For Storybook Romantics: Harvest Inn by Charlie Palmer
When celebrity chef Charlie Palmer bought this property a few years ago, he was wise not to change a thing about the architecture: The timber-framed Tudor buildings tucked into the redwoods just off Highway 128 recall a childhood fairy tale, with whimsical brickwork spiraling up columns and arching over the gate to one of the two pools. Palmer did add a restaurant, naturally, an intimate place serving light salads and hearty mains sourced from the on-site gardens and nearby farms. The famous truffle chicken takes an hour to prepare, so come early to place your order and sip a cocktail at the bar; they are among the most creative in the valley, with a seasonally shifting menu that includes ingredients like mole bitters and grilled pineapple relish. Book one of the rooms that has an original brick fireplace—each of them wonderfully unique—and ideally a vineyard view and a private hot tub on your patio; the complimentary bottle of Whitehall Lane wine in your room comes from those very rows. There are half a dozen wineries within walking distance, and the house car will take you to St. Helena or Yountville for dinner.
For Country Clubbers: Silverado Resort & Spa
With two 18-hole golf courses (one being the site of an annual PGA tourney), 13 tennis courts, three bocce courts, ten swimming pools, a full-sized fitness center, and the largest spa in the Napa Valley, the Silverado Resort has enough to keep you occupied for an entire weekend without leaving the 1,200-acre property. If the plink of golf balls and the squeak of tennis shoes are music to your ears, this is the place for you. While the architecture can be a bit dated (though in the case of the late-19th-century mansion that houses the lobby and bar, that’s a good thing), the guest rooms have been recently renovated with a clean, modern design. Of the resort’s four neighborhoods, the Mansion Estates are most centrally located; ask for a room in the 400s so that you don’t have to walk through the large parking lot to get to the bar or restaurant. Meals at the Grill are several notches above typical country club fare; the chef, who worked his way up from dishwasher at various venues around the valley, is equally adept at hearty meat dishes and lighter veggie-focused fare. The Market and Bakery sells a variety of gourmet picnic goodies, plus breads and pastries from local standouts Bouchon Bakery and Model Bakery. Many of the spa treatments employ ingredients such as Napa Valley grape seed husks and Meyer lemons from the gardens, with multi-jetted stand-up and Vichy showers to rinse you off after a scrub or wrap.
For Dog Lovers: Napa River Inn at the Historic Napa Mill
Want to bring your pooch to wine country? Then the Napa River Inn is the place to stay. Four-footed friends are welcomed by name at the dog bowl outside the lobby, and each receives a blanket, placemat, and food and water bowls. They also have dog biscuits made from Napa Valley wines, and pet sitters who can stay with Fido while you go wine tasting. It’s an admirable program, but it also means that the garbage bins can be a bit odorous, and barking neighbors might wake you up before your complimentary breakfast-in-bed arrives. The spa, in an ivy-covered former police station, uses all organic, wild-harvested, and hand-milled products, applied by an experienced staff who are especially attentive to their clients’ preferences. The hotel is on the National Registry of Historic Places, several of its buildings dating back to Napa’s late-19th-century heyday, their bricks fashioned out of the Napa River’s clay. In the years since, downtown Napa struggled, but the last decade has brought success for an ambitious revitalization plan that started with the Napa River Inn’s opening. The hotel is now a stroll away from dozens of restaurants, shops, and tasting rooms—and if you don’t want to walk home, they’ll send the house Lexus to come pick you up. The newest dining spot in town is The Restaurant at CIA Copia, where you order not from a menu but from carts that the chefs push around the dining room, laden with every dish coming out of the kitchen that evening, plus a cart stocked with ingredients for craft cocktails made tableside and wines you can order by the glass. (Lest you think international spies will be preparing your meal: In these parts, CIA is shorthand for the Culinary Institute of America, a college that recently purchased the Copia food-and-wine complex to complement its Greystone campus further north in Napa Valley.)
For Young Design Mavens: White House Inn
To step into the White House Inn is to envy the leather baron who built it as his private, 12,000-square-foot mansion in 1886, combining multiple Victorian styles in the building’s unique, three-sided façade with a leaded-glass front door. (The pool, surrounded by chic cabanas and fire pits, is a more recent addition to the property.) The inn’s décor is contemporary but not overly trendy, with deep navy-blue hallways accented by bright white wainscoting and emerald-green furniture; the 17 guest rooms are decorated in the same palette. Several bottles of wine show up in the lounge each evening, and guests are free to pour whatever they like and relax on the iridescent couches while house music plays in the background. The same marble countertop becomes a gourmet buffet of sweet and savory small-plates breakfast items every morning—a portion of thick-cut bacon served with a fig and a tiny biscuit, quinoa with pomegranate seeds, oatmeal with strawberries and pecans, miniature glass canisters filled with pink grapefruit. The inn is set back from a quiet street in a residential neighborhood just a few blocks south of downtown Napa. It’s a 15-minute walk from Torc, where you’d do well to make reservations for dinner: The boisterous restaurant’s husband-and-wife owners met as line cooks at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco; now he runs Torc’s kitchen, plating easily shareable dishes that highlight his beloved foraged mushrooms and truffles, house-made pastas, and light-as-clouds sauces, while she heads up an impressive beverage program (it’s one of the few places around where you can order rare wines by the glass). Cap off the night by sliding between some of the softest sheets you’ll ever feel back at the White House Inn, and you’ll be restored and invigorated the next morning for another day of wine tasting in the valley.
For BFFs: Napa Vineyard House
If you’re coming to Napa for a girlfriends’ or couples’ getaway, take over the five rooms at the Napa Vineyard House and you’ll have the entire property to yourself, including the red-barn “lounge” stocked with lawn and board games, and the fireside gathering area in the backyard. The catalog-ready rooms are sizeable, each with a fireplace, kitchenette, complimentary mini bar, and views of the surrounding vineyards. The newest section of the Napa Valley Vine Trail runs right past the property (as does Highway 29, though you won’t be bothered by noise in the rooms), so you can borrow a bike and pedal the three miles to Yountville for some day-drinking at the town’s many tasting rooms. In the evening, the house car will bring you back there for dinner; The French Laundry is a Michelin-starred favorite for special occasions, but Redd and Bottega Napa Valley are also standouts, fit for a delicious but more casual meal. A boxed breakfast from Bouchon Bakery is left at your door in the morning; don’t be surprised to catch a hot-air balloon drifting overhead when you retrieve your pastries and orange juice.
For Bargain Hunters: The Bergson
Of the towns spread across the Napa Valley, Calistoga feels the most down-to-earth—and the Bergson, which is a short walk from Calistoga’s main drag, is one of the area’s most affordable boutique hotels, with rates starting at less than $125 a night. The rooms are on the small side but elegantly decorated, with baroque touches such as swoop-backed armchairs, gilded mirrors, and marble statuettes. Calistoga was developed as a hot-springs resort in the mid-19th century—its name is a combination of California and Saratoga, a popular east-coast spa town of that era—and today you can indulge in various thermal pools and mud treatments around town. Come evening, head down the road for dinner at All Seasons, an unassuming place frequented by locals as much as out-of-towners, where the superb wine list comes in a humble three-ring binder. A merlot-red ceiling with stained-glass insets and a black-and-white checkerboard floor give the place a French bistro feel, but the menu is all “California cuisine,” borrowing flavors from around the world to develop elements like sesame-soy aioli and saffron-scented risotto.
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