Woodinville, Washington, now boasts somewhere around 125 wineries, more than enough to justify an extended stay. It rivals many of the top wine destinations in the country, but hotel inventory hasn’t kept pace. It’s difficult for wine lovers looking for a little luxury with their wine tasting, zealously committed to avoiding any issues of drinking and driving. For the perfect convergence of a convenient location and a luxury property, choose a stay at Willows Lodge.
I’ve been familiar with the Willows locations for several decades, dating back to when the area consisted of family farms and wineries weren’t on anyone’s horizon. A weekend return to the area left me shocked with all the changes that have gone on. My stay at the Willows gave me convenient access to lots of wine activity without forgoing any of the luxuries to which I’d like to become accustomed.
The property is located adjacent to the Sammamish River Trail and is a two-story Northwest-style lodge. Wine country hospitality starts when you drive up. After turning your car over to the valet (you can also opt for self-parking), you’re greeted with a glass of wine, your choice of white or red. Walking into the lobby you are surrounded by wood and up-cycled touches, from the door to the floors, from the fireplace to the ceiling beams.
Through the lobby, and on the other side of the fireplace, is a bar with both indoor and outdoor seating. There was music the two nights that I stayed there, and the weather was warm enough to sit outside for an evening nightcap or morning coffee (the latter provided complimentary in the lobby each morning).
Arriving at our room we were greeted by a “Welcome Home” mat, appreciatively provided to all guests on return visits. The wine-colored wall was offset with white linens and sage-colored furniture. A fireplace in the corner provided both ambiance and warmth. A balcony provided fresh air and a view of the interior garden area. It was peaceful and zen-like, and a great way to have coffee and ease into the day.
The work desk was made from an upcycled billiard table and was beautiful in that well-worn and well-loved way. A mini-bar took up way too much room, both on the counter and in a refrigerator, and I continue to wonder if hotels generate that much revenue from the placement. I’m all for getting rid of them and giving guests a proper refrigerator.
I thought the bathroom was a real treat. There was a large soaking tub, big enough for two, and perfect for a relaxing soak with a glass of wine. A separate shower featured programming to fit your temperature and water pressure preferences. Bathroom amenities from Molton Brown are found in recyclable containers in the bathroom (and are also available for purchase in the spa and lobby).
Service standards are high at the Willows. A walk through the lobby always elicited a greeting, any staff member I encountered greeted me warmly and asked if I had everything I needed. It’s obviously a well-trained staff, but it went beyond that. I felt like they truly cared that I was enjoying my stay, that is was a philosophy, not just a job.
There is a small spa at the Willows offering the expected beauty and wellness treatments. There is an outdoor jacuzzi and soaking tub available to all guests whether you opt for a spa treatment or not. The spa will soon be undergoing a remodel to add a much-needed women’s locker room. Till then, leave your valuables in your room and toddle down in the robes provided in your room.
The grounds are beautifully landscaped in a pleasing combination of natural growth and manicured choices, and often provide a background for weddings. Pathways lead you through the grounds, take your glass of wine with you as you take a stroll, and be sure to stop by to meet Basil and Borage, two Vietnamese potbelly pigs who call the Willows home. Don’t worry – although the Barking Frog restaurant has delicious bacon, Basil and Borage are well-loved pets.
We had a dinner and breakfast at the Barking Frog. For dinner, the setting is white tablecloths, yet it still maintains a casual vibe with innovative seasonal dishes. The wine list, not surprisingly, is extensive. We opted for a four-course wine-paired chef’s dinner, allowing us to select our courses from the main menu. The food was excellent, as was the service. Barking Frog is a popular choice for hotel guests as well as locals, so be sure to make reservations. While I was impressed with dinner at the Barking Frog, I found breakfast to be quite ordinary. If you need to fuel up for the day, give it a try, but I’d opt for some of the other cafes in the area.
The Willows is within walking distance of dozens of wineries and tasting rooms. Or, if you prefer, you can drive a few miles, park the car, and have access to dozens more. It’s a perfect location to stay to enjoy a few days in Woodinville Wine Country.
The Willows Lodge is located at 14580 NE 145th Street, Woodinville, Washington. Rates start at around $215/night and are substantially higher during special wine events and concerts. It is part of the Preferred Hotel Group if you are a loyalty member. Otherwise check an online booking site such as Hotels.com for rates.
Disclosure: The author received a complimentary stay for purposes of review.