Sonoma County is just a 45 minute drive from San Francisco, yet feels lightyears away from the hustle and fog of the city. The region is home to more than 425 wineries and approximately 60,000 acres of vineyards — not to mention a charming downtown and the iconic Sonoma Plaza. It’s the largest plaza in California and is bordered by cute cafes, tasting rooms, and independent shops and art galleries.
Four blocks from the plaza is MacArthur Place, a historic property that’s just undergone a $20 million renovation and is officially the dreamiest hotel in wine country. SFA Design and RDC Architecture reimagined the space, which had a storied past as one of the centerpieces of Sonoma. It was originally built in 1869 as a private residence and farm, and converted to a hotel in 1998. It held onto its rustic roots for 20 years: think decorative cowboy boots and “Wild West” decor. Now, it’s decidedly California casual: modern, bright, and airy.
The lobby, which offers wine and nibbles for guests each evening, is a calming space with neutral layers of leather, velvet, and wood. To the left is The Porch, MacArthur Place’s coffee house and marketplace. Local favorites Acre Coffee and Uppercase Tea are available, as are other unique options like Vybes, a sparkling CBD beverage. If you’re hoping for something a bit stronger, the Bar at MacArthur is just down the hall with a killer cocktail list. The decor here is reminiscent of a California sunset — warm earth tones and cozy textures that invite you to stay awhile.
For dinner, venture to Layla. It’s named for Leilani Burris, the great- granddaughter of the original property founder David Burris. Leilani was known for throwing wild parties and the owners hoped to channel a bit of her joie de vivre. Award-winning Chef Cole Dickinson has crafted a memorable menu, with highlights including a mouthwatering Dutch Baby at breakfast, English pea falafel at lunch, and a Sole à la Meunière served whole and prepared table side at dinner. For guests who’ve overdone it on the wine that day, or just have a taste for tea, a full tea ceremony from Uppercase Tea is available.
The property’s 64 guest rooms, suites and cottages are quite special as well, and meant to feel a bit residential. Each space features custom-designed furniture by SFA Design and fabricated by Harbour Outdoor. The design is really in the details here, with thoughtful elements like stitching on the lampshades, leather straps holding up the headboards, and illuminated vanity mirrors by Seura. Perhaps the pièce de résistance, however, is the freestanding Duravit LUV tub in some of the rooms. It’s one of the more spacious bathtubs on the market, and is a true luxury to be able to have a soak after a day of wine tasting. (Select rooms also offer an outdoor tub — dreamy– or an outdoor shower.)
Though we’d happily lounge at MacArthur Place all day long, there’s a lot to see in Sonoma and you can do so by bike, balloon, or Bohemian Highway. The hotel offers complimentary Blix Electric Bikes for guests, and about 10 minutes beyond the Plaza you’ll find famous wineries like Patz & Hall. If you’d like a look from above, we recommend Sonoma Ballooning Adventures. It’s an early start, but the views are once in a lifetime. Finally, Bohemian Highway Travel Co. is a stylish transportation company that will take you off the beaten path and show you the exclusive side of Sonoma. They create tailored wine country experiences — private tastings, chats with the winemakers, shady picnics — and deliver you there by 1987 refurbished Land Rover Defender 110s.
Needless to say, wine country is calling and we must go.