Check in at the Stavrand, a spiffed-up historic hotel in Guerneville
The Stavrand Hotel's Belden House is one of just two registered historic landmarks in Guerneville. (Emma K Morris)

Check in at the Stavrand, a spiffed-up historic hotel in Guerneville

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We all love a weekend escape to the Russian River, especially to Guerneville.

The funky little town is a favorite among city folk for its mix of rustic Americana—think antique shops and quaint diners—and newer hipster outposts such as Boon Eat + Drink and a whole crop of craft vendors at the Guerneville Bank Club. This town of just over 5,000 also has a hoppin' queer scene and, of course, easy access to the wineries of Sonoma County.

While there's no shortage of places to stay here, including tons of Airbnbs and riverside rentals, the lodging options have mostly remained pretty rustic (excluding the midcentury modern Boon, which is always a favorite thanks to its slick Ikea style and party vibes). But for those of us looking to check in someplace with slightly more luxurious amenities, this is where The Stavrand comes in.


One of just 21 guest rooms at the Stavrand.(Aubrie Pick)

Opened in the fall of 2021 on a lovely property about a 10-minute walk from the main strip, The Stavrand occupies a 1922 estate once occupied by the Applewood Inn and its namesake Michelin-starred restaurant. The renovation and rebranding came somewhat unexpectedly when a pair of couples, who were searching for a shared weekend retreat to relieve their pandemic doldrums, came across the six-acre property; it was too good to pass up.

The Stavrand is now helmed by GM Emily Glick, who's had a longstanding career in hospitality with Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants as well as the dream of having her own inn, just like her grandparents, The Stavrands. She's running the day-to-day ops along with director of operations Santiago Ripley.

To arrive at The Stavrand, you'll turn off Gravenstein Highway into an elegantly marked driveway, park your own car, and walk up to Belden House, which is one of two registered historic landmarks in Guerneville. The lobby feels more like the cozy living room of a successful artist friend. There is a roaring fire in the huge stone fireplace, cushy couches, a window-lined meeting room, and a kitchen and mercantile area where you’ll find some snacks, grab-and-go lunches, body products, and various other little amenities for purchase.

The lovely pool at the Stavrand in Guerneville.(Emma K. Morris)

You'll be handed a thick envelope with two large, very old school keys, which seems appropriate when you're standing in a 100-year-old building. There are 21 guest rooms spread around three buildings, each one with a different aesthetic overseen by EDG Interior Design and Architecture, which also designed Montage Healdsburg, and Dr. Wilkinson's. The global firm has an office in nearby Novato and its team was enamored with this place. “I think they kind of took it as a passion project,” Ripley says.

The crisp white stucco of Mission-style architecture dominates the property, which feels cheerful and breezy thanks to Mexican pottery and colorful Talavera tiles, cobalt blue window trim, and Adirondack chairs positioned around two main fire pits in a central courtyard.

Artsy decor prevails in all three buildings, but each feels distinct. The Belden rooms are intimate, with intricate wallpaper and European B&B vibes. Rooms in the Cazadero building have vaulted ceilings, window seats, and outdoor cedar hot tubs. The newer Armstrong building, constructed in 1999, is the most modern with large, airy rooms, vintage pottery, and deep blue hues. Juice Beauty products, crisp sheets, and plush robes enhance the experience.

The restaurant at the Stavrand evokes a modern barn with warm, glowy lighting.(Aubrie Pick)

The property has long been known for its food. The Stavrand team snagged chef Jeremy Clemens, who most recently hails from Chalkboard in Healdsburg and Sonoma's MacArthur Place, to ensure that the onsite restaurant would be a legit place to eat. Clemens has been given ample room to play and create, and it shows in his nightly prix-fixe dinner menu ($125/person, including wine pairings), which is available only to guests. The menu changes daily based on what's fresh—most of the produce is sourced from Santa Rosa's Tierra Vegetables as well as from the chef's garden and heirloom fruit orchard—and includes three courses plus an amuse bouche (perhaps a shooter glass of gazpacho with a perfectly grilled toast finger) and off-menu dishes such as grilled octopus with fried potatoes and sweet-tangy tomato jam.

Pastry chef Kayla Hendrix provides the sweet ending with the likes of toasted meringue and citrus curd tart, dotted with raspberries and rose petals and paired with Robert Sinskey's late harvest pinot gris. You can also purchase her homemade chocolates from the shop to take home or munch on in your room.

With wide-plank hardwood floors, a tiered Edison bulb chandelier, and rough wood tables, the restaurant has a modern barn aesthetic intended to invoke the old barn that once stood nearby. Low lighting and a concrete fireplace keep it cozy, as does the small bar which, once it's fully up and running, will serve specialty cocktails such as a purple-hued French 75 with butterfly pea flower known as The Gretchen. Hot breakfasts are included with every stay.

After you've dined, be sure to take time to stroll the bucolic property. with updated landscaping by Paige Martin of M Studio (Poetry Inn, Calistoga Ranch). Directly up from the Belden House is a small heated pool and hot tub where you can sip on a Paloma-inspired Lazy River cocktail. If you follow the path up from the pool, just steep enough to work off some of your breakfast, you’ll arrive at a hilltop site with a small arbor and sweeping views of Guerneville, the redwoods, and beyond.

PS: Don't miss our modern guide to Guerneville for all the best spots to eat, drink, and play.

// Nightly room rates begin at $327; 13555 Highway 116 (Guerneville), thestavrand.com

The chef's meadow blooms with fresh fruits and vegetables to used in nightly prix-fixe dinners.(Emma K. Morris)

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