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A big thanks to The Ruse for hosting our stay so we could provide this detailed review of our experience.

As we slowly pulled up to the front of The Ruse, memories of New England conjured up in my head. The grey siding and white trim of this Healdsburg inn, enhanced with white roses and a dark grey statement fence, is accented an elegant “R” letting us know we’ve arrived. Sun filtered through the inn’s surrounding foliage; one tree looked as though it was showing off its autumnal hues, and the smell of sweet lilac perfumed the air. RELATED: Weekend Getaways For Couples in California

Past a koi pond and through the inn’s check-in foyer, a welcoming heated pool and jacuzzi are hugged by umbrellas and chaise loungers, set on three private acres. You might think you’ve arrived in the Hamptons to your own private estate. The Ruse features only 11 rooms, including four new standalone suites lining the hotel’s very own 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus-designed putting course and playground for adults.

From the poolscape, it’s hard not to be enamored by the ancient trees anchoring the property. At night, glowing orbs hang from its branches, creating an enchanting setting for late-night jacuzzi soaks under the stars.

While resting an afternoon away poolside, numerous seating areas with firepits and shade allow for socialization or privacy. A definite highlight is The Corkscrew, the inn’s golf green just outside the suites. The fun and challenging course, equipped with Scotty Cameron golf gear, impressed my golfer husband as he acknowledged that a huge benefit of staying at The Ruse is concierge access to the private Mayacama resort, a premier wine country golf and spa destination developed by the same family as The Ruse.
Like summer camp, guests can flex their skills at bocce ball or test their pickleball prowess on one of six courts on the property. We tried the uber-popular sport for the first time and realized how fun it could be to sip wine and play during the beautiful long evenings in May.

A real treat was retiring to our suite with a private outdoor shaded patio – perfect for wine and cheese or catching up on work. The room excited my designer mind with a black framed canopy bed enhanced with a padded leather headboard accent (and uber-comfy mattress), carefully selected hand-painted art, a wooden desk, a gold structural statement chandelier, and a gas fireplace. The style might be described as modern farmhouse chic, an understated luxurious feel as if a friend invited you to stay at their lovingly decorated home.

A grand-sized bathroom with double sinks and gold faucets comes with large bottles of Ruse’s signature soap, lotion and sunscreen. The shower was big enough for two, with double shower heads cascading from both sides, while a soaking tub and bath bombs beckoned.

Each morning, we looked forward to the home-cooked complimentary breakfast, made-to-order in the restaurant/bar/lounge Pavilion, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows that brought the California sunshine streaming in. Chef Craig Linowski concocts gourmet breakfast medleys with inventive flavor combinations using hyper-local produce. Most days, we were the only diners so it felt super special and like our own private villa. Over breakfast of coffee, fresh squeezed OJ and artful bowls of yogurt doused with fruit, nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, and flower petals, the chef gave us the secrets of the surrounding area to explore while tantalizing our breakfast palate with a second course of fried egg and asparagus atop a bowl of grits (or grains) seasoned with bits of grilled radish and cauliflower, sweet potato, garlic and greens.

Just a short walk a few minutes away, it’s easy to fall in love with charming downtown Healdsburg, full of classy shops, vintage dealers, local artisanal products, museums, and endless restaurant options with farm-to-table dining options.

Sonoma is known for its fresh produce, dairy and meats, making it a foodie’s paradise. Many restaurants in the area change menus frequently to showcase the best of Sonoma Valley’s ingredients. We discovered the friendly intimate Baci Café and Wine Bar for pasta; incredible loaded turkey sandwiches made with homemade bread from Troubadour; and warm pie slices accompanied with homemade small-batch ice cream in local flavors from Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Bar.

Healdsburg is just an hour and a half drive from San Francisco and situated at the intersection of the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys, the heart of Sonoma County’s Wine Country known for some of the most acclaimed wineries in the world.

In just a short drive from The Ruse, we immersed ourselves in wine country on a bucolic road that ran through the Dry Creek Valley into Lake Sonoma and by numerous wineries like European-esque Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery estate. Another day we found ourselves 45 minutes away on the coast enjoying clam chowder at rustic buoy-laden Boat House Restaurant in Bodega Bay.

Besides romantic couples’ getaways and wine country weekends, The Ruse can be rented for corporate and group meetings, family gatherings, and special events. The Concierge service can help with special wine tastings, winemaker dinners, and meeting opportunities in the Pavilion or poolside.

One thing is certain: we did not want to leave. Perhaps that is why it is called The Ruse as we’d been tricked into the good life, one that we will dream about for a long time.


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