Woodinville, Washington

Photo: Willows Lodge
Photo: Willows Lodge

The dreaded holiday is less than two weeks away. Valentine’s Day. The two of you should make a pact. No wilted flowers. No stale boxed chocolates. Definitely no stuffed animals or balloons. Promise? Plan a trip instead. You don’t have to go far. Just far enough. Stay at a comfortable hotel. Make dinner reservations at a new restaurant. New to you, at least. Drink an aged bottle of wine. Bonus points if it’s not the weekend of February 14th.

The perfect getaway is just outside of Seattle along the Sammamish River. It may be cold and damp in Washington right now, but the Willows Lodge in Woodinville is a warm, toasty retreat. The hotel was originally a duck hunting lodge; the new building is made of recycled Douglas fir timbers. You’ll be welcomed into the lobby with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon by the roaring fireplace to warm up. You could relax by the glowing logs all day, but don’t worry, there’s another fireplace in your room.

Besides a fireplace, your room has a soaking tub for two, an Australian lambswool mattress pad, and a recycled slate desk. With French press coffee, a noiseless fridge full of snacks, and garden views from the patio, you may never need to leave your room. You’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, after all.

Eventually, your growling stomach will pull you out of your warm cocoon, though. Head to the Fireside lounge for “happier hour” with a wine flight, tapas, and live music. Move to the rustic Barking Frog for dinner at a circular table around another fireplace. Eat elk tartare and snapper with eel dumplings. And slowly sip an earthy Syrah.

Photo: Willows Lodge
Photo: Willows Lodge

In the morning, drink coffee and watch the shadows disappear around the Japanese Maples as the sun rises higher and higher in the sky. Detour through the herb garden—you may see Borage and Basil, the resident pigs—en route to the spa. Start with a steam before your early couples massage. Stop by Fireside for crêpes and espressos after your treatments. Finally notice the artwork—photographs and sculptures—by Northwest Coast Native Americans. And plan your afternoon route around the area’s tasting rooms.

Woodinville Wine Country is home to some of Washington’s largest wineries, but today, you’re focused on the boutique vineyards. Start at DeLille Cellars, which specializes in Bordeaux grape varietals. Taste their Chaleur Estate Blanc—with Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon—and red Harrison Hill blend in the carriage house tasting room. Visit tiny, family owned Facelli Winery, which focuses on Italian varietals like Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, and Barbera. Then try Matthews Cellars for views of the valley and classic Washington wines. End your tasting afternoon with a tour of Redhook Brewery or a sip of bourbon or rye at the Woodinville Whiskey Company.

Between the wine tasting and your upcoming dinner, it’s time for a nap. Just be sure to set an alarm, you won’t want to miss your reservation at The Herbfarm. Expect a nine-course meal, five or six wine pairings, four to five hours, and lots of surprises. The menu might feature Kobe beef, Northwest seafood, or foraged plants. It’s a meal you’ll never forget.

Now isn’t this better than celebrating the holiday en masse with everyone else? Valentine’s Day suddenly feels special and personal. This may become your new February tradition.

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