The pool at The Sandman hotel in Santa Rosa.

The Sandman – A Dog-Friendly Hotel in Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa is the biggest city in Sonoma County, making it the urban hub amongst the Northern California wine country. This local region has gained acclaim for its thriving wineries. Santa Rosa is also home to the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, dedicated to the legendary “Peanuts” cartoonist. Nearby, the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County offers interactive exhibits, including a miniature train station. The Luther Burbank Center for the Arts hosts performances by renowned musicians. To the east, Annadel State Park boasts picturesque trails, abundant wildflowers, and a serene lake for outdoor enthusiasts to explore.

The Sandman Hotel is located right in the heart of all the action in Santa Rosa, making it ideally located for weekend trips. Our family stayed a couple nights at The Sandman during a warm and sunny July weekend. In this guide I will give all the details about booking a stay, which will include both the pros and cons. I am all about transparency so I will give you my real honest opinion, along with tips to maximize your own vacation.

The Weather in Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa has a Mediterranean climate which makes it an ideal destination for those seeking pleasant weather year-round. Summers in Santa Rosa are typically warm and dry, with temperatures averaging in the mid-80s to low 90s Fahrenheit. The sun shines generously during this season, making it perfect for outdoor activities and exploration of the surrounding wine country.

Winters in Santa Rosa are mild and often characterized by cool, crisp air. Daytime temperatures usually hover in the 50s and 60s Fahrenheit, occasionally dropping into the 40s at night. Rainfall primarily occurs in the winter months, revitalizing the lush landscapes and contributing to the region’s famous vineyards.

Spring and fall offer some of the most delightful weather in Santa Rosa, with temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to mid-70s Fahrenheit. These seasons provide a perfect balance of sunshine and mild temperatures, making them ideal for outdoor adventures and exploring.

Overall, Santa Rosa’s climate is perfect for year-round enjoyment, whether you’re exploring its charming downtown, indulging in wine tastings, or embarking on outdoor adventures in the picturesque surroundings.

Best Time of Year to Book Your Stay at The Sandman

One of the biggest attractions of The Sandman hotel is the pool and outdoor areas. In order to swim comfortably, you need the weather to be at least in the high 70’s. Of course you can dip into the hot tub on colder nights to warm up. I would say summer is the peak time to visit, although you’ll probably get some cheap rates in the rainy winter season.

The Sandman Hotel is Very Centrally Located

The Sandman Hotel in Santa Rosa boasts an exceptionally central location within the heart of Sonoma County, making it an ideal hub for exploring this picturesque region. Situated just moments away from some of California’s most renowned wineries, guests can embark on wine-tasting adventures with ease.

Additionally, the hotel’s proximity to downtown Santa Rosa provides easy access to a vibrant culinary scene, boutique shopping, and cultural attractions such as the Charles M. Schulz Museum. For nature enthusiasts, Annadel State Park and its pristine trails are just a short drive away.

The Sandman Hotel is also a great place for day trips to Sonoma County hot spots like Sebastopol, Petaluma or even the beach at Bodega Bay. The hotel is right next to main Highway 101 which means you can get on the road quickly and without a lot of detour. This prime location ensures that guests at The Sandman Hotel can experience the very best of Sonoma County, all within a convenient and scenic radius.

Safe Location for Families

As mentioned above, The Sandman is located very close to Highway 101, making it similar to a roadside motel. This can sometimes indicate an element of sleazy or unsavory clientele, aka truck stop type thing. I am happy to report that I didn’t get any of those vibes and it felt safe for a family.

Definitely Need a Car

If you are flying into the area and not driving on a road trip, you will definitely need to rent a car. There’s almost nothing within walking distance, and you would be stuck paying for very expensive car share apps like Uber or Lyft. The good news is that there’s ample parking, and we were able to park very close to our room.

The Vibe and Aesthetic at The Sandman

In 2017 The Sandman Hotel went under a $3.5 million dollar renovation. The owners set out to give the old buildings a facelift with a modern bohemian theme. In my opinion, the goal was to make this an “Instagrammable” travel destination, which is a big trend nowadays.

The refurbished guest rooms can be described as a blend of eclectic and vintage aesthetics, seeking to capture a sense of freshness and airiness. They are adorned with trending cool colors and adorned with unique custom details. The handcrafted furnishings in the front lobby, meticulously crafted by local artisans, add a distinct touch of authenticity to the entryway design.

In short, if you are looking for an affordable hotel stay in Sonoma County that has an eye for design and aesthetic appeal, this may just be ideal for you. Especially if you like taking photos of your accommodations and sharing on social media. If you scroll through this blog post, you’ll see I took a ton of photos of the cutest areas of the hotel.

The Hotel Amenities at The Sandman

The Sandman has done its due diligence to make this more than just a place to send the night, and more of a destination within itself. I find these to be great ways to fill the day between outings and winding down in the afternoon and evening. Below are The Sandman hotel amenities that come with your stay at no additional charge. I am happy to report that there’s no hidden “resort fee” that I have seen at many other hotels.

Heated Pool and Hot Tub

The kids super loved swimming in the pool. They have tables with umbrellas for shade, and they fill up quickly with families. If you are planning on having a pool day, I recommend grabbing your table by 9am. They have a couple floaties in the pool for guests that belong to hotel, but they are snatched up quickly. We brought our own flamingo floatie with us from home.

Fire Tables and Lounge Chairs

There’s an outdoor seating area where you can enjoy the ambiance of a fire table in the evening, or a colder winter day.

Bocce Court and Cornhole Backyard Games

For adults or families looking to have some leisurely fun, they have a gravel game area with bocce ball and cornhole. When we walked through, the bocce balls were readily available for guests to use.

Continental Breakfast

I give the hotel kudos for a doing a decent job with the continental breakfast. The kids loved the fresh blueberries and strawberries with yogurt. We also have muffins, coffee and tea. Seating inside the dining area was very limited and many hotel guests take advantage of the complimentary breakfast, so we ended up taking our meal back to the room.

A Dog-Friendly Hotel

I have a genuine appreciation for hotels that are dog-friendly. These establishments understand that our four-legged companions are not just pets, but rather members of the family. I have been traveling with our dog Holly for over 10 years and she’s a seasoned pro when it comes to road trips.

The Sandman offers room that are dog-friendly, and they also have a dedicated grassy area for pets to go to the bathroom. They do not offer dog beds or have any pet-related rentals, so make sure to bring anything you need. There’s an additional pet fee charge of $25 per stay. They allow up to two dogs. On their website it says dogs must be under 50 pounds. My dog is over 60 pounds and nobody said anything to us.

The hotel has an outdoor eating area and this is where we ate our meals with Holly hanging out with us. One night we did In-n-Out drive through which was very close by and our dog could just stay in the car with us.

Before we arrived, I asked The Sandman team members who booked our stay if our dog could come into the pool area with us. They said as long as she stays on a leash it’s fine. I prefer not to leave our dog in the hotel room for long stretches of time, so we brought her along with us to most areas of the hotel.

Review of the Rooms at The Sandman

Because we travel with small children and a dog, we do spend a bit more time in the hotel room than probably other people. We have to give the kids downtime for naps, and our older senior dog needs to rest and get out of the heat. So something I really look for in a hotel is an enjoyable in-room experience. This is where The Sandman really didn’t deliver, and this is the part where I have to reveal some honest truths. Read on to see our review of the hotel room.

I should also add that we were traveling with our dog, which may mean that we had a special pet-friendly room which may be less than standard. I’m really not sure if this makes a difference, but just throwing it out there.

Our King Room Was Very Small

We worked with this hotel on an exchange basis. They gave us a complimentary stay in exchange for marketing photography for them to use. The staff knew that we were a family of four people and a dog. They gave us a room with just one king size bed, which was way too small for us. The room provided was probably one of the smallest king rooms I’ve ever seen with very little walking room. We were pretty much stacked on top of each other and couldn’t walk around freely. The room would have been fine if it was two people, but it was definitely too small for four people. My advice is to book a larger room if you have 3 or more people in your room.

The Bathrooms Were Old and Outdated

When you arrive at this hotel, it is clear that the owners took an old and outdated motel and renovated it to be more trendy and modern. They mostly accomplished their mission, but I will say that they really skimped on renovating the bathrooms. The bathrooms felt very much like an old motel and didn’t go with the vibe. It could be that our particular room didn’t get the same TLC as other rooms, but I didn’t really look forward to using the shower or vanity area. And if I’m being really honest, I took a pause when thinking about washing the kids in the shower.

The Room Was Very Dark

During the daytime and evening we escaped the heat and retreated into our room. The lighting was very dim and insufficient, making our room very cave-like. Basically the light fixtures were more for decor purposes and less functional for providing adequate light. This may seem a bit nitpicky, but it kinda dampened the vibe. Plus it made taking photos in the room very challenging.

A Pro – The Refrigerator and Microwave

Trader Joe’s is right down the road from The Sandman, which made it really easy to pick up kid-friendly meals at an affordable price. My children are very picky eaters and we find that making quick meals in the room is sometimes a better bet than eating out for every meal. The refrigerator and microwave in our room really came in handy for such a scenario.

Hotel Service

Another area that was a bit of a disappointment was the hotel service. It was very clear from the moment we arrived that the hotel was very short staffed. At check-in, the employees seemed very stressed and disorganized. Initially they gave us the wrong hotel room key and misinformation about our room.

Later during our stay, I went to the front desk during business hours to ask about the hotel fitness room which is listed on their website. The office was empty of employees for an extended period of time and I eventually just gave up and never got an answer. I also could never find the fitness room, so not sure if it actually exists.

I worked in the service industry for many years and I do my best to give grace to employees who are clearly facing staffing challenges. It definitely wasn’t a 5-star service experience, so I would plan on being self-sufficient and not going in with high expectations.

Value for Your Money

When you compare the rates for this hotel to the other local area hotels, the prices are usually very competitive and one of the lowest available. So even with my criticisms listed above, I would still say that this is a great deal for your money. While it’s not fancy or luxurious, it can give you a decent stay in a great location. We are talking about a very expensive area of California where budgeting can be tricky, so I recommend The Sandman for frugal travelers who still want a touch of style in their stay.

Would I Recommend This Hotel? My Main Takeaway

As I wrote above, I do think this hotel is a good value for your money if you’re looking for a reasonably priced stay in wine country. This is a good place for a family looking to get away, or for a couple planning on going wine tasting. This is not a place for a honeymoon or extra special event, it just doesn’t have that refinement or romance. Keep in mind that the decor and design make it easy to take cute and Insta-worthy photos, but in person it’s a little bit more rough around the edges.

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