Coronavirus Note: Blog posts made during the sheltering-in-place period of the coronavirus crisis are meant as a virtual escape. As things reopen, some posts will incorporated the new situation in places being written about. However, you are advised to check each destination's website for the most current information. Hopefully, all information posted here will be of use to you when it is safe to travel again.

November 23, 2020

Kensington: Semifreddi’s; restaurant review

80 North

Semifreddi’s  372 Colusa Ave., in Kensington, (510) 596-9935.  Daily 7:30am-3pm; $. 

exterior of Semifreddi's bakery in Kensington, California
exterior of Semifreddi's bakery in Kensington, California


Now headquartered in Alameda but still family-owned and –operated, this little bakery shop situated by the Kensington round-about has been in business since 1984.  Many customers stop by for a fresh baguette and some of the European-style pastries to go (the delicious cinnamon morning muffin is a personal favorite).  Others opt for a coffee or a sandwich from the enticing selection.  I usually pick up a rustic sour loaf--which is sliced upon request--and sometimes a bag of super garlic croutons.  I also call my order in early in the day because they do tend to run out of items before closing.  Inside seating is minimal, but a small, pleasant free area provides some outside seating.  

morning bun from Semifreddi's bakery in Kensington, California
morning bun from Semifreddi's bakery in Kensington, California



pecan swirl from Semifreddi's bakery in Kensington, California
pecan swirl from Semifreddi's bakery in Kensington, California


2020 pandemic update:  A socially-distanced line is usually waiting outside.  Ordering and pick-up occurs just inside the door in an area with plenty of protective plastic windows.  However, the credit card machine requires you to hold on to it while swiping a credit card, and no hand sanitizer is provided so be prepared with your own.  


socially-distanced line at Semifreddi's bakery in Kensington, California
socially-distanced line at Semifreddi's bakery in Kensington, California





November 19, 2020

Kenwood: Kenwood Inn & Spa; hotel review

Wine Country

Kenwood Inn & Spa  10400 Sonoma Hwy. 12, (800) 353-6966, (707) 833-1293.  29 rooms; $$$+.  Unsuitable for children under 18.  All gas fireplaces.  Heated pool; 2 hot tubs; full-service spa.  Full breakfast.  Pets ok. 

grounds of Kenwood Inn & Spa in Kenwood, California
grounds of Kenwood Inn & Spa in Kenwood, California


Abutting a hillside covered with olive trees, this sensual, aesthetically pleasing Tuscan-style inn looks very much like an old Italian villa with fountains and archways galore.  And just like in a Tuscan village, a maze of narrow pathways and steps wind through the property.  Rooms are furnished with a combination of antiques and comfortable newer pieces, and the blissful beds are covered with a feather bed and topped with a lofty down comforter.  

While checking in, guests are offered a flute of sparkling wine.  This lobby common area features beautiful plank floors under a vaulted ceiling with iron chandelier.  Dark Mediterranean furniture invites relaxing for a bit, and refreshment is always available here:  Port and Sherry, both sparkling and still water, coffee, tea, and housemade cookies (cookies also greet guests on their bed).  

Accommodations include 10 rooms around a central courtyard and 17 more rooms in a newer Paladio-style wing.  Each room has its own charm.  Most have a private patio or balcony, and windows were planned to offer lovely views and as well as privacy.  A Tuscan theme blended with early California accents finds guest rooms furnished with large velvet armchairs and ottomans, upholstered headboards or canopied four-posters, armoires, tapestries, and chandeliers.  The only unit that isn’t Tuscan-style is the unique Sonoma Suite, which is decorated in a contemporary beach-cottage style.  Many rooms have jetted soaking tubs.  

jetted bathtub at Kenwood Inn & Spa in Kenwood, California
jetted bathtub at Kenwood Inn & Spa in Kenwood, California


A complimentary wine and cheese reception occurs daily from 5 to 6 p.m., when a local winery presents tasting selections from their list.  A buffet hot breakfast, Wi-Fi, and parking are complimentary, and turn-down service and passes to a nearby gym are available upon request.  A limited room service menu is offered from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. 

breakfast plate at Kenwood Inn & Spa in Kenwood, California
breakfast plate at Kenwood Inn & Spa in Kenwood, California


The inviting main terrace features a pool and hot tub along with sheltering arbors, towering palms, and fire pits.  Pool-side cabanas can be reserved, and a small detached spa features a full menu of services.  

pool and full-service spa at Kenwood Inn & Spa in Kenwood, California
pool and full-service spa at Kenwood Inn & Spa in Kenwood, California



full-service spa at Kenwood Inn & Spa in Kenwood, California
full-service spa at Kenwood Inn & Spa in Kenwood, California


A second, more cloistered courtyard holds another hot tub.  

hot tub at Kenwood Inn & Spa in Kenwood, California
hot tub at Kenwood Inn & Spa in Kenwood, California


2020 pandemic update:  Kenwood Inn & Spa has been certified Clean + Safe through the California Hotel & Lodging Association's pandemic safety program.  Food changes include that there are no more morning or evening buffets.  Instead, guests reserve a table for breakfast.  Tables are carefully spaced in accordance with new rules, and many are outside in the courtyard areas.  A server goes over the morning menu with the guests and then delivers breakfast directly to the table.  Instead of cheese, fruit, olives, etc., being presented with a wine tasting at 5 p.m., the same items are now put into individual picnic boxes and guests can take one with them for a vineyard picnic, to enjoy on the inn's grounds, or to sample in their rooms or on their private patio.  Because of current statewide regulations, the spa is closed.  However, the pool is open, and there is plenty of space for safe social distancing around it.  Masks are required of guests and staff when walking around the property.

wine-tasting picnic box at Kenwood Inn & Spa in Kenwood, California
wine-tasting picnic box at Kenwood Inn & Spa in Kenwood, California


More pandemic updates.

More things to do in Kenwood.

More things to do in the Wine Country.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2020 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


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