The Napa Valley Guide
As total winos, we’re always taking notes on the best spots in Napa (cue Escapes for Foodies and Winos). The region’s old greats, like The French Laundry, Opus One, and Auberge du Soleil, will always rank high in our hearts for continuing to set crazy-high standards for food, wine, and luxury. That said, we’ve also discovered some pretty awesome off-the-beaten path wineries and restaurants in Calistoga and Napa’s less-touristy neighbor, Sonoma Valley, that are worth checking out too.
Meadowood900 Meadowood Ln., St. Helena | 877.963.3646
If making the pilgrimage to Napa Valley is a must for any foodie or wino, then Meadowood in St. Helena is most certainly Mecca. In the Restaurant, Chris Kostow continues to wow critics, guests, and chef friends alike with his vision, passion, and downright deliciousness (proof: Kostow's new cookbook A New Napa Cuisine). Plus, there's no better place to sleep off a three Michelin-starred meal than in one of their cozy rooms by a roaring fire (unless you count the massage table at the spa).
Wydown Hotel1424 Main St., St. Helena | 707.963.5100
Hotel prices in Napa can get outrageous fast, and Wydown is our favorite pick in the mid-price range. The location in downtown St. Helena is pretty unbeatable, as you can walk to all of the shops and tasting rooms. Book well in advance—there are only 12 rooms, and they go fast.
Kenwood Inn & Spa10400 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood | 800.353.6966
Napa takes a lot of its cues from Tuscany, and this boutique spot, which occupies what could only be described as an Italian farmhouse, is an excellent embodiment of that aesthetic. A relatively small spot with only 25 rooms, Kenwood Inn is a great option if you're hoping for a quiet, intimate vacation—they don't allow kids under 18 and you won't find a TV anywhere in sight.
Carneros Inn4048 Sonoma Hwy, Napa | 707.299.4900
Carneros Inn is run by folks at PlumpJack group, who have been behind some of our favorite projects in Napa, including the CADE and Odette wineries. Like many Napa hotels, rooms here are situated in individual cottages, each outfitted with rocking chairs and an outdoor shower and fire pit.
Poetry Inn6380 Silverado Trail, Napa | 707.944.0650
The Poetry Inn is somewhat isolated up in the Stag's Leap District (it's about a 20 minute drive from downtown Napa), and although the rooms feel accordingly secluded and private, almost all of them have excellent views of the nearby hills. The décor is understated but elegant (leather sofas, natural woven wicker chairs, and cozy woven throws). If you're interested in an extended trip, look into their three-bedroom farmhouse that's available for monthly rental; it’s complete with a full kitchen and a private pool.
Calistoga Ranch580 Lommel Rd., Calistoga | 855.952.4220
This hotel has its own Cabernet-producing vineyard, so you get the full Napa Valley experience without even leaving the property. There's plenty else to do on site, from walking the stunning grounds and hanging out at the pool, to gathering eggs from their deluxe new coop. Should you book a stay in the early fall, you can join the pruning, harvesting, and crushing of the grapes. Each of the 50 rooms has a fireplace and a private deck, and occupies its own, secluded lodge, which guarantees plenty of privacy. While Calistoga Ranch makes for a great romantic holiday, it’s kid-friendly too, with a new family pool and a lunchbox menu just for little ones. Should you want to go out (it is Napa, after all) you can borrow one of the ranch's cars.
Solage Calistoga Resort & Spa755 Silverado Trail, Calistoga | 707.226.0809
Due to an abundance of white-washed, barn-like architecture, walking around this elegant newcomer feels like taking a stroll through a posh horse stable, with white, clean lines, and tall ceilings (but certainly no horses). Like most resorts in the area, rooms are organized into studio cottages with private patios, and their pool scene is nice and roomy, with plenty of deck space and lounge chairs. You'll be in good hands, food-wise, with their Michelin-rated restaurant, and a pretty serious spa. Calistoga is known for its mud baths (the geo-thermal heat and mineral-rich mud make for a healing restorative bath), and we've heard that Solage offers one of the best around.
Auberge du Soleil180 Rutherford Hill Rd., Rutherford | 707.963.1211
Set up on a hill above an endless—and undulating—vista of vineyards, Auberge du Soleil has been maintaining the luxury standard in Napa for 30 years. Though it's since spawned two sister hotels (Solage and Calistoga Ranch), Auberge du Soleil is the reigning patriarch in Napa Valley, particularly when it comes to old-school indulgences and creature comforts (the other two spots are a bit more modern and laidback). Here, the cottage-like rooms are organized into private little villages (they all feature patios and terraces). With two Michelin Stars, Auberge's main, global-inflected restaurant draws a crowd that swells well beyond hotel guests—the Japanese breakfast is particularly dreamy. Don’t miss the spa: While hotel treatments often aren’t that great (particularly for their generally inflated price-tags), this was one of the best massages we’ve ever had, particularly because it was followed by a soak in the outdoor bathtub. Meanwhile, Quintessa Winery, one of our favorites, is just across the street.
Bardessono Hotel6526 Yount St., Yountville | 707.204.6000
Just a short walk from downtown Yountville and its bevy of great restaurants, Bardessono definitely boasts one of the best locations in the valley. With sleek, streamlined décor, excellent tech in-room, and the almost impossible-to-accomplish LEED platinum rating, the vibe here is decidedly modern without sacrificing luxury. The grounds are incredibly lush, with the addition of a few well-placed water features, giving you the sense of an outdoor experience despite the relatively compact property.
Hotel Yountville6462 Washington St., Yountville | 707.967.7900
Although it's 80 rooms strong (and has the spa, restaurants, and pool to accommodate that many guests), Hotel Yountville feels like a small, quaint, boutique hotel. The cozy, updated interiors match the grand stone building that houses them. Definitely ask for a room with a fireplace.