Boutique hotel, Timber Cove Resort's appeal is elemental; perched on a rugged stretch of shoreline, it brings together unbridled nature and a true sense of style. This covetable coastal retreat ticks all our Wine Country boxes; take in the sea views from a deck-chair by a fire pit, dine on sea-fresh fish in the restaurant, and sample local spirits like cucumber vodka – or a bottle of Sonoma’s finest. Plus, the hotel has 25 acres of great outdoors to go wild in, and the Pacific Ocean’s a stone's throw away. After a day exploring the area, grab your Mr or Mrs Smith and snuggle up to watch the sunset change into a multitiude of stars.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from £322.32 ($398), including tax at 14 per cent.
Rates exclude the resort’s American breakfast (US$12 an adult and $8 a child) which stars dishes such as home-made granola with yoghurt and fresh fruit, and crab Benedict with Lyonnaise potatoes.
The resort’s original main building was designed and owned by famed local architect, Richard Clements Jr, who was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic style. The hotel’s been a favourite of local artists since its inception; the 93-foot Peace Statue in the grounds is by Beniamino Bufano and photographer Ansel Adams used the site as the backdrop for his work.
At the hotel
A part-sheltered terrace with fire pits, billiards, table football and a ping-pong table, 25 acres of countryside with two miles of hiking trails, curated daily activities and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, Crosley record player and selection of vinyl, safe, minibar, black-out curtains, free filtered water, and tea- and coffee-making facilities.
Our favourite rooms
Couples, get cosy in one of the loft-style Forest View rooms, wood-panelled hideaways in which you can spy the stars through a skylight, stoke up the fireplace and snuggle up under tartan blankets: all you need for a romantic evening. Families should request the interconnecting Cove View and Bunk rooms.
Who needs a pool when the Pacific Ocean’s on your doorstep.
Build up an appetite in the fully-equipped ocean-facing gym.
You’ll need a big suitcase to fit your walking boots, riding jodhpurs, golf clubs, swimming costumes and fishing rods.
There’s wheelchair access between the Outdoor Living Room, Great Room and Coast Kitchen. Three rooms are accessible: one Ocean Suite and two ground-floor Ocean View rooms.
All ages are welcome; however, the hotel’s cliffside location makes it better suited to older kids. There’s lots of outdoor space for kids to run around in. All rooms can fit a baby cot. The restaurant has a kids menu, highchairs and booster seats.
Enjoy a morning coffee by the fire and take lunch out on the patio overlooking the bay. For a special event, dine on a customised menu in the Hirsch Room with ocean views and a 12-foot table that’ll fit all of your nearest and dearest (extra costs apply).
As you like it – you’ll see people in walking boots, flip-flops and heels here.
Fresh fish takes centre stage at timber-clad Coast Kitchen. Keeping it in the Sonoma family, all ingredients and wines come from nearby organic farms, local fishermen and Californian vineyards. We recommend the roast halibut, or the seared scallops, paired with hand-picked wild mushrooms and organic roasted butternut squash. There’s plenty for carnivores to sink their teeth into; the 21-day dry-aged rib-eye and the 18-hour-braised beef short-ribs with applewood bacon are a meat-eater’s dream. As the restaurant’s name suggest, there are exceptional sea views, but if you like to feel the sea breeze on your cheek and breathe in the salty air then have lunch on the terrace.
With a three-storey-high ceiling, an enormous fireplace and a range of locally-inspired original cocktail concoctions, the Great Room bar more than lives up to its name. Order a Cove Breeze (with Hanson’s cucumber vodka, cointreau, lime juice, Domaine Canton French ginger liqueur, Cognac and local herbs) and take a seat on one of the wooden bar stools. If you can’t get enough of the ocean views, head to the Outdoor Living Room and sit by one of the fire pits. On a cool winter’s evening, cosy up with a Sonoma garden mule in hand (made with Hanson's Sonoma vodka, ginger beer, and local fruits and herbs).
Breakfast is served from 8am to 11am; lunch is from noon to 3pm and dinner is between 5pm and 9.30pm. The Great Room Bar is open from 8am to 9pm.
The full restaurant menu is available when the kitchen’s open. Enjoy mushroom bruschetta, a charcuterie or cheese board and the Coast Kitchen burger with fries and a cold beer from the minibar.
Located on the jaw-droppingly beautiful Sonoma coast, Timber Cove Resort is around a 30-minute drive from the small town of Jenner in California Wine Country.
San Francisco International Airport is two-and-a-half hours away from the hotel by car; there are regular direct flights here from the UK. If you’re travelling from within the US, catch a flight to Sonoma Airport, which is about a 75-minute drive from the hotel. Our Smith24 team can help arrange flights.
