Last Updated on April 14, 2023
The Fairmont Hotel brand is renowned for its elegant, relaxed ambiance and outstanding customer service. After staying in several of their impressive resorts, I can add history as another superb defining attribute. Especially after my wife and I stayed at the Fairmont in Sonoma, the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa.
The iconic resort, built in 1927, is a member of Historic Hotels of America. Today, the stately property and spa remain an architecturally-accurate replica of a California mission with natural hot mineral water springs. As a matter of fact, the Inn is located on the site of an ancient hot spring.
On first glimpse of this Grand Dame of Sonoma Wine Country, I told my wife that we were in for one special treat. Its iconic bell tower and arched windows harkened us back to yesteryear when classic beauty and luxury were featured hallmarks of country estates. With its high ceilings, lighted fireplace, and classic mission beauty, the magnificent lobby created an atmosphere where history, culture, and unsurpassed hospitality blended seamlessly.
Fairmont Sonoma Hotel History
Uncovering history is a passion when I travel.
As such, I was delighted to discover that the Fairmont in Sonoma and its environs have a storied past. While the resort as we know it dates to the early 1900s, the site had long been occupied by Native Americans who gathered around the local hot springs for their medicinal and spiritual properties.
In the 1840s, a physician and minister, Dr. T.M. Leavenworth, built a large country estate here that later became the popular wine country retreat, Boyes Hot Springs Resort.
A devastating fire in 1923 destroyed the property, but investors raised funds for its grand replacement. Architect Joseph L. Stewart designed the new resort, calling it the Sonoma Mission Inn. This stunning creation emulated the architecture of the area’s historic structures.
Bell towers, beamed ceilings, and red-tiled floors were reminiscent of the Spanish missions that once defined California’s colonial past. Modern amenities were added, including indoor plumbing, electrical lighting, telephone service and bathrooms for all of its 100 guestrooms.
The Sonoma Mission Inn became a favorite haunt of dignitaries, athletes and movie stars visiting Sonoma Wine Country and the Bay Area.
After a multimillion-dollar renovation in 1980, a European-style spa was added, and the Sonoma Mission Inn joined the Fairmont family of hotels and resorts operating as the “Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa.”
Magnificent Accommodations at Sonoma Best Hotel
Today the Sonoma Fairmont Inn offers 226 rooms and suites ranging from their standard, but still luxurious 260-square-feet Fairmont rooms to the 580-square-foot Fairmont suites. Common amenities include luxurious toiletries, plush bathrobes and slippers, a Keurig coffee maker, and a mini-refrigerator.
Accommodations include charming European-style rooms with Provence-inspired décor capturing Wine Country lodging flavor with its beautiful tiled and marble baths. Others combine urban luxury and California-relaxed ambiance with modern sophistication in a mix of styles.
Our lovely Vineyard suite with a private balcony overlooking a garden courtyard was magnificent. A spacious indoor sitting area included a wood-burning fireplace, perfect for sharing a slightly chilled Pinot Noir.
We loved our two-person in-room jacuzzi tub, ideal for relaxing before climbing into our king-sized four-poster bed with an amazingly soft down comforter for a peaceful night’s rest.
We appreciated other gracious Fairmont touches such as laptop-compatible safes, nightly turndown service, and complimentary morning coffee and tea in the lobby. We also took advantage of the inn’s complimentary bicycles to explore the grounds and local area, and of course, swimming in the resort’s heated outdoor pool.
Guests receive a complimentary bottle of wine, access to board games and a lobby library, docent-led daily hikes, and a weekend art gallery with visiting curators. We loved the complimentary wine tasting held each afternoon in the lobby giving us a chance to sample varietals from Sonoma and Napa vineyards.
Dining at the Sonoma Fairmont Inn
The historic Fairmont in Sonoma offers a range of dining options. Its signature establishment, Santé Restaurant, serves Sonoma-inspired California fusion dishes.
Dining “a la Air Stream,” the Fairmont’s Cali Forno takes gourmet food truck dining to a whole new level.
38° North Lounge just off the lobby offers an excellent range of menu items with, of no surprise, an extensive wine bar.
Water Tower Bar, located off the resort’s main pool is a full-service bar featuring regional craft beers and locally-sourced specialty cocktails. The Wine Country inspired menu includes freshly prepared sandwiches, salads and fruit smoothies in a relaxed, social atmosphere.
Spa Café is situated adjacent to the spa pools offering prepared sandwiches and salads along with local wines, craft beer and cocktails. It’s a great place for casual dining in the California sun.
Fairmont Spa Sonoma
Rated among Travel & Leisure’s top 25 spas, the Fairmont Spa, with its natural mineral waters, is one of the Mission Inn’s biggest draws. Located atop an ancient thermal mineral spring flowing from 1,100 feet below the surface, the 40,000 square-foot Spanish Mission-themed spa offers a wide range of treatments and services.
We thoroughly enjoyed a relaxing dip in the hot mineral waters and a fabulous and relaxing couple’s massage. The spa also includes a beautiful outdoor pool for its spa guests. A health club located near the spa also offers wellness classes.
Sonoma Golf Club
As a new golfer in my retirement, I was thrilled to discover that the Fairmont’s Sonoma Golf Club, now a private club, is available for guests staying at the inn.
Designed in 1928 for the inn by prestigious golf course architect Sam Whiting, this vintage course plays just over 7,100 yards from its championship tees. In fact, this classic course was the former home of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on the PGA Champions Tour.
Exploring Sonoma Wine Country
One of the joys of staying at the Fairmont in Sonoma is being in the heart of one of the world’s most premier wine growing regions. Historic Sonoma Village is less than three miles away, and countless wineries and picturesque vineyards dot the entire valley’s landscape.
Our stay at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa was an absolute delight. Being in one of the most beautiful and fascinating California wine regions with the inn as our home base was quite a memorable experience.
With its rich history, classic elegance, and warm hospitality, this iconic resort left an indelible mark on us. It’s one place we’ll remember and long to return.