For the past three years, I've been coming to Sonoma, California, to visit a friend who lives not far from the Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. Every now and then, driving past the grounds, I'd glimpse the guests walking around in bathrobes. It gave the place the look of a well-funded, impeccably manicured insane asylum.
Having just spent two days there with my husband Ed, I can now vouch for the sanity of the people in the bathrobes. It is my own sanity that I question, for having regularly visited Sonoma without ever staying at the inn.
To be fair, there are more reasons to stay there now than there were three years ago. One of them is Toni Robertson, chef of the inn's newly remodeled restaurant, who has created a flavorful spa menu with dishes like a warm red lentil salad with feta and roasted beets, and a sponge cake made with lemon zest and studded with raspberries. Another is the new 40,000-square-foot spa facility built on a thermal mineral spring. In addition to the usual assortment of wraps and scrubs, the inn has an elaborate selection of baths: mineral baths, aromatherapeutic soaks, private whirlpools and a five-stage Roman bathing ritual. Don't come to the Sonoma Mission Inn if you don't like to get wet.