Hygge for the Weekend
Written by Amy Dong
As I laugh with my sister, sitting on a quaint balcony sipping California pinot noir, I forget the hardship that has accompanied this past year. Allee and I take an annual trip together, and this year, rather than feeling deterred, it felt especially important. Accordingly, we weaved up the coastline to Solvang, the charming Danish town in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley.
The check-in process, as well as our entire stay at The Winston, is invisible. Yes, you read that right. The hotel prides itself on providing impeccable service with a hands-off approach (unless, of course, you need anything). Check-in is virtual and as we make our way to the room, armed with our digital lock, I am transfixed by the vibrance of the interior design. Bright hues and unique decor fill the halls. We pass an honor bar that is fully stocked for guest-only use; take what you need, leave what you don’t. Naturally, we need pinot noir. Perched on our private balcony, we realize this will be a trip to write home about.
I wake up to a soft knock at the door. Another perk of staying at The Winston: breakfast delivered directly (and invisibly) to your room. I open the door to an appetizing spread of local Danishes, coffee, and fresh squeezed orange juice. I savor every bite of what has to be my new favorite pastry, and take a moment to appreciate our room in the morning light. High vaulted ceilings feature large wooden beams (original to the building) and our accent wall boasts an incandescent shade of turquoise. It’s an imaginative mix of fairytale meets California surf town. Though I’m partial to our abode, each room at The Winston is completely different, designed with the intention to amaze and delight.
Centrally located in Solvang’s picturesque downtown, we leave the hotel to explore our surroundings. You’d swear you stepped into the streets of bygone Denmark. The town is speckled with windmills, traditional bakeries, and charming boutiques. I am this close to purchasing a pair of wooden clogs that I absolutely don’t need. As we browse unique stores and snack on more pastries (when in Solvang!), I could not feel farther from home.
Post-pastry we make our way to Sunstone Winery, a Provencal French-inspired villa ten minutes inland from Solvang. With views of the valley, fields of lavender, and a glass of 2018 cab franc in hand, we feel, yet again, whisked away. Sitting in the fading afternoon sunlight, we discuss the gravity of the year; the unexpected moments of pain and separation. We also recognize the ways that it has tied us together, all of us. It has been colored with moments of connectedness, selfless acts towards strangers, and a sense of unity that I’ve never experienced before. We relish in it all; taking the sorrow with the joy.
We close out our day at the V Lounge, tucked inside the Vinland Hotel at the other end of Solvang. All I’ve consumed at this point is pastries, so we are ready for a meal. We nibble on baby roasted potatoes dressed in tahini, orange scented olives, and vegetable flatbread, then round out dinner with warm, freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies and a glass of local pinot noir. I end the night with a sense of ease, a feeling that has been a rare and delightful treat lately.
Though the hotel has a hands-off approach, there is an undeniable level of thoughtfulness and care in each detail.
It’s clear that Solvang is a hub for innovative cuisine, wine, and a unique re-imagined California experience. The Winston pulls inspiration from the town’s rich history while adding flair to its evolving culture. Though the hotel has a hands-off approach, there is an undeniable level of thoughtfulness and care in each detail. I’m grateful that it allowed me and my sister the space to reconnect. This year has not defeated us, after all. It has shed light on areas that need appreciation, the importance of people we love, the thrill of a new adventure, and the kindness of strangers. It’s true that you can experience this anywhere, but Solvang is at the top of my list.