In a well-preserved 1869 Italianate Victorian, this colorful bed-and-breakfast sits on a quiet residential street 2½ blocks from Healdsburg Plaza. Innkeeper Lucy Lewand's parents opened the inn more than three decades ago, long before Healdsburg went hip, though many of the property's more than four-dozen namesake camellia species already thrived in the gardens outside.
YOU SHOULD KNOW A few rooms have a shower but no bath, and all rooms lack a TV.
Guest rooms are individually decorated, some with antiques, others with more contemporary furnishings. Each room has its own charms, such as a canopy bed, a private entrance, or a claw-foot tub. Three "king deluxe" rooms have whirlpool tubs and gas fireplaces, and all rooms have iPads for guests' use. Families often book a suite that has a room with a queen-size bed and a separate smaller space with a double bed.
The snug "budget room," which has an antique iron bed and a large 1920s-style private bath across the hall, is one of the best values in Healdsburg for lodging within walking distance of the plaza (and it's nice).
The size and amenities of the bathrooms vary from room to room. Some rooms have only a shower, four bathrooms have whirlpool tubs, and others have claw-foot tubs. Well maintained, the bathrooms all have character. The bathroom in the family suite is suitably large.
A feast for Victorian-loving eyes, the downstairs front and back parlors, which double as the inn's lobby, brim with ceramics and other decorative items. Oriental rugs cover original floors; Carrara marble fireplaces (initially coal burning), period chairs and settees, and chandeliers hanging below ornate medallions complete the tableau.
In season, one of the inn's most popular amenities is its large Roman-shaped backyard pool. Tall trees and a wisteria arbor keep things shady, and there are sufficient lounge chairs and a few areas to picnic. Late-afternoon wine-and-cheese sessions take place here in good weather.
The house's solarium, added around 1900, now serves as a dedicated massage room. The genteel space's tall, light-emitting windows, white-wicker furniture, and checkerboard tiled floors promote relaxation even before treatments begin; the 1920s-style wallpaper adds a vibrant touch. The signature offering involves a Swedish massage, but deep-tissue massages and the customized Master's Massage, for which the therapists employ several stress-reducing techniques, are among the other options available for individuals or couples.
The inn has no gym but does offer guests complimentary day-use passes to the Parkpoint Health Club (12-minute walk). The club has updated exercise equipment and weight-lifting machines and free weights. There’s an Olympic size lap pool, and instructors conduct aerobics, yoga, Pilates, and many other classes throughout the day.
An elaborate buffet awaits guests each morning. Headliners include a vegetable frittata or other dish made from recently laid local eggs, fruit smoothies (the inn is famous for these), fresh fruit, croissants, toast, and various cereals. Wine and snacks are served at 5 p.m., and cookies, tea, coffee, and water are available all day.
Downtown Healdsburg is easily walkable—many shops, restaurants, tasting rooms, and galleries are within 10 minutes of the inn. If driving, take Healdsburg Avenue north to Alexander Valley wineries, Dry Creek Road west to Dry Creek Valley wineries, and Old Redwood Highway and Eastside and Westside roads to Russian River Valley wineries. Sonoma County Transit Bus 67, the Healdsburg Shuttle, loops around town. It's possible to take Bus 60 to some wineries. Though few guests do, the inn's staffers will gladly tell you how. Bicycle rentals are available nearby.
Valette (2-minute walk) for stylish Modern American cuisine, Baci Café & Wine Bar (3-minute walk) for Italian classics, and Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar (3-minute walk) for seafood-oriented small plates are among the nearby restaurants Lucy's guests report on favorably.
Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar (3-minute walk) and lively Spoonbar (7-minute walk), the latter in the h2hotel, are two nearby spots for a colorful cocktail.
WHY WE LIKE IT
The Camellia Inn plays the Victorian card well, evoking the era without feeling stuffy or overly frilly. Its period decor, varied room choices, and location near Healdsburg Plaza alone make this a superb downtown option, and with rooms elsewhere in town costing $1,000 a night or more in high season, the rates are reasonable. Book well ahead on summer weekends, though.