1. h2hotel, Healdsburg
Lean, mean and green. That could be the tag line for h2hotel, debuted in July. It’s lean: only 36 guest rooms on a postage stamp size property of 24,000 square feet about a block south of Healdsburg Plaza. It’s mean – as in priced right - with rooms starting at around $230. And it’s green: The hotel owners (same as the ultra-luxe Hotel Healdsburg) are striving for a LEED gold certification for the property’s construction of solar heating, a living roof planted in sod, an underground water cistern, and sustainable and recycled materials used throughout. Still, eco-style is high style in a touch of funky Japanese wabi-sabi, with elegant utilitarian rooms done in bamboo floors and showcasing enormous bathrooms enhanced by heated floors and ofuros. Check out Spoonbar restaurant and lounge in the lobby for Mediterranean bites and mixology cocktails.
Details: 219 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, 707-922-5251, h2hotel.com.
2. DuChamp Hotel, Healdsburg
Six luxurious, contemporary cottages nestle amid a grove of fifty-year-old olive trees, accented by an oasis of private terraces, pool and gardens. You pay a bit for the privacy, but not as much as you might think – rates average around $350-$425. Except for the bucolic setting, you might forget you’re in Sonoma. The look is contemporary European after the style of the French artist Marcel DuChamp, but all you need to do is glance out the window – the hotel is actually on the grounds of DuChamp Estate Winery, just two blocks off Healdsburg’s main plaza. In keeping with the art theme, metal-roofed villas are named Warhol, Man Ray, Picasso and Miro, and the works of each master influence the respective villa's décor. Start the day with a complimentary European-style breakfast, and end with a relaxing soak in the Jacuzzi followed by a glass of wine in front of your en-suite fireplace.
Details: 421 Foss Street, Healdsburg, 707-431-1300, duchamphotel.com.
3. El Dorado Hotel, Sonoma
This is one of vintage Sonoma’s most stunning restorations. The 1843 inn, located on the grand Sonoma Plaza, was originally the home of Don Salvador Vallejo, the last Mexican commandant of Sonoma. Now, it is an intimate B&B-style hotel, with just 23 rooms in the main building, and four separate bungalows. Settle into luxury with four-poster beds and private balconies, but don’t expect old-fashioned. These sleek rooms are elegant in accent paints of turquoise and chartreuse, with contemporary furnishings and the most modern technology from iPod docking stations to Internet. For recreation, there is a lovely swimming pool, and the hip, farm-to-table inspired El Dorado Kitchen and bar.
Details: 405 First Street West, Sonoma, 707-996-3030, eldoradosonoma.com.
4. Hotel Healdsburg, Healdsburg
The property feels large, because of the genius architecture of enormous interior windows flanking wide hallways, and open space in courtyards, atriums and balcony gardens. Yet there are only 55 rooms overlooking Healdsburg's historic town plaza. The design is streamlined, sophisticated and simple, which translates to spacious rooms including baths that are nearly the size of many other hotels’ bedrooms (indulge in the six-foot long soaking tubs, private balconies, sitting rooms and wet bars in the suites). Any stay should include a visit to The Spa, an intimate oasis of six treatment rooms and personalized body and beauty treatments, followed by a plunge in the swimming pool. This is a popular gathering spot, too, for well-heeled locals who like to relax in the in the Fireside Lounge off the lobby, for drinks and appetizers from the adjacent Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen.
Details: 25 Matheson Street, Healdsburg, 707-431-2800, hotelhealdsburg.com.
5. Les Mars Hotel, Healdsburg
Given that this hotel has such an opulent, European lobby (and that it shares an entry with the posh Cyrus restaurant), you would expect some over-the-top treatment. But quiet money is the mood here – rooms can command more than $1,000 – so suites are decorated in tasteful antiques from the 18th and 19th centuries, and anchored by fireplaces. There are sixteen rooms over two floors, each uniquely furnished, and the modern world amenities like TVs and radios are tastefully tucked away within Louis XV armoires or leather bound books. Staff is quiet and unobtrusive, but oh-so-attentive, and before you even think of it, your draped four-poster bed will have its luxurious Italian linens turned down, and that book you requested from the library downstairs will be waiting on your nightstand.
