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“Good room, questionable host”

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Hope-Merrill House Bed & Breakfast Inn
Ranked #2 of 5 Geyserville B&B and Inns
Reviewed 26 September 2011

For the last three years, my husband and I have ventured to California wine country for Labor Day. The first year we were in Napa and stayed at the Harvest House. Last year we were in Healdsburg and stayed at Honor Mansion. This year, we decided we did not need to spend $500 a night for a room and booked three nights at the Hope Merrill. We were very happy to find this inn and very much were looking forward to staying here after reading the positive reviews.

Our room was the Vineyard View and it was perfect. It was very roomy for a bed and breakfast room, looking out on the pool and the loquat tree. The window air conditioning unit worked great during the day and we opened the windows at night. The room had beautiful high ceilings and a little bistro table, complete with a carafe and wine glasses. As mentioned in many other reviews, most rooms do not have televisions, but this was not a problem for us. We both love reading, and after a day of wine tasting and great Sonoma cuisine, who wants to watch tv at night anyway? The only slight negative in our room was our double shower was not really double as one of the shower head holders (it’s European style) was broken so it really only worked for one at a time. This was not a huge issue and we decided not to alert the innkeepers because we knew it would mean either moving rooms or having repairs go on in our room while we were there.

We enjoyed the pool every afternoon, after an afternoon nap (essential after wine tasting and before dinner!). The grounds were nice, if a little bit neglected, with tons of potential. We found it odd that a wire fence separated the pool area from the vineyards. We’ve stayed in other hotels where you can easily walk through the vines. Since the door to the gazebo was under construction, it made it even harder to get to the actual vines. Again, not a huge issue.

As many others have mentioned, the breakfast is wonderful. It is served family style, with two of our mornings being a full table. We enjoyed talking to our fellow guests about wine, wineries, travel, and even politics!

Simply rating the inn on these factors would give it an easy 4 or 5 stars, especially given the great value for your money. My husband and I even said we would give it this rating the morning we left - right up until we checked out, when we realized we had not been imagining things for 3 days. We decided we would not be staying here again. The reason for this lower rating is the innkeepers, specifically Cosette, as we felt Ron was very nice.

When we arrived on Friday, Cosette greeted us hastily and handed us off to Ron as she was busy on her computer. This was fine and Ron did a good job of giving us the tour and showing us our room. The next morning at breakfast, we had our first real interaction with Cosette. Every morning, she comes into the dining room, hands out maps, and talks about wineries. This in itself is delightful. It is her presentation and treatment of guests as children that turns people off. The eyes rolling around the table at her delivery and shortness with guests are very obvious. She expects absolute silence and does not appreciate guests giving their opinions on the wineries. She bad mouths Napa Valley and larger or corporate wineries. I understand her opinion; I prefer Sonoma and smaller, family wineries as well. But, so much negativity is not pleasant at 9:30 in the morning and is not very welcoming to those guests who do like to visit those other types of wineries on occasion. I could have ignored this, but she tends to argue with guests. On our first morning, my husband asked about shipping wine home versus checking it on the plane and her thoughts on it (we have shipped 6 cases home over the last 2 years, but he felt it is always good to get another opinion on the best way to handle this). Her response “well, you would have to pay to check it on the plane!” in a pretty nasty tone. We tried to explain we got free checked baggage on our flight and she ignored us. It was not worth explaining. Cosette then went into a long diatribe about Congress and wine shipping. We explained the law she was referring to was no longer in effect and state laws are the hold up now, as we both worked for Congress at one point, and she continued to argue with us. We eventually dropped the issue as it was evident she was not interested in knowing the truth or new information.

I also asked if we needed an appointment for Unti Winery (their website and the information on the map said an appointment was necessary) and she rolled her eyes and said no, that was simply how they got their license; no one went there with an appointment according to Cosette. We went to Unti and we most definitely needed an appointment. The woman who poured our wine was very accommodating, but the owner, Mr. Unti was there and he was very annoyed with our party crashing and was definitely rushing us out the door. I understand it was a holiday weekend and on normal weekends an appointment might not be necessary, but someone running an inn should know this and inform their guests accordingly.

