Sedona is many things to many people: sacred Native American land, geological wonder, place of spiritual healing, and New Age energetic field. All of these interests converge and commingle in diverse and fascinating ways. What is often under the radar of the red rock drama is the gentle but equally confident presence of Oak Creek, which runs through the town and provides contrast in the form of enclosure, cool breezes, wooded enclaves, and aural decompression. And there’s a luxury hotel set right on Oak Creek that allows for easy access to all of this, and the red rocks, of course, to boot. L’Auberge de Sedona (not related to the Auberge Collection) is one of the top two hotels in Sedona (along with Enchantment Resort), and it’s an ideal choice for those seeking the comforts of the creek, which should not be underestimated.
There are some 21 rooms in the main lodge, but the real draw are the 62 cottages in various proximity to the creek: Creekside, Garden, and Vista. The newest category are the Vista Cottages, built halfway up the hill with views of the red rocks and easy access to Oak Creek; these are designed in a newer style with deep soaking tubs as a focal point. Garden Cottages are blissfully peaceful, woodsy and mellow, and these have wood-burning fireplaces. But the real draw, in my estimation, is the Creekside Cottages, all within view and earshot on the ever-rushing Oak Creek. These also have wood-burning fireplaces. All cottages have outdoor showers, an element that elevates this property exponentially, in my book.
Guests used to check in at the north end of the property at the main lodge, but now you enter from the south side by driving down into the canyon toward the creek, so you feel a bit like you’re entering a private underground club. And interestingly, it’s a “no tipping” property (with the exception of dining and spa services). Valet staff, concierge, housekeeping, etc., are all tipped from the daily resort fee, so you don’t have to worry about having cash on hand when you ask for extra ice or get turn-down service.
In this new entrance design, you enter into the restaurant, Cress on Oak Creek, right after check-in. It’s open to the public and central on the property, serving breakfast lunch and dinner in upscale-casual style.
The spa is deservedly legendary in town, so make sure to set aside a morning or afternoon to re-set and re-charge. It offers add-on to any service: Make your own salt or sugar scrub, either from a recipe or just by winging it and following your intuition. I chose a “desert rain” recipe with chaparral, the herb derived from the creosote plant that — you guessed it — smells just like the desert after a rain. You can even reserve your treatment down by the creek, if you like, but the spa itself is cozy and nurturing, and the therapists are some of the best in the state.
One element that makes this property special — besides its magnificent location and the top-notch service — is a series of free classes, accessible to all guests. In our three days there, we partook in two: forest bathing and stargazing, both classes for which L’Auberge brings in local experts from the community. The stargazing experience was dicey because of the weather, but Dennis Young has a wealth of knowledge that he tailors to guests of all ages. And my whole family (including kids ages 13 and 8) participated in a 90-minute forest bathing session, complete with meditative and sensory exercises that can be practiced by all.
A big practical advantage of being a guest here is the house car, which will take you anywhere within a two-mile radius of the hotel.
L’Auberge de Sedona is a top hotel contender in Sedona for its trifecta or service, natural beauty, and creature comforts, and its location on Oak Creek makes it a unique proposition — it’s the only luxury hotel in town in such a setting, and a true destination in this compelling town.