Northern California is blessed with the magical city of San Francisco and phenomenal getaway regions all around. Wine country getaways in neighboring Napa and Sonoma counties are part of NoCal's magic. I prefer Sonoma.
To some luxury travelers, Napa Valley has become too popular: crowded and commercial.
• But we're fair-minded! Here are all the reasons why Napa Valley is a luxury travel legend
Sonoma County is not as famous as Napa...yet. It seeks to preserve its small-town ambiance and uncrowded feeling. Sonoma works hard to live up to its motto: genuine, independent and adventurous.
• Here are more of the reasons I prefer Sonoma
Nearly all Sonoma lodgings are small, quirky boutique hotels that share the independent, creative spirit of their setting.
Madrona Manor: Majestic & Michelin-Starred
Madrona Manor is ideally situated for Sonoma wine-country weekends: five minutes from bustling Healdsburg.
Nestled in the hills above the Dry Creek Valley, Madrona Manor is a Victorian-era estate surrounded by eight acres of wooded and landscaped grounds.
Today, the property is an elegant wine-country inn with a fine restaurant renowned throughout Northern California.
Madrona Manor appeals to those who seek vintage authenticity in a tranquil setting. (Pet owners take note: the property does not observe a pet-friendly hotel policy.)
Madrona Manor Is Hauntingly Lovely
There's something Gothic about this dignified, three-story Victorian mansion, built in 1881 and transformed into an inn in 1984. With its pointy-gabled windows and ancient oak trees, it is at its best silhouetted by a full moon.
Victoriana abounds at Madrona Manor: framed high-collared lace dresses lining the wooden staircase, and a plethora of potted ferns and miniature palms.
Madrona Manor is detail-perfect. It's one of the most lovingly maintained historic lodgings in all of Sonoma, without a spotted mirror or worn stair runner in sight.
Rooms at Madrona Manor
There are 22 rooms, with nine in the main house, and several private cottages.
• Original furniture is featured in every room
• My room, #204, flaunted an enamel-tiled, gas-fired fireplace and a bathroom with claw-foot tub and marble floor
• The very comfortable king bed had a mahogany headboard and plush linens
• The spacious deck, with several chaises lounges and umbrella, overlooked the low mountains surrounding Sonoma
The property's outdoor pool, a momentary walk from the main house, is immaculately maintained.
Refined Dining at Madrona Manor
Madrona Manor's restaurant has a long reputation for culinary excellence.
• Wine Spectator noted, "Madrona Manor is still the traditional grande dame of Sonoma restaurant."
• The kitchen presently has one Michelin star, and ecstatic TripAdvisor commentators believe it merits two
My guest and I savored the ten-course dégustation tasting menu. Along with the ten courses came almost as many amuses-bouches.
• The meal's high point: duck with Brussels sprouts, Madrona-grown figs, and coffee-and- vanilla sauce
• This dish did it all: it delivered rich, harmonious flavors, flawless execution, and visual flair
Outstanding Luxury Service at Madrona Manor
The noteworthy service team provides no-question five-star hotel service. It was exciting to witness two young people with the potential for brilliant careers.
• Eric Mercer, General Manager of the restaurant, is a rising star with grace, ambition, and articulateness beyond his years. He did a remarkable job with my spot-on wine pairings. (The pear cider by Bordelet and the Ayala Champagne were particularly delectable)
• Ryan Knowles, fresh out of high school, showed amazing finesse presenting the cheese selections from the fromage trolley
I did not have the chance to meet Executive Chef Jesse Mallgren, but sous-chef Calvin Moran was most welcoming in his absence.
Bottom Line with Madrona Manor
I'd first visited this elegant property eight years earlier. I was happy to return and see that Madrona Manor has lost none of its beauty and allure. And its fine-dining reputation remains untarnished.
For a Sonoma Wine Country getaway in a scrupulously maintained vintage mansion with exciting dining in-house, Madrona Manor has little competition.
Get in Touch with Madrona Manor
More Sonoma Lodgings
- A go-to getaway spot furnishing a gracious taste of Tuscany in sunny Sonoma County: Applewood Inn, Restaurant and Spa
- Mid-1800s estate home with lovely rooms, acclaimed dining, and an aah spa: Kenwood Inn and Spa
- A lovable B&B in downtown Healdsburg with luscious flower gardens, dreamy breakfasts, and a chocolate specialty: Camellia Inn
- A Victorian mansion with 19 all-unique rooms in an enchanting arts village: Inn at Occidental
- Boutique hotel with a ranch pedigree, great masseurs, martini bar and splendid steakhouse: MacArthur Place
- Famed then for the Alfred Hitchcock thriller The Birds, now for oceanfront élan and fine dining: Bodega Bay Lodge
- A rustic name for one of Sonoma's most sophisticated small hotels: Farmhouse Inn
As is common in the travel industry, the Hotel Guru was provided with a short complimentary visit for the purpose of describing the property. For details, see our site's Ethics Policy.