Dennen’s Victorian Farmhouse featured in the San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle
Cozy coastal comfort
Dennen’s Victorian Farmhouse

Christine Delsol

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Much of the Mendocino coast invites comparison to a Thomas Kinkade painting, but this inn, built in 1877 by carpenter and mill foreman John Dennen, really is a Kinkade painting (“Home Is Where the Heart Is II,” which now hangs in the parlor). Surrounded by classic coastal eye candy, Dennen’s is one of the region’s oldest Victorians, with individually decorated, supremely comfortable, cottage-style rooms.

Comfort zone

I can’t say definitively that this was the greatest number ever encountered on one bed, but getting under the covers required displacing 12 pillows. The time and effort that took is the closest thing to a complaint inspired by my night in the Creekside room (each room has its own decor) at the end of the carriage building. The feather bed and dual-control electric blanket made a snug winter nest after the fire in the free-standing, wood-burning fireplace died down. The antique furniture was handsome but low-key, except for the imposing four-poster mahogany bed. The closet was small, but I found an extra luggage stand in the room.

Bath and beyond

Standing out in the small but adequate bathroom were a roomy medicine cabinet, an efficient wall heater and thick, luxuriant towels. One demerit: The molded plastic shower came with one of those infernal, all-in-one ball-type faucets that regulate water flow and temperature in a single motion. A facial cleansing towelette and miniature tube of Tom’s of Maine toothpaste were nice touches among the toiletries, which included inn-branded bath soap, shampoo/conditioner and lotion.

Grounds for approval

Just across Highway 1 from the ocean, the 2-acre property includes the main house, another building incorporating the original carriage house, a more secluded third building and an ocean-view cottage at the back. The site invites strolling through orchards, gardens, cypress and redwood trees, with quail, deer and other wildlife. Buckhorn Cove’s tide pools and beautiful rock formations are within a five-minute walk.

Geared up

An incomprehensible alarm clock/radio/CD player on the night stand is the closest to high tech, or any tech, you’ll get here. No television, no telephone — that’s not what this place is about. It does have free wireless Internet access, and a data port is available in the parlor. Fax available on request.

In the vicinity

The town of Mendocino, with all its dining options, is 2 miles to the north. Van Damme State Park surrounds the inn, and the Anderson Valley wine region is within a half hour’s drive.

Good to know

No smoking, no pets. The closest spot to get cell phone service is in Mendocino — and, according to the innkeepers, that’s only if you have Cingular. Binoculars, hair dryers and irons are available upon request. Full concierge services and day-trip planning are also available.

Highs and lows

The wood-burning stove really did light with one flick of a match and stayed lit, and the wood supply was just right to keep the fire going until bedtime, providing ample heat even on a bitter winter night. On the downside, there was only one cookie on my bed. Yes, I’d told them I was traveling alone when I booked, but I paid the same price a couple would, so don’t I deserve the full ration of cookies? Such is the magnitude of my cavils.