Gaige House Inn: East Meets West in Sonoma Wine Country
By Kathy Chin Leong
Aficionados of Asian-themed décor will uncover utter tranquility while staying in one of the five new calming suites at the Gaige House Inn located in the cozy town of Glenn Ellen in Sonoma County. It’s unusual for inns here to match Eastern sophistication with American amenities, but the owners of Gaige House have executed well in catering to the exquisite tastes of luxury travellers.
In fact, the worst thing about our stay at the Gaige House Inn in June of this year was the fact that we were only able to stay one night instead of two.
Once you book your room, you will have a lot to look forward to. Here’s what you can expect:
Situated off Arnold Drive, the main drag of Glen Ellen, Gaige House is a locally-owned establishment featuring a total of 20 rooms. Only the newer 5 rooms, completed this past spring, showcase the private Zen gardens and furnishings with the others featuring Victorian and cottage decors. Strolling distance to the high-end Glen Ellen Inn restaurant, and also the casual The Fig , the Gaige House is a special bed and breakfast inn with high-tech and luxury bennies that a high-end hotel offers.
For one, the included breakfast is first-rate gourmet fare and takes place in the elegant dining room filled with small tables for intimacy. The inn has hired an amazing and popular local chef to create the sit-down breakfasts which change daily. In the morning, guests help themselves to the beverages: coffee, tea, fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh apple juice from a nearby farm.
When we came, the first course served to us was a fruit salad with an herb dressing, and a small sweet scone. Next, the main course was a delightful shrimp on a bed of lettuce, eggs and bacon layed in a red sauce. Each course, as you would imagine, is a beautifully presented work of art on a plate.
Light and flavorful, our breakfast was yummy, but those expecting large amounts may be dismayed at the quantity. Unlike other B&Bs, upon check-in, you reserve your breakfast meal times for 8 a.m., 9:15 a.m., or 10:30 a.m.
Landscaping at the Gaige House is exquisite: Asian-inspired garden, river rockbeds, a massive outdoor massage cabana, herb garden, flower beds along a brookside water stream. Tiny benches are perched around the garden for meditation and reflection. You will see Asian pagodas throughout the property, bamboo hedges, and outdoor "rock" speakers that look like rock. Once in the mood, you won’t mind the soft pan flute music comes on throughout the day.
The new bungalows face the forest and stream so you can hear the water flowing at night. In another garden area behind the main house, the pool with adjacent jacuzzi keeps an ample supply of rubber floating mats and chaise lounges on hand. After checkout you can stay until as late as 2 p.m. if you call the front desk ahead of time.
Do bring your swimsuit, for the poolside area with its grassy plantings are most inviting. And if you prefer privacy, another hot tub is available for reservation in the Asian garden.
FOOD AND SNACKS
We enjoyed meeting others in the foyer library during the evening wine reception at 5:30 p.m. with local vinters. This night we were served grapes, cheese and crackers.
Then in the dining living room area further back there is a ‘70s motif with an orange table and more magazines and a view of the pool. There are cookies and biscotti and bags of pretzel/mixed nuts to snack on. Diet cokes and sodas and ice tea and coffee are available at all hours in the dining room.
If you want to impress your spouse, you have to book one of the new suites priced between $350 to $500 per night, depending on the season. The high-tech amenities are amazing: flat sceen View Sonic TVs with remote controls, the remote control CD/DVD player (check out free movies at the front desk, as many as you like), and the remote fireplace controls, remote control temperature gauge, and wired Internet support.
You’ll find all types of lighting adjustments and fixtures to suit any mood. Lighting in the ceilings, and on the walls, task light for the beds, and finally, the soft floor lighting in the bathroom which reminds of the floor lights on airplanes.
Even with the technology-laden suite, this Zen-filled room is delicate and tasteful. Spending an entire afternoon inside, we read books and enjoyed the framed pictures of ferns on the walls and the sounds of bubbling water from the fountain in the enclosed, private Zen garden filled with white quartz pebbles. Wheat-colored stringy strands made up the sheers covering the sliding glass door, and when the sun poked through them, the room had an ethereal feel.
Since this was recently completed, everything smelled of fresh cedar wood. The Shoji panels for the closet also hide the minibar. The decorators stuck to the simplistic theme with textured gold and brown pillows, an orchid plant, and bamboo candle holders. The bed mattress is extra thick, and the white feather pillows makes for an especially deep slumber.
The suite’s bathroom is equally Zen-like with slate black flooring and a huge black marble bath tub that looks like an enormous geode split in half. Next to the tub is an open dual-head shower with white irridescent tiles that shimmer in the candlelight.
Additional amenities are top notch suprises. Gaige House offers guests waffle-weave cotton white robes, thick giant pool towels you could sleep in; white slippers for indoor use, extra feather pillow; extra blankets, a full-sized iron and ironing board, and on the bed, a booklet of bedtime stories.
So when you come, don’t forget to bring your swimsuit, favorite CDs, and stack of DVDs. You’ll never leave the room unless you have to. All I can say about Gaige House is "Ommm…."
Gaige House Inn
13540 Arnold Dr.
Glen Ellen, Ca. 95442
|Guest contact: (707) 935-0237|
Fax: (707) 935-6411
Rates: $150 to $500
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