A few minutes from the shops, galleries, and restaurants of Sedona, but tucked away along the banks of quiet-flowing Oak Creek, L'Auberge de Sedona is one of the Southwest's most romantic hideaways. It has red-rock views, as every accommodation in Sedona must, but its French-country-inn style, in the land of adobe architecture, and its leafy, creekside location, are what define it. Through a series of chefs, the most recent beginning in 2013, its restaurant, L'Auberge Restaurant on Oak Creek, has maintained a stellar reputation, in no small part because of the romance of dining at a table that in some cases is practically in Oak Creek. And the spa, L'Apothecary, with at least one seasonally offered treatment requiring guests to wade in up to their ankles, draws much of its essence from the creek, too. Extensive renovations done in 2011 included the redesign of the 58 rooms and cottages, and the addition of 29 more, many with fireplaces, private decks, and—because romance matters—outdoor cedar-lined showers. Still there, and still popular, are the early morning duck feedings and the nighttime telescope sessions, with a professional astronomer.
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The walk from L'Auberge de Sedona up to the shops on Sedona Main Street is short but steep, so many guests use the resort's free shuttle, which runs 24 hours and takes them anywhere within a mile. Another shopping area worth a visit is the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, where Rene at Tlaquepaque is an upscale dining experience with a menu that ranges from comfort food like chicken piccata to such exotic fare as antelope tenderloin. There's no better way to see Sedona's red rocks than by foot or bike. But coming close is a backcountry jeep ride with Pink Jeep Tours, or a soaring flight above the landscape with Northern Lights Balloons.
Need to Know
Rooms: From $225 low season, $325 high season. 87 rooms, including 60 cottages. Check-in: 4 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: At L'Auberge Restaurant on Oak Creek, the new chef, a rising young star named Rochelle Daniels, carries on the fresh, local, organic philosophy with dishes like Colorado lamb loin and Arizona pine smoked venison. Another new addition is the outdoor Veranda Bar, whose small plate menu and extensive wine list add to the pleasure of watching the sunlight fade. Spa and gym details: Experience treatments in treatment rooms or creekside cabanas at the newly expanded L'Apothecary Spa. There's no fitness center, but hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails are nearby, and, because it's that kind of personal-service hotel, if guests meet in the lobby at 7 a.m. on Friday mornings, the GM will go jogging with them.
Who's it for: Although children and pets are welcome, couples are happiest here, often coming up from Phoenix/Scottsdale for an overnight, celebrating a special occasion. Our favorite rooms: An outdoor shower, a wood-burning fireplace, a terrace from which to sip a glass of wine as the waters of Oak Creek burble by, all make the creekside cottages an easy choice. Dining options: For guests staying more than a night or two, it is useful to know that the dinner menu at L'Auberge Restaurant on Oak Creek offers only 3-, 4-, and 5- course options, each at a set price.