How are we doing?

We look forward to and encourage all feedback. We like to know how we’re doing. If you’ve enjoyed your stay with us – we’d like to hear about it! We’re not always perfect, if we didn’t do something right, it’s important for us to know about it – so we can make improvements in the future!

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If you’d like to submit a review, or share about us on the web.. you can leave a public comment below on this page, submit a review to Tripadvisor, Yelp, Google or share about us on Facebook, Twitter or any of the other gazillion ways there are on the web. 🙂

Here are some of the reviews we’ve received:

Great Mother/Daughter Weekend!

Guest: Lisa (Dublin, CA)
Date of Stay: October 22, 2010 Review Submitted: October 25, 2010

A few of us mom’s stayed her with our daughters for our annual mother/daughter weekend. The property is beautiful and just as described. The townhouse is very spacious, clean and up-to-date with nice granite counter tops and nice stone tiles in the bathroom. All the bathrooms have heaters which make it so nice when you get out of the shower in the cold weather. All the light switches are labeled and everything is in perfect order. The hottub was very nice and even though we had to share it with the property next door we never wanted to use it at the same time. I was attracted to this place because of the reasonable rates, no cleaning fees and/or additional deposit. The check-in and out process is so easy (just get and return the key via a lockbox). I also worked with a very nice lady to book my reservation. I would definitely come back to visit here so the rest of the family can exerience this place and the other sights that are very close (russian river beach area and redwood state park).

Recommended for: Adventure seekers, Girls getaway, Sightseeing, Families with teenagers, Families with young children, Romantic getaway

Posted on VRBO

Molly B.
San Rafael, CA

Three girlfriends and I rented a two bedroom condo here this weekend for my bachelorette party and it was perfect! The price was incredibly reasonable too. Everything was very new, clean and nice and the beds were super comfortable. Our “cabin” had two bedrooms (one with a balcony) and a bathroom downstairs and the kitchen, living room and a second bathroom were upstairs. There was a fireplace and deck with a hot tub. The kitchen was well equipped, though small. The upstairs bathroom had this amazing shower with two shower heads, which was definitely a treat coming out of the hot tub. I can imagine staying for a week and being very comfortable!
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LivermoreCouple “Future family get together possibly?”
East Bay
Mar 1, 2010

Great place to go visit for a couple of days. The wife, the dog and I went up for a quick birthday getaway and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. The home is very clean and updated feeling. The location of the homes seems a little sketchy because you’re basically in a residential area but you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Everyone is super friendly and you’re very close to all sorts of food and great beer. There’s literally a great little spot less than a few hundred yards away that serves good food and great beer. Do not miss out on going for a walk through Armstrong State Park which is only a 10-15 minute drive from the homes. Bring a jacket! We opted to rent the unit that had a spa located in between the two homes and it worked out just fine. This could be tricky if you have a neighbor who wants to use the spa all of the time but luckily the lot next to us was vacant. There’s a Safeway down the road and the kitchen/bbq at the house has everything you’ll need to whip up breakfast, lunch or dinner. Can’t wait to go back. ** Plenty of wineries within short driving distance if you’re looking to do tastings!
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Nojirigirl Best deal there is in wonderful wine country
San Francisco
Jan 25, 2010 | Trip type: Family

My husband and I traveled with our 17-month-old and stayed here for two nights. The manager I spoke to was able to arrange a babygate for our toddler to put at the top of the stairs in the house, which I thought was very nice of them. Also, we were initially thinking about rescheduling due to heavy rain, and when I called to ask if we would be able to reschedule, he was once again very understanding and told us that we could reschedule without any sort of penalty! We ended up going anyways because they didn’t have our second-choice dates available, and we had a great time. It’s not the cleanest place we’ve ever stayed at, but then again, there’s no cleaning fee, and it’s a pet-friendly place, so it’s understandable (and I tend to be a cleanliness freak). We just couldn’t believe the $99/night deal for that amount of space and amenities. We asked for hot tub usage too, so that was an extra $20/night, but it was fantastic.
The balconies (yes, there are two) are sooo spacious with great furniture and a grill, we really hope we get to go back there again with some friends in the future.
I’ve read several reviews saying that they didn’t want people to find out about this place because it’ll become way too popular and the prices will go up, and I feel the same way. I really liked it and the people I dealt with were super nice, so I felt that I should give it a good review, but then again I want it to be our little secret!
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pamitha “Nice Place!”
El Cerrito, California
Nov 8, 2009 | Trip type: Solo travel

The condo was spacious and really well appointed. Nice kitchen, nice bedrooms, big tv, decks on both floors. Would be great for a group of friends. It’s easy to get to, not far from Guerneville, and a great base of operations for hiking or something. The hot tub motor was a bit noisy on the deck at night, I could hear it loudly in the master bedroom, and the wireless worked, but wasn’t very fast. Otherwise, great place!
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“Comfortable and Romantic Getaway in the Trees”
Balalaika Guest Homes
Sep 28, 2009 | Trip type: Couples

My wife and I really enjoyed our stay at Balalika Guest Homes. We stayed in a two-bedroom unit with the master bedroom with deck, one full bath and a second bedroom downstairs. Upstairs: full kitchen, living/dining room, another full bath, fireplace, deck and hot tub (shared with another unit).

