Staycation: Olea Hotel

"I can't believe this is where we live..."

…I said to my husband as we pulled into Glen Ellen, the speck of a town 20 minutes from where we live. 

“Yeah, Sonoma County is pretty magical,” my husband replied. He’s right. We’d left our suburban neighborhood with a Target, half a dozen grocery stores, a hospital and a quaint downtown all within a few mile radius and in less than half an hour we arrived in Glen Ellen, a town with just over 700 people in it. In the time it took to watch an episode of Seinfeld (yes, I’m rewatching it for the umpteenth time) we’d driven though winding country roads dappled with sunlight from the trees that edged the asphalt and ended up in what felt like the set for a Hallmark holiday movie, the only thing missing was the snow.

I’m a nervous flyer so any opportunity to vacation in my own county is an easy yes for me. I’d sped through Glen Ellen on the way to other towns but hadn’t spent much time there so when the Olea Hotel located just up the road from the main street in Glen Ellen invited me to stay, I started counting down the days until my Staycation there.

I had big dreams of strolling down the main street and looking for hidden spots I’d missed while driving but I spent most of my time in Glen Ellen at the Olea Hotel. They made it hard to leave! From the moment I pulled off the road and into the boutique property with its mid-century meets wine country elegant décor I felt tranquil. It didn’t hurt that right after I arrived I was whisked away for a massage with one of the Olea masseuses, Peter, who went beyond the standard stress relieving rub and brought in elements of acupressure to help ailments that I told him about as well as some he sensed and asked me about. 

Being a calm passenger on airplanes isn’t the only thing I’m bad at. Like many Type-A women, relaxing and taking care of myself is something I usually have to be pushed into, either by a loved one or a physical manifestation of overwhelm. But, the Olea made it easy. 

I had a glass of complimentary wine (you can pour yourself a glass anytime in the lobby) in one of their seating nooks (all filled with comfy furniture and gorgeous views). I brought a book to the pool and leaned back and let the sun from one of the last warm days of autumn fill me with much needed Vitamin D. I spent the afternoon sprawled out in the luxurious bed working and watching holiday movies on the big TV above the fireplace. Did I mention there was a double-sided fireplace in my room and the other side of it was on my perfect private patio?! And, for the first time in a LONG time, this mama of a toddler slept past 7am, 

Eventually, I did make it into town. The tomato cream pie at the Glen Ellen Star was just as good as I remember it. I couldn’t bear to spend another night away from my cottage at the Olea so I picked up a panini to go from the gourmet but non-pretentious Glen Ellen Village Market, put on pajamas at 6:30pm and ate in my big beautiful bed. Then, we took a 20 minute drive out to the Sonoma Plaza that was all dressed up with holiday lights. The only stop in town I wished I’d hit up this time around is The Saloon at the Jack London Lodge, a locals spot where it it’s easy to end up in conversations with strangers. 

In the morning, I sat in the dining room of the Olea eating one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had (apple muffins over spiced creme fraiche and a bowl of red quinoa with fried brussel sprouts, oven roasted yams, a poached egg and microgreens) looking out the row of windows at the trees and I had one of those magical Sonoma County moments that I’d had with my husband on the drive to Glen Ellen. The more I push myself to explore my own county like a tourist, the more moments like those I have.


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