If you are looking for a rich but relaxing experience in Sonoma and the wine region, look no further. Our vacation at Aldermews could not have been better. We fell in love with this place. It was the highlight of our trip in Northern California.
When writing a review I usually start from what has impressed me most: location, accomodation, owners, amenities, facilities, ambience...
In this case I honestly don't know where to start from, as the list of wonders was endless. Let's try..
Owners: the most delightful hosts you can ever imagine. Karen and Pieter were very accommodating and sweet. They instantly put us at ease and made us feel at home. I really think they are the perfect hosts: generous with their time, super friendly while not overbearing, offering plenty of privacy but engaging if you prefer chatting about the town and the many things to do. Karen provides her guests with a super useful folder containing all sorts of helpful tips for sightseeeing, dining, wine tasting, hiking, outdoor activities, maps, tour books, etc. All these suggestions really added to our vacation! They are the nicest people and I felt like I was visiting old friends. When it was time to leave, I felt that same bittersweet feeling you get when you're leaving family.
Location: just minutes from Sonoma Plaza but at the same time preciously secluded in the countryside, was ideal and allowed us to get a great feel for being a "native". I'm so glad I booked my accomodation in Sonoma instead of some other villages in the area. We had the chance to visit many of them and I must say Sonoma is the one I liked best! Full of history and charm (you can visit the Mission, the Barracks, the Museum of Art...) is also the heart of the wine region, with so many wineries to explore! (we were at Viansa – great views, the place is more Tuscan than actual Tuscany - and Jacuzzi – knowledgeable staff and great Merlot...for free!). In a 30 minute drive you can get to Santa Rosa (and visit the Schulz Museum – so sweet- and Luther Burbank Home and Gardens) passing through Sebastopol (pick up some apples..yummy...). You can easily drive to Bodega (have some fabulous clam chowder at Hitchcock's store) or up to Guerneville (stop at Korbel winery for some free tasting, get some lunch at their amazing deli and then continue to Armwoods State Park, majestic! And then come back driving along the Occidental Roas, so scenic!). Aldermews is also very convenient if you want to explore the Napa Valley (we had lunch on the Wine Train, best attraction ever! And were in Calistoga for some top notch hot mud baths!)
Cottage: awesome, with more space than we could possibly use. It had everything we could ever need including a full kitchen and spacious sitting area. The kitchen was stocked with everything you could need to cook a meal and the fridge contained first quality breakfast items upon arrival. I mostly appreciated the little extras that made our vacation “big”: honey, dozens of teabags (I love tea), ground coffee, fresh fruit, homemade scones (so yummy!), extravirgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar (thank you!), BBQ sauces and dozens of aromatic herbs thanks to which our BBQ dinners were just mouthwatering! Yes, because on the patio there was also a top-notch BBQ grill and we jumped at the opportunity of using it!
All was spotless clean yet had the warmth of the things that make a home feel lived in. Also the bedroom was awesome with the same tasteful decor of the whole cottage. The bed was very comfy, too. From the minute we stepped into the room, we didn't want to leave. We were ready to unpack and hang out in our new space..forever! The outside is not less than the inside: big garden all to yourself from where you can just sit or better lie on the hammock and unwind, surrounded by the magic of the sweet horses or incredibly beautiful deer, enchanted by the view of all possible species of birds.
Great attention to details. Everything about this place is so charming. Every little detail has been thought of. This is something that is often overlooked by even many 5 stars establishments. In the cottage there were magazines and books, an array of toiletries (shampoo, moisturizer, several types of soap, tissues etc), a nice selection of dvds as well as soothing cds. Everything tells you about love and passion for life: from the picures to the wooden statue, from the bed linen to the wall colours....better than a 5 star room, I guarantee. Beautiful fresh flowers were placed throughout the cottage as well as goodies: a bowl of See's candies and even Ghirardelli chocolates! And the nicest touch of all: a most welcome bottle of wine!
Dining: in Sonoma there's plenty of choice, really. And top notch ones! From French to Italian, from Thai to Spanish cuisine, every taste will be satisfied. As European (Italian), we are attracted to American cuisine and BBQ meals, so we cannot recommend any restaurant, apart from the amazing Aldermew BBQ grill on the patio of the cottage itself..
What can I say more? This is a wonderful and memorable place to stay.
I recommend this spot unreservedly and I do hope I'll be able to come back one day.