The unit is new, especially for the area, which has lots of older vacation rentals, and very tastefully furnished. Everything worked fine, as you would expect. The bed in the master bedroom (king size) was very comfortable. One nice touch is that all of the light switches are labeled so you know in advance what you’re switching on.

The kitchen was big enough for two people to move around – appliances were new and functional. We appreciated the blender, the coffee grinder and two (count ’em) coffee makers. The living space was very spacious and the unit could easily accomodate a good-sized family.

The downstairs deck, off the master bedroom, was a nice place to hang out in the afternoon (it was unseasonably hot for some of our stay). The upstairs deck was fantastic for breakfast and also quite nice in the evenings after the sun went down.

There were no problems at all with the unit.

We were about 10 minutes from Armstrong Woods State Park (fantastic hiking in a redwood forest), 10 minutes from canoe rentals, 5 minutes from Guerneville, and a short drive away from wineries.

Very high marks all around and we would recommend this place enthusiastically.
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“simply great!”
PrinceHal 12 contributions
Sep 2, 2009 | Trip type: Couples

we have been coming to the river for the past ten years, always with our dog (now dogs). Have always had good vacation rentals, but this has to be the absolutely best deal in the entire area. The place we stayed had everything we would keep in our own vacation home if we had one. The design and decor is nice,the layout makes sense and there is lots of room! At $99 weeknights, you cannot find anything as nice and convenient. It is fun to walk around Rio Nido, up and down the canyon roads, and we had a great time exploring all the old backroads from ‘way before River Road became such a busy place. The location is perfect for visiting the coast, spending a day at the riveor , visiting wineries, or anything else you want in this part of the world. We had aleady rented a house for Thanksgiving up here with another couple, but I sure wish we had known about Balalaika first. This would have been ideal; it’s just that we cannot forfeit the prepaid rental. From now on, have every intention of making this our vacation destination in the Rusian River area!
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“PERFECT, peaceful, romantic, recharge, beautiful, didnt want to leave.”
jacksonCalifornia 1 contribution
Aug 29, 2009 | Trip type: Couples

thank you for making these three days so special, we will cherish these memories forever. We hope to return asap as many times as possible. And Scott we are going to stay in Oakland 🙁 , close to work-but it was soo tempting to be your permanent houseguests. Happy to have made a new friend. Thank you. Sincerely, Karen and Angel
We want to keep this a secret 🙂 so we can always get a room !!!!
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loveshastamtns 1 contribution
Bay Area
Aug 19, 2009 | Trip type: Family

Stayed 2-nites for Mother, Sister, Daughter get-away. Condo itself has newly upgraded ammenities with plenty of dishes, small appliances, 2-TV’s and air conditioning. Beds were comfortable and bedrooms spacious with plenty of closet and storage drawers. Bathrooms were upgraded and clean. NOTE: for those that have some difficulty with stairs, there are two sets of stairs from ground parking area up to front door. Once inside, the two bedrooms and one bath are downstairs, then there are approx. 15-stairs leading up to living area , kitchen, 2-person shower bathroom, outdoor deck area with gas BBQ. Upon arrival we hauled our luggage, groceries and a full ice chest upstairs, but upon departure decided to take empty ice chest down to parking area, and then bag our remaining groceries and haul down and put in ice chest. Our refrigerator did not have an ice maker, and the remote in the master bedroom did not go with the TV, so we had to work TV controls by hand.
We had some difficulty with TV/DVD in the living room. The DVD instructions were a bit vague, but I called the owners and they were very helpful in walking me through the settings. We also had trouble finding programming on the TV. Not sure what kind of cable or dish service they had, but there were no written instructions telling us what the channels were “cable channels vs regular programming”, so we just surfed around. We had to put all the dishes in the cabinets in dishwasher and wash upon arrival (they were cloudy and had hard water marks all over them). Also no written instructions of any kind to reference emergency or owner telephone numbers, no check out instructions, but we loaded dish washer and cleaned kitchen, and put our dirty towels in bathtub and departed at 10:00 am. Because the owners don’t charge you a cleaing fee, and because we were four pickey women, we did not mind a little minor cleaning. Even with these little “slights”, our group had great time and would not hesitate to return. I would also recommend for families and couples. We toured the Armstrong Redwood Park, took a drive to Jenner and shopped at the local Safeway and Merchantile stores.
My comments are not meant to be negative in any way, but possibly let the owners know of a few recommendations that might be beneficial to other renters.
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“Great place for a bargain!”
Balalaika Guest Homes
Verpertilio 3 contributions
San Francisco Bay Area
Aug 8, 2009 | Trip type: Friends getaway

