One of the best ways to encourage romance is to get away from your everyday life.Â Every relationship needs a periodic recharge, and that is easily achieved by hopping in your car and driving away together.Â Several hours away is good, but four hours is often better because it allows more time to decompress.Â And a nice lunch stop midway doesn’t hurt.
Table of contents: ()
- San Francisco
- North of San Francisco
- San Francisco South Bay
- Gold Country
- Monterey Penninsula
One element that seems to automatically put a lodging in the romantic category is self-containment, where there is no need to leave the premises.Â You check-in, then just take a short walk to dinner, to a spot to watch the sunset, to a pool, to a spa, to breakfast.Â But it can also be exciting to wander around and explore a new area together.Â Another element that makes a getaway extra special is arranging for goodies to be placed in your room that present an unexpected surprise for your honey â€” think chocolates, fresh flowers, sparkling wine.
An overnight will usually do the job, but two nights often do it better.Â The extraÂ time also allows for some leisurely exploring of the area.Â You’ll return home refreshed from your getaway with your love and ready to take on the world again.
Here are some exceptional spots to rekindle passion, each with its own special allure.
Taj Campton Place and Campton Place Restaurant
340 Stockton St./Sutter St.
Pampering luxury is the name of the game at this small boutique hotel located just off San Francisco’s Union Square.Â One of San Francisco’s best, the Taj Campton Place is an enclave of quiet indulgence that begins as soon as you enter the lobby.Â Dramatic fresh flower arrangements enhance the area, and original art from a local gallery decorates the walls.
Furnished in a low-key contemporary Asian style, the posh guest rooms are equipped with Nespresso machines, limestone bathrooms, and knitted cotton Ploh robes.Â Resembling a fluffy cloud, beds are made with ironed-smooth white sheets and a duvet.Â Arrange ahead of time for chocolate-covered strawberries and a chilled bottle of sparkling wine to be waiting for you.Â If you feel like splurging, opt for a suite with a window seat overlooking the Apple store and a heart sculpture in Union Square.Â Many rooms have an oversize tub for which you can special order fresh red rose petals to sprinkle upon the water along with fine bath salts.
Do plan ahead so that you can secure a dinner or breakfast/brunch reservation in the Michelin-starred Campton Place Restaurant, which operates off the lobby.Â Executive Chef Srijith Gopinathan has earned two Michelin stars for his complex Cal-Indian cuisine in which he mixes Indian spices with California’s hyper-fresh produce and tosses in a little French style.Â Seating includes a bank of oversize booths that allow you to hide away and enjoy an over-the-top meal â€” think flutes of Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Champagne to click as you indulge in something exotic like â€œChips and Eggs,â€ which are ultra-thin, delicate Kennebec chips with Greek yogurt aioli and two kinds of smoked trout roe.
And do allow some time to explore the area’s plethora of shops, galleries, and restaurants. You are also a couple of blocks from the theatre district in San Francisco.
North of San Francisco
Marshall – Nick’s Cove Restaurant, Oyster Bar & Cottages
23240 Highway 1
Located about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco, the delicious cluster of remote 1930s cottages known as Nick’s Cove begs for you to arrive on time so you don’t miss any of its delights.Â One of which is that there is no cell phone service.Â Also, each of the 12 units has a wood-burning fireplace or stove and a kitchen.Â Do opt for one of the five waterfront units â€” perhaps Ruthie’s, which features a bay view from the bed, a sitting area, and the small kitchen.
When you arrive, arrange for a tray of the area’s famous fresh oysters to be barbecued and delivered to your room along with wine.Â And at some point, meander out to the rustic little boathouse at the end of a 400-foot pier.Â It is the perfect spot to enjoy a pre- or post-dinner cocktail and, of course, to watch the sunset with your sweetheart.
