Best of Marin 2017: Romance

We know what you’re thinking: “Romance? Ewww!” But come on—anyone can find love in Marin … even if it’s just with that cocktail you’re clutching while you’re waiting to meet “the one.” From romantic dining options, to sexy lingerie to a sex therapist who will help you find what you’ve been missing, Marin has you covered when it comes to hearts and kisses and holding hands and planning your wedding. And it doesn’t hurt that this place is overflowing with stunning backdrops for flirty adventures and heartfelt proposals.—M.O.

Prime Destination

You gave the Panama Hotel the prize in the Best Boutique Hotel category, so you must be in on the secret. From an aptly named Bordello Room to the unassuming location, the Panama feels like the ultimate getaway, full of romance and mischief. The shady courtyards and small balconies contribute to the hotel’s exclusive, lucrative atmosphere, and if romance makes you hungry, there’s an on-point restaurant on the premises. The design will please even the toughest critics, with modern and traditional Hispanic touches and a discreet facade. With the Panama’s approachable rates taken into consideration, no wonder it’s a prime destination for close-to-home adventuring.

4 Bayview St., San Rafael; 415.457.3993.

Sexy & Practical

When shopping for the right little lacy number, it’s best to be comfortable and a little curious. Fans of The Lingerie Shoppe, winner of Marin’s Best Lingerie Shop, clearly appreciate the romantic-yet-casual vibe that this long-standing Larkspur favorite exudes. No dark spaces and dead-serious sales associates here. Instead, the space is bright and welcoming, and the lingerie is colorful and—gasp—often practical as well as sexy. In addition to satin bras and panties by brands like Hanky Panky, Lejaby and more, the shop offers plenty of baby dolls, slippers, small gifts and excellent sleeping masks—for sleeping or other purposes.

484 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur; 415.924.0505.

El Paseo

When it comes to the almost-forgotten concept of the ‘romantic dinner,’ sometimes a true and tested classic goes a long way. Almost forgotten, because in the age of Tinder and casual ‘dating,’ the value of candlelit, tasteful courtship is slowly diminishing. But don’t give up hope! The readers who awarded El Paseo the victory in the Best Romantic Dinner category clearly know a thing or two about romance. The Mill Valley restaurant, an institution of 70 years, has all of the attributes of old-school charm: A Spanish courtyard, wooden chairs begging to be adjusted by an eager suitor, dim lights and cozy brick walls all play significant parts. And the menu? Shareable heaven—steamy paellas, sexy small bites (aphrodisiacs hide in every other dish) and a wine list geared to seduce pretty much anyone. This restaurant calls for a celebration, any day of the week.

17 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley; 415.388.0741.

Here Comes the Bride

Marin County has no shortage of stunning venues for the big day, but there could be only one Best Wedding Reception Venue winner. That would be Marin Art & Garden Center, tucked away in Ross. What makes the place so exceptional? Perhaps the sense, upon entering the lush green premises, that nothing could possibly go wrong here. The open-air spots, adorned with string lights upon request, can host a large crowd, while the indoor spaces will accommodate a smaller group. And, of course, nothing beats the round, fountain-clad pond for wedding photos and pre-celebration relaxation.

30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross; 415.455.5260.

Talkin’ ’Bout Sex

What should one expect from a Best Sex Therapist? The category winner, Claudia Six, embodies the answer—an unapologetic, straightforward approach, compassion and the ability to tell you things friends and family won’t. Six, a clinical sexologist and relationship coach with an M.A. in counseling psychology and a Ph.D. in clinical sexology, is based in San Rafael and runs a successful practice that combines traditional therapy with a focus on relationships and sexuality. Her book, published in May 2016, is titled Erotic Integrity: How to be True to Yourself Sexually, which may give you a hint on her interest with the inner self. Loyal clients who value the slow, thoughtful path to self-realization can’t stop recommending Six to anyone who’d listen, and the result is complete community appreciation.

Drsix.net.

Come Here Often?

How does one meet a significant other, a fling or a potential best friend these days? Apparently it involves a visit to Terrapin Crossroads, Marin’s winner as the Best Place for Singles to Meet. The San Rafael music and dining venue, forever tied to Grateful Dead glory, stands out thanks to a number of factors. First, the musical calendar—featuring anything from Neil Young-themed nights to Top 40 dance parties—tends to attract a mixed crowd of fun-loving, music-appreciating folks of all ages and classifications. The unbuttoned, casual neighborhood-bar atmosphere helps with small talk and flirting, and the evening can stretch into dinner, with a delicious full menu always available. And don’t forget about the back patio, complete with couches for lounging on as you watch the boats go by, and a firepit to get cozy next to in the big, remodeled backyard.

100 Yacht Club Drive, San Rafael; 415.524.2773.

Wedding Bells

In Marin’s competitive wedding market, winning the Best Wedding Event Planner category isn’t to be taken for granted. Katie Rebecca Events, featuring a dedicated team of creative planners clearly in love with their jobs, takes the cake—and for a good reason. Specializing in breezy, tasteful and very California-style weddings, the ladies at Katie Rebecca’s company do it all, from lighting to draping, and from the cake to the flowers—with a beautiful Instagram account to prove it. Aside from a high taste level and attention to detail, Katie Rebecca’s key selling point is flexibility—custom packages with high to low involvement and a varying timeline are available. Wedding planning never felt less stressful.

Katierebecca.com.

Escape From Reality

When looking for the Best Staycation, you clearly want the following: An out-of-this world feel, a unique experience, a pampering and relaxing vibe and beautiful surroundings. Enter Cavallo Point in Sausalito. A member of the distinguished Historic Hotels of America list, Cavallo Point delivers with every step. The views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge are pretty priceless, while the majestic white buildings will make you feel as if you’ve travelled thousands of miles to faraway European destinations. With its classic, muted tones and green open areas, the resort manages to feel intimate and grand at the same time, offering the ideal escape from reality. Craving fine dining? Murray Circle, the on-location restaurant, serves up beautiful and nuanced tasting menus and ‘lazy brunches.’ Aching for a nurturing experience? The spa offers traditional massages as well as innovative and staycation-worthy experiences like chakra balancing, detox rituals and ‘ZENaissance’ wraps. And the fact that it’s a short drive away? A total winner.

601 Murray Circle, Sausalito; 415.339.4700.

Flora Tsapovsky

The full list of Best of Marin 2017 Romance winners:

Best Boutique Hotel
Panama Hotel
4 Bayview St., San Rafael.
415.457.3993.

Best Couples Counseling
Dr. Rick Scott
33 Millwood St., #4, Mill Valley.
415.548.2984.

Best Erotica Store
Pleasures of the Heart
1310 Fourth St., San Rafael.
415.482.9899.

Best Lingerie Shop
The Lingerie Shoppe
484 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur.
415.924.0505.

Best Place for Singles to Meet
Terrapin Crossroads
100 Yacht Club Drive, San Rafael.
415.524.2773.

Best Romantic Dinner
El Paseo
17 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley.
415.388.0741.

Best Sex Therapist
Dr. Claudia Six
Drsix.net.

Best Staycation
Cavallo Point
601 Murray Circle, Sausalito.
415.339.4700.

Best Wedding Event Planner
Katie Rebecca Events
Katierebecca.com.

Best Wedding Reception Venue
Marin Art & Garden Center
30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross.
415.455.5260.