I have an admission to make: I’m a chain hotel kind of gal. I’m not a gambler when it comes to my vacations – I want to ensure myself a relaxing and luxurious experience. And one of the chains I know I can always count on is Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, which is why I chose the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa for my recent girls’ trip to Sonoma, California.
I’m not going to lie; I was a little nervous before I arrived because of reviews I read claiming the hotel was in a “bad neighborhood.” Having traveled to Sonoma previously, I didn’t recall having seen what I would consider a “bad neighborhood,” and my confidence in Fairmont as a brand left me confident I would enjoy my experience. And when I say The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa didn’t disappoint, that’s an understatement.
If you’re looking for a hotel that is in the heart of historic Sonoma Plaza or on acreage overlooking a vineyard, then you will indeed be disappointed. However, if you go into it knowing the grounds of the hotel itself are definitely up to Fairmont standards and that the location puts you within easy driving distance to either town or nearby wineries, you won’t be disappointed.
The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn is a little over an hour drive from the San Francisco airport, and we did drive through neighborhood streets the last mile or two before arriving at the hotel. However, there is nothing about the neighborhood I would describe as “bad.” It’s simply on the edge of a quiet residential area.
The hotel has a shuttle that will take you anywhere within a few miles, including the historic Sonoma Plaza. We took the shuttle our first evening to go into town for the Tuesday night farmer’s market, and it was delightful. There was live music and hundreds of people with blankets spread across the grass, enjoying their glasses of wine and treats bought from the nearby vendors. When we were ready to go, we simply called the shuttle and it was back to get us within 15 minutes.
The next few mornings, we walked from the hotel on a nice sidewalk in the direction of Sonoma Plaza. The full walk would have been around two miles, but we only ventured the first mile, stopping to grab Starbucks and walk through a nice park next door to it.
We were two females traveling alone, and I tend to get paranoid in unknown areas. However, I never once felt unsafe or nervous about my surroundings while staying at the hotel or walking toward town. So, I would recommend taking those reviews with a grain of salt.
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn Amenities
There were other hotels we considered for their proximity to Sonoma Plaza, but it was the on-site spa at the Fairmont that sold us on the booking. It’s not the kind of spa you go to once during your trip for a one-hour massage – it’s someplace you consider spending time at every single day while you’re staying at the hotel. We were there four days, and we hit the spa every single day.
The Willow Stream Spa has everything you’d expect in a spa, but it’s the unexpected and unique features that make it reason enough to choose this hotel over any other in town. The 40,000 square foot spa features a state-of-the-art fitness center with daily classes and outdoor thermal mineral pools.
Although the mineral pools are amazing, it’s the Bathing Ritual that takes the experience to the next level. With an exfoliating shower, two mineral water soaking pools, an herbal steam, dry sauna and cool down showers, it’s unlike anything I’ve experienced in a hotel spa.
If you book a spa service, you’ll have access to all of the spa amenities for the entire day, but you can also buy day passes for $39 per day.
In addition to the spa pools, there’s a very nice main pool for all hotel guests that was never crowded while we were there in late July. Other amenities and perks we enjoyed were the free wine tasting every afternoon from a different winery and the free bottle of wine we found in our room. Very nice touches that make you feel like you’re in wine country from the moment you arrive.
Last, but not least, there’s the dining. We ate at the on-site Santé Restaurant our second evening at the hotel, and were able to snag a table out on the terrace overlooking the pool. When the evening chill began to set in toward the end of our meal, the staff quickly turned on heaters and it remained quite pleasant to sit outside.
We read before we arrived that the restaurant was the recipient of the AAA Four Diamond Award and Michelin designations, so we had high hopes. My friend is a trained chef, so she can be a tough critic of our dining experiences when we travel.
But neither of us was disappointed. I had the Filet Mignon of Black Angus Beef, which was paired with a black truffle bordelaise sauce that was truly phenomenal. We both talked about the bordelaise for days after dining at Santé. My friend had the Degustation of Snake River Farms Wagyu Beef Rib Eye off the Winemaker Dinner being served that evening and paired it with the Chilled Salad of Maine Lobster. The rib eye was “deconstructed” into three different cuts of the beef, which was unlike anything either of us had seen.
We couldn’t have been happier with our choices, and we would both highly recommend a meal at Santé.
The entire experience at the Fairmont Mission Inn & Spa was phenomenal from the moment we arrived. When the free self-parking was full upon our arrival, the valet happily took our car and presented us each with a glass of chilled champagne. Everyone from the front desk agent to the concierge to the bellmen, and especially Laura at the spa pool who remembered our names and orders day after day, made us feel like royalty our entire stay. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again when I return to Sonoma.
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