Concierge.com's insider take:
With its limestone facade, wrought-iron detailing, and solid zinc dormers, Les Mars (a Relais & Châteaux property) feels like an 18th-century French country house plunked down on a quiet street just off Healdsburg's main drag. But the building is actually brand-new (opened in March 2005) and firmly grounded in the present. You'll find flat-screen televisions and wireless Internet in the rooms, and antique books in the walnut-paneled library. And that flickering light? It's coming from computer-controlled sconces, not candles. Owners David and Sarah Mars conceived of their Sonoma County inn during trips to Europe, and their experience as travelers shows in the thoughtful details. The 16 plush, oversize rooms are decorated with silk-draped four-poster beds, fine Italian linens (the same ones the Pope sleeps on), and 17th- and 18th-century antiques; you'll find toile lining in every drawer, fresh-cut flowers in each bedroom, and Bulgari amenities in the bath. Les Mars is not for everyone. It's very formal—some say too formal for an ag town—and there are no gardens or grounds to roam. If you're looking to get under the earthy skin of wine country, choose somewhere else.
From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:Usually it's hotel guests who fill an on-site restaurant, but in the case of Les Mars, in the tiny Sonoma Valley town of Healdsburg, the 65-seat eatery Cyrus may be the point of entry. Diners checking in to one of the 16 guest roomsall with a gas fireplace and a whirlpoolwill find refreshingly unstuffy service and attention to detail. Family-owned and operated, Les Mars embodies what's possible when money is no object, from an average of 500 square feet per guest room, to 20-foot vaulted ceilings, to chocolate truffles and white roses at turndown, to top-of-the-line staff and consultantsincluding chef Douglas Keane (formerly of San Francisco's Restaurant Gary Danko), the Auberge du Soleil's longtime manager, and Ann Getty's interior designer. 2006 Hot List
When to go: April, during the Sonoma Valley's Cinema Epicuria film festivala quieter time than the annual fall crush.
Which room to book: No. 303, an extra-sunny corner room overlooking the picturesque entryway (doubles, $525–$1,025).
Amenities: Bar/lounge, Gym, PoolSubscribe now to Condé Nast Traveler for just $1 an issue! ›