Tag: luxury

Hiding in Plain Sight

Hiding in Plain Sight

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.

Macarthur place king room
King Room at MacArthur Place, Sonoma

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.

premium suite
Premium Suite at MacArthur Place, Sonoma

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.

Cabana suite
Outside patio, Cabana Suite, MacArthur Place, Sonoma

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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H2, Oh!

H2 Hotel in Healdsburg, California (Sonoma County)

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.

Lobby, H2 Hotel in Healdsburg, California

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.

Meeting Room, H2 Hotel in Healdsburg, California

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. h2-welcome

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.

Interior Room, H2 Hotel, Healdsburg, California

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.

Patio, H2 Hotel, Healdsburg, California

From the patio, the view was into the lush garden behind the hotel.


View from Patio, H2 Hotel, Healdsburg, California
View off left side of patio, H2 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.

Jacuzzi tub, H2 Hotel

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.  h2-pool

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