Established in 1869 as the private estate for miner, rancher and banker David Burris, Sonoma’s MacArthur Place was converted to a luxury hotel in the late ’90s. For two decades, the decor paid homage to its founder’s ranching roots—with bulky furniture, dark wood, and kitschy Wild West touches. Just in time for its 150th anniversary, the six-acre property has undergone a transformative $25 million overhaul, spearheaded by SFA Design and RDC Architecture.
The renovation still honors the estate’s history while upgrading it to a contemporary hotel that’s no longer just a place to stay when visiting Sonoma, but a destination in its own right. The 64 luxe guest rooms—spread across multiple structures—have a cottage-like coastal feel with custom furniture, neutral color palettes and spacious walk-in showers.
Of the many amenities (Dyson hairdryers, heated bathroom floors, plush bathrobes, locally sourced complimentary snacks), the most enticing are the additional spa fixtures. Some of the Deluxe and Premium rooms are outfitted with outdoor showers (often accessible via the indoor shower as well as a private patio) while others feature nearly-six-foot-long soaking tubs, some of which are outside. No two rooms at MacArthur Place are exactly alike.
Guests expecting room service beyond daily housecleaning and turn-down service might be surprised to learn meals can’t be ordered to the room. It’s merely an opportunity to stroll the winding tree-lined paths to one of the estate’s three distinct dining options.
MacArthur Place’s premier restaurant, Layla, is bright, airy and perfectly combines “California casual” with five-star service. (It’s hard to believe that not long ago, the same space housed a steakhouse called Saddles, which was decorated with actual saddles.) Executive chef Cole Dickinson’s Mediterranean-inspired breakfast, lunch and dinner menus are available daily and highlight local, organic ingredients. Many of the dishes lend themselves to a family-style feast, though it’s certainly possible to devour the fresh pasta and seafood meals without sharing. Full Uppercase Tea service is available upon request, and while the wine list borders on overwhelming (this is Sonoma, after all) a knowledgeable sommelier is never far.
Select items from Layla can be found at the adjacent bar, along with small plates (including french fries four ways), but the real reason to visit The Bar at MacArthur—aside from the aforementioned fries and elegant, earthy decor—is the actual back bar. For a place planted so firmly in wine country, the drinks menu is surprisingly democratic, with nearly as many craft beers as wines by the glass, and a dozen excellent seasonally inspired house cocktails.
The Porch, located next to the property’s reconfigured main entrance, is an open-air coffee shop with all-day breakfast and a handful of light lunch options, as well as a thoughtful selection of grab-and-go goodies (think bean-to-bar chocolate, and CBD-infused honey sticks and sparkling beverages).
A few common areas await the final phase of the renovation, including The Spa at MacArthur. The somewhat-outdated decor is noticeable, but only because the other spaces are so gorgeous in comparison. Still, it’s a detail that’s easy to forget when enjoying one of the luxurious treatments. The Wine Country Detox (100 minutes of dry-brush exfoliation, detoxifying seaweed wrap, and essential oil massage) may not really undo a day of drinking, but who’s keeping track?
Should anyone manage to tear themselves away from the property, Blix Electric Bikes are available to guests free of charge, and Sonoma Plaza’s shops, galleries, restaurants, and tasting rooms are just a few blocks north of MacArthur Place. For more guided exploration, Bohemian Highway Travel Co. offers customized tours behind the scenes at some of Sonoma County’s most exclusive wineries aboard vintage Land Rovers. Of course, after a long day of wine-tasting, nothing’s better than sinking into a bath under the stars at MacArthur Place.
Images courtesy of MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa