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L’Auberge de Sedona

Mirage in the desert.

Cathedral Rock. Bell Tower. Coffee Pot Rock. Rabbit Ears. Anyone who’s been to Sedona, Arizona, knows how its red rock stacks have been playfully named after shapes they resemble. There’s even a Snoopy Rock, coined as such after the Peanuts character, and it can be seen perfectly if you climb to the top of Spirit Song terrace at L’Auberge de Sedona hotel, built upon 13 scenic acres beside fast-flowing Oak Creek. “In wintertime, if it snows, it looks like frosting on a red velvet Snoopy cake,” says Randy Oritz, L’Auberge’s director of sales and marketing. “That said, it only snows three or four days a year. We have it pretty good here.”

That they do. Last year, a $15-million renovation upgraded the hotel, which was originally built in 1984, from a French country inn aesthetic to its current contemporary feel, rife with reclaimed wood interspersed with white walls and all the latest technological offerings. Despite it all, guests will gravitate to the great outdoors here, strolling by the mirage-like creek or dining upon a cottage porch among birdsong. Back on the terrace, Oritz points out storied landmarks in the distance (“You see that grey house in the distance? It used to be owned by Lucille Ball. It is now owned by one of the Doublemint twins…”) but nothing overshadows the beauty of the red rock formations laying at your feet.

At L’Auberge, it’s all about location. The entire property, run by Diamond Rock Hospitality, is positioned steps away from uptown Sedona’s Main Street so it is near restaurants and shops, as well as some of the best palm readers and clairvoyants in the state. (It is also a gateway to the Grand Canyon, which is a 2.5-hour drive away.) Luxe accommodations, dotted among sycamore trees and manicured desert gardens, include 62 detached cottages and suites, 21 in-lodge rooms, and a magnificent five-bedroom house called Creekhouse that boasts elegant touches like a 1,200-year-old alligator juniper wood bar.

Guests will gravitate to the great outdoors here, strolling by the mirage-like creek or dining upon a cottage porch among birdsong.

This being Arizona, it’s a necessity to visit a few of the many restorative—and Instagram-worthy—hikes in the area such as nearby Huckaby Trail, a nine-kilometre trek above Oak Creek surrounded by prickly pear and yuccas, overlooking the city and red rocks galore. Many, many more well-maintained trails off the beaten path are to be found and worth spending time in—last fall Arizona State Parks and Trails won the gold medal for best-managed state park system in the country. Plan for sunrise adventures to evade the heat, then return for lunch at L’Auberge’s creekside restaurant Cress, where Kobe beef-and-buffalo burgers are laced with homemade pesto and fresh Cobb salad is shaken up tableside with avocado cream sauce. As dusk falls, Creekside tables are lighted with lamps and the fine-dining on offer coaxes locals and guests alike with some of the best cuisine in Sedona.

In this sacred land of energy vortexes and spiritual well-being, a hotel would be remiss to not offer something to engage those transformational spiritual senses. Here, opt to create a personalized aromatherapy bath scrub at the on-site apothecary, or take it a step further by booking in for an hour of soul-cleansing crystal healing classes: laying down with your closed eyes in a dark room, a teacher will “play” crystal singing bowls for you, which emit a vibrating song that is said to heal and unlock past memories. Forest bathing classes are also on offer, providing an introduction to the Japanese well-being practice that draws upon calming exercises—such as simply picking up a rock or twig, then releasing it along with bad energy—while immersed in nature. Choose one, or better yet, book in for all three. Then, blame the high altitude if you must, because leaving L’Auberge de Sedona comes with an unexpected lightness of being—a body and soul cleanse to the highest degree.


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