801 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965 Reservations & Hotel: 800-288-0502
|#5 Overall (Tied) on the OurSausalito.com Best Hotels List for Autumn, 2016|
|#3 on our List of the Most Romantic Hotels in Sausalito for Autumn, 2016|
|#3 on our List of the Best View Hotels in Sausalito for Autumn, 2016|
Casa Madrona Hotel
We have personally stayed here multiple times as part of corporate events and each time we had an absolutely great time, but other guests have had issues with some older rooms. Ensuring that you go home as happy as we were requires some advance planning, but if you’re intrigued by a place that is part modern hotel, part Victorian gingerbread fantasy that belongs in a Bond film, then read on.
In the photo above the original hotel is the light blue series of buildings at the far right. It was assembled from older buildings, houses, cottages etc. and sprawls across a hillside above Bridgeway, the main north-south street in Sausalito. The original mansion at the core of the hotel dates to 1885, and was converted into a hotel in 1906. (Yes, that 1906 in San Francisco.)
The rooms in this area come in all shapes and sizes, many with balconies, others with unique fixtures. Everything here is old and one-of-a-kind. Some rooms are “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” charming, classy and the home base for a wonderful vacation. But others, especially those at the top of the hill, are hard to get to and requiring walking up a series of steps. Several million dollars in renovations have addressed many problems that used to cause concern, and access has improved significantly.
A the left in the photo above (and filling much of the photo) is the newer wing where you’ll find the spa and Poggio Trattoria. This modern section of Casa Madrona was originally built in 1924 as Mason’s Garage and filling station, serving people driving to the nearby ferry that carried cars and people to San Francisco. In the 1950’s it became the Village Fair shopping complex, for many years a popular four-story open-air shopping and restaurant area that pre-dated the concept of malls. We spent many a happy hour there with our family. Village Fair featured the miniature “crookedest street in the world” leading up from street level… a feature that was preserved as a stairway in the recent renovation that integrated the building into Casa Madrona.
Staying in the Modern side of the hotel will give you just what the name describes: a familiar, modern hotel room in a very convenient location. The Victorian side has gone through a series of major remodels over the last few years, correcting many of the previous problems on this side of the house. Just as with Cavallo Point, we recommend investigating the wide variety of rooms in advance and deciding what part of the hotel you want to stay in to avoid surprises and unfulfilled expectations.
Room sizes on the Victorian side range from tiny to huge, and many of them have unique shapes and accoutrements. If you call ahead before you book the hotel will share more information about your room. Sometimes a slight price difference will get you a significantly larger room. Many visitors specifically ask for a room with a balcony and/or a built-in fireplace.
If you’re booking a Victorian Bay View room ask if it is a direct view of the Bay or if it’s tucked in at an odd angle. For example I recall seeing one room (as I looked down from our romantic balcony) that looked like it had a fabulous view from its big balcony, but not much of a view from the room itself. That’s perfect for some guests, disappointing for others.
If you or your out-of-town guests have any mobility problems, call ahead to the hotel and make sure you can get a Victorian room with easy access, or one of the Modern rooms, which are arranged off traditional hallways.
Given the access issues I’ve described, why do some people ONLY stay on the Victorian side? Why would I personally opt to stay on the Victorian side the next time I am part of an event here? Because staying in the better Victorian rooms here can feel like you’re living on the set of a really romantic movie. There are balconies that overlook San Francisco Bay and would earn a front page spot on any travel brochure, built-in fireplaces and charm that you can’t just manufacture with antique (or modern) furniture and lots of marble.
Note: The majority of Sausalito’s hotels (including Casa Madrona) are listed on Hotels.com, and it’s easy to compare prices there for your selected dates and see any discounts or special deals that are being offered. We frequently see prices on Hotels.com that are significantly lower than the numbers from our spot surveys. As a result, we sought them out and Hotels.com is now one of our sponsors.
Something else that people should know about Casa Madrona? Disagree with any of our suggestions? Please let us know!