Fodor's Expert Review AutoCamp Russian River
14120 Old Cazadero Rd., Guerneville, California 95446, USA See on Map
Guests at this spot along the Russian River that debuted in 2016 camp (well, sort of) in luxury under tall redwoods in cute-as-a-button Airstream trailers. During the summer, ten fancy tents (two-guest maximum, including children), a relative bargain, are also set up. The tents don't have showers, which guests take in the midcentury modern–inspired clubhouse.
YOU SHOULD KNOW You're technically camping, so forget about room service and hotel amenities like a pool or spa, and expect to pay for housekeeping.
The cleverly modified trailers, oh so contemporary and roomier inside than they appear from without, are decked out with high-quality queen down beds swathed in hotel-style linens. Bare-bulb reading lamps hanging from the ceiling above the queen beds are among the many thoughtful touches, and each trailer has a sofa that converts into another bed. Mod cons not available back in the day include built-in audio systems with MP3 inputs and flat-screen TVs with cable channels. The efficient mini kitchens have microwaves and utensils. Outside are a private seating area and a campfire and barbecue pit.
It's worth spending the extra dollars for one of the Premium trailers, which sit creekside farthest away from the parking lot and clubhouse and tend to be the quietest accommodations.
Remarkably spacious bathrooms have marble-tile walk-in showers with rain-shower heads. A small glass shelf under the shower holds Malin+Goetz bath products, one of several boutique-hotel grace notes that elevate the experience here.
A tall exterior wall constructed of the ends of cut firewood strikes a faintly retro-campground note at the airy Autocamp Clubhouse, but the design sensibility is fun and ultracontemporary. A combination lobby, camp store, and hangout with a fireplace sunk into the floor a major focal point, the concrete-and-wood space also contains bathrooms and showers used by guests staying in the tents. The camp store sells Russian River wines and locally made beers in addition to snacks, soft drinks, and a few essentials.
Coffee, tea, and freshly squeezed orange juice are laid out in the clubhouse in the morning, but no meals are served at AutoCamp.
You can purchase some provisions at the small camp store, and Big Bottom Market and Safeway are both less than a mile away in downtown Guerneville.
Locally made beers and Russian River wines are available for sale at the clubhouse, but there's no bar.
AutoCamp lies a tenth of a mile off River Road, also signed as Highway 116 west of downtown Guerneville. Some guests walk the mile into to town (River Road's shoulders are narrow in spots, so be watchful, especially at night); you can also ride one of the complimentary bikes to downtown or Armstrong Redwoods park, area wineries, and even the coast.
Pinoli Cucina Rustica (5-minute drive) specializes in Italian-influenced dishes served in a high-ceilinged dining room by the chefs who cook them. Check out perennial downtown favorites (all a 3-minute drive) boon eat + drink for inventive New American cuisine, Big Bottom Market for soups, clever sandwiches, and biscuits that caught Oprah's eye, Seaside Metal Oyster Bar for fresh seafood, and Dick Blomster's Korean Diner for KFC (addictive "Korean Fried Crack" chicken) and other Korean-influenced comfort food.
El Barrio (3-minute drive), Guerneville's light-hearted serape-chic hangout, is known for mescal and classic tequila margaritas and there's a good selection of bourbon and other craft spirits, along with cognac and wine and beer. The bar bites (chips, quesos, deviled eggs) go well with all the libations. The fabulously divey Rainbow Cattle Company (3-minute drive) gay bar, open since the late 1970s and known for its convivial vibe, has a pool table. Just east of town at Stumptown Brewery (5-minute drive) you can enjoy microbrews and river views.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Taking the boutique-hotel concept outdoors, AutoCamp Russian River excels with a sleek midcentury-modern sensibility, well-designed trailers, but above all its setting amid towering redwoods. Like a good VR game, this really feels like camping, but minus the hassle. The plush comfortable beds ensure guests avoid the morning aches of camping experiences of yore, and though you could cook pork and beans over your private campfire, worthy fine-dining options await less than a mile away.
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