Expect to see spandex-clad guests all about this motel-style inn that's popular with pro bicyclists and serious amateurs. A few blocks west of Highway 12 in a residential neighborhood, the inn is a stone's throw from Sonoma Creek. The layout is simple: 16 rooms, a handful pet-friendly and most with patios and balconies, with parking in a small lot just outside. The public areas are scant, but if you're willing to forgo upscale amenities, a pool, and a 24-hour front desk, the inn provides lots of charm for the price.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The inn is about 2¾ miles from Sonoma Plaza, so you'll need to drive or take public transit--to walk takes a little under an hour.
Small but cheerful rooms are individually decorated with painted wooden armoires, cozy quilts, and brightly colored contemporary artwork. Most rooms even have vaulted ceilings, and many have small patios or balconies with a little fountain. All rooms have air-conditioning, Keurig coffee makers, small refrigerators, and 32" flat-screen TVs with cable. Free roll-away beds are available for kids.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Although the rooms are generally quiet, the hotel is on a fairly busy street. Despite the pleasant burbling of the fountains, traffic noise somewhat diminishes the appeal of the patios and balconies.
The inn's bathrooms have tiled tubs or showers. Reasonably large, most have sufficient counter space for toiletries. As with the rooms, they're kept very clean.
There's no lobby, just a small area for check-in.
The independently operated Creekside Cafe attached to the inn serves standard American fare—eggs various styles, pancakes, waffles, biscuits with pork gravy, and more for breakfast, and soups, salads, sandwiches, and burgers for lunch. The Creekside isn't open on Monday or for dinner.
The inn has no bar.
The inn sits off Highway 12 north of Sonoma Plaza. A car is helpful for getting around, though you can take Sonoma County Transit Bus 30 south to Sonoma or north to Glen Ellen and on to Kenwood and Santa Rosa. Inn guests receive a $5 discount on bike rentals from a Sonoma vendor who will deliver bikes to the property.
The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa's splurge-worthy Santé (2-minute drive, 6-minute walk) serves French-inspired haute-American cuisine. The Fairmont's contemporary-sleek 38° North, which like Santé has a memorable wine selection, is a stylish spot for lunch. Other Sonoma good choices include, both in Sonoma, Tasca Tasca (9-minute drive) for Portuguese small plates and The Girl and the Fig (10-minute drive) for French-country meals. In Glen Ellen, try Aventine Glen Ellen for contemporary Italian and Glen Ellen Star for Modern American.
The by-the-glass wine choices at the Fairmont's 38° North (2-minute drive, 6-minute walk), which also has a full bar, include Dom Perignon and the cult-Cab Screaming Eagle. The bar at Oso Sonoma restaurant (10-minute drive), just south of Sonoma Plaza, specializes in Korean soju cocktails and has a full bar. The rustic bar at Aventine Glen Ellen (10-minute drive), a fun hangout, is inside a 19th-century sawmill later converted into a gristmill.
WHY WE LIKE IT
A dollop of style and a convenient location between Sonoma and Glen Ellen make the Sonoma Creek Inn a delightful choice for budget travelers. The exterior says "motel" but the design sensibility and customer service are more quaint country inn, with the rates splitting the difference between the two. Many patrons return here year after year, so book well ahead in summer and early fall, especially on weekends.