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Hospitality runs through Napa’s veins; the valley has been welcoming out-of-towners for well over a century. It’s not hard to uncover the region’s unique history and culture, with wine being just one way to get immersed. Arts and cultural sites and vast nature reserves show the area’s depth, and hotels are there to help plan excursions to under-the-radar destinations. Here are the places that firmly root you in California’s Wine Country and invite you to pull up a seat at the communal firepit.
The Bungalows at Calistoga’s three cool, self-contained modern craftsman-style homes mix the breezy style of a beach cabin with the rustic elegance of a farmhouse. Each bungalow has a fully equipped open-plan kitchen decorated with white tiles and wooden shelving, a high-ceilinged living room with a sofa bed, a king bedroom and a backyard. Near downtown Calistoga, it’ll also give you a window into what it’s like living in the historic town known for excellent wine and natural hot springs.
These restored cottages, dating back to the 1940s, are just 8mi (13km) from the Hess Collection, a winery on Mount Veeder with an impressive modern art collection, and the Napa Valley Opera House – two staples of the local scene. The tidy cottages have vaulted ceilings, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, kitchenettes and bathrooms with whirlpool tubs and heated floors. Gratis amenities such as continental breakfast baskets, a shuttle service to local restaurants, free-to-borrow bikes and a welcome bottle of wine are Napa hospitality at its best.
You’ll feel like a king or queen of your own Napa Valley castle at Chateau de Vie, which is patterned after a French château. The stucco manor has a column-framed entrance, formal gardens and a cozy library stocked with good reads to thumb through. Breakfast featuring seasonal, local ingredients is served on the terrace whenever you’d like. The B&B can arrange massages surrounded by fragrant lavender and rose bushes, and you can do laps in the 40ft pool while gazing at row after row of cabernet sauvignon vineyards. Guest rooms have luxury linens, fluffy towels and oversize robes.
Napa isn’t only about European-inspired estates and boutique bed and breakfasts. Sophisticated urban hotels exist, too, such as the Archer Hotel Napa. Sitting on First Street in Downtown Napa, the hotel is right in the middle of the city’s buzzy business district, consisting of tasting rooms, sophisticated clothing and jewelry shops, and sleek, modern restaurants. Locals are just as likely as guests to congregate at the hotel’s Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar, a swanky outdoor lounge with a backdrop of potted olive trees, crackling stone firepits and bar bites such as lobster corn dogs. However, only hotel guests have access to the Sky Terrace, with its refreshing water deck and partially submerged loungers, stone fireplaces and a 360-degree view of Napa. Rooms have dramatic flourishes such as Austrian-crystal-studded headboards and native Napa-stone wainscot walls, lit with candles.
You’ll experience a bygone era with a stay at Hotel Napa Valley, a B&B in a historic Napa mansion. The hotel has original redwood interiors from trees dating back thousands of years. Elegant rooms and suites have antique fir, oak and stone floors. Select rooms and suites also feature large spa tubs, walk-in showers and stone fireplaces. Plenty of goodies are included, such as breakfast, an evening wine reception and other treats.
Within three ivy-clad stone-and-brick buildings from the 19th century, this upscale B&B is a south-of-France fantasy come to life. The grounds feature flowers, greenery and draped wisteria, while the refined rooms have black-and-white checkered drapes, floral bedspreads, fireplaces and, in some cases, whirlpool tubs and private patios. Each morning, the innkeepers offer breakfast in a brick-lined room or your guest room, with house-made baked goods, an entrée, granola, yogurt, bread and fresh fruit. Maison Fleurie is less than a 10-minute walk from Yountville’s shops and eateries, including Thomas Keller’s famed French Laundry.
This Tuscan-inspired hotel in Yountville is known for customizing experiences that take its guests far from the tourist track – think private winemaker events and tastings with renowned Napa chefs. Here, you’ll be treated to a host of free extras, including a champagne continental breakfast, fresh-baked cookies, and unlimited tea and coffee. Rooms have all the comforts of home and then some, such as walk-in showers, marble vanities and private verandas. The swimming pool with double sun loungers, courtyard firepits, and various spa services are the icing on the cake.
Owned by Napa local Mark Hoffmeister, the 12-room Wydown Hotel has a personal feel. Hoffmeister has decorated the hotel with items he has collected during his travels (he gravitates towards a contemporary but lived-in look), including David Masin furniture and photography by Josh Lopez and Gary E Blum. Team members are genuine Napa Valley ambassadors who share inside secrets on what to do and where to go based on your taste. All rooms have Restoration Hardware fixtures, king-size beds, Geneva sound systems and downtown St Helena views.