Weekend Getaways: 10 Romantic Inns


The coast, the mountains or someplace in between—for a romantic getaway, there’s nothing quite like a cozy inn in a beautiful locale, and our north state has plenty of them. Farm out the kids, the pets and the daily grind and make a reservation for a weekend away. Go way upscale and spend the night someplace like Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur—cool, window-walled spaces perched cliffside, overlooking the rugged coastline or mountains—or Napa’s Auberge du Soleil, where the decks off the ultra-luxurious rooms provide perfect viewing of acres of wine country. Check into a little B&B in the Gold Country—something haunted, perhaps—or get an affordable, pretty room in an old house in a small town you’ve never considered stopping in before. The options are endless. Here are 10 for starters.


The Inn on First, Napa—Jamie Cherry and Jim Gunther run this beautiful inn within walking distance of downtown Napa, and the reviews are rave, whether we’re hearing about Gunther’s fabulous truffles or Cherry’s hospitality. The inn’s 12 rooms invite intimacy, with fireplaces, spa tubs and no televisions. Each room is different, with rich-colored walls that will remind you of wine—especially in First Crush, Heritage Estate and Meritage. Everything is luxurious, from the plush towels and billowing comforters to the plump pillows and exquisite furnishings. Nightly rates start at $190 and include a full breakfast—something scrumptious dreamed up by Gunther, such as egg roll omelets, a roasted-tomato tart, a breakfast BLT with pancetta and basil oil or sweet potato Dutch pancakes topped with fresh mixed berries. This is not your typical B&B fare. These two guys know wine and food better than just about anyone and will help you plan your trip to the Napa Valley wine country—check out their blog on the website or, once you make your reservation, ask Cherry to help you custom-design an itinerary for your perfect trip to Napa. 1938 First St., Napa; (707) 253-1331; theinnonfirst.com

Madrona Manor, Healdsburg—Sonoma County is home to rolling vineyards, boutique-laden small towns and a number of lovely inns. Madrona Manor, in the hills above Dry Creek Valley, beckons romantics with its gracious golden mansion, built in 1881. Indulge and reserve one of the Schoolhouse Suites, where you and your beloved will have plenty of room to relax with a bedroom and sitting area, a king-size bed and a spa tub for two. The most private option at Madrona Manor, Garden Cottage, has a spacious private deck surrounded by gardens. In each of the manor’s rooms, antiques—some original to the house—upscale linens and fireplaces add to the appeal. In warmer months, take a dip in the estate’s heated pool and wander among the grounds to admire the orchards and gardens. The inn boasts of a “no-TV atmosphere,” so come prepared to wind down with reading material and each other’s company. Rates start at $265 for a room in the mansion and include a buffet breakfast. 1001 Westside Road, Healdsburg; (707) 433-4231; madronamanor.com





Black Bear Inn, South Lake Tahoe—We already had fallen in love with Black Bear Inn’s dinners, created by the talented chef Alex Elsaesser, when a look at the inn’s rooms enticed us further. With five rooms in the main lodge and five more rooms within three cabins, the Black Bear Inn showcases mountain style with river rock fireplaces, log beams, wood beds, and views of the forest and green-green grassy grounds. The lodge rooms are lovely, but for the most privacy and romance, reserve the Snowshoe Thompson cabin. Within its 840 square feet, you’ll find oriental rugs, vaulted ceilings, a huge bath with spa tub for two, a walk-in shower and a three-sided rock fireplace. Lounge on the private patio and deep-breathe the fresh alpine air. Room rates start at $210 for a lodge room and include a full breakfast. 1202 Ski Run Blvd., South Lake Tahoe; (530) 544-4451; tahoeblackbear.com

The Cottage Inn, Tahoe City­—The bears laze around the roofline and nudge at the windows of The Cottage Inn in Tahoe City. These bears are fake, but the knotty pine and stone walls aren’t. Indeed, this inn is as authentic as it gets when it comes to a mountain getaway. Built in Old Tahoe style in the late 1930s, the property, nestled among the pines, backs up to Lake Tahoe’s north shore and allows beach access for all guests. Each room, uniquely themed and decorated in a warm, rustic, mountain style, has a fireplace and a private bath. The Enchanted Cottage includes an indoor tree, and Skier’s Chalet, Sail Away, Sierra Siesta and Bird’s Nest, among other rooms, house bathtubs for two; a hot tub graces Bit o’ Bavaria’s private balcony, and Romantic Hideaway has a whirlpool tub with a stone waterfall. Rates range from $160 to $340 a night and include a country breakfast. Romance rules at The Cottage Inn—no children younger than 12 are allowed. 1690 W. Lake Blvd., Tahoe City; (530) 581-4073; thecottageinn.com





Svendsgaards’s Inn, Carmel—In the quaint village of Carmel, prices can go over the top for everything from a cup of coffee to a room for the night. At Svendsgaard’s Inn, guests can get a better-than-nice room with a queen bed and a jetted tub for as low as $179 a night. Décor is pretty, with European touches, and most rooms overlook the brilliantly blooming garden. Continental breakfast delivered to your doorstep makes things easy; fresh-baked cookies each day add a homey touch. Hold hands on your walk to Carmel Beach city park, where the steep sandy hill affords a panoramic view of the ocean, the white-sand shore and the busy dogs bounding in and out of the surf—it’s an off-leash dog park. Word to the wise who bring a picnic: Hang on to your sandwich. Labrador retrievers have no manners when it comes to food. Fourth and San Carlos streets, Carmel; (831) 624-1511; svendsgaardsinn.com

