Solvang & The Mirabelle Inn by Victoria Ugarte

Where are we? Have we mysteriously been transported to Copenhagen? Or did we just fall asleep and wake up in the middle of a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale? That's right, we're still in Solvang, a gorgeous community situated in the Santa Ynez Valley, California.We arrived here 2 nights ago.

After a very long day, we finally arrived at the Mirabelle Inn in Solvang at 8:30pm. After driving from Santa Ynez to San Simeon (to see Hearst Castle) and through San Luis Obispo (so Peter could see a chiropractor for his back), we reached our destination exhausted, sweaty, hungry and stiff after the long drive, but so incredibly relieved.
Here's a little information about Solvang: Solvang is a community that was founded on 9,000 acres of land in the Santa Ynez valley by Danes who were intent on escaping the harsh midwestern winters. The result is a little piece of Denmark in the heart of California, filled with quaint shops, boutiques, bakeries and tree-lined streets. Peter and I loved the small-community feel of Solvang and we felt good here.

I must also make mention of the gem of a B&B that we discovered in Solvang,  Mirabelle Inn & Restaurant. Established by Brigitte Guehr, who also owns and operates the Meadowlark Inn at Santa Ynez, here is a woman who really knows what she is doing. Formally trained in hospitality in Germany, Brigitte brings 35 years of experience with her to the Mirabelle Inn. But to Peter and I, it was more than her training and technical experience that made the difference to our stay... it was the personal touch and "heart" that Brigitte brings to her business everyday that made it so memorable for us.

Her touches were in staying around until Peter and I arrived, even though it would have been easier for her to turn in after a busy day. It was making sure that their restaurant stayed open so that we could have some dinner (and what a dinner it was!) after we dropped our luggage in our room, it was the follow-through with another chiropractor in Solvang so that Peter could have his back looked at, it was the complimentary wine and nibbles every afternoon in the salon, the lavender scented spray in the bedroom after the rooms were made up every morning, and the list goes on and on. Although we only stayed at the Mirabelle Inn for 2 nights, those 2 nights were one of the highlights of our 5 and a half week US trip.

Mirabelle Inn is extremely well situated and has parking for guests at the back. It is reasonably priced for the calibre of the property, it has 10 beautifully decorated rooms in a fresh, country style, and everything about it is crisp, clean and efficient, right down to the lift which was a God-send when trying to transport heavy bags from the car to the rooms and back down again at the end of the stay. Their restaurant won the Wine Spectator Award for 2010, so if you plan on staying for a night or two, book ahead for their restaurant, featuring exquisite wines and a country cuisine lovingly prepared by Master Chef Norbert Schulz. It is by far one of the best restaurants in Solvang and Santa Ynez valley.

Lastly, for all you innkeepers and hopeful B&B owners.  If you want to know Brigitte's formula for success, look her up on her hospitality consultancy website, Innsight Consulting and learn from an expert in the field.

From Solvang and the oasis of our B&B, we were able to explore and discover the region that is the Santa Ynez Valley, which is an amazing wine producing region in its own right.

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