Overview: Casa Madrona has long been considered the best hotel in Sausalito, but that wasn’t always saying much. Built in 1885 as a lavish private residence for William Barrett of San Francisco’s Gas and Electric Co., the property was flipped into a bed-and-breakfast merely 11 years later, the first of several reincarnations as the property fell into disrepair and has struggled to regain its glory. In 2010, new owners took over the hotel, which now includes several structures in addition to the original Victorian mansion, and began a four-year renovation that was completed in June. The crowning touch was the unveiling of the original mansion, which comprises merely 11 of the hotel’s now 64 rooms, along with seven premier hillside cottages that were added in the 1970s.
The Location: The hotel is perched on the steep hillside in the heart of town, directly across the street from the ferry terminal and within walking distance of most Sausalito restaurants.
Room: Cottage No. 700. I originally booked a room in the newly unveiled mansion, but when I arrived, I learned that someone had rented the entire mansion at the last minute, so I was downgraded to one of the newly renovated upper hillside cottages. It turned out for the best. The cottage goes for $475 a night instead of $509 for the mansion, and the cottage comes with a huge covered patio with sweeping views of the harbor and Tiburon across the bay. It’s a quirky little dwelling, with old Victorian bones, a beach-chic aesthetic and wooden floors that slant dramatically downhill. This was one of the last units to be refurbished, so it still smells brand new. The bathroom is huge and luxuriously stocked with terrycloth bathrobes and designer toiletries.
Food/drink: The adjacent Poggio Trattoria provides room-service to the hotel.
Wi-Fi: Free throughout, but not particularly fast.
Public spaces: The lobby is tiny but charming, with a wood-burning fireplace and two Victorian wingback chairs at the entrance. The steeply cantilevered grounds are beautifully landscaped.
Service: Friendly and eager to please in a quirky, small-town sort of way.
Cost: $475, plus taxes and fees (standard guest rooms start at $240). Overnight parking, $24.
Bottom line: Casa Madrona is still the best hotel in Sausalito. But these days, that actually means something.