“Funky eco-chic hotel with living roof, fun restaurant and superb cocktails”
The 36 rooms are spread out over 4 floors and all share a spare, fresh aesthetic that doesn't stint on comfort. Highlight colours are lime green and orange; bamboo floors have a warm grain that also adds visual texture to the room.
We loved the details: keycards inserted upon entry turn on lights, heat and air-conditioning; sliding doors with leather hand pulls maximise space. Beds wear soft organic Coyuchi cotton sheets and are backed by padded green headboards. White louvered doors open either to a funky wrought-iron balcony or patio screened by bamboo. Whimsical prints of native tree species inspired by 19th-century botanic illustrations hang in all rooms.
Eco-King rooms make up the majority of accommodations and have walk-in showers in the all-white tiled bathrooms (sinks are a little splashy). Eco-Studios have a Japanese-inspired soaking tub, too. Both categories can be made up as twins.
The Eco-Suites have two rooms each with its own balcony - the front one overlooks the town, the other to the rear and pool - and the bed cannot be converted to a twin. Instead, two bedrooms can be created as the living room has a double sofabed and separate toilet. The large bathroom has a plunge tub as well as double walk-in shower.
Toiletries are of natural ingredients, custom-made for the hotel and in refillable containers (natch). Every room has an ergonomic desk and chair, contemporary furniture is made of reclaimed wood and there are large built in cupboards. You get a glass carafe and glasses to refill at the water bar (located on every floor, with a choice of still or sparkling H20). Note you shouldn't experience street noise or restaurant chatter as all windows are double-glazed to strive to be as environmentally sound as possible; however side and street-facing rooms may get some on busy weekends.
You eat breakfast in the light-filled Receptobar between 6-10am, or you can take it up to your room. Get there early to make sure you find a full selection and choose from homemade granola, an assortment of yummy pastries and muffins, hard boiled eggs and fruit, juices and local Flying Goat coffee and tea.
Contemporary spoonbar restaurant takes up the rest of the ground floor space; in keeping with the sustainable ethos, its tables are made of reclaimed acacia wood. The menu is modern Mediterranean regional fare and, naturally, changes regularly according to season. Executive Chef Rudy Mihal is passionate about sourcing local ingredients and prides himself on his good relations with local farmers.
We started with the small bites. I had never had deep fried stuffed olives before - a real burst of concentrated flavour - and I loved the spicy lamb meatballs.
Appetizer choices included pork belly with winter squash puree, crab salad with grapefruit, and duck liver pate with local date jam. There's also a seafood selection of local oysters and scallops if you're in a romantic mood. Mains are either grains and pasta (think couscous with aubergine or toasted faro with wild mushrooms) or larger plates such as Moorish style chicken or sea bass with champagne vinaigrette. All dishes are presented simply without pomp, this is a place of relaxed good cheer not formal dining.
You can't stay here without sampling master mixologist Scott Beattie's artisanal cocktails. He fervently believes that 'great cocktails must be made entirely from great ingredients', and regional, organic and sustainable ones to boot - the few spirits from further afield available were considered special enough to import. I spent nearly an hour just reading the absolutely fascinating cocktail menu, which delves into the history of certain potions, and explores both heritage spirits and the newer craft-distilled local spirits. He runs popular cocktail making classes too.
Eating out is an easy alternative with such choice in Healdsburg. Barndiva, which specialises in farm-to-restaurant cuisine, is across a parking lot opposite. The locals like dining at Scopa; Bistro Ralph's is one of the original eateries around the plaza. Sakeo serves sushi.
Children are very welcome at h2hotel which has a relaxed 'can do' attitude. It's fun, vibrant and in a great location; the only downside is that when we visited, staff weren't as 'full service' as they could have been. We trust that will have improved!
The best overall are the Eco Suites, which have a double bedroom and a lounge with double sofa bed. There's plenty of space and they have a bathtub and shower.
The hotel can refer you to a babysitting service. You need to give 72 hours notice, or, ideally, request when booking. There's a 4-hour minimum charge and you'll have to pay a small fee to cover transportation (normal for US babysitting services). See rates.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
A kids' menu is available in spoonbar - small plates of mac and cheese, chicken fingers, cheeseburgers - and it also offers an early dinner/high tea. Hotel staff can give you access to microwaves for baby food warming if needed. There are also takeaways (including picnics, for taking to wineries), food shops and child-friendly eateries nearby.
The hotel requests that kids are attended at all times.