MacArthur Place: A Luxurious Hideaway in Sonoma
MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa, located practically in downtown Sonoma, is not just a place to stay in California Wine Country. Tucked away in a lush garden of old trees, trimmed shrubs, and blossoming flower beds, the 19th century estate, which still has its original period structures and white picket fence, is an oasis of calm and serenity for a weary traveler.
Built by David Burris, a farmer and landowner, for his large family a century ago and acquired and developed by Howard and Jane Good in 1971, the structure was transformed into a unique hotel with a high-end restaurant and full service spa in 1997 by Suzanne Brangham, who contracted with the Goods to create a luxurious country inn.
Today, MacArthur Place is a modern, 64-room property with new cottages matching the original architecture and grounds extensive enough to spend an entire weekend never leaving the premises and lacking nothing.
Upon our check in at one of the charming and romantically secluded cottages with a shady patio, fireplace, and hot tub for two, my husband and I explored the territory by walking the many trails of the historical estate.
Dense gardens with swings, tables, and benches; a library, where guests enjoy a wine and cheese reception every afternoon; a blue swimming pool dotted with sun sparkles … everything called for a weekend of quiet relaxation.
We took a tour of a historical garden populated by century-old trees, walked by a golden bamboo grove and an emerald lawn with enormous metal sculptures, looked at a flock of geese sculptures sitting pretty on a basement roof, played in a chess garden with giant pieces, and picked up a couple of trinkets at the Garden Gift Shop.
At the peaceful and fragrant Garden Spa I indulged in a skillful massage that magically rid me of my chronic, writing-induced back and neck aches.
For dinner, we settled at a white tablecloth-clad table on a spacious terrace at Saddles Steakhouse, which was decorated with original art and fresh flowers.
We began our festive evening meal with Saddles cocktails: the Dirty Bird, made with Grey Goose vodka, olive juice, and olives stuffed with blue cheese, and a classic Manhattan.
Sweet Miyagi oysters on the half shell were irresistible with house-made mignonette.
Then it was time for executive chef Dana Jaffe’s signature dishes, such as her brightly colored, seasonal beet salad. Slow-roasted red beets were finely diced along with fresh strawberries and mango, formed into a little tower, and topped with round mache leaves and berry, beet juice, and red wine vinaigrette. Rose petals and edible flowers completed the picturesque plate.
Heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad was equally enticing, with multi-colored tomatoes, ciliegine (“cherry size”) cheese balls, purple basil, flower petals, and green pesto served on a long rectangular plate as if framed for an art display. The restaurant is known for its steaks, and Snake River Farms Kobe zabuton (“pillow”) presented a perfect, six-ounce square slice of succulent short rib served with lightly breaded bone marrow.
For a sweet finale, we had chocolate cake decorated with fresh berries and orchids and a house-made tart and sweet blood orange sorbet.
The next morning, a lavish breakfast, included with a hotel stay, was served in the Club Room of the restaurant and featured fresh fruit, pastries, yogurt, and a variety of juices, coffee, and tea.