You’ll need a car to get from beach to vineyard and back again. Our Smith24 team can arrange a hire car for you to pick up at the airport. There’s free on-site parking at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
The beach is in easy reach; Timber Cove Boat Landing is just a five-minute walk from the hotel. Choose from a range of daily resort activities; discover the best of the local area on guided hikes through the hotel’s two miles of trails, or attend wine tastings in the Hirsch Room. Alternatively, strike out on your own and explore one of the many nearby parks and reserves. Salt Point State Park is filled with weird and wonderful rock formations and the odd sea lion or two; it’s only a 10-minute drive away, or a two-hour hike. Further down the shore, Sonoma Coast State Park has ocean walks that’ll leave you breathless (from the view, not the hike). For a break from the sea views, head inland to Armstrong Woods, or for an easier way to enjoy the area's forests, zipline through the canopy at Alliance Redwoods. Ride horses on the beach with the wind whipping through your hair, or gallop through fields of long grass; the hotel can recommend the best stables.
The charming seaside towns of Fort Ross, Sea Ranch and Bodega Bay are all worth a day trip and include a spot of whale watching or surf lessons. Hitchcock fans can’t miss Bodega, the location of his avian horror The Birds. Head to Jenner for watersports on the Russian River, including kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding. There are three golf clubs nearby for avid putters; don’t swing too hard at Sea Ranch Golf Links or the Links at Bodega Harbour: you’ll lose your ball in the ocean.
Follow the Coast Highway south to River’s End Restaurant – a cosy, unpretentious fine-dining eatery perched over Russian River, with beautiful food and sea views. The menu changes seasonally, but usually features fish and fresh vegetables. The restaurant at Smith-approved Farmhouse Inn is run by Michelin-starred chef Steve Litke and a host of savvy sommeliers. Book ahead to sample Bartolomei Ranch’s fillet of beef or pork belly and the gin-cured Ahi tuna, all paired with a glass of local wine to suit.
Stop by quirky wood shack Café Aquatica for seafood chowder and live music on a deck overlooking Russian River. For old-school American fare with exceptional views, head to Ocean Cove Lodge Bar and Grill and build your own burger or tuck into buffalo wings with onion rings and beer-battered fish and chips. Watch Mark and his wife (and sometimes their kids) bake fresh bread and sweet treats in forest-edge, Raymond’s Bakery. If you like what you taste, come back for their weekly beer, wine and pizza night, held every Friday.
If a particular vintage tickled your tastebuds at dinner or lunch in Coast Kitchen, ask the hotel to organise a tasting at a nearby vineyard. We have a few favourites… Fort Ross has views to accompany their finest drinkables. Join the sommeliers atRodney Strong Vineyards for daily tastings on the terrace. The family-run Iron Horse Vineyards is famous for its sparkling wine, and their pinot noir is a new rising star to sample. Head winemaker David also gives truck tours around the vineyards.
Seeking a change of scene from bustling LA, we escaped the trappings of the city and headed north, hoping to breathe crisp air and wrap ourselves in solitude. The drive to Timber Cove was a scenic one, taking us along a rugged Sonoma coast road lined with pines. Even more dramatic is the positioning of the hotel itself: perched atop a bluff that hugs the coast, Timber Cove is bordered by the sea on one side and a forest on the other, offering precisely the kind of seclusion we we’d been hoping for.
We’d had word that the hotel had recently been renovated, and couldn’t wait to get a peek at the inside of this wood-flanked lodge. There are 46 newly designed guest rooms, including suave suites with unobstructed forest and ocean views. There’s also an new ocean-facing restaurant, Coast Kitchen, which connects to an expansive lounge area and outdoor living room with fire pits.
Arriving a little late owing to the long drive, we transitioned straight to warming ourselves by the big fire in the Great Room. Once we were sufficiently restored, the concierge snuck us into the restaurant, a peaceful room with a fire, moody lighting and panels of knotty warm-toned wood lining the walls. We filled our bellies with steamed mussels, baby gem lettuce with roasted strawberries and goat cheese, and a butterscotch pot de créme; just what we needed after the long drive. When we finally got to our room, we were very pleasantly surprised with our expansive view of the sea, the crackling stove, Crosby LP record player (with plenty of Fifties and Sixties records) and private deck. There was also a bottle of local wine, a plush down duvet, games, books and Pendleton blankets (which I wrapped myself in for a waterside walk on the grounds the following day). We were asleep in no time, helped on our way by an Ella Fitzgerald record and the sound of the waves lapping the rocks.
The next day, we set off on a hike through the nearby redwood forest. There are a multitude of trails in the surrounding area, not to mention a whole state park to explore. I'm not a big camper, but I do love being out in the wilderness and immersed in nature. Timber Cove makes you feel like you're a seasoned camper, except for the fact that you get to dine on delicious food and sleep in crisp linen bedding – and you're not likely to have a bear or wolf visit your room. I'll camp like that any day!
I’m always disappointed when a hotel has great design and amenities but less than impressive food. Thankfully, there was nothing of the sort at Timber Cove. Every meal we ate was delicious and made using local ingredients – local halibut, freshly made pasta, oysters and seared scallops among them. In the dining room, we'd cross paths with other couples, and no matter who we spoke to, every pair had a story about the adventures they'd had on this stretch of rugged and beautiful Californian coast.