ScheckTrek Pick for Yosemite Area:
Chateau du Sureau
If ever there was a Once Upon a Time land in the Kingdom of California, I think we discovered it commanding a small hillside near Yosemite. It's a castle that provides luxury accommodations for those wishing to visit the mountain cathedrals of Yosemite, or for discerning guests who just wish to be treated like royalty in a quiet, European-like setting.
The book 1000 Places to See Before You Die mentions two hotels in its Yosemite section. One is the Ahwahnee, Yosemite’s legendary 1927 hotel, selected by the AIA as one of America’s favorite structures. Without doubt, the Ahwahnee Hotel is a renowned piece of architecture and “location, location, location.”
For our ScheckTrek Pick, however, we felt compelled to select the other hotel listed: Chateau du Sureau, located in Oakhurst. This Relais & Chateaux property is included in the book primarily because of its restaurant, Erna’s Elderberry House, which the book says “draw[s] foodies the way El Capitan lures rock climbers.”
Erma's Elderberry House
The main concern of this website, of course, is the hotel. The book lauds the chateau’s “exquisite 19th-centry-style European sophistication, gracious service, and an air of romance you don’t expect to find in such a tiny hamlet.” The “Castle by the Elderberries,” as it’s translated, provides a 5-star, 5-diamond experience that will rarely be exceeded.
A decorative gate intercepts the driveway, and a discreet sign asks that non-guests would respect the privacy of guests and not continue farther. For those with reservations, there’s a call box. “Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Scheck. We've been expecting you.” The gate opens. (When we later returned to the property after an outing, we were greeted with, “Welcome home.”)
Entry of the chateau. The doors throughout were amazing.
As we proceeded to the chateau, we were met by two staff members: Keith, who parked our car and put the luggage in our room; and Leslie, wearing a French maid’s uniform, who escorted us inside the chateau for a glass of lemonade and a tour.
French maid uniforms could seem pretentious in some settings, but nothing could
have been more perfect for Chateau du Sureau.
The salon at Chateau du Sureau. “Please think of it as your living room,” Leslie told us—as if that were possible!)
We commented on the beautiful piano. “If you can play, we’d love to hear you,” Leslie offered.
Painted ceiling in the turret-shaped piano alcove. It is a magical, fairy-tale setting.
As the tour was ending and Leslie was showing us to our room, she asked if she could bring us some snacks. “Would chicken salad be good? And some wine? Do you prefer cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay or a sparkling blush? It’s all complimentary,” she volunteered, as was every courtesy extended during our stay.
It didn’t take long for Al to feel that this was something he could get used to.
There were many touches of graciousness at Chateau du Sureau during our stay. The bottled Tuscan water was complimentary and replenished daily, as were the two bottles of domestic water left with the turndown service. The nightly service also included wonderful chocolates—a different type each of the two nights of our stay. And if we’d remembered to leave our shoes outside the room at night, “elves” would have polished them.
The service at Chateau du Sureau was impeccable. The architecture and décor suggest the longevity of a restored 19th century structure. Every detail of both service and setting helps to create an intimate ambiance that invites the fantasy that one is visiting the chateau estate of a friend.
The guest rooms mutually excel one other. Our room, Ciboulette, was absolutely charming. With its own entry, it felt that we were in a private guesthouse. Plastered walls, a beamed and vaulted ceiling, corner wood casement windows, and a small nook for the writing desk – all belied 20th century origins.
Another suite I particularly liked was the 430-square-foot Sweet Geranium Room.
Obvious care was taken even in the selection of the phones in the guest rooms,
choosing what looked like vintage dial phones.
The property evokes a magical quality, especially at night.
The breakfast room with imported tiles.
Breakfast at Chateau du Sureau was delicious. On our second morning, not only were the table linens and china different from day one, but they served the most wonderful baked soufflé-like creation that included assorted fruit and nuts. It was one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth.
Another venue option for breakfast.
And for dinner...The acclaimed restaurant, Erna’s Elderberry House. I have been to restaurants where the décor equaled this one, but none that surpassed it. As with the hotel, the service was flawless. Reservations are strongly recommended: earlier in the evening, this restaurant was full of diners.
It was a treat to see an ad for this restaurant that included ScheckTrek’s photo. (Yes, they did have permission.)
Vicki Scheck, our good friends Ron and Levonia, and Al Scheck at Erna’s Elderberry House.
According to Erna’s story, it was her dream to create “an enchanted ten-room Castle-Hotel to accompany her restaurant. Much like the country manor houses of Europe, she envisioned sharing a complete and private world with very special guests to revitalize their senses and soothe their souls.”
That dream has come true at Chateau du Sureau. And may it live happily ever after!