I recently visited the Napa and Sonoma, California wine regions and sampled Chardonnays and Pinots, both Noir and Grigio, as well as a bevy of other varietals; it brought to mind what a wise sage once said: “The best wines are the ones we drink with friends.” Agreed! However, my wine country experience, albeit heady and delicious, left me needing a break. I longed to clear my head and instead feed mind and soul.
I wanted to be sittin’ on the dock of the bay – and there’s no better place to do that than in Sausalito where Otis Redding penned his famed song of the same name. Listening to the lyrics, his song is kind of sad. Redding sings that he’s traveled 2,000 miles from home just to sit on the dock of the bay wastin’ time. Sorry, I can’t relate to that. The town offers many delightful diversions, not the least of which is a tour of its iconic house boat scene. Victoria Colella was my guide for her ‘Docks of the Bay” historic houseboat tour. This vibrant community of floating homes recently turned 67, but it remains as rebellious and funky as ever. I saw original houseboats, art studios, wooden boat building shops and working boat yards. Victoria told tales of the Beat Era, the houseboat wars, and showed us the boat where Sterling Hayden lived in his heyday.
Sausalito is a charming village built on a Marin County hillside on San Francisco Bay. It is a mere hour’s drive from Napa, is home to historic sailing vessels and classic yachts, and is ranked as one of the top 20 destinations in the country with its small-town charm, Mediterranean character and awe-inspiring views of San Francisco, its sister city across the bay. One of the very best views to be had – anywhere – is from a small, chic and understated hotel with just 31 rooms: The Inn Above Tide. Built over the waters of the bay next to the ferry landing and at the center of Sausalito Village, the Inn is within easy walking distance to all that the town has to offer – wonderful restaurants, trendy boutiques and some very special art galleries.
As I waltzed through the Inn’s front door, I just knew that I’d found it: my relaxing, cosseted retreat. To be sure, Napa and Sonoma are set in wooded and charming towns, but it’s all that wine that can lead one astray. Here at the Inn, none of that save for the sunset wine and cheese reception and a chance to mingle with other guests. Then a stroll back to my pretty room with its soft brown leather chair pulled up close to the fireplace.
This three-story, contemporary seaside structure ensures a flawless experience for its guests. Each of the 31 rooms and suites has been custom-designed. Mine was decorated in warm earth tones, my custom furnishings accented with vibrant reds and oranges. Earlier, General Manager Mark Flaherty gave me a brief history of the Inn, a labor of love for the McDevitt family. It seems the building was originally constructed by William “Bill” McDevitt in 1961 as an apartment building that he redesigned in 1995 as a sumptuous boutique hotel. Through the years, the family has continued to maintain the luxury property with great care and attention to detail.
As evening crept in, I moved onto my private patio listening to waves lapping the shore and allowing myself to be wowed by views of the city skyline. I realized that from my vantage point, I was seeing San Francisco in an utterly unique way. Darkness fell softly over the bay as the lights of the city came alive before a backdrop of flaming orange. Granted, there are hundreds of hotels around San Francisco Bay- but there’s only one hotel on it – and that made all the difference. Leaving all that wine behind, I had been looking for a genuine sanctuary for the soul. Inn Above Tide: paradise found.
If You Go: