Fodor's Expert Review Honor Mansion
891 Grove St., Healdsburg, California 95448, USA See on Map Fodor's Choice
Redwoods, firs, magnolias, pines, and valley oaks provide a woodsy backdrop for this photogenic inn set on 4 acres a mile north of Healdsburg Plaza. The centerpiece, an 1883 Italianate Victorian fronted by a broad lawn and a classic white picket fence, was restored in the mid-1990s by the current owners, who have since added accommodations in other buildings. The grounds include a koi pond, a pool, a ¼-acre Zinfandel vineyard, a putting green, and boccie, croquet, tennis, and basketball courts.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The inn's website states that "all of our rooms are for two-person occupancy over the age of 16."
The five mansion rooms, each named for a nearby tree on the property, preserve a sense of the building's heritage with soft-hued walls and period furnishings like a four-poster bed, a clawfoot tub, or a sturdy armoire with a hand-carved door. Each of the other accommodations—seven suites (four with vineyard views, one in a tower, one facing the pool, and another the garden) and a cottage amid redwoods—delivers a different experience, with the constants being the fireplaces (gas or electric), private decks, luxurious beds and linens, and decanters of sherry in all.
With their indoor soaking tubs and private outdoor hot tubs, the secluded vineyard suites, which face rows of Zinfandel vines, are among the most popular accommodations.
Bathrooms vary depending on the room type, with the suites having the most luxurious ones. A few in the mansion have inventive configurations owing to the home's age, but all the bathrooms are well cared for, and the bath products are deluxe.
The mansion's two front parlors serve as the inn's lobby. Guests check in at the one to the entryway's right (the breakfast buffet is set up here each morning). The parlor on the left is the inn's living room, with books and games for guests' use and binders with restaurant menus and sightseeing brochures. A sideboard holds coffee and hot-water decanters and a selection of teas available throughout the day. On chilly days guests have been known to curl up with a good book on the leather sofa that faces the fireplace.
Oaks and other trees provide afternoon shade for the solar-heated pool. Forty feet long, it's good for swimming laps. Chairs and lounges are set up around it, and there's an elevated area with a table for guests to picnic on.
Guests can book Swedish and deep-tissue massages to enjoy in-room or, in good weather, in a pavilion near the swimming pool. For a few dollars more you can enhance a massage with aromatherapy-oil selections—lavender for relaxation, for instance, or eucalyptus to clear the sinuses—or a treatment that involves heated lava shells from the Philippines that generate muscle-relaxing heat.
There's no fitness room, but guests can request a free pass to the Parkpoint Health Club (3-minute drive), which has a 25-yard pool and a full lineup of workout equipment. Pilates, yoga, aerobics, and many other classes are taught.
Signs posted in the right front parlor detail the elaborate buffet menu, which always includes fresh fruit, juices, mimosas, coffee, tea, a scone of the day, various breads, and granola. The hot entrées, which change daily, include Grand Marnier French toast, breakfast burritos, and eggs Benedict. Tables are set up in both the parlors, and when the weather's nice you can eat on the koi pond deck. In the second hour of the afternoon wine tastings, cheese and relish platters are served, along with appetizers that change daily.
The inn is about ½ mile south of highway U.S. 101's Dry Creek Road exit and about a mile northwest of Healdsburg Plaza. Although Seghesio Family Vineyards is a short walk away, most guests drive into town or out to neighboring wineries. The nearest Sonoma County Transit stop (for Bus 60) is more than ½ mile from the inn.
An innkeeper reports that many guests head to Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar (3-minute drive) on their first night in town to enjoy its small plates and desserts. Other favorites include Valette (4-minute drive) for stylish Modern American cuisine, Baci Café & Wine Bar (3-minute drive) for Italian classics, and Guiso's (3-minute drive) for Latin-inspired dishes.
Drop by Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar (3-minute drive) for specialty cocktails and Duke's Spirited Cocktails (4-minute drive) or Spoonbar (4-minute drive) for "farm-to-bar" cocktails based on local produce and herbs. The bar at Chalkboard (4-minute drive) restaurant has a popular happy hour with drinks to match the ever-changing themes (Polynesian and Southern among the recent ones).
WHY WE LIKE IT
There's a lot to like about Honor Mansion, starting with the beautiful grounds, the owners' attention to detail, the elaborate breakfasts, and the home-away-from-home atmosphere. The location convenient to area wineries and downtown Healdsburg counts as another plus, and as do the congenial staffers ever at the ready with restaurant, winery, and sightseeing suggestions.
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