I stayed at the Balalaika for a week with my friend and a dog. I certainly did not expect to find such a great place for $99/night… even though most of the reviews were raving about it. The townhouse is spacious and clean, the beds comfortable. The equipment in the bathrooms is modern, everything was working flawlessly. The kitchen, dining area, and living room are very well lit up. I would certainly recommend this place to others – I already told my friends about it!
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“Can’t wait to go back!”
ledheadmelli 1 contribution
SF Bay Area
Jul 15, 2009 | Trip type: Friends getaway

This place exceeded our expectations, especially for the price! At the risk of making it too popular, thus upping the price and lowering availability, I MUST give this place a glowing review.
The decor was understated elegance ( I especially loved the large painting in the master bedroom that was lit from within) and we immediately felt comfortable, as though we were welcome guests of friends with a really nice vacation home.
The kitchen was well-equipped with quality cookware and many items you wouldn’t expect to find (rolling pins, pizza stones and pans, garlic press, even organic olive oil!) and it was roomy enough for the four of us to cook together. The living room was big and sunny with a full wall of windows and cathedral ceiling. Despite a perfectly normal bathroom downstairs, we all took a turn in the gorgeous upstairs shower, with its dual heads. Had no problem running out of hot water, either.
The downstairs bedrooms were great, especially the master, which leads to a shady, private, big deck. I assume the beds were comfy, as I passed out immediately and woke up raring to go. Romantic enough for 2 couples, it’s also roomy enough for families with a king bed and double futon in the master, a queen and twin in the other room and cushy sectional upstairs. Washer & dryer worked great – probably the only soap not supplied, so BYOB. Also coffee filters if you bring coffee beans (grinder supplied). I believe these were the only things overlooked while equipping this place. Okay, so they didn’t have a trash compactor and towel warmer… ; )
The upstairs deck is just as large and nearly as private, with redwoods shading you. The deck has an adjoining gate to the hot tub area between decks, which can be locked for privacy. The hot tub was clean, hot and had jets that ran all the way up to the top of my shoulders! We were in heaven!
The BBQ in our unit was only half working (a pliers might have done the job, but we didn’t care enough), so if that is important to you, check ahead with management so as to avoid disappointment.
Kudos also to the property manager, PJ, who was so personable and friendly. Not so easy to find these days I’m afraid.
If I had any complaint about the place, it would be that it was almost too nice. We booked it so that we had a place to lay our heads between playing at Russian River and hanging out at the beach in Jenner. Within a half hour of our arrival, we sat on the deck making excuses for why we should just hang out there instead and mosey over to the river “later”. We actually had to MAKE ourselves get up and go do what we came to do. And then rewarded ourselves by coming back ‘home’ and watching a movie.
We are already planning our next outing there – with 2 or 3 units, you could have one helluva family get-together. There was a large common area between buildings with huge picnic tables, lots of benches and a fire pit. These are located in a family neighborhood, where you fit right in with the residents. And did I mention they are PET FRIENDLY?
You just can’t get a better deal in that area – it was hardly more than the cost of 4 adults with 2 dogs and 2 cars at our favorite campground down the road. Of course the price doubles on weekends, but that is still an amazing price for what you get. We may never CAMP on the Russian River again…
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Great with a few caveats……..a fantastic value”
Santa Monica
Jul 10, 2009 | Trip type: Family

