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Perched on a cliff above the Pacific, Timber Cove Resort is one of the best hotels in California. Here's why.
7 min read
March 06, 2020
As a California native, I’ve traveled throughout the state—from San Diego to the California-Oregon border—but I’ve never experienced a drive quite like the one from the Bay Area to the Sonoma Coast. As we cruise through the unexpected marshlands connecting the Napa River to San Pablo Bay, past pastoral landscapes dotted with cows and sheep, and along the treacherous stretch of Highway 1 between Bodega Bay and Timber Cove, the rest of the world falls away. All that matters is the small stuff: The beautiful scenery is a reminder to appreciate the simple things; work stress suddenly doesn’t matter as my man and I picture our lives together in the countryside; and panoramic vistas illustrate what life is all about. But as incredible as the journey is, nothing quite compares to the feeling of stepping foot inside the unparalleled Timber Cove Resort.
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Relieved that the nerve-wracking coastal drive—whose turns are reminiscent of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland—is over, we each take a deep breath of fresh coastal air, walk past the electric vehicle charging stations, gaze at the majestic waves below, and rush toward the front desk to check in for a relaxing evening away. As we open the door to the lobby, the love, care, and thought that go into this Sonoma Coast resort are instantly recognizable.
A giant fireplace peers at us from across the room while an impressive record collection greets us on the left. The mid-century modern furnishings adorning the center of the space are reminiscent of a cozy lodge in the woods, inviting all who enter to get to know one another. It’s a strange phenomenon that occurs here; whether it’s due to the awe-inspiring views of the Sonoma coastline, the lack of cell service, or the homey environs—one can’t be sure—the familial atmosphere breaks down the walls between strangers and allows guests to feel at ease.
After admiring the warmth of the Great Room, we head outside and up the steps to our guest room at the Timber Cove Resort. Weathered wood planks remind us that the ocean is near, while the welcome mats encourage us to escape into the luxurious accommodations—entering transports us into another world entirely. A green sofa, Crosley record player, adorable fireplace, fresh local berries, and cozy surroundings take turns capturing bits of attention, but the view seals the deal and makes us wonder why we’ve ever stayed anywhere else. Sonoma’s shores open up as the sun began to set, enveloping us in a beauty we often forget to appreciate. The orange and pink hues of the sherbet sky compel us toward the patio, with smiles and wonder plastered all over our faces.
I pour myself some water from the growler in our room, and we head outside to explore the property. Undoubtedly one of the best resorts in California, Timber Cove was first opened in 1963 and renovated in 2016 to capture the distinct characteristics of the region, though much of the original aesthetic remains. The rock features, welcoming lobby fireplace, elegant wood paneling, and architectural elements allude to a bygone era, but it is clear that Timber Cove’s glory days are alive and well. Native plant species cascade down the hillside leading toward the rugged bluffs overlooking the resort’s namesake cove—an unreal view that makes it easy to picture weddings and events taking place on the nearby lawn. Patios and firepits provide idyllic places to admire the surrounding beauty, but there’s honestly not a bad seat in the resort.
Once we’ve acquainted ourselves with the grounds, we head to the lobby to relax a bit before dinner. There’s an uncanny sense of familial warmth that washes over me each time I walk through the doors; though it’s my first time at Timber Cove, I feel as though I’ve been here before. We settle in; pet a few dogs that walk by us (as I dream of returning with a pup of my own); and look around at fellow guests laughing together, playing pool on the outdoor terrace, and enjoying each other’s company in the communal area. The upstairs balcony overlooking the lobby is a clear favorite for both guests and employees; in a short period of time, several people climb the steps and turn around to view the jovial scene below. Behind them, against the warm glow of the wall sconces, a dozen or so blue doors wait to welcome regulars and newcomers alike to their sumptuous suites.
Before we know it, the sun has set over the ocean and our dinner reservations are upon us. Just across the lobby and down a few stairs is the intimate dining area of Coast Kitchen—the only space on the property where dogs aren’t allowed. Peering around the corner for any friendly furry faces, our waiter appears and offers water and menus. Unable to decide between the charcuterie platter and cheese board, we opt to enjoy the best of both by beginning with the Timber Cove board: a divine combination of locally made cheeses and cured meats.
There’s something so luxurious about eating cheese and accoutrements that instantly knocks me into vacation mode. Spicy pepperoncinis contrast with the smooth Estero Gold cheese from the Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery, tender salumi complements Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.’s Toma cheese, marinated olives provide a salty kick, and caramelized-onion tapenade adds textural complexity to slices of toast. With so many intriguing pairings to try, there is hardly anything left by the time we order our entreés.
We sit and talk as we wait for the main course to arrive, marveling at how quickly the dining room has filled up and how lively everyone appears. As if on cue, a neighboring couple leans over to ask where we’re from—they’re from across the country and returning to the resort after having visited five years earlier. They turn away to place their own requests with the wait staff, and when we overhear them say they had plans for the day but reconsidered after seeing the stunning grounds, we chuckle in agreement—why would you ever want to leave this property?
Our conversation is interrupted by the arrival of our highly anticipated meals. My grilled filet is perfectly charred and presented beautifully with polka dots of butternut squash purée and onion cups of au jus. Across the table, a juicy prime New York strip lies atop a bed of sautéed greens, while a stripe of leek ash begs for attention in the best way possible. Every bite is better than the last, and though we are both pretty full from the appetizer, we can’t seem to stop savoring the evening.
Though there’s hardly any room left for dessert, we know we have to order the apple pie. Earlier in the day, a friendly guest in the lobby recommended it, and during the course of our meal, at least two passed by looking entirely too delicious to pass up. While the texture of apples tends to freak me out, this apple pie was everything I hoped for. Tender—but not mushy—apples are artfully arranged inside a perfect crust and topped with cookie crumbles, vanilla ice cream, and cinnamon crème anglaise. It all culminates in the perfect sweet treat. We spend the rest of the evening lounging on the green sofa, listening to records, and feeling too content to sleep.
The morning comes all too quickly, and it’s soon time to leave the comforts of bed. We make pour overs and gawk at the beauty outside, braving the cool temps to get closer to it. As we get ready to face the day, we’re soothed by the refreshing scent of the bamboo and lemongrass Lather products (and pleasantly surprised to see such an eco-friendly option; the packaging, ink, and products themselves are all responsibly made). The final hours race by, and we rush downstairs for breakfast, arriving just in the nick of time. Unlike the night before, nobody joins us in the dining room, though there are a few couples enjoying the sun’s rays on the patio outside.
We scarf down impeccably cooked eggs, smoky bacon, and savory sausage, but the true star this morning is the freshly squeezed orange juice. Bursting with vibrancy and flavor, this liquid gold is so good we could easily drink a gallon of it. Making every attempt to not look too morose, we check out of Timber Cove and brace for our much-needed getaway to end.
Before pulling out of the parking lot to begin our journey home, we catch ourselves making plans to hike the trails, see the nearby sights, and lounge by the firepits on our next visit. From the unique interior design, to the inspired culinary delicacies, to the relaxing ambience at Timber Cove, it’s safe to say that I’m obsessed with this luxurious resort along the California coast. Timber Cove left a lasting impression and created memories I’ll never forget.
A portion of this experience was sponsored by Timber Cove Resort, a California.com-recommended business. This article was created independently by California.com’s editorial department and reflects the honest opinion of the author.
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