If you’re looking for a relaxing and peaceful California wine country experience, then Sonoma is the place for you. Charles and I recently stayed at Olea Hotel in the sleepy albeit charming community of Glen Ellen, located in the heart of Sonoma Valley. Tucked away on a hillside studded with moss-strewn valley oak and rustic olive trees, Olea exudes tranquility and serenity.
The hotel’s 12 rooms are spread out among several buildings scattered on the property, all connected by flagstone and pebbled pathways. We stayed in the Lower King Room at the foot of the Lobby building. The accommodations were very comfortable, with ample square footage, complimentary Wi-Fi access, a wet bar, a modern bathroom with radiant heated floors, and a lovely private patio perfect for sipping coffee at dawn and wine at dusk.
Each morning, all guests are treated to a spectacular three-course organic gourmet breakfast, which starts with house-made granola, locally produced yogurt, and the freshly baked pastry of the day. Then it’s on to the fruit course, followed by the entrée, featuring a savory and sweet pairing. The menu is different each day, and all ingredients are sourced on-site or from local Sonoma County farms. I’m not going to highlight everything we had, but I will say—the crispy poached egg with crumbled breakfast sausage, blistered tomatoes, summer succotash, and tomato bisque, followed by greek yogurt pancakes with coconut lemon crema and a raspberry mango medley—was pretty damn good.
After long days filled with wine tasting and exploring the region, we loved returning to our little Olea oasis. I particularly enjoyed reclining in one of the chaise longues on the upper patio, beneath the interlaced limbs of the sprawling valley oaks. I’d marvel at the light of the early evening California sun as it coated the surrounding hillsides in hews of soft gold and amber.
At night, we would venture off to Napa for dinner, which still reigns supreme for foodies. During the day we stayed in Sonoma, home to some exceptional wineries that, in my mind, are more enjoyable to visit because they lack the pretension of the surrounding regions and many don’t require advanced reservations. We tasted some brilliant wines at Gundlach Bundschu and Saint Francis Winery, and became one with the honey bees in the lavender fields at Matanzas Creek Winery, all very near Olea.
Napa is beautiful and finely manicured, and is home to some truly spectacular restaurants, but Sonoma has a little bit more heart and soul. If you’re seeking modern accommodations in a relaxing setting without airs, and centrally located to some of the best vineyards in California wine country, then look no further than Olea Hotel.
(Last visited in July, 2015)