Suite Spot: Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa, Sausalito

By Jeanne Cooper via San Francisco Chronicle

Since its start in 1885 as a hilltop estate for a San Francisco Gas Light Co. executive, Sausalito’s Casa Madrona has developed an impressive circuitry of lodgings. The contemporary 31 bayside rooms are the most recently amped up, with courtyard and spa enhancements due later this year. Power couples, however, will want to stay in one of the 26 hillside cottages or one of the original mansion’s 11 rooms, transformed with subtly nautical tones in 2014. The mansion’s 5,000-square-foot Alexandrite Suite, which includes a spacious kitchen and sprawling, two-tiered deck, is suitable for weddings, as well as retreats and rock-star entourages.

Setting: Overlooking Sausalito’s yacht harbor, a few blocks from the ferry to San Francisco. Shops and restaurants are also within an easy stroll.

The appeal: Discreet, boutique luxury by the bay. The vertical spread of the rooms and small public areas limits time spent among other guests, while the on-site spa and Poggio Trattoria make it easy to cocoon with a view. A Sausalito staple, Poggio serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in its handsome bistro next to the lobby, and also provides in-room service. In the mansion, the palette of steel blue, white and light green and blend of period details and modern amenities (Nespresso machines, HD TVs) creates an air of tranquil time travel.

Insider’s tips: Book the Piper Room in the mansion to stay where Pink Floyd did in 1967 on its first U.S. tour, resulting in an iconic image of the band on the fire escape. The room includes a spacious living area with fireplace, vintage band photos and Pink Floyd music playing upon arrival. If you book the whole mansion, guests can access the Alexandrite Suite’s fitness room from a hidden stairwell.

Good to know: Occupancy tax and the hotel’s taxed “amenity fee,” which includes Wi-Fi and access to the fitness center and spa’s steam room, add nearly 20 percent to room rates. Valet parking is an additional $30 per day. Nearby municipal lots offer overnight parking; the cheapest ($5 per day) is Lot 4, at Humboldt and Johnson streets. The $10,000 nightly tab for the Alexandrite Suite may be negotiable.

Details: 801 Bridgeway, Sausalito. (415) 332-0502, reservations (800) 288-0502. Contemporary rooms from $339, cottages from $369, mansion rooms from $489.