Details: 27 North Street, Healdsburg, 707-433-4211, lesmarshotel.com.
6. Kenwood Inn & Spa, Kenwood
This is truly one of Sonoma County’s best-kept secrets. It’s tucked in an unlikely place - most of us have only seen it as a tiny Mediterranean-style property on the edge of Highway 12 and have little idea what it is. Yet it’s a lavish 29-room resort, with a luxurious spa, multiple pools and hot tubs, and even a private, 35-seat restaurant that is open only to Inn guests. Each room is different, yet all are posh palace retreats, from the fireplace sitting area, to the castle-like ambience of polished concrete floors and plaster walls set with iron framed windows, to the baths that are nearly large enough to live in. Breakfast is included (as one might hope, since a Tuscany-style suite can go for $800 per night). And it is a remarkable meal, from a private chef who crafts fanciful chilaquiles; Cajun-spiced jambalaya with sausage and bacon topped with chive-mascarpone scrambled eggs; or creamy soft polenta topped with poached eggs, applewood smoked bacon and red pepper coulis.
Details: 10400 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, 707-833-1293, kenwoodinn.com.
7. Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant, Forestville
If the typical farmer actually lived this well, we would all be farmers. This rural property is a ravishing mix of gorgeous guest rooms, a restaurant fed by farm-fresh food, and a seasonally inspired spa. Yet the owners, siblings Catherine and Joe Bartolomei, come from fifth generation farmers, so that counts. Recently, the property underwent an expansion and redesign of the circa-1870 hideaway, where, amid the towering redwoods of the Russian River Valley, crews added eight new guest rooms housed in an elegant new “barn,” refreshed the Inn’s original ten guest rooms, and brightened the Michelin-starred restaurant that fronts the property. Baths are gussied with large jetted tubs and saunas or steam showers, morning starts with full breakfast and fresh flowers in your room, and in the afternoon, you can take wine tasting classes with Sonoma County's only Master Sommelier, then move on to homemade cookies and milk.
Details: 7871 River Road, Forestville, 707-887-3300, farmhouseinn.com.
8. Inn At Occidental, Occidental
With 16 guest rooms and a two-bedroom cottage, this is larger than a typical B&B, but just as cozy. Surrounded by a canopy of redwoods in the charming village of Occidental, it’s quiet enough to bring your dog for a vacation of his own, but still AAA Four-Diamond caliber. The feel is laidback, in whimsical American folk art replete with a colorful collection of quilts and quirky rooster pillows. Colors are bright, rooms are spacious, and some have draped four-posted beds.
Details: 3657 Church Street, Occidental, 707-874-1047, innatoccidental.com.
9. Healdsburg Modern Cottages, Healdsburg
There are four rooms, and no reception center. Guests check in at Studio Barndiva around the corner, and the minimum is a three-night stay policy from May 1 through November 1. Why the popularity? Because The Healdsburg Modern Cottages are everything their name implies – deliciously contemporary in immaculate design, hidden behind a white fence and tucked right off Healdsburg Plaza. The bungalows are named “Eileen,” “George,” “Charles” and “Ray,” but for a master of modernism rather than a Seinfeld episode. Cottage-like inside? Not. Instead, find iconic mod furnishings, stark white walls and black slate fireplaces finished with a private terrace and access to the tiny swimming pool.
Details: 231 Center Street, Healdsburg, 866-964-0110, healdsburgcottages.com.
10. Madrona Manor, Healdsburg
For locals, Madrona may be better known for its Michelin-star executive chef Jesse Mallgren and his exquisite restaurant. Yet the historic 1881 Victorian mansion which houses the restaurant is also an Inn, lovingly restored by Manor owners Bill and Trudi Konrad. The eight acres of meticulously landscaped gardens and wooded grounds are home to 18 rooms/suites with fireplaces, and some with large balconies or decks. Take your gourmet buffet breakfast in the estate parlor, if you can draw yourself away from your room outfitted in stately antique furniture worthy of a royal family, pillow-top mattresses and feather-soft linens.
Details: 1001 Westside Road, Healdsburg, 800-258-4003, madronamanor.com.
Tip: Why lug your luggage? Enjoy your boutique hotel escape to its fullest, with the driving and concierge service of Pure Luxury Transportation.