Benbow Historic Inn Off Hwy. 101, 445 Lake Benbow Dr., (800) 355-3301, (707) 923-2124. 55 rooms; $129-$569+. Some TVs & wood-burning fireplaces. Afternoon tea at 3; restaurant; bar. Pool & hot tub nearby (May-Oct). Pets ok in some rooms. Opened in 1926, this magnificent English Tudor inn is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Guest rooms are furnished with antiques and equipped with a basket of mystery novels and a carafe of sherry. Some have lake views and private patios.
The inn was once quite popular with the Hollywood elite--think Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, and Joan Fontaine--and actor Charles Laughton found it quiet enough here to memorize his lines for Mutiny on the Bounty. A majestic communal lounge with fireplace and library invites socializing, and game tables are set with chessboards and jigsaw puzzles.
This spot enjoys perfect summer temperatures. Outside pleasures that make the most of it include colorful English gardens with grassy expanses, a small private beach on the east branch of the Eel River, lawn games, and complimentary use of bicycles. A 9-hole golf course and heated swimming pool plus hot tub are within walking distance. Facilities there also include a playground, putting green, laundry room, and pet run.
Complimentary tea and scones is served each afternoon at 3 p.m. during check-in. Special events are often scheduled, and holiday festivities occur throughout December.
The elegant restaurant is open daily for breakfast and dinner. It offers an expansive menu, with both simple dishes and more sophisticated fare. For summer dinner on the terrace, my husband and I dined on a colorful heirloom tomato and queso fresco salad,
a baby surf and turf (a filet mignon medallion, smoked prawn, and lemon mashed potatoes),
and pan-seared organic king salmon.
We each ordered a white wine flight and enjoyed making tasting comparisons throughout our meal,
and we ended with house-made chocolate truffles.
Note that a special vegan menu is available. For brunch in the dining room the next morning,
we each ordered our usual—me a classic eggs Benedict,
and my husband a simple country breakfast with chicken-apple sausage.
In fair weather, diners may sit outdoors on a large terrace overlooking the back lawn and river, and live entertainment is scheduled on most mid-week summer evenings. Additionally, a cozy taproom bar dispenses good cheer, and guests can order picnic lunches to go.
And from here it is just a few minutes to the magnificent redwoods of the Avenue of the Giants.
Here are some travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.
images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers