Sonoma has, traditionally, been the more laid-back, low-cost alternative to glitzier Napa Valley. With some exceptions, its hotels are more likely to be described as rustic or cozy than luxurious or opulent. But the AAA Four Diamond Farmhouse Inn, having just undergone an $8 million renovation, has set a new standard for Sonoma’s wine county hotels.
The Farmhouse Inn hasn’t always been a high-end property; the former hop farm near the town of Forestville in the Russian River Valley was once severely run-down, until it was purchased and transformed into a boutique resort by 5th generation Sonoma County residents and winemakers. They quickly turned the inn into something special. Now it’s home to a Michelin-starred restaurant and has been crowned as one of the World’s Best Hotels by Travel & Leisure… and its evolution continues. In 2014, the inn underwent a massive renovation at the hands of SB Architects, adding nine rooms to make a total of 25, and expanding the spa and fitness center.
Tucked off a two-lane road, the inn is 1.5 miles from Forestville’s tiny town center. Set on six acres, it feels like a fully self-contained resort. Onsite, there’s a seasonal heated hot tub and pool area complete with fire pits (s’mores ingredients are provided nightly); a full-service spa, and a Michelin-starred restaurant that serves dinner five nights a week as well as the daily three-course breakfast. There’s enough to keep you so busy you might not want to leave the grounds for a day or two. In fact, you might not even want to leave the room.
The new rooms at the Farmhouse Inn are truly a work of art. All rooms, both new and original, have feather beds with European linens and down comforters; bathrooms with jetted tubs and saunas or steam showers and Sonoma-made organic bath products and plush robes; and flatscreen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and wine fridges. While the eight cozy cottage rooms (ranging from the 250 square-foot Queen Standard rooms to 600 square feet King Cottage Suites) offer access to the same amenities, it’s the King Deluxe and King Luxury rooms that truly wow.
The Deluxe and Luxury rooms range from 550 to 700 square feet, and feature heavenly King beds with crisp white linens, plush pillows and comforters; patio or deck space with dual-sided fireplaces; grand marble bathrooms, and ample sitting room. Each is gorgeously decorated to fit the farmhouse-chic aesthetic: there are wood accent tables, thick wool blankets, slate fireplace mantels, and four poster beds that combine to make the room one of the most inviting I’ve ever slept in.
Rooms aside, the Farmhouse Inn’s strength lies in its service. There are six concierges and four bellmen for 25 rooms, ensuring guests never want for anything, from the services of a dedicated sommelier who will stock your room with hand-picked wines (service fee of $25 or 10% of total purchase; minimum wine purchase is $150) to the services of a bellman who’ll arrive 60 seconds after you (ahem) call for help because you stupidly left the door ajar and let a moth in and now need help removing it.
Additional perks abound. There’s homemade cookies and milk at turn down, s’mores fixings out by the fire each evening, and a Sonoma Bath Bar where guests can select seasonal scrubs, salts, and handmade olive oil bar soaps for their room. Offsite, the inn has partnered with a dozen wineries, including Iron Horse and Gary Farrell, to offer special deals for guests.
One of the biggest perks, though, is easy access to one of the best restaurant in Sonoma. The Restaurant at Farmhouse Inn has held a Michelin star for seven years, thanks to Chef Steve Litke’s ability to fuse local and seasonal California ingredients with French, Italian, and even Mexican cooking techniques to create inventive yet approachable dishes. The menu changes frequently but might include Hog Island oysters, duck egg fettuccine with spring asparagus, or the signature “rabbit rabbit rabbit” with apple wood smoked bacon wrapped rabbit loin, roasted rack, and confit of leg, served with yukon potatoes and whole grain mustard cream sauce.
If you go: Room rates range from $495 to $1195. Check-in is between 4 pm and 7 pm, with late arrival by arrangement. Check out is 12 pm. The inn is not a pet-friendly property and minor children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. The Farmhouse restaurant is open for dinner from 5:30 Thursday through Monday (closed Tuesday & Wednesdays). There is a $35 corkage fee per 750ml bottle. Make your reservations through the Farmhouse Inn Preferred Hotel Group website or try Priceline.