Sonoma List: 5 cozy winter hideaways
Lobby and bar at Sonoma Mission Inn
When it's miserable out, one wants to go in, to shelter in damp socks and bad hair. The lobby and bar of the Sonoma Mission Inn are spectacular, a space simultaneously both cozy and grand. Soaring ceilings frame a massive fireplace where real logs simmer slowly, surrounded by deep, expensively upholstered sofas. It is a room where one feels improved just by sitting, but you could (and should) order a drink, too. Make it a hot toddy if it's late in the day, or a lovely pot of coffee if it's just begun. 100 Boyes Blvd.
Bean & Bottle
Few would describe a 'power breakfast' as cozy, but that's the undeniable tenor at the Bean & Bottle, the fireside coffee and wine nook in the Lodge at Sonoma that has quietly become one of the best least-kept secrets in town. Leaders of industry, directors of commerce, local politicians – and a journalist or two – are more and more taking advantage of the venue's warm, casual and sequestered digs for business coffees in the morning and glasses of vino after work. If Peet's is a place to see and be seen, Bean & Bottle is still a place you can not be seen. The seats? Big and comfy. The fireplace? Eternally lit. The mood? Exclusive. 1325 Broadway.
My college-aged children brought a lot of work home with them over their winter break. To escape the risk of being assigned chores, they adopted the Panel wine lounge as their new favorite spot to hide out and study. You can start the day at noon with an espresso and reward yourself with a beer or a glass of wine and some snacks as the day progresses. The Panel is a cozy renovated bungalow with warm lighting and comfortable seating – the perfect place to escape from a wet, cold winter day. The vibe tends to be quiet in the afternoon and progressively more lively as the day goes on. Happy hour starts at 3 p.m. and runs for a full three hours on weekdays. If the weather ever improves, there is seating on the front porch as well. 535 W. Napa St.
When it's cold and rainy outside, settling in with a good book and a steaming cup of tea sounds inviting. It's warm and dry inside Sonoma Valley Regional Library and there is a lot there to read – a whole lot. And, it's free. Plus they've got coffee, tea, hot chocolate and spiced cider for just a buck. Right next to the Friends of the Library book sale section (buy one or two for cheap and take them home) there is a Keurig machine and a variety of coffees, such as Starbucks, Tully's and Peet's in different styles of roasts, flavors and decaf. A selection of Tazo teas, spiced cider mix and Swiss Miss hot chocolate round out the beverage offerings. Grab a cup, wander around and pick up a book, magazine, or newspaper, or take a seat at one of the computers and enjoy the free wifi. 755 W. Napa St.
Anne Ward Ernst
Murphy's Irish Pub
One requirement for a cozy winter hideaway is that it is hard to find. If it weren't, just how much a hideaway would it be? And how cozy?
Visitors to Sonoma may have heard about Murphy's Irish Pub, but it takes more resources than onboard GPS to find it, down the alley next to the Basque Boulangerie. Locals know it's there because word-of-mouth, tradition and regular weekend music or comedy will sooner or later put Murphy's on your map. But if it's just a drop-in on a rainy day, Murphy's fits the bill with a most-of-the-time menu, comfortable bar and high tables, and a classic red tufted leather banquette providing the cozy.
Sidle up to the bar and order a 'Smiddick' and you'll be poured a draft Smithwick, Ireland's own IPA, plus you'll be given points for authenticity. Then take a seat, chat up a new friend, and watch the rain from a fine and public place. 464 First St. E.