Healdsburg Travel Guide
Sonoma, California is best known for its lush vineyards and wine selection, but visitors to the area who need a break from the region's Cabernets and Chardonnays can find just that at the chic Hotel Healdsburg.
Their newly-launched "Wine Country Holiday Tea Experience" is available from now until Christmas every Saturday from 2 to 4pm.
The hotel, which is a favorite of Anne Hathaway and Hilary Swank, features a sparkling fireplace, festive decor and a live pianist playing a mix of easy listening and Christmas carols that transforms the lobby into a relaxing, casual spa-like experience.
The afternoon tea attracts everyone from the casually-dressed shopping crowd in jeans coming off the square to patrons in their Sunday best who take their tea-sipping seriously. Think formal jackets on the men and hats fit for the Royal Wedding on the women. The hotel encourages children to partake in the experience, offering little girls white gloves and fans and boys stick-on moustaches and top hats.
We love luxury hotels but we can't always afford to stay in them. Thankfully, hotels these days are way more than just rooms for paying hotel guests. Between visiting the lobbies, bars, restaurants, and spas inside these upper echelon hotels, it's practically as good as staying the night. Here's our latest installment of how to quench your champagne tastes on a Coca-Cola budget with a Hotel Day Trip.
Wine-tasting in Sonoma can get tiring--the hot sun, the dry heat and the constant light-headed buzz can start to wear you down after even just a day. Which is why we popped into the Hotel Healdsburg for some much needed R&R from um, our vacation.
We booked a pedicure at the hotel's spa which ended up being one of the best hotel pedicures in recent memory. The treatment was simple--just an aromatic foot bath, the usual cut-file-trim procedure, followed by a generous foot scrub and massage and finished off with the polish.
Yet there were a few touches that made it not just memorable but deeply relaxing. The spa chair was a vibrating massage chair but it wasn't clunky or loud--just a smooth, low roll up and down our backs. The treatment room itself was quiet. There's only two chairs and the other wasn't occupied during our visit. Our therapist also left us alone to sleep, er, read in peace--no silly small talk was made.
Mmm bacon. Mmmmm wine. Could there be a more mouth-wateringingly named hotel break than Pigs and Pinot? Ok, maybe dark chocolate and champagne, but that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
Pigs & Pinot is the name of the annual weekend held by chef Charlie Palmer at the Hotel Healdsburg in California wine land, where he has his restaurant Dry Creek Kitchen.
This year, it’s being held March 18-19, and over 60 wineries will be showcasing their wares, along with 10 chefs who’ll be cooking various pork-themed dishes to go with the wine. It kicks off on the Friday with a sampling of all 60 of the wines, with pork dishes like sausages and pates to (try and) soak up some of the booze. At the end of the night, one wine will be crowned winner of the Pinot Cup. The Taste of Pigs & Pinot costs $150, but we’re pretty sure you can make most of your money back if you take it seriously.
The other events (from $75) include cooking workshops with the chefs (where you get to sample), more wine tastings and a final five course gala dinner at Dry Creek Kitchen. For full info, see here.
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Here at HotelChatter, we are simple souls. Technologically adept, and always looking for the latest innovations, obviously, but ultimately simple.
Which is why our heart sank when we entered our room at Hotel Healdsburg in the heart of California wine country this weekend to find a page of detailed instructions on how to turn on the TV through its two remote controls.
Fortunately, it’s not a case of technology gone mad – it actually enabled us to switch on in a few seconds rather than work our way through the various “menu” keys on other remotes.
The rest of the place is Design Hotel meets simple. There’s a chic little clock by the table, rather than a fat alarm clock. The bathroom is huge, but everything’s kept to a minimum (including the lack of a towel rail, which we’d kinda like). There’s a hint of rustic – a bare wooden chair at the desk, a plain pencil, wood floor and shutters instead of manky curtains.
Top Chef and wine country fans alike will be happy to hear this insider scoop we were passed along: This season's finale was shot in one of Northern California's culinary havens, Healdsburg. Those in the know have long been trekking to Healdsburg to eat at restaurants like Cyrus, which one of our close friends—a nearby Sonoma resident—counts as one of her favorite places to dine. It was at Cyrus that part of the finale was shot, according to our channels.
With all of this Top Chef love being thrown Healdsburg's way, we thought it might be an appropriate time to list some hotel options for foodies whose trips are centered around tasting, sipping, and even gorging in extreme cases.
We've heard a lot of good things about Hotel Healdsburg—once again from Northern Californian natives who know the hotel and restaurant scene well. It's the home of Dry Creek Kitchen, which where chef and TC guest judge Charlie Palmer has made his name. One of the biggest events that the hotel hosts is Parker's annual "Pigs and Pinot" weekend, set to return in March of 2010, and involves exactly what the name implies: a helluva lotta Pinot Noir and pork goodness, with real-life top chefs contributing to the benefit weekend. Booking early for the popular event is a smart call.
If you believe that spa treatment is more than just hands on shoulders and should truly get to the heart of how and why we relax, then Honor Mansion, tucked into the heart of Sonoma County's wine country, is the place to immerse yourself in comfort and the quiet bliss of letting go.
Located just 80 miles north of San Francisco in the shopping and dining mecca of Healdsburg, Honor Mansion is a perennial AAA Four Diamond Award winner.
There are just 13 rooms and suites but the amenities galore on-site will keep you busy for your entire stay. There's a 40-foot lap pool, two regulation bocce ball courts, a competition croquet lawn, PGA putting green, quarter mile jogging/walking track, a quarter acre of Zinfandel vines, and on-site massage therapy and spa treatments. It is quite possibly you can do everything on your vacation list and never leave the grounds.
Once you've taken your first few steps inside the Les Mars Hotel with its shimmering floor-to-ceiling white marble lobby and luxe, walnut-walled library, you know that attention to detail is palpable at every turn. Afterall, this European-styled 16 room masterpiece located in downtown Healdsburg has built its reputation on refined luxury.
From the limestone façade to the wrought iron work throughout, interior designer and antique consultant Helga Horner and the Mars family personally selected each individual 18th and 19th century decorative piece that is found throughout the public spaces of the property.
When we visited the property, in the heart of Sonoma wine country, we used every ounce of our being not to act too geeky and stare at each piece like it was worthy of a being in a glass case.