I am intrigued by paradox – and the Willows Lodge in Woodinville, Washington, is a wonderful place to ponder the mystery and joy of paradox. Nestled in the Sammamish River Valley, just 25 minutes from Seattle, Willows Lodge is a wonderful mix of old and new, rustic and innovative, informality and elegance.
The entrance to the lodge is graced with the huge, burned out husk of a 1,500-year-old cedar trunk that came (by truck) from the Olympic Peninsula. The lobby is also a bit like stepping back in time (though nowhere near 1,500 years!). The huge stone fireplace and rustic elegance are reminiscent of a hunting lodge where 20thcentury industrial barons might have entertained weekend guests, but more modern and with a staff of friendly, smiling, and gracious hosts. It would be wonderful to spend the afternoon in front of that amazing fireplace, curled up with a good book. But not to worry – the fireplace is replicated in a smaller version in every guest room.
Our guest room, with its sliding door opening to a patio at the edge of one of the gardens, was just as charming as the lobby. Other features made this room distinctive, including a French press coffee maker and recycled slate working desk. The lodge has 84 rooms, all with a stone fireplace, balcony or patio, 40-inch HDTV, and oversized tub.
Lest you think that Willows Lodge is just a place to relax in comfort, there is plenty to do in the great outdoors. There are five acres of landscaped gardens with water features and sculptures. The variety of garden themes feels like wandering between different floral worlds.
For those who want to wander further afield, the Lodge is situated next to the Sammamish River Trail, a 10-mile, paved trail that follows the river, that’s a favorite for walking, biking, and horseback riding. It also connects to the Burke Gilman Trail, another 18 paved miles that runs over the top of Lake Washington into Seattle. While this trail is a little too far for most walkers, it’s perfect for a bike ride to Seattle and back on a sunny day.
Of course, after all that exercise, you would want to stop into the Fireside located in the lobby for the “Happier Hour.” You can choose to cozy up in the bar area, or relax on the sunny patio. There is live music every evening Thursday thru Sunday and a full calendar of special events, including cooking classes. The Fireside offers a menu that features many local foods and a full selection of wines from the Woodinville area.
Speaking of wine – there are 180 wineries, wine bars, and tasting rooms in Woodinville. Within just a few blocks of the Willows, you will find more than 35 tasting rooms. The staff is happy to provide you with plenty of recommendations and walking tours.
After a day of exertion, what could be better than some rejuvenation at The Spa at Willows Lodge? While wandering the grounds, you might notice the royalty-sized hydrotherapy pool at the entrance to the spa. Again, you might not as it’s tucked away behind a bamboo fence in a lovely Asian style garden. The Spa is a favorite of both locals and guests. Choose from a menu of more than six different styles of massage or a body wrap to replenish and detoxify your skin. They also offer services such as facials, manicures, pedicures, and stress-relieving scalp treatments. I wish I could experience all of them!
Whether you are a local looking for a day-trip experience or a traveler looking for a unique and wonderful place to spend a weekend or more, the Willows Lodge is such a treat that you will wish your stay was even longer. – Story and photos by Elizabeth Fagin ,RFT Contributor, Photos also courtesy Willows Lodge