, this elegant 16-room inn opened in 2005 with 16 individually appointed rooms, featuring 17th and 18th century antiques, four-poster beds with custom linens, sitting areas with gas fireplaces and handsome writing desks (in case you feel like composing a billet-doux on the spot.) Complimentary continental breakfast and afternoon wine and cheese bracket a day’s foray into Wine Country; valet parking is also included.
TIP: Sleeping on the hand-carved beds is bliss, thanks to the exclusive mattress, high-end Italian linens and locally sourced pillows and duvets. The hotel’s Chalkboard restaurant features the creative seasonal cuisine and personalized wine pairings of executive chef Forest Lee Kellogg.
Inn at Sonoma
You don’t have to spend a fortune to find a romantic oasis in Sonoma. Just a block off the town of Sonoma’s historic plaza, this member of the Four Sisters Inns boutique hotel brand offers gas fireplaces in its 27 rooms, with 19 in the modern main building and eight in the neighboring, renovated Vintners Cottage. While amenities like private patios and jetted tubs and the palette vary among the rooms with a queen, king or two queen beds all benefit from the daily hot breakfast and wine and cheese “mini picnic” in a brown bag, with fresh-made cookies also tucked inside.
TIP: The two-story, wood-paneled inn is set back from busy Broadway (Highway 12) within an easy walk of tasting rooms, cafes, shops, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art and the northernmost mission founded by Spanish monks in colonial times. Loaner bikes (first-come, first-serve) make even more of the area’s sights accessible.
Kenwood Inn & Spa
Another member of the estimable Four Sisters boutique hotel group, this Mediterranean-style hideaway in Sonoma’s rural Valley of the Moon abounds with tranquil enclaves for tête-à-têtes or walking hand in hand. Huge oaks, vineyards and orchards surround the 2.5-acre grounds, with three garden courtyards, two pools, and a hot tub. The 29 rooms in vine-covered brick or stone buildings all offer private outdoor entrances, gas fireplaces, feather beds; some include jetted tubs and private balconies or terraces. Hotel guests receive a significant discount on treatments at the Spa at Kenwood Inn, which focuses on personalized therapies.
TIP: On most days, the “sparkling pool” and hot tub on the inn’s north side benefit from poolside service of drinks and small bites, while the 3-foot-deep “warming pool” on the south side is adults-only. Guests have exclusive access to the Spa at Kenwood Inn Friday through Sunday.
MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa
This art-driven, 64-room compound completed a $25 million transformation in 2019, turning a somewhat dated boutique inn into a stylish luxury getaway with destination-worthy dining. The six-acre resort, abloom with rose gardens and other lush landscaping, includes a seamless mix of renovated historic buildings and more recent additions. Couples should book a garden shower suite, set in a farmhouse-style cottage, to enjoy a private patio with discreetly shielded outdoor shower, or pick a premium suite with residential proportions for reconnecting.
TIP: The Spa at MacArthur prides itself on “farm to massage table” treatments, based on the herbs, flowers and fruits from the gardens; couples can feel the heat in the coed steam room before indulging in a couples massage. Make a reservation for a seasonal, locally sourced Mediterranean meal at Layla, created by award-winning Chopped chef Cole Dickinson, or settle into the clubby bar for craft cocktails and burgers.