El Pueblo Inn

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elpuebloPostcard.jpgIn 1957, when Ray O. Bradbury settled in Sonoma, the town was a predominantly rural area and visitors were served by one historic hotel on the plaza. Ray, whose background included cattle ranching and owning hotels, set about to change that. In 1959 he opened the El Pueblo Inn, an early California ranch-style hotel, built using authentic adobe construction.

Ray personally went to the inn every morning to start the large coffee pot and set out the doughnuts on an outside counter--the El Pueblo's first complimentary breakfast. It was a point of pride that he served fresh-brewed, quality coffee to his guests at a time when this was cutting-edge service for the traveler. His exuberant personality and genuine nature helped build the reputation of the hotel as the "friendliest place in town." He loved to sing and was always ready to serenade whoever was around whether he knew them or not.
elpuebloLorna and Ray O.jpgDuring this time, Ray met and married Lorna Watkins, who owned a popular women's clothing store on the plaza. She was a committed member of Sonoma's League for Historic Preservation and both Ray and Lorna donated their time and money to local associations that provided help to needy Sonoma residents. Ray and Lorna became well known and loved in the growing Sonoma community.

Since that time The El Pueblo Inn has been a fundamental part of Sonoma's tourism history and reflects a long family tradition that blends hard work and hospitality and provides a quality lodging experience for the traveler. Today the El Pueblo Inn is operated by Holly Rae Bradbury and Wendy Watkins-Stewart, daughters of Ray and his wife Lorna Watkins, and Calvin Stewart (Wendy's husband, and a cattleman like Ray).

In 2002, the hotel was totally renovated and revamped. Two new wings were built, adding a large lobby and reception space with a natural stone fireplace and a breakfast and meeting room and another new wing of rooms. The construction created the hotel's large garden courtyard and the centerpiece fountain was designed by Calvin Stewart. The courtyard is arranged so that the majority of rooms open onto its lush plantings and romantic fountain. This "Shangri La" setting offers privacy and tranquil seating areas among the palm trees, Japanese maples and seasonal blooms.

Expansive lawns now lead to the gardens and famous cat fountain around the sparkling turquoise pool and spa. A fitness room and cabana were also added in the pool area, available to guests 24-hours a day. The remodel was planned to stay true to the El Pueblo's historic roots while bringing guests all the amenities they would expect in a contemporary Wine Country experience.

The hotel received an "Award for Excellence" in 2007 from the League for Historic Preservation for the remodel and renovation, and, as part of its commitment to excellence, the El Pueblo Inn has been certified a Green Business by Sonoma County.

Ray would be very pleased with these developments and with the friendly staff that make up the El Pueblo family--all of which reflects his original vision. He'd be especially proud of the hotel's complimentary continental breakfast. The options have been greatly expanded, but the coffee is still piping hot and served up every day with a smile.

El Pueblo Inn
896 West Napa Street, Sonoma, CA, (800) 900.8844

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We stayed here a few years ago and really loved everything about this place. We plan to return this winter for a few days.

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