For twenty-seven years we lived in Los Angeles. I’m not sure what that says about us. We’re gluttons for punishment? Sturdy folk? Addicted to 72-and-sunny temperatures 365 days a year? For all that we enjoyed about Southern California (and it really was mostly the weather), we made an annual pilgrimage each summer to Northern California wine country to get the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles out of our systems, at least for a week or two. During these many trips, we have had occasion to stay at a number of hotels, inns, and B&B’s in Napa and Sonoma. Somehow, during these many trips north, we managed to miss a place that we recently discovered and believe to be a true “hidden gem” in Sonoma: MacArthur Place. It is hard to explain how we missed it exactly, since the property is located on Broadway Street, which is the road that dead-ends at the Sonoma Plaza. Without exaggerating, I can say that we have probably passed MacArthur Place (which is just off of Broadway on MacArthur Street) at least 40 or 50 times.
We learned about the hotel as a result of a work meeting that was held in one of their meeting rooms. We had a chance to walk around the property and fell in love with the grounds and the way the suites and cottages were laid out across seven acres. We also thought the location was ideal – located in a quiet neighborhood away from the crowds on the Plaza, but still only a 10-15 minute walk to all of the fun and excitement. Since first seeing the property, we have stayed there three separate times, each time getting an opportunity to try out a different room type. At MacArthur Place there are 64 guest rooms, although the term “rooms” is not entirely accurate and understates the grandeur of many of the spaces. During our first stay, we did in fact have a “room” – a standard king room that was very spacious and comfortable. As we were to find over our next several visits, the bathrooms at MacArthur Place are something special. Like the rooms, they are spacious and have all the touches of a luxury hotel. But what really sets them apart from other hotels is the shower – a large walk-in European-style shower that might inspire you to shower multiple times a day. Unfortunately, we are recovering from a 5-year drought and cannot indulge in that type of luxury, but we may have showered a little longer than usual if we are being honest.
On our second visit, we found ourselves in what is called a “premium” suite. It was indeed premium – a gorgeous King bed with a large seating area with couch and chair that really made the room feel open and grand. For this room, the special touch was a set of shutters that could be opened that exposed the hydrotherapy tub to the rest of the suite and the fireplace.
The third and final time that we stayed at MacArthur Place we felt like we hit the jackpot; we ended up in one of their Cabana Suites, which features all of the amenities of the other rooms but with a really, really special feature: a private patio with an outdoor rain shower to complement the already lovely indoor European shower. There is something decadent about taking a hot shower outside when the temperature outside is in the 50’s or 60’s.
We have nothing against chain hotels. As a result of dozens of business trips each year, we have been Marriott Gold or Platinum Elite for several years now. Many chain hotels, including the Marriott’s Ritz Carlton properties, can be fantastic and unique places to stay. We have to say, though, that places like MacArthur Place can make a vacation (or, for people like us who live locally, a staycation) a truly romantic and unbeatable experience. The privacy and peacefulness of the property made us feel as if we were miles from civilization, which was welcome at times during our stay. We also appreciated the ability to walk out of our room and be in the middle of the action within minutes, enjoying first-class restaurants and wine tasting rooms.
In the spirit of confession, we are also suckers for hotels with a cool story, which MacArthur place definitely has. For one thing, the property did not start out as a hotel or a lodging place, but instead was part of a 300-acre working ranch with vineyards, orchards, cattle, and horses. Some of the original buildings are still standing and make up part of MacArthur Place’s lodging space, conference space and spa. In the structure that houses the restaurant, there are numerous nods to the equestrian history of the property, most notably in the name of the restaurant itself, Saddles.
We generally do not like to eat in at our hotel if we can walk or make a short drive to local restaurants. On each of our stays we did walk to the Sonoma Plaza for dinner, but we felt compelled to try Saddles as it has a reputation as one of the best steakhouses in the county. We were not disappointed by Saddles at all, and have had lunch and breakfast there multiple times.
So next time you’re driving up Broadway on your way to the Sonoma Plaza, take a gander to the right when you’re approaching MacArthur Street; the property starts on that corner. If you are not in a hurry, take a right on MacArthur and pull into the parking lot and take a walk around. Even if you are not ready to take the plunge and stay there, try out their bar – either before or after dinner. They have a small bar but an expansive wine menu with some gems from Napa and Sonoma. Every time we stay, we make it a point to finish our evening at the bar.
John and Irene Ingersoll
July 9, 2017
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