The Stavrand brings bohemian luxury to Guerneville, California
The town of Guerneville is a former forestry outpost on the Russian River in outside Sonoma County, deep in redwoods and both funky and fruitful. While there are plenty of rental homes of varying quality and even more campsites in the woods, what the town has clearly needed for a long time is a touch of flair. Thus, the opening of the Stavrand ushers in a welcome new era with gracious hospitality and a dose of historic gravity.
Owners Emily Glick (formerly General Manager of the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel) and customer service enthusiast Santiago Ripley, who acquired the property in 2020 (a risky year for businesses of all kinds, so a leap of faith clear), leave no detail unattended in this aesthetic oasis of abundance located on six acres, including an apple orchard.
With 21 guest rooms – the original 11 in the 1922 “Belden House”, built by Bay Area architect John I. Warnecke in a Mediterranean Revival style, the remaining rooms added in 1985 and 1999 in separate buildings – the property returned to its own with a restoration overseen by EDG Interior Design and Architecture with preservation as its main mission. The character of the original building is retained and the additions are faithful to it: textured stucco siding, low-pitched hipped roofs with terracotta tiles, arched windows and doors and balconies overlooking the courtyard and woodland.
There’s a pool (and poolside bar cart), outdoor yoga classes, in-room massages, and free nightly sundowners by the fireside. We took a tour of the gardens after sunset and were given lanterns to light our way. It was cold and Santiago pulled out hot apple cider topped with Japanese whiskey – the perfect drink for the moment.
The culinary aspect of a visit here cannot be emphasized enough. Chef Jeremy Clemens and his team grow much of what they use on site, and he cooks, how shall I put it? – in a completely organic and whimsical way. You never know what might appear on the menu every night, but you always want to find out. (The restaurant is only open to customers, which adds extra cachet to the experience.) Emily and the other staff open a handful of bottles of wine to accompany the evening selections, and they walk around all evening, generously filling the glasses. It is clear that the chef has perfect control over the direction of the kitchen, which, despite numerous press releases to the contrary, is a rather rare phenomenon, and it is downright fascinating. Breakfast is equally interesting, and it’s a known thing that the chef has a way (in many ways, actually) with potatoes.
The town of Guerneville is a 10-minute walk away, and it was on this winding path – past the ramshackle mini-golf course that has seen better days and across the bridge over the river – that it struck me. how special the Stavrand is, in the middle of nowhere and in the heart of everything.