After biking one day in Sonoma’s wine country, all we wanted to do was cool off with a dip in Madrona Manor’s pool in the rose garden.
Refreshed, we were then ready to dine out at one of hip Healdsburg’s notable restaurants.
Perhaps the best B&B in northern Sonoma, Madrona Manor is nestled in the hills on the outskirts of the town of Healdsburg.
The romantic Victorian estate is made up of several guest buildings; the main mansion dates back to 1881.
The big mahogany buffet and piano in the reception area even came with the original house.
Madrona Manor guestrooms
All 22 guestrooms are Victorian in décor, complete with wallpaper, crystal chandeliers, original antiques and creaky floorboards.
But even though the inn retains its historic charm, every modern comfort has been thought of too.
Claw foot tubs have rain showers, and bathrooms have make-up mirrors and Aveda rosemary-and-mint products. Air conditioning is individually controlled. King size beds boast great mattresses and silky sheets. And in a homey touch, fresh-baked chocolate cookies are placed in your room daily.
The best guestrooms are the two Schoolhouse Suites.
Converted from an outlying 1920s schoolhouse at the edge of the property, these have spacious sitting rooms and double Jacuzzis with views of the bedroom fireplaces.
Each also has a large private deck overlooking wooded glades.
Gardens and restaurant
The eight acres of gardens are a joy to stroll through.
For over 25 years, a master gardener has tended the forsythia and cherry trees, roses, lilies, tulips and camellias.
An organic kitchen garden also yields lettuces, leeks, heirloom tomatoes, raspberries, oranges, peaches and nectarines for Madrona Manor’s acclaimed restaurant.
The restaurant unfortunately wasn’t open during our visit (it is only open Wednesday through Sunday).
But we can tell you that it’s received a Michelin star each year since 2008. Candlelight dinners are four or five-courses, or from tasting menus, perhaps finishing with ice-cream churned tableside. On warm evenings, you can sit outside on a veranda overlooking the flowers.
It all adds up to a wonderfully atmospheric stay at Madrona Manor.
You smell grapes in the air during the day, and at night, a cicada symphony lulls you into a sweet sleep.
We were invited to stay at Madrona Manor as media guests for our feature on “A Taste of Northern California,” (PDF) published in Black Tie.