For dinner, stroll over to the comfortable restaurant featuring knotty-pine walls decorated with stuffed game heads and a menu offering fresh local seafood.Â The dedicated oyster bar is a worthy stop, and when Dungeness crab is in season, don’t miss the crab cakes, crab Louis, or crab mac â€˜n cheese.Â For dessert, housemade s’ mores for two await toasting in the restaurant’s vintage stone fireplace.Â In the morning, look forward to a complimentary continental breakfast that is brought to the room.
If you want to leave the room, Marshall is on Tomales Bay and is only a 16-minute drive from the hikes at Point Reyes National Seashore.
Mendocino – MacCallum House Inn
45020 Albion St.
Maybe you’d like to turn your romantic escape into a romantic mini road trip?Â Just another three hours farther up Highway 1 from Marshall brings you to the charming artist colony of Mendocino.Â The converted 1882 Victorian mansion that is the MacCallum House Inn was built by a father for his newlywed daughter.Â One of the first B&Bs in town, it once had special fabric cozies to cover the TVs.Â The decor has changed since then into a mix of vintage and contemporary.Â Lodging includes six rooms in the main house as well as more rooms in a barn, one in a redwood water tower, and several cottages.Â Some guest rooms have private outdoor hot tubs, and some have river stone fireplaces or wood stoves.Â Facilities include a hot tub that can be particularly romantic on a starry night.
The dining room serves a regional dinner menu that might offer rack of lamb with a lavender-rosemary popover or crispy fried chicken with green-onion mashed potatoes and mushroom-sherry gravy.Â On cold nights, you’ll be warmed by crackling fires in two fireplaces built of smooth river stone.Â Sip drinks in the adjoining Grey Whale Bar, and in the morning partake of a gourmet organic breakfast in the cheery dining room.Â Then you and your honey will be ready to stroll the town and its scenic bluffs.
Sonoma – Ledson Hotel
480 First St. East
The elegant Ledson Hotel appears to be in a historical building, but the building was actually built in 2003. It was designed with the use of plenty of architectural details such as crown moldings, arched doorways, and Venetian plaster.Â Elegant black marble bathrooms enhance the six spacious guest rooms on the second floor.Â Each room has a flip-on gas fireplace and heavy beveled-lead-glass French doors leading to a small balcony.Â Tending to creature comforts, high beds are made with soft, smooth, cotton Frette linens and topped with a down comforter and piles of pillows.
Downstairs, a wine bar features shiny granite floors and coffered ceilings.Â But the self-contained experience ends here.Â Time it right, and you can cuddle with your mate during an after-dinner movie next door at the historical Sebastiani Theatre, an Italian Renaissance-style movie palace built in 1933.
For meals, you’ll need to exit the hotel.Â An enjoyable mosey around the town square takes you past many enticing dining choices.Â Always a winner is The Girl & The Fig, best enjoyed seated outside in good weather.Â Signature figgy goodies include a memorable arugula-goat cheese-pancetta-pecan-grilled fig salad.Â Wherever you choose to dine, part of the fun is deciding on and selecting a special wine, but the best part is, of course, sipping and savoring it with your love.
The next day, drive out scenic Highway 12 to Kenwood to do some more serious wine tasting at the spectacular castle-like Ledson winery.Â Originally built by Steve Ledson as his home (the same guy who built the hotel), it was converted into a winery and has several tasting bars and a well-stocked deli.Â Wines are made in small quantities and are mostly 100 percent varietals, and they are available only at the winery.Â You’ll want to select a few to take home and store for a future special occasion.Â A picnic on the scenic grounds is the perfect way to conclude this romantic wine country excursion.
San Francisco South Bay
Palo Alto – The Clement
711 El Camino Real
Just an hour’s drive south of San Francisco, The Clement is situated across the street from Stanford University.Â It mostly attracts out-of-town visitors to the campus and Silicon Valley.Â Completely self-contained, this small 23-room luxury lodging is also all-inclusive.Â You never have to leave the building, and everything (even tips and valet parking) are included.Â No need to think, just enjoy.Â It is a major turn-on.
