The obvious choice for travelers seeking historic atmosphere and proximity to Railroad Square restaurants, nightlife, and shopping, Hotel La Rose delivers a comfortable stay, if one lacking the boutique-hotel style and polished service the grand stone exterior might imply. Italian stonemasons responsible for the railroad depot and other nearby structures built what's now called the Main Building. The original hotel, it was restored in 1985, the same year the Carriage House, with 19 rooms and suites, was erected across the street.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Hospitality can be inconsistent, and some guests find the surrounding neighborhood scruffy.
A staircase leads up to second- and third-floor rooms off long hallways with original wainscoting, above which hang photos depicting Santa Rosa and Sonoma County history. The rooms, furnished with antiques and reproductions, range from smallish ones with queen-size beds to suites with one or two beds. The decor in the Carriage House, whose rooms are generally more spacious, incorporates period style but feels more contemporary.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Some rooms in the Main Building, as might be expected given its vintage, can feel cramped.
Most of the bathrooms are clean, large, and updated. Main Building bathrooms have old-school touches like pedestal sinks, brass fixtures, and pull-chain toilets with overhead water tanks. Marble floors lend the Carriage House bathrooms a ritzy feel.
The step back in time begins in the lobby, whose striped wallpaper, plush floral carpeting, well-padded leather chairs, and dark-wood front desk area all recall the early 1900s.
A sufficient if not particularly noteworthy Continental breakfast—highlights include make-your-own waffles—is served each morning in Bistro 1907, the hotel's former restaurant. Closed for some time, it's scheduled to reopen in 2018 for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
There is no bar here.
Near U.S. 101 and the public-transit mall, from which buses serving all of Sonoma County depart, the hotel is across the street from the historic railroad depot. In mid-2017, SMART commuter trains, which travel between Sonoma County Airport to the north and San Rafael in central Marin County to the south, began stopping here, too. Until it's extended to Healdsburg in a few years, though, the train won't useful for tasting room visits. Many shops and restaurants are within walking distance of the Hotel La Rose, but not much of sightseeing interest.
Stark's Steak & Seafood (3-minute walk) is the area's best stop for steak (the seafood and sustainable fish are also good); try Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar (8-minute drive) for Neapolitan-style pies paired with fine local wines. For an excellent cappuccino, drop by Flying Goat Coffee (1-minute walk).
The owners of Stark's also operate Bird & The Bottle (8-minute drive), a "modern tavern" serving global comfort food and cleverly named concoctions like Shiso Pretty (vodka, St. George Spiced Pear liqueur, Shiso drinking vinegar) and Macho Pisco (Encanto Pisco, Averna, blood-orange drinking vinegar). Beer-lovers make pilgrimages to Russian River Brewing (9-minute), home of Pliny the Elder and other beloved brews.
WHY WE LIKE IT
The vintage feel, downtown location, and often reasonable prices make the Hotel La Rose worth considering as long as—one traveler's "period accents" being another's "outdated decor"—you know what you're getting into (and not getting). Still, many visitors find a night or two here satisfactory, and some find the experience downright charming.