During previous stays in Wine Country, we have had great conversations with our inn keepers or staff about their favorite wineries or great restaurants (we got great winery ideas at the Honor Mansion last year and the staff at the Harvest House made us reservations at a wonderful restaurant and even gave us a free winery tour book after talking for 10 minutes). This did not happen this year. Cosette disappeared right after breakfast and did not appear interested in one-on-one conversations.

Morning 2 went similarly. I was very careful not to talk during her presentation, while she glared at people who were. I asked for some recommendations on wineries with good pinots in Russian River, as that was our planned destination for the day (keep in mind I actually had to raise my hand for her to take my question. This university instructor felt like I was back in grade school). She rudely pointed out she does not drink Pinot and threw out a couple wineries. She did suggest Iron Horse, which was already on our list for the day and was very enjoyable. She said Iron Horse was served in the White House. I happily added so was Korbel. Cosette rolled her eyes at me and disagreed. I did not point out I know for a fact that Korbel has been served in the White House. She missed the patriotic point – it is very cool American presidents serve Californian sparkling wine (no matter the maker), rather than French or Italian, at official events.

My husband and I laughed at these instances, just chalking it up to an eccentric innkeeper, even when she had no interest in where we were going for dinner or which wineries we visited (I only mention this because previous innkeepers have always been interested in these things). We thought maybe she was upset we missed the bbq at the inn one night. We had dinner reservations at the Farm House, which we did not want to miss. We finally decided no one penalizes their paying guests for enjoying one of California’s greatest restaurants.

It was our last encounter, on our last morning, which sealed the deal and prompted this review. We had packed up the car and were ready to leave. We went back into the inn to say goodbye and hand in our key. My husband walked up to Cosette, who was talking to another guest and waited until a pause in the conversation. He said, “Can we check out?” and held out the key, politely. She opened her hand, glared at him, and he dropped the key in her hand. She then went right back to talking to the other guest. No “thank you for coming.” No “I hope you had a nice stay.” No “have a safe trip.” No words at all. It was the most bizarre experience we have ever had anywhere. As we drove off, I was flabbergasted by her treatment of us over the past three days. I asked my husband if it was maybe a case of her simply not liking us (even though we have traveled extensively around the world and never had such a personality conflict before; usually we have great interactions with innkeepers, hotel owners and staff, and restaurant owners/staff) and he said that should not matter. She should have been nice to us no matter what, as her customers. I realized he was right. We also witnessed her disrespectful and rude behavior towards other guests, but I will leave it to them to write.

This was not a review I wanted to write. I take no pleasure in writing it, nor do I enjoy specifying personality issues with an owner of a bed and breakfast. I use reviews every single time I travel, thus I decided I needed to write this review so others could be prepared. Without factoring in Cosette’s cold and rude behavior, this inn would have been rated higher. However, for me, she needs to be factored in as her behavior was a definite black mark on an otherwise lovely weekend.

Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
15  Thank shgr8escape
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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27 - 33 of 47 reviews

Reviewed 18 August 2011

My wife and I stayed at Hope Merrill during our three-day trip through Sonoma. We absolutely loved our time there. Cosette and Ron were fabulous hosts. Breakfast every morning was so tasty--a great mix of fresh baked goods and fresh fruits. The sausges they served each morning were very, very good. Even the coffee was above average. Not only were they great hosts, they helped us plan our time in Sonoma. They sat down with us and mapped our course for the time we were there--hitting all the best family-run wineries and sights. Very helpful. They pointed us in the direction of the best dinner in town, Diavola. All in all, this is a great place and I would highly recommend staying at the Hope Merrill.

