Hotel Healdsburg

Healdsburg, Napa & Sonoma, United States Book from

Reviewed by Nadine Mellor
A superb hotel offering the best of gourmet hospitality in haute Healdsburg
Healdsburg is just 75 minutes north of San Francisco and is the epicentre of fine living in Northern Sonoma. A wine capital, it is sited at the confluence of 3 wine-producing regions - Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander Valley - each with its own grape varietal. There are 30 different tasting rooms in town, as well as wonderful restaurants, designer shops, galleries and a farmer's market twice weekly in season.

Upscale Hotel Healdsburg is right on the historic town plaza, and has 55 modern classic rooms and suites with sleek spacious bathrooms. The hotel is spread out over 3 floors and has pretty big grounds, gardens, a heated pool and luxurious vine-wrapped spa. Fabulous flower displays grace the common areas, colours are warm olive and wood. Artwork is present but not overwhelming, so the overall effect is of tranquil, effortless chic. Celebrity chef (and co-owner) Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen restaurant brings the fruits of outstanding local produce to the table, perfectly paired with local appellation wines. After dinner, hang out in the Grand Fireside Lounge with a cocktail from the bar, listening to a jazz trio, before retiring to your supremely comfortable feather platform bed dressed in Frette linen. I slept 10 hours straight, which is unheard of!

Highs

  • Excellent food and wine at the acclaimed Dry Creek Kitchen
  • Full service hotel with lovely spa (great regionally inspired treatments include wine-and-honey wraps), heated 60' outdoor pool, fitness centre, valet parking and dedicated concierge
  • Rooms and suites feel like private havens, with just the right amount of creature comforts, and not cluttered with gadgets and geegaws
  • Ideal for couples, gourmands and groups of friends
  • Good professional friendly service - this not a pretentious snooty place despite its posh attributes

Lows

  • Front-facing rooms are likely to experience noise from the buzzy town plaza. If you're a light sleeper book a Courtyard-facing room or suite
  • Bit pricey but you get a lot of bang for your buck
  • Not ideal for families, although they are welcome (families may prefer to stay at sister hotel h2hotel
  • Atmospheric (dim!) lighting at breakfast and in rooms may not suit everybody, although we didn't mind
  • You'll need a car to get here and to explore the area although airport transfers are available

Best time to go

Spring, summer and autumn are the big draws here: seasonal living at its best with fine to hot weather, and the countryside glows. Spring has its flower displays and barrel tastings, summer showcases a host of outdoor pursuits and autumn sees the wine harvest. We visited in damp winter when the harvest was all gathered in, and the landscape looked a little lifeless (it rains mostly Dec-Feb), yet still found heaps to do with numerous restaurants and tasting rooms to sample, plus pampering in the spa and boutique shopping. A good time is guaranteed whenever you come.

Our top tips

Check out the cocktails at h2hotel - the mixologist there, Scott Beattie, really knows his artisanal distilleries from his foraged wild berries, and is a major proponent of farm-to-glass 'drinkable works of art'.

Note that they don't charge corkage on the first 2 bottles of Sonoma wine you bring in to the restaurant, which is pretty good.

Make sure you have enough cash available for tips - valet parking, spa practitioners, waiters and maids - this is a full service hotel.

Great for...

City Style
Foodie
Honeymoon
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 55
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room: Courtyard Suite

Rooms

All 55 chic rooms and suites are similarly decorated: warm yellow-olive walls, Tibetan rugs, dark wooden floors, and louvered shutter doors giving onto Juliet balconies (in all but 2 rooms), which overlook the town plaza, courtyard or gardens. Slumber in beautifully comfortable teak platform feather beds with down duvets and 500-thread count Frette sheets. Low-level lighting in the room worked for us (there are lamps and bedside lights) but may not suit everybody.

Ample wardrobe space hides safes, iron and ironing boards, hairdryer, sewing kit, umbrellas, Frette dressing gowns and slippers. A coffee maker and champagne bucket plus corkscrew and two wine glasses ensure your drinking requirements are catered for. Freshly-baked cookies appear bedside at turndown.

Rooms begin with the Standard King and Premium King (in which we stayed) - these differ little in configuration. Double Queen rooms (with 2 queensize beds) are almost as big as a suite.

Junior Suites have a seating alcove, and overlook downtown Healdsburg. Courtyard Suites look over the interior courtyard and have a separate sitting room. Top of the range Plaza Suites have an entrance hallway with a half-bathroom, and face the town plaza with larger sitting room, and big bathrooms with double showers. All suites have sofabeds for additional guests.

