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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

See a New Wave of Design in Sonoma County

This buttoned-down valley still holds plenty of humble charm, but its latest crop of hotels, restaurants, and vineyards rivals those of Napa, its historically more stylish neighbor.


1. Where to Stay

A Zen Suite at the Gaige House.  

Check into one of the oversize, whitewashed barn rooms at the couple-friendly Farmhouse Inn (from $645), an elegant Russian River Valley property with a deceptively rustic name. The six suites here, constructed in 2009, feature vaulted ceilings, four-poster beds, wool throws made from the neighboring farm’s sheep, and private fireplace-equipped patios or decks that come with a gourmet s’mores kit. In the morning, nibble on lemon-poppy-seed scones and oatmeal pancakes in the Michelin-starred restaurant, or have them served to you in the adjacent flower garden.

Look out at a quaint bookstore- and café-lined square from your room at Hotel Healdsburg (from $300), an ideal option if you want to stay in town. The hotel is modern and refined, with 55 rooms outfitted in cheery yellow walls, teak furnishings, and concrete bathroom counters. There’s an on-site Charlie Palmer restaurant (he co-owns the property), but it’s also just a short stroll to specialty foods and sandwich shop Oakville Grocery, where you can load up on locally made jams, chutneys, and cheeses.

Feel Zen at the Asian-inspired Gaige House (from $275) in Glen Ellen, where the only thing you’ll hear is the soft gurgle of a tranquil creek. All 23 rooms, accented with unique art prints and minimalist furnishings, are quite comfortable, but book the 700-square-foot Zen Suites for their black granite soaking tubs and sliding doors that open onto private sitting areas overlooking the garden. You can spring for a hot stone massage in a creek-side cabana ($195 for 80 minutes), or just lounge on a hammock in the shade of an old oak tree.

Published on Mar 7, 2013 as a web exclusive.

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