Olea Hotel, Sonoma

Olea Hotel

The air changed. Like that shift between Cambria and Carmel, it saturated my lungs with something fundamental and forgotten, evocative and cleansing. Less cement, more cypress. I anticipated none of it, though maybe I should have. Reminders of how the best parts of travel are the subtextual subtleties we always forget to expect.

A little high, (emotionally, come now), a little hesitant, no decisions are no brainers when weighing wellness against anything. It’s a dance in which I find myself, a chronic klutz. This trip, previously scheduled for Thanksgiving break, then late December, was banking on that whole third time being a charm thing. Last day of March, a full year after the world stopped, vaccinations under our belt. As of March 14, 2021, Sonoma County had achieved red tier status. Outdoor dining and massage services greenlit. We calculated our risk, we packed our Covid consciousness, we counted our blessings, our masks, our sanitizers. And we hit the highway.

And we brought our new four-footed family member. His name is Auggie.

Auggie

I’d been so starved for travel, a wanderlust so voracious I couldn’t fathom what empyrean destine could come close to delivering. That first vernal whiff of early spring green. That inundation that seamlessly segues you from the familiar to the foreign, there. That. That is the high I’m speaking of. Travel’s addictive little air born elixir.

Up in Sonoma wine country, in a little nook named Glen Ellen, Olea Hotel resides. Submerged in oak and olive, tranquillity tends the grounds. An auspice of a travel rich tomorrow is afloat. Terraces (every room gets one) take in wine country views, stone paths sprawl beneath the string lights, and a firepit sits beneath the Sonoma sky, for twilight sips, or s’mores beneath the stars.

It is a place that echoes the small town it resides in – effortless charm, unpretentious and kind.

Bedroom in Cottage

In an age (we’re going to age out, it will happen) of Covid, it is something bigger than luxurious to experience these moments, it is monumental. They hit all the CDC beats; contact free check-in, employees in PPE, constant sanitation and disinfecting and masks and just enough precaution in place to let us know they’ve got it. We put on our masks. And we could relax.

We could relax.

About that.

The bathroom floors are heated. The room snacks are complimentary (why don’t more places do this?) so is afternoon happy hour (featuring glorious local varietals) and breakfast, which includes a sweet and a savoury course prepared by a Culinary Institute of America seasoned chef. The hot tub and pool are newly open, heated and the lounges are distanced, and the scent and scenic of those soaring trees. It is a sensory celebrating spa.

Olea Hotel grounds

And we. We arrived with all our issues in tow. A dog. A Passover diet to keep. Without an ounce of attitude or inconvenience, they made every dietary exception and did so with a culinary giftedness that granted those breakfasts by far the best thing we ate mid-holiday. With a little dish of treats for Auggie.

Dinner at Glen Ellen Star, a roll down the hill, does that thing wine country does so painstakingly well. They plate up wood fired wonders featuring figs and shishitos, sunchokes and squash, and it’s all served up so backyard picnic casual, it’s impossible that it should be this excellent. But it is. Chef Ari Weiswasser was a win out of NYC, a Food & Wine People’s Best New Chef 2015, spent a few years honing his talents at Thomas Keller’s little pet project French Laundry, before opening his own deliverance across from his wife’s family vineyard, Benzinger Family Winery. Rustic and renowned, Glen Ellen Star is aptly titled. They’re not big on substitutions, but if you’re good ordering all as is, you will delight. Ask for Selah.

Gastropur

Second night, Palooza Brewery and Gastropub hit that seminal balance between being entirely fuss free and exceptionally enjoyable. The patio is open, sanitized, distanced and adorable, and adds one more contradiction to the popular opinion that Sonoma is for couples or girls’ weekends or anything other than families. We have two girls, seen sipping on elderflower and lavender lemonades, who would vehemently oppose this theory. We also have a dog, who was made more than welcome. You can leave a tab open, you can while away the evening. And the only issue with the menu was that there were more options than we could select at one seating (should we not have been observing Passover). House made fried pickles. Ahi poke nachos and fish tacos. Adult grilled cheese and lobster mac. A whole smorgasbord of choice chuck and brisket burgers, all available in meatless options, four different varieties of fries. I genuinely cannot think of one single person I know (not one) that wouldn’t find something to sink their teeth into here. We were limited (Passover), but we really weren’t, because gorgeous greens and cauliflower crust pizza. And oh, those Sonoma wines.

The Nuns Fire of 2017 made the majority of Sonoma, virtually all of Glen Ellen, scorched and uninhabitable. Olea Hotel, compliments of the tremendously hard-working wife and husband team Sia and Ashish Patel, has risen from the ashes, every sense of the expression. The ground clearing made room for the pool that now graces their garden, and the cottages that were devasted to nothing, have been rebuilt, doubled in size, and designed to the nines. In addition to their two-hundred-year-old olive trees, ten new ones have been planted. New life, new promise, new rise. Pastoral and peaceful. Being here, in this ambient hinterland, is a metaphor impossible to escape. Our universal Ulysses have been crying. Here, they can inhale deeply, and stop.

