Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa

I fall in love with hotels that linger in my mind and heart long after I’ve left. Having had the blessing to travel the world extensively, I can usually tell early on when a hotel is going to be one of those glittering jewels that occupy permanent space in my memory bank.

On a warm summer evening I strolled to the front doors of the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn for what must have been the fifth or sixth stay in my lifetime, passing a lively group sitting around an outdoor fire pit where s’mores were being roasted. Soft lights flanked the entryway and in the distance, I caught a glimpse of an impressive collection of wine bottles off the lobby lounge.

After a gracious welcome by the front desk staff and an incredibly speedy check-in, I walked through the hotel’s expansive gardens to my suite. In the moonlight, I could see a few people splashing quietly in the main pool. Winding through well manicured lawns, delicately scented summer blooms and swaying trees, I paused to stare at the twinkling stars above, each vividly bright against a darkening sky. Songs of birds mingled with the chirping of crickets and the occasional croak of a frog.

Sound like the beginning of a Disney fairy tale? Well, if there is any fairy tale to be had at a hotel, the Fairmont Sonoma would be the prime location for one. With no effort on my part, I completely lost all sense of the outside world. The majestic trees all around the property seemed to cocoon guests in a separate world- one of rustic charm, modern luxury and nature’s glory magically intertwined.

My suite was resplendent with a classic four-poster bed, plush bedding, a lovely wood fireplace and my favorite part- an outdoor patio with a chaise lounge that made for an absolutely spectacular outdoor breakfast. The spacious marble bathroom featured a Jacuzzi tub for two which lived up to its reputation- you could indeed soak to your heart’s content with water up to your neck instead of the falsely advertised tubs in many other hotels that could hardly cover your small dog’s paws.

Nestled among those majestic trees and blooms, the suites lull us into feeling like we are in a private enclave. Add exquisite in-room dining from one of California’s best culinary teams and we’ve got memorable dinners and breakfasts of perfectly seasoned tuna, organic vegetable soups, apple sausages and spinach omelets paired with local sparkling wine and a touch of freshly squeezed orange juice. Yes, this was the way life was meant to be lived.

I did finally pry myself out of my suite and surrounding area to venture to the Fairmont’s many pools and world famous spa. For those of you with lingering aches and pains, a visit to these thermal pools and Willow Stream Spa is guaranteed to dissipate stubborn ills away. Despite the hotel being near full capacity, none of the pools or spa felt crowded.

Floating in the thermal pool, I listened to faint classical music playing underwater against the swooshing of warm water all around me. I admit- I went on to spend hours at the Spa, jumping between the Eucalyptus Steam Room and the hot soaking pool. After having been to nearly every major Spa in the United States, I can easily declare Willow Stream’s steam room the best in America. If like me, you love a steam room that is unabashed about actually providing steam to open your pores and draw out those stubborn toxins while enveloping your senses with invigorating Eucalyptus, you will fall in love with this one. No strange smelling, mold-infested rooms with laughably weak puffs of steam that appear to be powered by a child’s miniature tea kettle.

While Willow Stream is world famous for signature spa services such as their antioxidant mud baths and Grapeseed body scrubs, there are also services tailored specially for men. One of my favorite to gift to my father is the Gentlemen’s Wine Country Facial which addresses men’s specific skin needs and provides a luxurious old-world barber experience.

If you manage to stray away from either your suite or the spa, the Fairmont Sonoma will entice you with a number of culinary and wine adventures- most memorably with its award winning Michelin rated Santé Restaurant. For farm to table freshness and California cuisine at its finest, a visit to Sonoma is not complete without a meal at Santé. For a more relaxed ambiance and to indulge in an extensive wine list with tantalizing bites, an evening at 38º is a must.

Whether you’re a couple looking for a romantic tryst, a family looking to create lifetime memories or a group of friends searching for the perfect relaxing getaway in wine country, there is no choice more stellar than the magical Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. Like me, long after you’ve departed, you’ll be counting the days until you can return.

Fairmont Sonoma Website