It’s peak road-trip season and sun and scenic routes are on our minds, so this week we’ve been California scheming. Take the infamous Highway 1 for its vertiginous coastal views, then hotfoot it inland to wine country. Luxury boutique hotel the Farmhouse Inn in Sonoma County (Napa Valley’s chilled-out contender) awaits with its sip-worthy wining and Michelin-starred dining.
Style Romantic ranch
Setting Rolling Russian River Valley
Why this week? With a wealth of wineries hidden in the surrounding hills and plenty of laid-back lounging to be done in the rustic-chic rooms, the Farmhouse Inn is the sort of place that makes you think, “Why don’t we come to Sonoma more often?” With our special mid-week three-nights-for-the-price-of-two offer, you can. (And, San Francisco is just a 90-minute drive from the hotel, so you can spend the weekend city slicking then reverse commute to the country to put your feet up in pastoral bliss.)
Our favourite bits We love that everything about the hotel is designed to lull you into a near-comatose state of relaxation. The spa uses ingredients from the farm for ginger and honey or lavender body-butter massages and Adirondack chairs are liberally scattered about – by the fire-pit, the pool and on your balcony and the front porch – giving you plenty of opportunities to sit and sample the well-informed wine list. The cuisine in the restaurant may have haute leanings, but it’s anything but haughty – offbeat wall decor and a few cosy tables make it feel more like a traditional farm kitchen. Rooms have restful cream-and-lemon colour schemes and enormous beds; that’s lucky, because after a busy day of sitting, spa treatments and pairing your Pinot Noir with locally sourced delicacies such as Sonoma duck breast with candied kumquats, you’ll be ready to slumber soundly with your slightly tipsy Mr or Mrs Smith.
Mr & Mrs Smith say… As special and character-rich as an aged Sonoma cabernet, Farmhouse Inn is worth a try. The bright barn-inspired rooms – decorated with antiques and salvaged barn treasures – conjure the oaky aromas of California chardonnay. Fancy mixology instead? Play alchemist in your giant Whirlpool tub, which can be customised with salts, soaps, milks and tonics from the lobby’s bath bar. A few even come come from Farmhouse’s own garden, where flowers, vegetables and herbs create a rich bouquet. Chef Steve Litke combs the gardens every night to select the star players on the morrow’s menu, and the spa harvests lavender, grapes and herbs for use in its massages, wraps and facials. Wine’s best pairing could be a melting square of Valrhona chocolate, wedged inside a melt-it-yourself s’more, available each night by the crackling firepit.