Olea Hotel Store

The Details

Olea Hotel, 5131 Warm Springs Road, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, United States.

Tel: +1(707) 996 5131

Website: www.oleahotel.com

Email: stay@oleahotel.com

Olea Hotel is located 20 minutes northwest of Downtown Sonoma off Arnold Drive. Highway 37 can be very busy however, when there is a race at the Sonoma Raceway, so it’s worth checking on their website before you set off. Parking is easy as they have a space reserved for each room and it’s self-parking.

Type of Hotel: Boutique Hotel

Number of Rooms: 13 guest rooms plus 2 Sonoma cottages. Olea Hotel is comprised of 5 buildings (including both cottages) scattered amongst the property.

Price Band: Medium

Insider Tip: When you confirm your reservation, they inquire about any dietary issues. Be specific and it will pay off in spades. And If you’re bringing your pet, specify when you make your reservation as not all rooms are pet accessible.

Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10

Author Bio:

Jolie Loeb is a Luxury Lifestyle columnist based in Los Angeles.

Photographs by Jolie Loeb

37 Comments

  1. I’ve never heard of Glen Ellen before…sounds so dreamy. I’m beyond wanderlusted myself! Can’t wait to get back to exploring..Thank you!

  2. 3rd time was a charm!!! It sounds like it was just the perfect getaway. Nothing better than a beautiful place, delicious food, and wonderful company. Special shout-out to Auggie for being extra awesome on the trip.

  3. Sounds lovely! Can’t wait to make it up north again. I also can’t believe you kept Passover after finally getting up there. Good for you!

    • No joke. It was really hard. Make it up there, but do it over a different 8 days. That french toast coming out of the kitchen. . .

  4. Yes, I remember the fire. Glad to see their rebirth…sounds like a wonderful, quaint place to lay your heads after a wonderful day in a wonderful part of our state. Maybe, someday.

  5. You got a dog!!! Yay! I’ve never heard of Glen Ellen! Thanks for a great review and always good to know where our four footed friends are welcome!

  6. Sounds dreamy. And delectable. So glad you finally got there with all your lovelies! I’ve been pining for something just like this!

  7. Yay you’re back to travel! Auggie could not be any cuter, and how fun that he got to go with you! The place sounds absolutely wonderful and I would love to stay there. I am so excited that we all get to plan adventures again!

  8. What a perfect reintroduction to travel. Sounds like a weeks stay might be in order to try all the amazing dishes on the menu. Time to make a reservation.

  9. I love that traveling is back!! I am so ready to explore and this might need to be on my list. Thank you!

  10. Errrmm, I’m vaxxed and ready to go, with y’all and your lil pup too! What a true haven. Trip-planning time!!

  11. This looks beautiful and your descriptions make me want to go! I’m definitely ready to get back to travel!!

  12. Olea was really unexpected for me. It’s just off Warm Springs Road, which has a good amount of traffic. And yet, somehow, I really felt like I was separated from the world while we were on the small, but well-designed property. The rooms had beautiful views where we could see the Sonoma Valley landscape and watch/hear the wild turkeys wandering around the neighborhood. I quickly settled into a rhythm of grabbing a glass (non-breakable) of local wine and wandering down to the pool to relax and read away the afternoon. The breakfasts were simple but really delicious and — it turns out — not easily replicable (I’ve already tried and failed). Glen Ellen itself has a wonderful small-town feel and even has its own saloon. I mean, who doesn’t love a saloon? Olea and Glen Ellen are definitely worth a trip and a stay!

  13. You had me at free snacks and then you add COVID savvy in the wine country, please sign me up! Thanks for the awesome find!

  14. I don’t know what I’m more excited for – to get away to a hotel again or to eat inside a fancy restaurant. Love this. Cannot wait to go!!!

  15. You had me at heated floors in the bathroom. Wow- seems like a gem of a place. Going to the top of my wish list. Thank you,
    Jolie!!

  16. Wow – hot tub, pool, great food and wine, clean air and heated floors? I’m saving the name! Thanks for sharing!

  17. How Mitch and I miss traveling to the wine country! We will definitely add this lodging and these restaurants to our list of where to go in Sonoma. Sounds so luxurious and yummy.

  18. So, this: I’d been so starved for travel, a wanderlust so voracious I couldn’t fathom what empyrean destine could come close to delivering. That first vernal whiff of early spring green. That inundation that seamlessly segues you from the familiar to the foreign, there. That. That is the high I’m speaking of. Travel’s addictive little air born elixir.

    Love it. This perfectly embraces what it feels to leave Los Angeles for Monterrey, Carmel, and Sonoma.

    I love the casual upscaledness of this place. Sharing with my wine-loving friends!

  19. How could I say no to this place?! Thanks for all of the great information, but it was the look on Auggie’s face that sealed the deal!

  20. Sounds like a dream! We’re going…
    Yesterday! (Can’t be soon enough.). And we will take all your incredible tips with us.

    Thank you!

  21. Jolie, thank you so much for your kind words! That was an incredibly beautiful read. I’m honored. It was a great pleasure meeting and helping your family. I look forward to seeing you all again.
    Sincerely,
    Selah Schow 😉

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