FAQ

Spirit House is a private hilltop retreat home overlooking a gorgeous Northern California valley that is close to San Francisco yet feels like a world away. The surrounding hills and small town of Woodacre below offer a protected yet open feeling, and the open space trails above beckon you to vistas of sun and moon rises across San Francisco Bay, and to enchanted walks through forests and wide open meadows.

Spirit House itself is cozy and welcoming with lots of natural wood and south facing passive solar windows, beautiful gardens, and perhaps the best private hot tub deck you’ve ever seen, complete with an outdoor hot and cold water shower. Bedrooms at Spirit House are shared, with multiple beds in each bedroom. There is a large yurt–a round semi-permanent tent-like structure–on the property where groups often hold meetings, do yoga, dance, or otherwise gather together. There are goats and often cows in the adjacent pastures. Wildlife is generally abundant around Spirit House–including raven, deer, wild turkeys, and other animals.

The most common feedback guests offer is that, “Spirit House feels like home.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What is your relationship with the groups who rent Spirit House? How would you like us as guests to relate to you?

Spirit House is a guest service we offer to our community. We are not a hotel, and we do not operate Spirit House with an intention to make a profit. Instead, we do our best to provide an affordable group retreat house that we would like to rent ourselves–a space that feels like home, and which offers simple amenities, beautifully maintained grounds, and rental policies that we ourselves would want to have for a space like this.

We honor you in this way, and, in turn, we ask our guests to honor your relationship with us as well.

We expect our guests to treat us as they themselves would wish to be treated, were they to be running Spirit House. This means, specifically, to fully honor the requests we make of you, as our guests, and to otherwise do your best to care for us and the space we offer you, while you are here. Sending in your security deposit when you say you will, staying in communication as needed with us, honoring the other policies we have set, completing your group’s end-of-stay checklist to the letter, and checking out on time go a long way in our book. Those who do so we are honored to invite back, sometimes year after year.

Where is Spirit House located?

In the hills of West Marin, in and overlooking the town of Woodacre, approximately 20-25 minutes west of San Rafael, CA and a 60 minute drive from downtown San Francisco. Rush hour (after 3pm) can add 15 minutes or more to this timing.

How many people can stay at Spirit House?

Spirit House comfortably houses up to 17 people. There is bed space for some more than this, but the dining room area gets cramped at anything over 17. We charge extra for any guests over 17 on a per person per night basis.

How much do you charge to rent Spirit House?

The basic rate varies each year and we rarely update our website, so we prefer to discuss the rate with you after you contact us. We do not have a single day rate, instead we charge an initial two-day rate and then charge less than this for each additional day.

What are the accommodations like?

All rooms are dorm style with two to up to four futon-style beds in each. Most beds are singles, some are full size. Some of the singles can be brought together to create a king. Each bed has a single pillow, though some additional pillows are available (and should be returned to the linen closet at the end of your stay). Sheets, blanket and bathroom linens are provided at the foot of each bed, for each guest to make their own bed. There is soap by each sink, and soap, shampoo and conditioner by each shower.

With two and one-half baths in the main house–and one of them located in the master bedroom, Stargazer–bathroom space is completely workable but limited. Larger groups are encouraged to make use of the outdoor shower by the hot tub (as it is also often one of the best places on the planet to take a shower); a nice utility sink with a lovely mirror found next to one of the bathrooms; and, men are particularly encouraged to discretely, ahem, pee outdoors. Though please, not on our oaks or other trees.

Can I rent Spirit House for a day, or for a single event?

We are sorry, but no. While sometimes our rentals include a special event or party–such as a wedding and reception–we have a two-night minimum for everyone who wishes to rent Spirit House for their gathering. Further, we choose to rent Spirit House to a single group each week. So whether you rent for us for 2 days, 5 or a full week, you will be our only guests that week.

How much does it cost to rent Spirit House?

Our rental prices are based on both our two-night minimum and the fact that we do not wish to rent to more than one group per week. So additional nights beyond the first two cost less than the base two-night amount. In addition, groups are asked to place a security deposit to hold their reservation. Provided you leave Spirit House in the condition you found it (except for basic cleaning needs), your security deposit will be either returned to you or else (at your option) held by us for your next rental of the space.

