Sonoma County Casual at the Inn at Occidental

Tucked away in the tiny, one-horse town of the same name, the Inn at Occidental is the quintessential Sonoma retreat: casual, comfortable, surrounded by redwoods, and within spitting distance of dozens of wineries and farm-to-table restaurants.

Rooms are spread among two buildings that border a shared front courtyard perfect for a wine country wedding. The main building contains the small gift shop, communal living area, check-in desk, and the downstairs dining room where breakfast is served each morning.

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Every room has a fireplace and feather bed and many rooms have private entrances, separate sitting areas, and spa tubs for two. Some also have private patios and in-room refrigerators (guests in rooms that don’t have the latter can use a communal fridge). I stayed in the Marbles Suite, with a king bed and a separate sitting area with sofa bed, gas fireplace, and sumptuous two-person spa tub. While I was, regrettably, only there for a night, the room was spacious enough, with a large bathroom and plenty of storage, that I don’t think my husband and I would have felt cramped even if we’d stayed for a week.

roomThe decor is wine-country casual – not uber modern, but far from the doily-filled floral explosions of many rural inns. Owners Jerry and Tina Wolsborn met in San Francisco but then lived in several cities before returning the Bay Area. They bought the inn in 2003 and used their years of hospitality experience and their cosmopolitan sensibilities to create an inn that’s as welcoming as a family home but with the privacy and amenities of an upscale country inn.

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The inn has a communal feel, but there’s no forced socializing (a perk for those who don’t like the social aspect of B&Bs). Every evening, guests are invited to the living room or front porch for generous wine tastings, but there’s plenty of space to keep to yourself if you like; my husband and I used that time to peruse the binders of menus from local restaurants and map out our evening plans.

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The inn serves breakfast daily in the Wine Cellar dining room. Guests fuel up on coffee, juice,  fresh-baked pastries, house-made granola, and locally sourced fruit. There’s a different hot entree each day; on the morning of my visit it was Eggs Benedict, available in a one- or two-egg portion, but on others it could be Pecan Caramel French Toast or another savory option.

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When staff heard my husband and I debating on how to spend our morning, they were quick to offer maps and suggestions, and even extend the option of a late check-out if we wanted to return to the inn after a quick hike. They can also arrange wine tastings and provide guests with a card good for complimentary tastings at more than two dozen area wineries.

Room rates start at $259 per night. Make your reservation online at the hotel website or you can compare rates and book through Expedia or Hotels.com.

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