Bathrooms are sleek with poured concrete sinks and counter tops, walk-in glass showers and Hotel Healdsburg's organic toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, lotion and shower gel). John Youngblood photos of wineries adorn the walls. The Premium King and all Suite categories have 6-foot-deep soaking tubs, big enough for 2 people.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Slippers
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

A help-yourself 'Gourmet Harvest' breakfast is served in the Grand Fireplace Lounge from 6-10am daily. One buffet station had a choice of cereals, yoghurt, fruit salad and fresh fruit; another had bread, croissants, sweet muffins and pastries, smoked salmon and all the trimmings required for that classic lox bagel, including a toaster. Hot plates have sausages, eggs, bacon and sauteed potatoes. Waitress service brings you tea, coffee, orange juice and hot chocolate to your table.

Lunch is best spent sampling one of the many eateries in town, or out exploring the countryside. You can pick up good quality sandwiches, snacks, treats and drinks from Cafe Newsstand at the base of the hotel, for a picnic lunch.

For dinner, celebrity chef Charlie Palmer's excellent Dry Creek Kitchen is open nightly (and for lunch Fridays-Sundays), and showcases the best of Sonoma County's seasonal and artisanal fare in a style known as Progressive American - which is built on classical French techniques.

The menu changes frequently. After an amuse bouche of beet soup topped with frothy goat's cheese creme fraiche, we had Seared Hawaiian Ahi Tataki (dressed beautifully with local watercress and toasted corn) and the House Made Charcuterie Platter with mustards (the chef de cuisine is licenced as a charcutier). For main, the Pork Loin and Slow Cooked Belly accompanied by apple soubise and caramelised parsnips simply melted in the mouth. We had no room for dessert but somehow forced down the signature Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bar (3 kinds of cocoa confections topped with gold leaf). No way could we even look at the artisan cheese board - it was all we could do to waddle back to our room and collapse onto our (extremely comfortable) bed.

There's a 6-course tasting menu which is wine-matched all the way, for the whole table; selected dishes are also paired with the evening's Focus Wines. There are complimentary wine tastings at 3-5pm Thursdays and Fridays in the lobby. The Wine Cellar has over 600 Sonoma wines, including limited production wines and vintages going back to 1985. You can also BYO - the mark of a friendly and civilized establishment!

Healdsburg is a mecca for food and drink, with over 15 good quality restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. Top of the scale is 2 Michelin-starred Cyrus. For somewhere more affordable try Bovalo for its local sustainable fare. There's a new Japanese restaurant, Shimo, which serves melt-in-the-mouth steaks. Or you may want to try the Healdsburg Bar & Grill opposite for its classic Americana menu, or ask the concierge about local chef Mateo's new pop-up restaurant.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Café
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Wine Tasting 1: in town you've 30 different tasting rooms to choose from - plus the benefit of being within swaying distance of the hotel!

  • Wine Tasting 2: if you want to taste wine at the cellar door, ask for the wine road map which details the 100 different wineries (some are by appointment only, check with the concierge) within 10 miles of Healdsburg. Choose from three different wine routes: Alexander Valley Road (cabernet sauvignon), Dry Creek Road (sauvignon blanc, zinfandel and merlot) and Westside Road, Russian River Valley (pinot, chardonnay)

  • The Spa at the hotel is not to be missed. With a warm and tranquil interior, several treatment rooms (including a couples' treatment room with deep soaking spa bath for two and private patio), a jacuzzi, and a full range of treatments and massages using products made from 'regionally inspired' ingredients, be sure to book early

  • Shopping: just to underline the point that Healdsburg is the perfect indulgent destination, the shopping in town is rather good, with a good dozen boutiques, children's shops, antiques, home style, accessories, handcrafts - you name it! - to choose from and there are quite a few galleries as well

  • Russian River: is a charming region nearby for hiking and horse riding in the redwoods of the Armstrong Woods State Park, kayaking down the river itself, as well as its wineries

  • Cycling: there are two bike hire outfits in town, which also offer guided bicycle tours

  • Santa Rosa: the largest city in the area has the Charles M Schultz (of Peanuts fame) museum, and an ice-skating arena, as well as the Safari West wildlife preserve - all good family fun

  • Wine Country Tours: see Sonoma on foot (there are private vineyard walks which give you an insider glimpse at the wine making process), by Vespa, or by hot air balloon - the concierge can make all arrangements

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Kayaking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Families are welcome at Hotel Healdsburg and kids will enjoy the pool. There are connecting rooms, pack n'play cots and extra beds available. However, this is a hotel primarily aimed at couples and groups of friends and there are no dedicated spaces for children, who if running around may not contribute positively to the intended ambiance!

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Families should take one of the suites as these have sofabeds. You can also ask about the one Courtyard Suite which connects to a Double Queen, and there are also 2 Standard Kings that connect.

Kids Activities nearby:

There are plenty of family friendly activities nearby including kayaking on the Russian River, and the safari preserve, Safari West, and the Charles M Schultz (Peanuts) museum and ice rink all in Santa Rosa.

Kid Friendly:

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