If there is a downside to living in wine country, it’s that we generally have no occasion to stay at the many cool hotels in our area – Napa and Sonoma counties. Sure, we could shell out the money any time and stay wherever we please, but that would feel wasteful. Last week, though, we had a two-day meeting in Healdsburg – about 60 miles from the house, not a practical distance to drive there and back each day. The location of the meeting was the H2 Hotel in Healdsburg, a town in the northern part of Sonoma County. While we have been in Healdsburg before, we had never stayed at the H2 (the hotel has a sister property a few blocks away called the Hotel Healdsburg that we passed through that also looks like a candidate for future visits).
When we pulled up to the front of the hotel, we could tell we were in store for something different: this was no typical high-rise hotel, or even a trendy low-rise rectangle. Architecturally, the H2 is very appealing, with a combination of concrete and wood and fluid design that yields lots of open space and abundant light. Every single room in the hotel has a balcony or a patio, which is certainly rare for hotels these days.
Entering the lobby, the sense of uniqueness was reinforced by the open and flowing space: essentially no borders between the front entrance, the restaurant, the bar, the front desk, or the lounge at the back of the lobby. With its high ceilings and many windows, the lobby felt very inviting and comfortable.
Aesthetically, the lobby is beautiful, with interesting works of art on the walls and brightly-colored furniture that many guests took advantage of for lounging with a cup of coffee or glass of wine, depending on the time of day. Since we were meeting all day, we did not take much advantage of the lobby lounge, but then again, we had a pretty cool meeting room to hang out in.
As with all of the spaces in the hotel, even the meeting room had significant window space and plenty of light, so much in fact that I worried the views outside would be a distraction to our offsite meeting. However, the world outside simply provided a needed sense of casualness to our otherwise intense discussions without taking away from our work.
During a break on Day 1 of our meeting we had a chance to check-in to our rooms; I ended up with a room on the second floor. As soon as the door closed and we stepped into the room, we smiled as we saw the little gift from hotel management.
It is not uncommon for hotels, especially in wine country, to provide a gratis bottle of wine for its guests. We were delighted, though, with the quality, as the MacMurray Russian River Pinot Noir is one of our recent finds and we have several bottles at home. This one did not make it home as we donated it to our meeting.
Beyond the wine, we liked the rest of the room as well; although it was not overly large, it had a small sitting area, a nice big bed, and plenty of workspace.
In addition, for people like us who must sleep with an open door or window, there was a nice balcony along the back wall. Again, the space was not that large, but definitely enough for two people to sit comfortably and enjoy the serenity.
From the patio, the view was into the lush garden behind the hotel.
Just off of the patio was the bathroom, tailor-made for one-half of this blog duo (guess which half?). Whenever we are looking at homes or hotels to rent, the first filter that must be applied is “does it have a bath tub?” At the H2, the answer, at least in our room, was a resounding “yes”: there was a very large and deep jacuzzi tub.
Next to the tub was a separate shower with no doors, integrated into the overall flow of the bathroom. The decor was modern, sleek and bright, matching the overall design approach of the hotel. All in all, a very nice room.
Because we were in meetings all day, we did not have a chance to take full advantage of the facilities and activities at the H2. Behind the lobby there is a nice pool with plenty of seating and chaise lounges for laying out and enjoying the Sonoma summer.
Also, the hotel has a fleet of bicycles right outside the lobby entrance that guests can rent by the day. To maximize this experience, the hotel provides several ride maps of the local area: Healdsburg, local wineries, and a more ambitious 40-mile loop to and from Cloverdale. For those that prefer a more relaxing set of activities, there are many shops, galleries and winery tasting rooms within walking distance of the H2. One of these days we’ll manage to stay in Healdsburg when there are no meetings to attend. In fact, our initial thinking was we would pay to stay an extra night after the meetings were over; unfortunately, we had to catch a red-eye flight after Day 2 of the meetings for a frenetic New York City weekend. Next time ….
John & Irene Ingersoll
September 19, 2016