We update our rental prices from year to year and unfortunately do not update this page to reflect these changes. Instead, please contact us for more information about our rates. This being said, our clients tell us that our rates are at the lower end of rental costs for similar facilities in or near the Bay Area. We do our best to keep our rates in line with this standard, each year.

What are the best days of the week to rent Spirit House?

While this is not a fixed rule, we have a strong preference for our guests to arrive on a Thursday or Friday and depart on Sunday or else early the following week. In a few cases each year groups rent Spirit House for a longer period of time that includes overlapping weekends.

When can my group check-in? When do we have to check out?

Compared with most other similar spaces–many of whom do not allow you to check-in until after 2pm and require a check-out by 11am or Noon on the day of your departure–we have a fairly liberal check-in and check-out policy, a policy that we ourselves would want to have were we to rent the space.

Generally speaking, groups are permitted to check-in as early as Noon on their arrival day, and to stay until no later than 5:00pm on the day of their departure.

While we believe these time frames are quite accommodating, we in turn ask that our guests honor these time frames: in after Noon, out before 5:00 pm, period.

If for some reason you wish to arrive earlier than Noon or stay later than 5:00 pm, we ask that you instead consider booking Spirit House for an additional day.

What types of groups tend to rent Spirit House?

We mostly have groups here who offer a variety of spiritual exploration to their group participants–yoga, drumming, and many other forms of inner work.

We also host some groups of friends or families, some of whom come back year after year.

And, we host an occasional small wedding/reception weekend, usually with the wedding party and their family and/or friends staying together at Spirit House, centered around a wedding and reception for generally up to/no more than 50 people.

Does Spirit House offer food? How do you suggest I offer food to my guests/participants?

No. When you rent Spirit House, you are renting the house and grounds, much like you would rent a house on AirBnB or VRBO. As such, groups are expected to provide and cook their own meals and food.

Some groups divide cooking duties up among their participants. Some groups order catered food from one or more of several restaurants or grocery stores in the area, and we are happy to recommend these to you. Most other groups hire a cook or have one or more volunteers undertake the task.

We know of several cooks who live in the area and who have worked the kitchen for groups at Spirit House in the past, and can recommend them to you upon request.

What is the kitchen like? Do you provide condiments or baking supplies?

Spirit House has a modest-sized kitchen with four gas burners on the stove and a single oven, as well as a microwave. It has a large refrigerator and freezer. Most cooking utensils, pots, pans, and baking supplies you may want can be found in our kitchen, but do check with us if you have elaborate cooking plans involving less standard cooking equipment.

We do provide salt, pepper, sugar plus a large selection of assorted teas. Guests are asked to bring all other standard condiments and cooking staples with them. We do not provide cooking oil, flour, coffee or spices, etc. And the sugar we provide is intended for sweetening tea or coffee, not for baking.

At the end of your stay guests are asked to take with them all foods, condiments and other cooking staples that they brought with them, to clean all kitchen items, empty the dishwasher and drainer, and to return the refrigerator and the kitchen as a whole to the state in which they found it. Thank you.

Can I have a party or play loud music at Spirit House?

Yes, within limits.

Parties and Events: Spirit House has hosted wedding receptions and other events for up to 50 people. Any group wanting to rent Spirit House for a weekend or longer than includes a party, reception or other event with more than 17 but less than 50 guests will be asked to pay a premium for this special event.

Limitations on Amplified Sound: Being mindful of our neighbor’s desire for peace and quiet, we have set limits on the use of loud music after 10PM on weekdays and 11PM on Friday and Saturday nights in the group room/large yurt, or the main house. We do not permit amplified music on the outdoor decks, where sound has a tendency to carry out into the valley below and disturb our neighbors. Mild amplified music is permitted under the oak trees in our garden during the day. This area is where weddings at Spirit House usually take place, as well as outdoor yoga or other outdoor group activities.

Can I come and see Spirit House in person, before I rent it?

Yes. Please contact us to arrange a time for you to come for a visit. Good days and times to do so tend to be mornings or early afternoons, and earlier in the week.

Other questions?

Please contact us to discuss rental rates, or to answer any additional questions you may have.

© PL Thorndike 2017-18 ~ 110 Fire Road ~ Woodacre, CA 94973