8 Best Hotels Within Walking Distance of Historic Sonoma Sites

Daniel Mangin | February 02, 2018

The 1823 Sonoma Mission (officially Mission San Francisco Solano) and related sites within the town of Sonoma's highly walkable downtown hark back to California’s era of Mexican rule. Luckily for both upscale and budget travelers, varied lodging options abound within walking distance. You could easily abandon your car for a day or two to explore Sonoma's attractions, taste wine, and sample first-rate Italian, Portuguese, and other cuisine.

Among the shops near the plaza are an update of the initial Williams-Sonoma store on its original 1956 site and the Vella Cheese Company, established in 1931. Beyond Vella an eminently walkable 2 miles (nearly all flat) is the legendary Buena Vista Winery. Started in 1857 less than a decade after California achieved statehood, Buena Vista is considered the birthplace of the state’s modern wine-making industry.

Tip: If you’re around on a Tuesday between May and October, the plaza’s evening farmers’ market, complete with food vendors and music, is like a big block party. An even more elaborate market takes place on Friday year-round a little north of the plaza.

Below are our top downtown Sonoma hotel picks, some of them historic properties themselves.


Sonoma Hotel

Why it made the list

In a building that dates to Ulysses S. Grant's days as president, the Sonoma Hotel qualifies as historic itself, having been converted into a lodging nearly a century ago. Despite upgrades over the years, the hotel lacks creature comforts and high style but makes up for it in atmosphere and price. If you're going to be out touring all day anyway, you'll do fine unless pampering and contemporary design are a must.

Built in 1872 as a dry goods store with a social hall above Read More


Swiss Hotel

Why it made the list

The history lesson starts right at the 1909 Swiss Hotel’s front doors. One leads to the restaurant and hotel, a section of which dates back to the 1830s, the other to a frozen-in-time bar whose signature coffee drink is nearly a century old. Dozens of photos, framed old menus, and other memorabilia convey a sense of old Sonoma before the era of sleek tasting rooms and haute cuisine.

Sonoma Plaza views unfold from the redwood-plank balcony of Read More


Inn at Sonoma

Why it made the list

Often a good value (look for online bargains from late fall into spring), the inn is a fine choice year-round for perks that include a full buffet breakfast, evening wine and cheese hours, and freshly baked cookies. The outdoor hot tub is an added bonus after a long day of touring, and the staff members go the extra mile to help guests plan winery excursions.

Little luxuries delight at this well-run inn ¼-mile south of Read More


El Dorado Hotel

Why it made the list

Only two decades younger than Sonoma Mission, this 27-room hotel facing Sonoma Plaza woos 21st-century travelers with updated room amenities and rustic-contemporary decor. El Dorado Kitchen, one of Sonoma’s best restaurants, does business on the hotel’s ground floor, and there’s a decent-size pool that provides perfect respite on a hot summer or early fall day.

Rooms in this remodeled 1843 building strike a spare, modern Read More


Auberge Sonoma

Why it made the list

These three two-bedroom suites just east of Sonoma Plaza are perfect for travelers who prefer lodgings that feel just like home. All the suites have kitchens with fancy Euro appliances and are fully stocked with utensils and even sauces and spices—although with several of Sonoma's best restaurants nearby, you may not do much cooking. Rates include a pass good for free tastings at 25 wineries.

If you are traveling in a group of three or four, or just pr Read More


Ledson Hotel

Why it made the list

Across from Sonoma Plaza and next door to the 1934 Sebastiani Theatre, this boutique hotel completed in 2003 delivers modern creature comforts in a setting that cleverly mimics Sonoma’s 19th-century past. Everything at the Ledson feels well thought out and designed for romance, from the whirlpool tubs facing the fireplace to the wrought-iron balconies off each of the rooms.

With its high arched windows, old-fashioned black-metal balc Read More


MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa

Why it made the list

The best of the full-service options in the downtown area, MacArthur Place wins points for its setting, service, spa, pool, and restaurant. Though the hotel isn’t over-the-top lavish, a stay here seems like a special occasion, especially if you book a suite or cottage.

Guests at this 7-acre boutique property five blocks south of Read More


Cottage Inn & Spa

Why it made the list

You couldn’t ask for a more peaceful experience than the one this one-of-a-kind inn supplies. Several of the individually decorated rooms have private patios, but a glass-roof courtyard with a combination fountain and fire pit provides a convivial space for guests to socialize.

Delivering romance, relaxation, and Zenlike tranquility is t Read More

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