Due to the distance, The Farmhouse Inn doesn’t quite fall into a ‘StayCation’, however with their winter and early spring one night stay policy, it could easily fall into a StayCation location!
As you must know, most wine country properties have strict two night minimums and strict cancel policies. These policies don’t leave much room for an impromptu impulsive getaway.
Voted #1 Best Resort Hotel in California and #12 Best Hotel in the World by Travel & Leisure 2016. This little gem is a marvelous escape and just a bit over 2 hours from the peninsula. I’ve loved our rainy weather, however the combination of a flooded street, a leaky roof and a power outage inspired me to seek relief as soon as the sun popped out for a few days.
Driving toward Healdsburg, we stopped for cappuccinos in Marin; we plotted the retail therapy along the route as we passed each small town – resisting a bit, our mantra became – let’s check out the luxury Farmhouse Inn and if it doesn’t pass muster, we can continue on to St. Helena for gallery browsing.
Enter the cozy reception building and the congenial staff inquired: can we offer you a glass of wine, water or coffee? Did we appear to be woeful bedraggled travelers? One glance and mind reading: we’ve reached the oasis and we are staying! Gracious hospitality, the arrival, as you know is my personal aphorism. Set the stage and everything else should fall into place, lesson one in the hospitality handbook!
Bellman appears with a quaint farm wagon – yes, one must have options, so a small wagon is required even for an overnight stay…there’s dinner, hiking, swimming, spa attire, one must have choices. Dear Daniel, managed to schlep the bags upstairs without any effort.
Outside reception, the pool terrace beckoned, the winter afternoon sunshine perfectly slanted to warm up the loungers, we succumbed to the view of ancient redwood trees and curled up. Have you ever noticed that a pool and a lounger are the perfect medium to a quick snooze? Catnapping is a gift of the gods.
Awakened only by the unexpected chill as the sun dropped behind the steep hill, a natural alarm clock for spa appointments. Mosey to the adjacent Carriage House Spa, wine in hand. Roll back the substantial barn door to be welcomed by a massive fireplace of local stone and a small boutique. Fireplace crackling, comfy leather chairs make the perfect place to plop and slowly peruse the clothing and jewelry in The Farmhouse Boutique. Are you imagining a perfectly restful unscheduled afternoon?
The back-story: fifth generation Forestville native Catherine Bartolomei Smith and her brother Joe Bartolomei toured this once run down 1879 farmhouse B&B when it was on the market. Without a hotel reputation or starred credentials, she convinced her brother to partner with her, purchase and transform it into a luxury Sonoma inn. A quick transformation combined with the notion that fine food would contribute to the attraction.
Their insight paid off, The Farmhouse Restaurant gained excellent reviews and attention and in 2006, they added four luxury suites in a new barn style building. Barn, think: rustic design, however, luxurious details; simple architecture, and a suggestion of farm elements all executed with sophistication. Interiors are warm, decorated in subtle natural textures – restful without being overdone.
The newish barn style Carriage House Spa is decorated in pale cool whites, former local decorator Myra Hoefer, was brought in to add her magic. Using the base of natural elements, her transformation of the massage barn is evident. A long wide corridor, with open-air light filtering louvers is the entry to each massage room, more like a paddock room actually. Dutch style stable doors open into the treatment rooms. The focal point of each room is a whitish mural of a life-size horse painted by Tina Wain, the paintings almost appear to be faded, as if they once decorated barn walls. Secluded outdoor patios are furnished with loungers and soaking tubs.
Each successive addition was rewarded by increased success and over time the owners have added two successive luxury suite barn buildings. Tin roofs, board and batten siding, rock fireplaces, all contribute to the feel of a sophisticated farm style inn. The property has a small footprint and amazingly each addition has been incorporated into the footprint and The Farmhouse Inn is still an intimate easy flowing landscape of rooms/suites and connecting gardens. Personally, I like barn like architecture and the suggested design elements, which a farmyard would incorporate. Galvanized containers and barn style doors accented with iron hardware, one feels these buildings have been here for generations.
Twenty-five beautiful comfortable rooms/suites, a Michelin star restaurant, congenial staff and apparently a long list of very happy return clients, The Farmhouse has been added to my slightly planned ‘StayCation’ list.
Outdoor dining terraces, enjoy s’mores around the fire ring are offered every eveing after dinner.
I am not one to head to the wine country in the summer with the crush of travelers, but for me, this little gem is the solution to a brief escape in spring, fall and winter. In talking to the office/concierge team, The Farmhouse Inn will happily organize, biking, canoeing, fishing and achieve high profile Restaurant reservations just across the valley floor, with drivers to boot!
If you are seeking a wine country sojourn, we highly recommend…cozy, carefully thought out, refined and the antidote to an overly scheduled lifestyle.
Dining in separate post!