  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled with family
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2  Thank VT_Ritt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 May 2011

My husband and I desperatly needed a break from the daily grind. Although we are a younger couple-we definantly appreciated the quiet provided. we are currently expecting so our interest didn't permit wine tasting (although the Inn-keeper has an amazing abundance of knowledge of the subject) we mad sure to appreciate some of the fine dining in the area. The breakfat itself was something close to perfect and did everything to tickle my palette. our dinner the night previous was like a dream! Perfecto!
The charming aspect was the building itself-and all athe attention to detail. The architecture is exquisite and the wallpaper, although may be too muchfor some, absolutly delighted me. The Inn keepers where informitive about the historic area, the building itself, and, of course, wine. Also may not have tv-but we DID have wifi-and acess to netflix! Just to cap off a wondeerful evening. We came come totally refreshed!

  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank Samantics3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 February 2011

My wife and I stayed two nights during our visit to Sonoma wine country. We would recommend the inn and may stay there again on future travels. Hope-Merrill has rooms with updated amenities (exhaust fans, Jacuzzi, shower and tub) but it is a 140 year-old house - no cable TV, central air, etc., - so it really is 'bed and breakfast'.

Cosette prepares a wonderful breakfast in the communal dining room. She is an amazing source of info about the area, the wineries and the wine business - pick her brain to find out the best tasting rooms and tours. The inn's location is perfect for day trips to the numerous wineries nearby.

  • Stayed: February 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank tremonster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 October 2010

This was the destination for Friday night - had a spontaneous trip to the Bay Area with a friend and decided to explore Highway 1, then a tour of Sonoma. The Hope Bosworth hosts were gracious and advised us well on how to best spend our very limited time. I'm a fan of restored Victorian homes and prefer the Hope Bosworth to the hip austerity of some of the new hotels - our time here was far too brief. Saturday breakfast was a delight - good conversation with the other house guests - mom & daughter celebrating the mom's birthday & a sweet couple from Washington state.

  • Stayed: September 2010, travelled with friends
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Thank cococontour
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 June 2010

Although the grounds seemed neglected, the charm, the personable and
informative owners made it all better. Each room at this Bed and Breakfast
Inn is tastefully furnished with antiques and each is given a name. Check
out the attractive eye-catching website and all is plainly seen as it is so well
put together. The breakfast was great as was the conversations after the
meal with other guests. The owners were well versed as to what attractions
were in and around town. Peace and quiet, tranquility all wrapped into one.

  • Stayed: June 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank retired007_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 May 2010

We stayed for three nights in the Bradbury Room and had a wonderful time. The house is stunning through and through. The location was fabulous as there are plenty of wineries and restaurants within a short distance of the B&B. Cosette, (we barely saw Ron) was a wonderful host. Each morning, after a wonderful breakfast, she's sit with us and recommend wineries to visit and map them out. She called a winery on our behalf to book a tour. My wife is a vegetarian, (she eats dairy and seafood) and is low-key about it. When Cosette found out, she made sure that meat wasn't on my wife's plate the next morning. She even e-mailed the inn-keeper at our next B&B that a vegetarian was on the way, now THAT'S service!! We would stay there again in a heartbeat!!!

  • Stayed: May 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank yarp1960
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hope-Merrill House Bed & Breakfast Inn

Address: 21253 Geyserville Ave, Geyserville, CA 95441
Region: United States > California > Sonoma County > Geyserville
Amenities:
Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 5 B&Bs / Inns in Geyserville
Price Range: £142 - £193 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Hope-Merrill House Bed & Breakfast Inn 3*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Inn is located in Geyserville, a small town in the fertile Alexander Valley, where the traveler will enjoy some of the most spectacular views of the wine country in California. Nothing is more beautiful than the vineyard scene, and the vineyards of the north coast of Sonoma County are some of the most magnificent in the world. The Inn offer a grand view of Geyser Peak, the worlds largest geothermal field, and the steam clouds rising from the Geysers are prominent above the surrounding hill area. Guests enjoy the rural atmosphere and wine buffs can take advantage of the wine tasting at small wineries located along the back roads of the Russian River Wine Trail. Other diversions await the guests -- the river, the redwoods, Lake Sonoma and Warm Springs Dam are just a few miles away. ... more   less 
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