Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Located in Glen Ellen, a charming little town 10 miles north of Sonoma
Glen Ellen is a sleepy town in the heart of Sonoma Valley. The town sprung up around the ranch and vineyard established in the mid-1800s, and the explosion of America's wine industry has made this a desirable spot for people looking to tour vineyards in the area. The town's secluded beauty has attracted its fair share of creative types: Jack London composed (and set) some of his most famous works here, and Hunter S. Thompson called Glen Ellen home for a while. But note that you'll have to drive 10 miles to get to downtown Sonoma, and farther for Napa.
Sonoma Valley is one of the world's best wine-growing regions, with hundreds of wineries sprawling over rolling hills. It's a little less touristy and more laid-back than Napa, with family-owned wineries and less crowded towns. Hikers, non-drinkers, and eco-tourists can expect to have fun too -- Sonoma offers attractions apart from wine tasting and fine dining, including hot air balloon rides and golf.
The beauty of the valley is striking any time of the year, but especially during the harvest season (September and October) and spring. It can get busy during the summer months, but you shouldn't expect as many crowds as in Napa Valley, because Sonoma wineries are scattered over a greater area. The flip side to that is that exploring the region's towns requires more driving time.
The Jack London Lodge doesn't have the most luxurious rooms in wine country, but they're spacious and comfortable in a basic way. Everything is no-frills, from the mediocre but clean floral bedding to the tube TVs to the simple bathrooms. The inescapable motel vibe is probably due to the fact that the facilities themselves are from an updated motel (the vacancy sign outside should tip you off). The best parts of the property can be found outdoors: the well maintained grounds blooming with flowers and the cozy pool area. This is a nice spot for people who are willing to stay outside Sonoma and Napa to save some cash -- and want a friendly, neighborhood environment. Aside from the on-site restaurant and saloon, there are plenty of restaurants and local bars nearby.