Posted by: Josey | February 11, 2009

Sonoma, California: A Surprisingly Pleasant Budget Hotel and a Must-Try Restaurant


When you have nothing else in common with a person, you can always find common ground by talking about travel. That’s why, of all the topics in the world that I love talking about most—animals, music, cooking—I chose to write this blog about travel.

So what happens when you fill a massive convention center with thousands of people who, not only enjoy talking about travel, but made it their chosen industry? Feverpitch. And, on top of the chatter at the NY Times Travel Show, there were music and dance performances, a water tank for Scuba diving demonstrations, book signings (one by my soon-to-be NYU travel journalism class professor, David Farley), Peruvian pisco sour tastings and more.

One of my first stops was the Sonoma, California booth, where I met a travel sales manager named Chyrl. I told her about the time Jeff and I drove up the coast of California, from San Diego to the Sonoma wine country:


Instead of staying at mid-range hotels the whole time, we decided to alternate budget motels with upscale hotels—and to really enjoy the splurge hotels. After staying one short night at the spectacularly romantic and relaxing Marina Dunes Resort in Marina, California (since renamed the Sanctuary Beach Resort), we chose El Pueblo Inn for our two nights in Sonoma, California at a rate of $88 per night including breakfast. El Pueblo was clean and safe with warm Southwestern décor and rich Earth tones; we were so pleasantly surprised. This was several years ago, and their 2009 pricing reflects the passing of time (my search on their Web site just now resulted in rates starting at $114 per night). But, if the quality has remained the same, El Pueblo Inn is still an excellent value.

I also told Chyrl about our wonderful meal at the Girl & the Fig, a popular restaurant on the Sonoma square that serves French-influenced country fare and local “wine flights.” Chryl confirmed that visitors can’t really go wrong when it comes to Sonoma restaurants; the high-quality Northern California ingredients (and the lovely area itself, of course) attract talented chefs from all over the world.

More to come on my experience at the NY Times Travel Show…

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