Farmhouse Inn in a Nutshell:
Sonoma County seems determined to seduce its visitors. Let yourselves succumb to its award-winning wines and abundance of high quality locally grown and harvested food prepared by skillful chefs. They're served against the backdrop of a giant sky, blankets of vineyards, mountains, and the redwood forest. Another Sonoma County treasure is the Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant in the Russian River Valley in the town of Forestville. This 18-room inn, with a Michelin-starred restaurant and spa-like bathrooms, is an ideal hub for those wishing to explore California wine country by day and savor sumptuousness at night.
Guest Rooms at the Farmhouse Inn:
These rustically chic rooms are meant for lingering. At check-in, guests are encouraged to get acquainted with the bath bar where a spread of salts, scrubs and aromatic homemade soaps are available to take to their own room. When a bathroom has a multi-power, self-cleaning Jacuzzi tub built for two, a steam room shower, and radiant heating floors it makes sense that bath preparation is key. Then there’s the indoor-outdoor fireplace, private patio, antiques from France, and giant soft white sofa that is so comfortable it’s tempting to fall asleep on (but the bed is just as comfortable).
Dining at the Farmhouse Inn:
A consistent Michelin winner since 2007, Farmhouse, the inn’s restaurant, deserves the accolade. The menu pays homage to the area’s finest local culinary bounty – whether it’s heirloom tomatoes from a nearby grower, local pork, oysters from Pt. Reyes at the coast, or cheese from the dairy down the road selected by the restaurant’s cheese sommelier. For dessert, don’t miss the pastry chef’s soufflé. Although Farmhouse is a white tablecloth restaurant, its huge wooden chandelier, dark gray walls, hand painted mural, and clapboard structure create a laid-back feel.
Weddings at the Farmhouse Inn:
What's more romantic than an al fresco wine-country wedding? The hotel can arrange for the reception to be held in a nearby vineyard amid the rolling fields and cypress trees as the bride and groom arrive via horse-drawn carriage. Picture giant tables overflowing with local wines, vegetables, and cheeses... the trees decorated with lanterns and local wildflowers. The chef can prepare the restaurant’s famous dish, Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit (made three ways) or grilled beef rib-eye. Receptions accommodating up to 15 guests can be held on the restaurant’s patio. The same number could have a formal plated feast inside.
Honeymoons at the Farmhouse Inn:
Guests can indulge in the spa’s Playful Passion treatment. The ritual begins with a self-exfoliating vanilla and chocolate scrub in your private steam room, followed by a side-by-side massage and finishes with a sensually scented skin softening bubble bath. And what fun to make s'mores under the stars in a firepit! Guests are given homemade marshmallows, Valrhona chocolate, and permission to make a bonfire. (Or just wait for the nightly delivery of cookies and milk).
Activities at the Farmhouse Inn:
Guests can swim in the outdoor heated pool, which is open from May to September. At night, after a long soak in the Jacuzzi with bath salts and scented soap (like rosemary mint, lemon verbena), curl up on the sofa and watch a DVD from the inn’s extensive film library. Every Saturday, the restaurant’s master sommelier (one of only 170 in the world) gives a wine appreciation class.
Nearby the Farmhouse Inn:
Since the property is so intimate, staff can roll up their sleeves and customize visits. The inn can organize a trip to small notable private wineries that typically are closed to the public. This writer’s perfect day included renting a bike though Spoke Folk Cyclery in nearby Healdsburg, meandering through quiet country roads past vineyards. That was followed by a drive to the coast on windy roads past fields of green and funky towns. It’s a coast worth visiting with cliffs almost as tall as skyscrapers, crashing waves, and seals galore.
Drawbacks at the Farmhouse Inn:
While the iconic vineyard landscape is a short drive away, the inn lies on a main road. The property, which backs up against a forest, is peaceful and serene, but those who want to wake up to rolling hills will be disappointed. Also, guest services, where the bath bar and s'mores apparatus is found, is only open from 8:30am until 8:30pm. If guests have a sudden craving for room service, s’mores, or wishes to soak in bath salts after 8:30pm, they’re out of luck.
Farmhouse Inn Vibe:
Far too often lately, I’ll spot a bottle of water in a hotel room affixed with a giant $8 price tag. It's refreshing to lodge at an inn that offers water, sodas, cookies, pretzels, granola bars, chocolate candy, nuts and other assorted snacks gratis. And so is the two-course hearty gourmet breakfast each morning. That generous nature is also in the staff, who will visit guests at the pool and without prompting offer a soda or snack. The place is not perfect but certainly comes close.
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