Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Review 1531: Owner, Gloria's Sonoma House
3bed/2bath house just outside of Sonoma, California
June 22 - 27, 2005, 5 days
House outside of town of Sonoma, at end of a quiet woodsy cul-de-sac. Other houses are close by, but all of the trees and bushes give much privacy.
A long hike to center of Sonoma; about 15 minutes by car. A few shops/restaurants and a big shopping center (chain grocery store and drugstore) are about 10 minutes away, but skip those and go to the Sonoma Market at the corner of Napa St and West 5th Street. There you will find a wonderful market with groceries, produce, toiletries, wine, coffee, olive oils galore, bulk grains and nuts, some of which are organic.
Contemporary house is beautiful and comfortable 2nd home for Gloria and her family. Has been artistically decorated with collectibles from Mexico, Italy, and local artisans. Terrazzo tile floors.
On entry level is the open kitchen/dining area, and a sitting room that could be used for a 4th bedroom. Up a half flight of stairs is a bedroom, bathroom with shower only, and living room. Down a half flight of stairs from entry are a small bedroom, master bedroom, and one large bathroom with a lovely tiled double shower/tub.
Variety of pleasant sitting areas outside. Private stone patio between house, pool, and hot tub had two tables with umbrellas, as well as lounge chairs. Woods and bushes surround backyard. Portable barbecue available on patio.
Whole house was spotlessly clean, neat, and functional. We were charmed by all of the nice touches of design and decor. Big dining table with six chairs. In living room, two couches, one chair, TV and VCR -- lighting for reading here could be improved. House is well furnished for family use.
3 bedrooms with comfortable beds, pleasant furnishings, and plenty of pillows and bedding. 2 bathrooms: spotlessly clean, attractive, functional, and lots and lots of fluffy white towels.
Absolutely perfect kitchen for cooking full meals: well-organized, lots of good quality dishes, glasses, cups, and cooking utensils. Microwave, coffeemaker, toaster oven, gas stovetop, dishwasher, and oven.
Problems or Bonuses
House and pool area are not handicapped accessible. There are stairs to everything. No bathroom on entry level. Large downstairs bathtub/shower is charming but difficult to climb into. A suggestion I made to the owners is to install grab bars in this tub, and functional handrails on all steps, indoors and out.
Otherwise, everything was even better than we expected!
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Gloria is a gracious and friendly host who has overlooked nothing for her guests' comfort and convenience. We were welcomed with wine, fruit, cheese, and floral bouquets. This house is an excellent value in this popular Napa/Sonoma area.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Absolutely, we would love to stay here again! The only qualification that this property is not handicapped accessible. The older we get, the more we need those grab bars and handrails!
Things to do in this area
RESTAURANTS--moderately priced and nice:
The Fig Cafe, 13690 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 95442, phone (707) 938-2130. No reservations, but it's popular, so get there early. Brunch on Fri, Sat, Sun from 9:30AM-2:00PM. Dinner on Sun-Thurs from 5:30-9:00PM, and on Fri & Sat from 5:30-9:30PM. Pleasant, cozy, casual, but with exquisite good taste! Try the fig pizza ($12), and fig salad with arugula. Varied menu. Torpedo onion soup ($5)--yummy. Special dish that night was soft shell crab ($19)--delicious! Food was elegantly prepared and served, seasoned to perfection. Friendly service.
Depot Hotel Restaurant, 241 West First St, Sonoma, 95476, phone (707) 938-2980. Lunch and dinner. Reservations. Not a hotel. Good chef of Italian heritage with French and Italian training. Old stone building used as residence and restaurant since 1870. Indoor dining or patio dining by Italian pool with fountain. Pasta, fish, and meat dishes. Salad and entrees for three adults, and one glass of wine was $70. Exquisitely seasoned.
SHOPPING FOR FOOD:
* The Sonoma Market at corner of Napa St and West 5th St, phone (707) 996-3411. Wonderful market for groceries, produce, wine, olive oil, coffee, bulk grains & nuts, toiletries, etc. Some organic.
* The Red Barn at Oak Hill Farm: organic produce and flowers. Leaving Gloria's house, turn right onto Sonoma Hiway 12. Watch for small Red Barn sign on right (also will see the big red barn) about 2-3 miles from Gloria's.
* Benziger Family Winery, 1-2 miles outside of Glen Ellen, up the road toward the Jack London State Park. Friendly, pleasant winery and farm, with picnic area and garden. Three generations of farming family who practice biodynamic farming methods.
They have an educational demonstration plot that explains how they farm their vineyard. There is an "insectory" where they encourage "good" insects to come live at their winery and protect their vines. They have a tour and tastings. We did a wine tasting (small sips of 5 different wines for $5). I bought a bottle of Biodynamic wine to bring home: Sonoma Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (label also says "Paridiso de Maria"). We had fun here! This was the best winery we visited. OLIVE OIL:
* The Olive Press, 14301 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 95442, phone (800) 965-4839. Website: www.TheOlivePress.com. Tastings here. Almost overwhelming tasting several olive oils at one time! Bought a bottle of Lila Jaeger's olive oil--a limited blend of six varieties of olives.
BAKERIES - (get there early--we dragged in about 2:00PM and both places had very little to offer us):
* Fiorini Truly Italian, 248 West Napa St., Sonoma, phone (707) 996-6119. * Artisan Bakery, 750 West Napa St, Sonoma, phone (707) (939-1765.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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