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Napa Valley, California‘s first American Viticultural Area, has lured the well-heeled for over a century. Monied San Franciscans first ventured to the valley on steamboats in the 1800s, until the railroad was established in 1868. Grand parties for the aristocracy were held at the region’s mansions – and while it lost a little of its luster in the mid 1900s, it’s since cemented its spot as one of the world’s top wine getaways, as many luxury hotels have opened up. From intimate luxury inns to sprawling wellness resorts, these are the best luxury hotels in Napa.
This hotel’s location, adjacent to Beringer – the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley – means guest rooms overlook a vineyard. The three-acre (1.2ha), adults-only retreat in St Helena incorporates a 1907 Georgian farmhouse with 68 modern guest rooms designed by Yabu Pushelberg, with blond-wood floors and floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening onto private patios. Like the sister property in Mexico City, dining is a major draw. Top Chef Masters winner Chris Cosentino’s Acacia House restaurant serves seasonal, local dishes with international flair like Sonoma lamb with merguez sausage and fermented chili, and Berber carrots with medjool dates.
In Sonoma’s Valley of the Moon, Kenwood is a tranquil Mediterranean-style inn surrounded by vineyards, orchards and ancient oaks. Landscaped grounds have three courtyards, fountains, two hot tubs and a pool, where guests can book private poolside lounges with fireplaces and lounge chairs for the day. The spa reopened in 2019 after a modern makeover that added waterfall pools, Japanese Toto toilets and marble soaking tubs for two. Try the signature Cielo Bliss Detox CBD massage or the espresso and mud detoxifying body wrap. Tuscan-inspired guest rooms have king feather beds and Italian furniture.
In the Sonoma Valley hamlet of Glen Ellen, the Gaige House + Ryokan brings the zen of a Japanese inn to the zest of California’s wine country. The Gaige House was built in the late 1800s by its namesake Albert Ebenezer Gaige, a successful local butcher with shops in San Francisco and Kenwood. The hotel has meditation areas, calming fountains, a yoga enclave, gardens and a spa. The 23 guest rooms sport modern Asian design, such as platform beds, rock gardens and granite soaking tubs. Waterside suites are some of Napa’s most serene, where guests can hear Calabazas Creek trickle by.
The 21 large rooms at Southbridge Napa Valley have vaulted ceilings, king beds, wood-burning fireplaces and French doors that lead onto Juliet balconies. Located at the entrance to downtown St Helena, Southbridge is walking distance to Merryvale Winery, Health Spa Napa Valley and restaurants like Pizzeria Tra Vigne, Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch and the Charter Oak. Make sure you save space for breakfast: a free continental spread is included in your stay.
With its mansard roof and stone façade, the Francis House seems plucked from the French countryside. Merchant James H. Francis built it as his family home in 1886, but ownership changes, natural disasters and time lead to its decline. The house sat vacant for 52 years until an interior designer and developer from the Bay Area restored its former glory. The adults-only inn now has just five Parisian-inspired guest rooms with leather headboards, antique desks, brass luggage racks and chandeliers, as well as modern luxuries like Japanese-style Toto toilets and heated floors. Common areas reflect the owner’s exquisite taste with gilded frames, Impressionist artwork and antiques. Play modern-day aristocrat while luxuriating in the pool and infrared sauna and wandering the grounds, studded with citrus trees and stitched herb gardens.
Upscale bed-and-breakfast Bann at Oak Knoll is the vision of chef Lalita Souksamlane, who owns five restaurants in San Francisco, including Osha Thai noodle house. Souksamlane wanted to create a small hotel inspired by her roots. “Bann” means home in Thai, and each room features traditional design found in the three different regions of the Southeast Asian nation – such as the Chaiburi room with imported Thai carvings and royal-blue cloth wallpaper. The entire inn, home to a heated saltwater pool and spa, evokes King Rama V’s glamorous reign in the 19th- and early-20th centuries with coffered ceilings, brightly colored pillows and sinewy drapes. The biggest luxury of all is the breakfast, often cooked by chef Souksamlane herself, featuring sugar-dusted waffles, hearty scrambles and views of the vineyard beyond.
Guests are treated like kings and queens at the aptly named Chateau de Vie near Calistoga. Guest rooms and suites have 100% Egyptian cotton linens, and down comforters for when there’s a chill in the air. Morning coffee and tea are delivered to rooms each morning, but guests are very much on their own schedule. Breakfast is served on the deck overlooking estate-grown cabernet sauvignon vineyards, whenever guests command. Spa treatments are also a craft-your-own affair: massage tables can be set up in guest rooms or in the formal gardens surrounded by fragrant lavender and rose bushes. Afterwards, cozy up with a good book in the library-like sitting room or swim laps in the heated outdoor pool.