A historic Guerneville property, known to locals as The Applewood Inn, is once again welcoming guests. This time with a new look and a new name – the Russian River Stavrand Valley.
Dating back to the early 1920s, the property includes local landmark The Belden House, a mission revival home designed by architect John Carl Warnecke as a country retreat for Guerneville banker Ralph “Rooster” Belden and his family. It was transformed into guest rooms in the early 1980s.
Over the following decades, The Applewood Inn became a popular destination for Russian River locals and vacationers. The hostel and its restaurant then faced some challenges in the 2000s, including financial difficulties, before finally being sold at the end of 2020 to the owners of The Stavrand Russian River Valley.
New owners Emily Glick (former general manager of the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel in San Francisco) and Santiago Appleton Ripley (who was part of YouTube’s original team) set out to restore the historic property to its former glory by renovating the Belden’s 11 rooms. House and 10 additional bedrooms in two buildings on nearly six acre site just south of downtown Guerneville.
“We were able to appreciate the ‘good bones’ of the place, the luxury touches like hot tubs and fireplaces, and of course the majestic redwoods and orchards throughout the property,” Glick said. “The hotel just needed a complete interior overhaul to become a luxury boutique hotel again, with internal quality to match the unparalleled setting.”
Armed with a vision, backing from investors, and a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA), Glick and Ripley transformed the former Applewood Inn into an elegant hotel in the Russian River Valley. The terracotta exterior has been painted white, the roof has retained its red tiles, and the 21 rooms have been carefully renovated and modernized to preserve the historic character of the property. Custom artwork and wall coverings now decorate the walls, and in-room fireplaces come on with the press of a button. Rooms have freestanding tubs or outdoor cedar hot tubs and there is high-speed Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios in every room.
The Belden House, in addition to its 11 bedrooms, has public spaces like a pool and hot tub and a lanai that fills with natural light in the afternoons. The remaining 10 rooms are located in the hotel’s Cazadero and Armstrong buildings; respectively eight and two bedrooms. The hotel’s most modern rooms are in the Armstrong Building, according to Glick, and come with Jacuzzi tubs, cathedral ceilings, and stunning views of the surrounding redwoods.
While the reimagined property and its woodland setting are reason enough to secure a stay on the Russian River, a reservation at the Stavrand also gives guests the option of dining at the hotel’s restaurant, which is only open to guests. of the hotel. A culinary quartet led by Chef Jeremy Clemens, formerly of Layla Restaurant at MacArthur Place Hotel and Spa in Sonoma, got off to a flying start with creative dishes like Jjampong (Korean noodle soup) with shrimp, clams, mussels , bok choy and alkaline noodles. ; Oakridge Angus NY Strip with charred onions, pickled peppers and shoyu; and Pão de Queijo, or Brazilian cheese bread. (Do your best to save room for dessert. We’re still dreaming of the pound cake with olive oil, candied citrus fruits and strawberry meringue.)
Breakfast, included with every stay, is equally impressive. Topped with fresh fruit, dried fruit and fennel pollen, overnight oats have never tasted or tasted better. In addition to a delicious avocado toast, the smoked salmon toast stands out. Then there are the crispy potatoes. A cross between a hash brown and a tater tot, they melt in your mouth.
The restaurant’s menu changes with the seasons and features products from the hotel’s chef’s prairie. The garden is set alongside apple, quince, fig, apricot, pear and plum trees, many of which date back to the 1920s, when planted by Belden. It’s Ripley’s favorite spot on the property.
“When our orchard is in full bloom, you can walk around the meadow and taste a variety of fruit fresh from the trees,” he said. “Forest and juvenile redwoods frame the [Chef’s] Meadow, and the mulch walkway invites you to stroll through town.
For those who prefer to do a bit of exploring during their stay, Guerneville town center is just 10 minutes away on foot, via a pedestrian bridge. Along with free bicycles, coolers, and picnic blankets, the Stavrand also lends kayaks and inner tubes to guests, making hot summer days floating down the Russian River easier than ever. It may seem hard to believe right now, but summer will be here before we know it.
The Russian River Valley Stavrand, 13555 route 116, Guerneville, 707-869-9093, thestavrand.com. Rates start at $446, $295 off season.