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Reigning Quiet Elegance

By Jessica Zimmer | Photos Courtesy of Hotel Les Mars

Walking through the grand entrance at the French-inspired Hotel Les Mars, one is welcomed into a gilt-edged world of peace and personalized service. Guests at Healdsburg’s only Forbes star-rated hotel can easily travel to the city’s historic town square one block away or be whisked away by private minibus to any of the hotel’s 11 partner wineries, including Chalk Hill Estate, Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery, and Lancaster Estate.



“Coming to Hotel Les Mars allows guests the opportunity to get out into nature and see a wide variety of wineries in Sonoma and Napa counties,” says Jensen Norelius, the hotel’s general manager. “Those in the Russian River Valley are very close by. Guests can experience vast landscapes, which allow for relaxation and renewal.”



The hotel’s 24-7 concierge service means staff can readily curate local adventures for guests. Options range from hot air balloon rides and zip line redwood canopy tours to golf bookings and private jet travel.


Hotel Les Mars creates a sense of calm, with gold, cream, and green consoles and chairs. There is iced sparkling wine at the front desk, and a marble staircase leads up to the second and third stories. Anna Maria Mendieta, the hotel’s guest harpist, is expected to return for special events in summer 2021



Room choices in the spacious yet cozy 16-room hotel include the Grand King, at 550 square feet, the Mansion King and Mansion Queen, at 500 square feet, and the Estate King and Salon King, at 425 square feet. Each room features a seventeenth- or eighteenth-century style four-poster bed and a carved wooden dresser imported from France. The third-floor rooms boast 20-foot vaulted ceilings with wooden beams that make it a treat to look up. Every room has an en suite bathroom with a full hydrotherapy tub and a full shower, each in gray-and-white streaked marble.



Sophisticated touches include antique-style metal keys with an infrared scanning component, bidets in the Mansion King rooms, and a hidden television set that rises from within the armoire. Outside of the hotel, guests can explore the different restaurants Healdsburg has to offer, many of which are within walking distance. “We recommend Chalkboard, just through the door on the left side of our lobby,” says Norelius.


The house restaurant’s name refers to the wall-length chalkboard detailing the day’s specials. An elegant open kitchen allows diners to see preparation in action. Executive chef Forest Lee Kellogg is in charge, directing the creation of casual and contemporary small plate cuisine.



“We use fresh, seasonal ingredients from the 4.5-acre garden at Chalk Hill Estate, from roasted carrots with Middle Eastern spices to salads dotted with edible flowers and herbs,” says Kellogg. “Our menu features locally made feta cheese, house-made hummus, and our own olive tapenade.”


Favorite entrées include pork belly biscuits, buttermilk fried chicken, crudos, and handmade pastas. Pastry chef William Woodward crafts an ever-changing menu of desserts, including the chocolate brownie and nougat ice cream “Candy Bar” in a glass.



Chalkboard’s 80-seat dining room, 10-seat outdoor bar, and sophisticated outdoor 40-seat patio offer room to socially distance while choosing from the extensive wine and spirits list. Guests may request custom flights with a mix of local and European wines and cocktails inspired by ingredients from the Chalk Hill garden.


Norelius says that the mission of Hotel Les Mars is to be the elegant gem within the exquisite destination that Healdsburg has become. “We go above and beyond the norm, creating experiences that are memorable, exciting, and customized for guests. Our safety protocols and emphasis on cleanliness mean that new visitors and repeat guests can return to enjoy everything local to Sonoma County.”


For more information, visit hotellesmars.com.




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