On a knoll sheltered by towering redwoods, this romantic three-building Mission Revival–style inn is a short drive from downtown Guerneville. A textbook cozy getaway, the inn has a pool, a small spa, and an inviting Mediterranean-style exterior courtyard. The chef at the excellent Italian restaurant uses produce from the inn's garden or from nearby farms. The room rate includes two-course breakfasts that might include Grand Marnier French toast, blueberry pancakes, a frittata, or eggs Benedict.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Although overall the inn is well-kept, some rooms and public areas look careworn. The inn is about a 15-minute walk from downtown Guerneville.
The rooms in Villa Casa Grande, a Sonoma County Historic Landmark built in 1922, have charming touches like an exposed-brick wall or views of redwood trees. The suites and rooms in the newer La Piccola Casa and Casa di Campo are larger and airier, decorated in sage green and terra-cotta tones. The beds are uniformly comfortable, the linens deluxe. Some rooms have fireplaces, private balconies (including a few with wonderful redwood views), and hot tubs.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The smallest rooms may seem cramped, especially for longer stays, but there are larger options. Noise from neighboring rooms can be an issue in the oldest building.
The larger accommodations have spacious bathrooms, some with double showers. Several of the bathrooms in the smaller rooms could use a refresh.
The check-in area, in the Villa Casa Grande has a fireplace, magazines, and a seating area, but in general it's not a place to hang out.
Redwoods surround the well-maintained pool area, which has an adjoining hot tub. With many guests out touring wineries during the day, it's often quiet.
Massages and facials are the specialties of the small spa here, open to guests and nonguests, with couples welcome to enjoy all treatments together. In addition to the signature Swedish massage (which can be experienced with heated river stones if desired), the therapists also perform deep tissue massages and either Swedish or deep-tissue massages involving aromatherapy or facials.
Several of the larger accommodations are equipped for in-room spa services.
The chefs at the Applewood's Pinoli Cucina Rustica, which opened to acclaim in 2017, make intricate Italian-influenced dishes and serve them to customers (no wait staff here) in the high-ceilinged dining room. The emphasis is on local ingredients, some grown in the Applewood's extensive garden. Typical entrées include branzino fillets with arugula capers, and olives, duck breast over farro, and Akaushi skirt steak with seasonal vegetables.
Nonguests are welcome to dine at the inn's restaurant.
Pinoli Cucina Rustica serves beer and wine for dinner, and mimosas are poured at the daily breakfasts. You can order bottles of sparkling wine from three Sonoma County producers for in-room consumption.
The Applewood is up a hill off Highway 116 about ½-mile southeast of downtown Guerneville. Having a car is helpful (okay, pretty much essential)—there's not too much within walking distance. Sonoma County Transit Bus 20, accessed in downtown Guerneville, a 15-minute walk from the inn, stops near several River Road (Highway 116) wineries.
Several restaurants are less than a mile away (all a 3-minute drive), including boon eat + drink for inventive New American cuisine, Big Bottom Market for soups, clever sandwiches, and biscuits that caught Oprah's eye, Seaside Metal Oyster Bar for fresh seafood, Dick Blomster's Korean Diner for KFC (addictive "Korean Fried Crack" chicken) and other Korean-influenced comfort-food items. Step back in time for French cuisine at nearby Chef Patrick's.
El Barrio (3-minute drive), Guerneville's light-hearted serape-chic hangout, specializes in mescal and classic tequila margaritas but also a good selection of bourbon and other craft spirits, along with cognac and wine and beer. The bar bites (chips, quesos, deviled eggs) go well with all the libations. The fabulously divey Rainbow Cattle Company gay bar, open since the late 1970s and known for its convivial vibe, has a pool table.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Other inns with a boutique feel may trump the Applewood for style, but the inn's home-away-from home vibe more than compensates. Toss in the woodsy location, the proximity to downtown Guerneville, and the on-site Italian restaurant, and you're in for a memorable experience. Staffers are happy to help with wine and other touring plans, though with the pool and spa you may well end up staying on-property a good chunk of the time.