One of the most popular misconceptions about a globetrotting life is that it is always glamorous. Not only is such an assumption misguided, it is naïve at best. But every once in a while on a globetrotter’s journey, one comes across an experience or place that stands so far apart from the norm that it deserves to be known as “best in class”. These are the places and experiences to which I apply the moniker “LivingWells Recommends” and the Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant in Forestville, CA is the latest addition to the list.
Blink and you’ll miss the entrance to this slice of paradise, set off Sonoma County’s meandering River Road, a serpentine byway that winds its way through pastoral vineyards and farms all the way to the Guerneville, the Russian River and beyond. A formerly run down farmhouse (hence the name), the Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant is today a rambling, rustically elegant property that is, in a word, idyllic.
Co-owned by the brother and sister duo of Joe and Catherine Bartolomei, the Farmhouse Inn memorializes the enduring spirit of wine country and the more than five generations their family has spent in the region over the last century. The siblings have said of their venture that they wanted to create “a haven from everyday life” that recalled the joy and camaraderie of their youth spent on their grandparents’ ranch located just three miles from the Inn and, to my eye, they have succeeded on every score.
The second guests enter the property, wheels crunching over the loose gravel leaving no choice other than to slow down as a matter of course, the escape begins. Then upon surveying the property, one can’t help but to be taken over by the feeling that rather than checking into a hotel, one has arrived at a favorite camp from one’s youth…one that is filled with fond memories of lazy days and happy times. This is so, whether one has ever experienced such a thing or not because the Farmhouse Inn represents the picture of such experiences that films, books and television have painted of the same. Walls of trees surround authentic farmhouse structures, a pool forms the nucleus of the property and the scale of everything in sight feels livable and relaxed. Even the smell of the lobby, gloriously scented as it is by the hotel’s signature Sonoma Bath Bar chock full of fragrant seasonal scrubs, salts, milk bath and handmade olive oil bar soaps, is seductive.
Introductions aside, the accommodations at the Farmhouse Inn take the seduction of the place to a whole new level. Rooms, all of which have been painstakingly updated and meticulously appointed, are spacious modern affairs with high-ceilings, feather beds, large jetted tubs and saunas or steam showers. Fresh seasonal flowers fill the tables in the living areas, while Sonoma-made, organic Sumbody bath and beauty products line the bathroom counters. Some rooms even have fireplaces and patio decks, while others boast different perks like private courtyards but rest assured that all 25 rooms are imbued with the kind of upscale wine country décor and state-of-the-art amenities that make ‘simple’ living look so chic.
Rounding out the experience of the Farmhouse Inn, is its restaurant, which is one of the finest in Sonoma County. The complementary three-course breakfast offered to guests is a delight unparalleled in the region, or I dare say, most places in the world. While many B & B’s offer complimentary breakfast, few offer anything that is worth loosing sleeping over. The Farmhouse Inn breakfast is, however, memorable enough to merit doing just that. Likewise, the locally sourced dinner menu crafted by Executive Chef Steve Litke and his team is an absolute standout in a place filled with standouts and just one more reason to book a stay at the Farmhouse Inn.
A final reason (as if one was needed) to reserve a stay at the Farmhouse Inn is the spa. Operated as a partnership between Farmhouse and Francis & Alexander, the Spa at Farmhouse is located in the property’s former Carriage House and showcases a farm-to-table menu of services that was conceived as a natural extension to the Sonoma farm-inspired experience that defines the Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant. Think lavender-orange hair and scalp treatments, ginger honey massages and body pillows filled with muscle healing herbs, alfalfa, lavender and chamomile. I am a particular fan of the “A Man’s Turn” treatment which combines a 90-minute massage with hot towel compresses and a steamy hot towel facial massage and comes complete with a personalized DIY shave (including kit) in your room.
Because it proves that you don’t always have to go as far away as you might think to escape and it does so with such panache and finesse, LivingWells Recommends the Farmhouse Inn.
To book a reservation or find out more about Farmhouse Inn, click here.