Loll by the roof-top pool and hot tub for a spell.Â Sun lotion and sunglasses are provided, and cocktails and snacks can be delivered â€” perhaps Margaritas and delicious housemade potato chips.Â You won’t need a reservation for dinner.Â Just appear when you are ready to eat.Â The chef can be observed behind a counter preparing your meal to order.Â Snacks are provided in the guest room mini bar, but you can also order up room service or, better yet, raid the 24-hour Guest Pantry that is stocked with ice cream, fruit plates, and more.
Stylish guest rooms feature posh beds made with deep toppers and Matouk linens, and they are equipped with two 65-inch TVs plus one 20-inch TV in the bathroom mirror.Â Believe it or not, there is more, but some things should be left to discovery.
If you want to leave the room, Palo Alto has a number of good restaurants or you can take a hike to the Stanford Dish radio telescope.
PHOTO:Â SONOMA-Ledson Hotel-exterior-c2006 Carole Terwilliger Meyers
Volcano – Volcano Union Pub and Inn
21375 Consolation St.
Sometimes romance happens when you find yourself way out there, off the grid, where cell phones can fail and where prices are often surprisingly low.Â This tiny historic Gold Rush town invites you to â€œcome to Volcano, where the stars are your nightlight, and the crickets lull you to sleep.â€
The sweet little four-room Volcano Union Pub and Inn is one of those off-the-grid places.Â Built in 1880 as a boarding house for miners, the vintage building has been nicely restored and is a delightful place to spend the night.Â Rooms are all upstairs on the second floor, where you can sit for a spell on the front porch and watch the minimal street action.Â Rooms are named Limon, Mocha, Daffodil, and Terra Cotta, and one (Limon) has a big claw-foot bathtub that can accommodate two.Â Each has a private bathroom, robes are provided, and the comfortable beds are outfitted with luxury linens.Â Plus snacks are always available.
Dinner takes place just downstairs in the Union Pub.Â Seasonal comfort food includes items such a fried chicken, house-smoked ribs, several burgers, and a to-die-for butterscotch pudding.Â Local wines and draft beers are perfect enhancements.Â A full breakfast will get you going in the morning, perhaps to explore a local mine or do some wine tasting.
Carmel – The Hideaway
Junipero St./8th Ave.
Sometimes it can be fun to return to an inn you’ve visited before.Â Located about three hours down the coast from San Francisco, The Hideaway Inn was formerly known as the Cobblestone Inn.Â It has the same basic vibe as before but has transformed from a floral decor into a sleek contemporary style in neutral tones.Â It is a pleasant change.Â Motel-style, 24 guest rooms surround a central courtyard with a fire pit.Â Instead of hallways, all rooms open to an outdoor walkway or balcony walkway.Â River stones from the Carmel River are used throughout.
Guest rooms have mostly king beds with mattresses from the Denver Mattress Company, and they are topped with luxurious linens and white puffy down comforters.Â Some have gas fireplaces and kitchens.Â Room 17 is particularly spacious and includes a view of the not-too-far-off ocean.
In the late afternoon, you can participate in a reception featuring wine and small snacks, and in the morning an expansive breakfast buffet awaits your enjoyment either inside or out on the often-sunny central patio.Â Additionally, complimentary bikes are available to get you around this hopelessly romantic coastal village and maybe down to the town’s famous white-sand beach, perhaps for the sunset.
An extensive selection of fine restaurants are within an easy walk best done hand-in-hand.Â A stellar spot for a pulling-out-the-stops romantic dinner is Anton & Michel, where the menu offers old-time classics and the specialty is preparing items tableside.Â Impress yourselves and the surrounding tables with the signature three-course Classic Dinner for Two in which everything is prepared tableside â€” a Caesar salad, rack of lamb, and a flambÃ©ed dessert that will put a huge smile on your faces and that you will never forget.
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