Above: The pool at Carneros Resort and Spa in Napa, California

New Hideaways in Napa and Sonoma Valleys

Among Northern Californians there is a long-running debate as to whether Napa Valley or Sonoma Valley boasts the better hideaways and superior wine. Luckily for the rest of us, the two regions are very close together — separated by a small mountain range, the Mayacamas — and can both be explored on a single trip.

From San Francisco airport, we drove 60 miles north to the hamlet of Glen Ellen in Sonoma Valley. The village is closely associated with writer Jack London, who purchased a ranch here in 1905 and over the years expanded it across 1,400 acres of Sonoma Mountain. After the death of his wife, in 1955, the ranch was transformed into the Jack London State Historic Park in order to preserve the author’s memory.

Gaige House + Ryokan

Gaige House + Ryokan in Glen Ellen, California - Four Sisters Inns

In search of peace and nature, we had made a reservation at Gaige House + Ryokan. Much of the 23-room property features a traditional Japanese minimalist style with a neutral color palette. Towering bamboos, mature oaks, manicured rock gardens and miniature pagodas, set along the rushing Calabazas Creek, all reinforce the refined Zen ambiance. The 1890 main house, however, is a conventional Victorian structure that comprises a lobby area, plus a club lounge appointed with a woodburning fireplace, Asian objets d’art and coffee table books on Japanese design, meditation and forest bathing. Wine and cheese tastings are served here daily. On arrival, the staff were dealing with an extremely demanding guest. Throughout the process, they regularly apologized for the delay and offered us green tea and homemade matcha-flavored cookies. Eventually, we were ushered to a desk by the amiable receptionist for an efficient check-in.

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