Inn at Depot Hill, Capitola—Each of the 12 rooms is different and reflects a portion of the world. Each also is outfitted with world-class comforts: jetted tubs, fireplaces, mounds of pillows, fluffy comforters. Stay in the Valencia—that’s right, Spain and the Mediterranean Riviera—and sink into a glassed-in jetted tub by the fire. Avid readers will love the Library room, two-tiered, decorated like an Orient Express sleeping car and sprinkled with books. (Don’t worry, there’s a TV, too.) In the Paris room, black and white dominate, and the mood is definitely romantic and elegant. Wander through the French doors to the patio garden, sip some Champagne and imagine you’re across the Atlantic. To really spread out, move into the Delft room for the weekend, and you can imagine you’re on the coast of Holland. Its blue-and-white color scheme carries through the bedding, carpet, draperies, even the tiles around the fireplace. After a walk down to the beach and the village of Capitola (shops and restaurants galore), come back and soak under the stars in the deep whirlpool spa on the private patio. Rates start at $259 and include a full breakfast and afternoon wine and hors d’oeuvres. 250 Monterey Ave., Capitola; (831) 462-3376; innatdepothill.com

East Brother Light Station, San Francisco/Richmond—Make a reservation at this lighthouse, located on an island on the strait that separates the San Francisco and San Pablo bays, and you’re really getting away from it all. Your stay begins with a 10-minute boat ride from the Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor. Five rooms—Marin, San Francisco, Two Sisters, West Brother and Walter’s Quarters—four of which are within the Victorian lighthouse, provide unsurpassed views of the Bay Area. East Brother, an active lighthouse for more than 130 years, operates foghorns 24/7 between October and April; most guests find the sound soothing, say innkeepers, but bring earplugs if you’re concerned you won’t be one of them. The Two Sisters room has a fireplace, cozy on a cold, foggy San Francisco night. Walter’s Quarters, a small room with a nautical feel, is located outside the main house in the fog signal building. It affords the most privacy and sits farthest from the automated foghorn—perhaps this is why it’s the most-requested room for repeat visitors to the inn. Things to consider: Some of the rooms share a bathroom, and most rooms are available for one-night stays only. Room rates start at $355 and include hors d’oeuvres, a four-course dinner (think gourmet), a full breakfast and a tour of the island. 117 Park Place, Point Richmond; (510) 233-2385; ebls.org

Albion River Inn, Mendocino—There you are in your spa tub for two—wood burning in the fireplace, a couple of glasses of Mendocino County Chardonnay on the ledge—watching the sun set over the ocean. Not just the ocean, but the Albion River, which flows into the sea right beneath your window. At the Albion River Inn, each of the rooms has something to spark romance, whether it’s a tub, a fireplace, a stunning view, a private coast-side deck or all of the above. The best rooms run $275 and up, and rates include a full breakfast (which could mean something like a creative eggs Benedict or pear-raisin bread pudding) and evening happy hour with wine and hors d’oeuvres. The on-site restaurant, lauded for chef Stephen Smith’s coastal cuisine, faces the water—don’t be offended when your sweetie stares out the window instead of at you while you’re relaxing over breakfast. The view is irresistible. 3790 N. Highway 1, Albion; (707) 937-1919; albionriverinn.com   





Emma Nevada House, Nevada City—There’s nothing like an inn in the Gold Country to transport you back in time, and the Emma Nevada House does it like no other. The historic inn elicits the old days, with velvet high-backed chairs and antiques in the parlors and clawfoot tubs in some of the rooms. The most romantic room, Empress Chamber, is
an ivory-and-burgundy retreat on the main floor, with an antique king-size bed, a large spa bathtub and shower, a cushy sitting area beside expansive windows and a big-screen TV. Upstairs rooms have gabled ceilings and a hideaway feel. Rooms run $169 to $249 and include a seasonal breakfast. (Look forward to a soufflé or stuffed French toast, perhaps.) The inn is within walking distance of Nevada City’s Broad Street shopping and dining district. 528 E. Broad St., Nevada City; (800) 916-3662; emmanevadahouse.com

The Victoria Inn, Murphys—Big house, historic Main Street, Gold Country—it all adds up to eclectic interiors and a sense of adventure. The Victoria Inn sits in the thick of Murphys, where the main drag can hop with activity, and dining, wine-tasting and shopping are steps away. The inn’s rooms run the gamut, and depending on your whims, you can get a balcony, a clawfoot tub, a spa tub, windows next to your tub, high ceilings, a tin roof inhabited by owls, a sleigh bed, a double-sided fireplace. One of the most romantic choices is the Anniversary Suite, with a two-sided fireplace, spa tub and king-size sleigh bed dressed in a down comforter. Another option: Wisteria Cottage, with hardwood floors, curtained-off king-size bed, spa tub and fireplace. Rates begin at $129 and include a continental breakfast. 402 Main St., Murphys; (209) 728-8933; victoriainn-murphys.com ns