IPA Magazine-Luxury Travel Reviews

Willows Lodge

Nestled within a lush, immaculately landscaped setting overlooking Washington’s Sammamish River, Willows Lodge is a romantic Northwest retreat in Woodinville’s Western wine country.  Just 30 minutes east of Seattle, Woodinville boasts over 130 wineries to explore and dozens of restaurants, shops, tours, tasting rooms and seasonal events to visit.

Named for Ira and Susan Woodin who built a cabin in the area in 1871, the picturesque tourist destination and wine production mecca of 11,000 inhabitants is home to Chateau Ste. Michelle,  the oldest winery in Washington state and just a few hundred yards from Willows Lodge. With annual production of over 2,000,000 cases a year, Chateau Ste. Michelle is the world’s leading producer of Riesling wine.  Willows Lodge is located adjacent to the nationally known Redhook microbrewery and steps from the Hollywood District where restaurants, patios and bike paths converge along the scenic river.

Driving from congested Seattle, a forested landscape suddenly unfolded before us, presaging a welcome adventure. We arrived late in the afternoon, easily finding the lodge known for its manicured herb and flower gardens.  Within the lodge complex are two prestigious restaurants, Barking Frog and The Herb Farm, and a 1500-year old hollowed-out Western Red Cedar tree trunk “snag” in the midst, fronting the lodge.  Believed to have been struck by lightning, the huge tree’s remains were hauled here from the Olympic Peninsula where today it stands sentry, majestically welcoming guests.

Entering the lobby, the large wood burning fireplace cast a warm glow throughout the inviting reception area.  High-back chairs paired with movable ottomans created a casual yet elegant seating venue where guests might relax in comfort.  Large glass windows reached skyward over the entry, bathing the cheerful entrance way in natural daylight and adding warmth to the painted neutral shades of the walls and the custom hand tufted wool rug, featuring a willow reed pattern.       Just beyond the lobby, the Fireside Lounge beckons guests to relax in a casual, sophisticated atmosphere where they may sample some of the Northwest’s finest wines.  “Happier Hour” is from 4-6 pm daily with discounts on specialty cocktails and wines by the glass.  Each week on Wednesday and Thursday from 6-9 pm and Friday and Saturday from 6-9:30 pm there is live music.  June through September live music is also available on Tuesday nights from 6-9 pm.

We were welcomed at the reception with a glass of wine (choice of Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon) and, moments later, shown to our lovely room.  The tiled entrance and bathroom area gave way to a spacious, carpeted living area.  Over the headboard of the king-size bed, the accent wall was painted a deep wine hue, reminding you that, yes; you are in wine country, “where Washington pours,” as the village slogan has it. The most comfortable beds in the U.S. hospitality industry are covered with Australian lamb’s wool mattress pads and finished with 300 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets and duvets from Europe. Abundant use of natural wood in the furniture, trim, shelves, crown molding, doors, windows, shades, fireplace mantel, outdoor deck and cabinetry exclaim that this is no mere hotel but a true Northwest Lodge.

A 48” flat screen HDTV is located over the fireplace mantel in guestrooms, with 55” TVs in the seven suites.  In the bath area, an oversized soaking tub is situated next to a large sliding solid-wood door with clear sight line to the stone-trimmed gas fireplace, TV and glass door to the deck.  Molton Brown amenities include shampoo, conditioner, hand wash and nourishing body lotion. Luxurious linens, towels, bathrobes and slippers are first rate. A re-cycled slate desk with ample power, modem ports, telephone, and task lighting allow folks like me to write or read comfortably. These guest room tables were once slate pool table tops from old bars in British Columbia. Complimentary wired and dual 100 MB High-Speed Internet Access is available for all guests in rooms and on the property. A combination safe is available in the clothes closet, a feature we have come to use often. A personally stocked private refrigerated bar has extra space for some of your own items, if needed.  We kept bottles of complimentary house water (available from the front desk) chilled here. Wines, wine glasses, corkscrew, bottled water, nuts, candy, chips and other snack items are available for purchase in each room. We enjoyed the Keurig coffee maker for in-room complimentary coffee and herbal or black teas, while complimentary brewed Fonte coffee is also available in the lobby from 5:00 am to 11:00 am.  A French Press is also available upon request.

Breakfast service is available through In-Room dining or in the Barking Frog from 6:00 am to 10:30 am.  Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 6:00 am to 2:30 pm. (Please see our review of Barking Frog in a separate review.). Spa Services are available from 9:30 am to 7:00 pm. (Please see our review of The Spa at Willows Lodge, also in a separate review.)

The landscaping at Willows Lodge is managed with sustainable practices including an in-house nutrient recycling system that captures landscape debris through composting to return composted residuals to the earth.  Here restaurant green waste is blended with landscape trimmings and biologically transformed into food for plants, flowers and trees.  Integrated Pest management reduces pesticide use while inclusion of 30% native plants maintains an integrated presence with local flora and fauna.  In 2005 Willows Lodge was awarded the highest 5-star EnviroStar rating by King County for their sustainable landscape practices.

Each day we traipsed throughout the five-acre landscaped gardens, marveling at the bouquets of color and fragrance in bloom.  Herbs seem to be planted everywhere, supplying the on-site five-star Herb Farm with some of its namesake flavorings.  Water features and sculptures add to the enchantment of a paradisiacal setting where outdoor weddings are understandably common (the Lodge hosted one each day during our two-day stay).  We also walked just over the bridge and down the street to the nearby Hollywood District for wine tasting, dining and shopping.  Also nearby is the Burke Gilman Trail, a scenic 26-mile paved trail that borders Willows Lodge and runs all the way into Seattle. The multi-use trail is perfect for a scenic walk, run, or bike ride.  Complementary bicycles are available to checkout through Guest Services.

In all, this charming Eden-like retreat put us on sensory overload, especially so after a fabulous dining experience at The Barking Frog bistro and a massage treatment at The Spa.  Be sure to reserve a few days here for a romantic retreat or to celebrate a special occasion with someone you love.

Willows Lodge
14580 NE 145TH STREET
WOODINVILLE, WA 98072

www.willowslodge.com

HOTEL RESERVATIONS (877) 424-3930
HOTEL MAIN NUMBER (425) 424-3900
BARKING FROG (425) 424-2999
SPA (425) 424-2900

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