The Lodge at Marconi is a coastal sanctuary in northern California with echoes of its past

The Tomales Bay property sheds its complicated history

Commissioned by Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi, creator of the radio wave–based wireless telegraph system, this sprawling lodge on the shore of California’s Tomales Bay has been refurbed and restored as a 45-room hotel.

Tomales Bay is around 30 miles northwest of San Francisco. It is famed for its thriving natural ecosystem, home to 20,000 species of shore, sea and waterbirds in its estuaries and seagrasses.

The building itself has a fascinating history. It was originally built in 1913 to house workers of the Marconi Wireless Receiving Station in the nearby town of Marshall. Things got a little bumpy after that, with the lodge later used as a rehab centre turned cult headquarters in the 1960s and 70s for the infamous Church of Synanon.

After the cult moved out, the site was handed over to the California Department of Parks and Recreation in 1989 to be used as a non-profit conference centre. Fast forward to 2022, its grounds were acquired by Nashville-based Oliver Hospitality as part of a 55-year lease agreement that’s seen the historic buildings renovated and put to new use.

Interior design practice Home Studios has spent the last year and a half overhauling the building, using an earthy, 1970s-style colour palette that echoes the natural surroundings. That means mustard yellow and grass green shades in the hotel’s bedrooms – which start at around $280 per night – plus plenty of terracotta tiles and glowing wood in the communal areas.

Guests are encouraged to immerse themselves in the laid-back Cali culture, with the Lodge at Marconi is stocked with food and beverages made by local businesses and other artisanal goods and reading matter from the nearby indie store Point Reyes Books.

Outside, there’s a large fire pit surrounded by trad wooden loungers, perfectly positioned to enjoy the view over the 62-acre Marconi State Historic Park and over five miles of trails that criss-cross the property, offering postcard-worthy views of Tomales Bay and Point Reyes.

A seating area
Photography: Brian W Ferry
A view of the lodge and its fireplace, encircled by lounge chairs
Photography: Brian W Ferry
The reception
Photography: Brian W Ferry
A twin double room
Photography: Brian W Ferry
Views of The Lodge's woodland setting
Photography: Brian W Ferry

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