Now that I’ve been here for two weeks, I feel I can give a reasonable review. These units are actually very nice, but I have to admit that I was a little suspicious when I heard the price. They are spacious, and have two bathrooms and two bedrooms, large decks on both levels, with a gas bbq grill. There is even a spacious 2 person shower in one of the bathrooms and a fireplace and a vaulted ceiling in the living room. The place is surrounded by huge redwoods trees which are visible out of all the windows and are very pretty. There is wireless internet, but I wouldn’t really call it broadband. The unit that we rented had a washer and a dryer, which was really convenient (no laundromat that I’ve seen around here) and also access to a shared hot tub (the hot tub is actually between the two units that are in this building on the top deck.) The only downside to the hot tub is that when we arrived it was low on water, and was green and cloudy. I was able to locate a hose, and fill it up, and a call to the management quickly produced more bromine tablets for the dispenser in the tub. They say that someone services them every Wednesday, but I haven’t seen anyone, and despite the bromine, the tub has been dirty the whole time we have been here. Maybe it needs a new filter. Oh well, this was a minor annoyance, because of the hot weather, and how pleasant the river is to take a dip in (We took a few trips into Guerneville to a nice public beach -Johnson’s beach with free parking and good prices for big beers and food). The beach that is accessible by walking underneath River road isn’t recommended, as there were townies (who were friendly) getting drunk and stoned and throwing their empty beer bottles all over the rocks and into the river. There’s a bar about 100 yards away that seems very popular with the locals, where they have a public pool and live music every weekend night from about 6 – 10 pm, and they actually had decent acts. If you don’t like the music, you can close the doors and windows (they’re all double paned) and the sound is difficult to hear. There is a little park with a playground about a five minute walk up the road which our daughter loved.

The management has been helpful, and although they never answer their phones, they do either call or email back within a day or so. Speaking of phones, it seems as though all the guest units here are on the same phone line. While this is a minor annoyance, it is a little unsettling to have your phone ringing with someone demanding to speak with Clark or Collin or whoever just drunk dialed them.

The other people staying here have been a good mix – young people, a few gay couples, and some families. They’ve all been perfect neighbors and we haven’t heard a sound from them.

My main complaint would be how well the kitchens are stocked. Think of the cheapest dishes and utensils you have ever used, and then get 200% cheaper. Wow, really! They do have pots and pans, a dishwasher and a fridge with an ice maker (hallelujah!). The knives are so dull that they are actually dangerous. All said, if we hadn’t planned on cooking a lot while here, the rating would have been a 5.

Definitely worth a look.
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What a great place!”
LSUMOM2 10 contributions
Baton Rouge, LA
May 19, 2009 | Trip type: Family

We rented three of the guest houses for Mother’s Day weekend 2009 and everyone was most impressed with the overall accomodations. They were by far the best we saw in the area and the prices were incredible. They were spacious and had nearly everything we needed in them — even hot tubs. It was very easy to contact them and I can’t thank Spencer enough for all he did to make this possible. I even left my GPS and he called to ask me about it and mailed it promptly to my home. Wow, what a surprise and great service! I can just imagine what a hotel or other place would have done. I would highly recommend these guest houses to anyone wanting to visit the Russian River area. My family has already said they will definitely use them on any return visits. Thanks Spencer for such a great job!!
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Best Value, Best Space in the area!”
Sep 21, 2008

These “cottages” are more like full scale time-share condos that are available by the night. They were built in 2005-06, and offer one of the best values in the area, especially for groups of 4. We had an end-unit with two large bedrooms, two full baths (one with a 2-person shower), TVs in both bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, a large living room with fireplace, TV, DVD, Stereo, cable, telephones, and wi-fi internet. There’s also a great deck off one bedroom, and another off the living room, as well as a Gas BBQ on the upper deck and a 4-person hot tub on the deck.

The place was spotless and checkin/checkout was hassle free with the key in a lockbox.

We will definitely stay here again on our next trip to the Russian RIver Valley.

Liked — It felt like home.
Disliked — No concerns at all.
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Sue Probst, Cascade, Idaho

Incredibly wonderful place to stay. We went over to the Russian River in late May, 2008. Very luxurious townhomes and of course there is the hottub….AHHHHH……incredible. Close to everything we wanted to see and do. The owners are wonderful and so very accommodating. We definitely will be back!
Our Reviews from Homeaway

Marion & Jose Pena, Escondido, CA

We stayed at the Balalaika guest homes in August 2007 for one week during Vineman Triathlon and had a spectacular time. The guest home is just beautiful and became our home away from home. We were sad to leave, but will definitely be back. We highly recommend this to anyone. The owner is wonderful as well and very accommodating!!
Our Reviews from Homeaway


Just wanted to leave you a little thank you note for everything. We had a wonderful time in the house and we really appreciated all that you did for us. I showed my work friends the brochure and the web site of the house many seem really interested so again thanks a lot. Bye Bye Pamela
Our Reviews from Homeaway

Carl & Virginia Schimmel
Salt Lake City
Carl & Virginia Schimmel, Salt Lake City, Utah

We stayed at Balalaika for 7 days in Sept. 2006 and were very happy with the facilities and the comfort of the accommodations. So much so that we made reservations to go there again on our anniversary the first week in March 2007. Very romantic surroundings!!!
Our Reviews from Homeaway