Yes, there’s something comforting about staying at a Marriott or a Hilton. But there’s also so much to love about these independently owned accommodations. Let’s take a look around… and have a bite to eat, of course.
This historic property is a longtime fave among Angelenos looking for an easy getaway from the city. Designed by famed architect Wallace Neff, the Inn regularly lands on the best-of lists in top travel magazines. Guests love its wide range of activities, including an outstanding lineup of cooking classes at the Farm House, where legendary Nancy Silverton is the culinary ambassador.
When my husband and I checked in there last December, all I wanted to do was lounge by the Indigo Pool and watch the setting sun turn the nearby mountains a gorgeous shade of pink. Pure bliss!
Dining: There are plenty of options in the charming town of Ojai. Nocciola is lovely, as is the fantastic Ojai Rôtie, which serves some of the finest rotisserie chicken ever. But you don’t need to leave the cozy confines of the Inn for a spectacular meal. Olivella makes dinner feel like a special occasion. If it’s on chef Andrew Foskey’s ever-changing menu, the tuna crudo and prime beef carpaccio are must-try starters. Follow that up with the rigatoni Bolognese and the artfully plated black cod, all paired up with something from the award-winning wine list.
The Blue Elk Inn
Located in the crazy popular Bavarian Village of Leavenworth, Wash., this recently updated hostelry has been a labor of love for its new owner, James Weimann. He’s partners in a successful Seattle restaurant group, which operates crowd pleasers including Stoneburner and Rhein Haus. The latter has three locations, including a grand structure in the heart of Leavenworth.
The Blue Elk is a 15-minute walk from the village — a little longer if you take the scenic route along the Wenatchee River. Or, there are cruiser bikes to borrow. One thing guests should absolutely avoid is trying to drive and park in that ultra-busy area, especially on weekends.
On a recent overnighter, I truly enjoyed the peaceful vibe of the Inn’s beautiful garden and pool. For those chilly winter months, there’s a cool sauna in a treehouse. In the comfy room, the large, refillable bottles of soap, lotion and shampoo were much appreciated, a pro move that eliminates so much plastic waste. High fives on that!
Dining: When in Leavenworth, you’ve got to get your sausage on. Top spots include Munchen Haus, Cured and Rhein Haus. There’s also a long-standing pizza place that also serves bratwurst. Rudloof’s is located next door to La Javalina, home of a Tex-Mex menu showcasing breakfast tacos and more. (Miss those kolaches, guys!)
Is this beautiful property haunted by the spirit of the late writer Alice B. Toklas? Well, I didn’t pick up on the need to call ghostbusters, but the halls are most definitely steeped in history.
The Sorrento goes way to 1909… when Seattle was a mere baby. The city has certainly grown up around it, but walking into the lobby and the adjoining Fireside Room is the best kind of blast from the past. One of my fondest memories created at the Sorrento was attending a lunch in the 1990s celebrating Julia Child and the arrival of an IACP chapter in the Northwest. It was one of the few times I’ve ever been truly starstruck, but guess what? The French Chef was an absolute sweetheart to interview.
Dining: Stella is stellar, especially if you’re able to snag a table in the seasonal outdoor dining space that feels like a quick trip to Italy. The strawberry and goat cheese kale salad and a perfect pappardelle are summer comfort food at its best. Be sure and save space for chef Carolynn Spence’s exceptional desserts. Other tasty options in the neighborhood include chef Tamara Murphy’s Terra Plata, Westman’s Bagels and Coffee from chef Monica Dimas and the always amazing Spinasse, with chef Stuart Lane in the kitchen. For a satisfying, no-frills lunch, Pho Saigon is steps from the hotel.