There's a lot to be said in favor of Hotel Healdsburg - its location at the edge of the town square, its sleek, hip design, the outstanding service provided by certain staff. And yet, the whole experience doesn't add up to the sum of its parts. Hotel Healdsburg simply needs to get a few more things right to justify the cost per night.
A few days ago, my wife and I went to an ice cream parlor. The management had posted all of these signs around the place, telling people not to talk on their cell phones, don't stand on chairs, etc. They had not one but TWO signs saying that they had a right to refuse service to anyone. Somehow they had managed to turn getting ice cream into an unpleasant experience. A couple of people had messed up - been annoying on the cellphone or stood on chairs, and management had overreacted.
Hotel Healdsburg is suffering from some of that, too. When you check in, you have to initial three places that (1) smoking in your room will cause a $150 fine, (2) losing the room key will cost you $100 and (3) check out is 12 noon, and you will incur charges if you fail to do so.
Now I don't really know what kind of miscreant guests preceded me, but I don't consider this kind of legal lecturing to be a good practice in the hospitality business. It set the wrong tone for a stay and took the attention away from the beautiful design and otherwise positive attitudes of the staff there.
I reserved a courtyard suite in order to avoid the noise problems other reviewers have noted. The fact is, the location of the hotel is just going to cause there to cause sound to be a bit more of an issue than in other locations. The courtyard, which open up to Healdsburg Avenue, tends to cause an echoing of noise, whether it be automobiles or the sounds of people exiting Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen restaurant or the hotel bar. It didn't find it to be excessive or intrusive; in fact, we slept until almost 10:00. However, if you're looking for a high level of peace and tranquility, I don't think that this is the place for you.
Our suite was very nicely appointed. Dark, wide plank hardwood floors were accented with nice rugs. We had a nice deck with an outdoor table and chairs. The bed was soft and had nice linens, and the bathroom offered every kind of bath amenity we could hope for. The suites have deep soaking tubs, and the hotel includes bath salts for those who wish to partake. I would recommend the courtyard suite. Little things - a small refrigerator with drinks were very nice.
But a couple of things just weren't quite right. Despite the fact that WiFi was available, we had to call the front desk for the password - again giving us the cue that they had to keep it a secret due to somebody abusing the free WiFi in the past. The electronic equipment (TV, DVD, stereo) were ridiculously complex to figure out. There were 5 remote controls and a page of directions that turned out to be wrong, given that one of the remotes was different than that described in the directions. Lighting in the suite was poor, a problem that I'm finding more and more as hotels go the eco route.
Perhaps worst of all, our morning showers weren't hot. While they got to a point at which they weren't uncomfortably cold, it wasn't pleasant. When I mentioned it to the front desk upon checking out, they said that their system ensured that hot water didn't get above a certain temperature in order to avoid scalding people as a "legal" issue. Now again, I don't know whether somebody in the past had gotten scalded and sued the hotel, but the water simply wasn't hot enough for me. Both my wife and I have standard issue skin. I don't think it was us.
I would be remiss if I didn't point out the exceptional service I received from Tegan, the concierge, who put together a beautiful Easter basket for my wife. In addition, I truly appreciated that they made an exception to their 2-night weekend minimum in order to let us do a Saturday night stay. These are the kinds of things that create good will and long-term relationships. But there's just too much missing here to justify the $400/night that we paid. All of the pieces are here - beautiful design, comfortable beds, great staff - but this is a management issue, and I hope that they'll recognize what it takes to be considered among the top echelon in the hotel industry.
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