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Where to Stay in the Napa Valley: Best Areas & Hotels, 2019

Written by Karen Hastings
Feb 20, 2019

About a 90-minute drive from San Francisco, the Napa Valley offers all the ingredients for a relaxing weekend escape, romantic getaway, or family vacation. The best area to stay in the Napa Valley depends on what you want to do during your visit. If you're looking for a five-star resort, you'll be spoiled for choice. Napa Valley luxury hotels range from high-end eco-resorts to country club-style properties and chic hideaways. If you're planning a couples weekend, you'll find historic bed-and-breakfasts and even adults-only resorts set amid inspiring vistas in the sun-soaked countryside.

Foodies interested in sampling Napa's excellent restaurants might want to stay in the scenic riverfront district of downtown Napa or one of the Napa Valley's cute country towns. Yountville is one of the most charming. Here, you'll find The French Laundry, a famous Michelin-starred farmhouse restaurant, and the French bistro Bouchon. Calistoga is home to healing hot springs. Tiny Oakville and Rutherford ooze rustic charm, and pretty St. Helena also offers wonderful restaurants and boutique shops.

Before you book, you should know that accommodation in the Napa Valley is relatively pricey — mid-range properties here are the price of luxury properties elsewhere, but if you're looking for a place to stay on a budget, you'll find several options near the main Napa Valley towns.

Where to Stay for Luxury

Meadowood Napa Valley | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

Serene, secluded, and stylishly elegant, Meadowood Napa Valley offers everything you want from a luxury Napa Valley getaway. This Relais & Châteaux resort and country club nestles amid pine forests on a 250-acre private estate, a short bike ride from the charming town of St. Helena and the Silverado Trail. Escape from the world here on a personalized wellness journey at the Napa Valley's only five-star spa, immerse yourself in nature on the resort's four miles of scenic hiking trails, mingle at an evening social reception, take a cooking class, or feast on creative Modern American cuisine at the three Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood. If you want to work off all that glorious food, sign up for croquet, golf, or tennis; take a complimentary fitness class; or swim in the resort's adult or family pools.

Peppered along a pine-studded hillside, the private guest cottages and lodges continue the understated country-club elegance, with beautiful vistas of the forested valley, golf course, or croquet lawns. Four-poster beds, plush robes, private porches, and wood-burning fireplaces are typical features, and some cottages add sumptuous marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs. Multiple room configurations are available to accommodate families and groups of friends. If you can tear yourself away from the resort, private shuttles whisk you to tourist attractions in the area.

Rustic eco-luxury sets the tone at Calistoga Ranch, Auberge Resorts Collection, a 157-acre ranch snuggled in a peaceful wooded canyon. Sustainability is key here, and the resort's impressive restaurant sources produce from local farms and its own beehives, chicken coop, and gardens for its Napa Valley-inspired cuisine. In your spare time, you can practice yoga on the lakeshore, enjoy a guided meditation walk, soak in mineral-rich waters at the spa, swim in the heated pools, play bocce ball, or hang out with Cal the ranch dog. Hiking, horseback riding, and biking are other popular things to do, and the resort offers specially curated activities for younger guests.

Created from natural materials, the 50 standalone guest lodges merge with the natural surroundings — living trees reach through cedar decks, sunshine floods through floor-to-ceiling windows, and outdoor showers immerse you in nature. On cold Napa nights, you can cuddle up by the outdoor fireplaces. One- and two-bedroom options accommodate groups and families. Also in Calistoga, is sister property Solage, an Auberge Resort, another top luxury choice, with sleek and sophisticated studios and suites, a light and airy design, and an award-winning spa and Michelin-starred restaurant.

In the heart of downtown Yountville, Bardessono is an oasis of peace, steps from restaurants, shops, and other attractions. The attentive staff welcome guests like old friends, and the resort's green initiatives add to the feel-good vibe. Relax at the rooftop pool, dine at the farm-to-fork restaurant, book an aromatherapy treatment at the spa, or explore downtown on the loaner bikes.

Bardessono's sustainable design extends to the guest suites. Constructed of non-toxic, non-allergenic natural materials, the contemporary suites feature comfy beds with organic cotton sheets, light-filled spaces, large soaking tubs, and handmade bath products. Gas fireplaces and private balconies or patios are other typical features, and some rooms come with steam showers and outdoor showers.

Where to Stay: Mid-Range

Scenic walking path in downtown Yountville | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

Hip and happening, the Andaz Napa offers slick city style in downtown Napa. This is a great place to stay if you want to be in the heart of the action, near shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Farm-fresh breakfasts are served at a communal table, and you can enjoy light fare at two other dining venues, including a large second-floor terrace with a fire pit. Guests can keep fit with free access at an adjacent gym and lap pool. Sleek and stylish, the rooms come with hardwood floors; large windows; and well-appointed bathrooms with soaking tubs, double vanities, and rain showers. Loft accommodations add fireplaces. Each week, local musicians entertain guests in the lobby.

Surrounded by vine-draped fields in Rutherford, the historic, boutique Rancho Caymus Inn sports a rustic Spanish-hacienda style. Repurposed materials from a 19th-century Ohio barn were used in its recent two-year renovation, including exposed barnwood beams, custom-crafted doors, and wrought-iron accents. Amenities include a central pool, and a concierge is available 24/7. The Spanish styling carries though to the rooms, which feature barnwood ceilings, custom furnishings, fireplaces, spacious bathrooms, robes, slippers, and private patios. Continental breakfast is included in the rates.

For a historic feel and a convenient downtown location in Napa's Riverfront district, consider the Napa River Inn at the Historic Napa Mill. You can walk to gourmet restaurants and boutique shops, jog along the scenic riverfront bike path, or enjoy a therapeutic massage at the spa. Spread across three different buildings, the rooms vary in character and configuration. Canopied beds, clawfoot tubs, and Victorian-era furnishings enhance the historic feel in some, while others have exposed brick walls and more modern furnishings. Fireplaces make them cozy on cold winter nights. A lovely touch is the delicious breakfast offered in bed every day.

Where to Stay on a Budget

Napa Riverwalk at dusk

If you're looking for places to stay in the Napa Valley on a budget, you'll find plenty of options near the main Napa Valley towns. Near shops and restaurants in south Napa, the Best Western Plus Inn at the Vines is an affordable option. Rooms surround a sunny courtyard with a small heated pool and hot tub, and typical features include free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee makers, and mini-fridges. Two-story loft suites have separate living areas. A fitness room and laundry facilities are also available for guests, and if you're a rewards member, the hotel offers a free breakfast at the adjacent Denny's.

Nestled amid trees along the Napa River, the RiverPointe Napa Valley Resort is a unique place to stay in the budget category. These mobile tiny homes are cute, colorful, and full of character. The studios and one-bedroom cottages come with living areas, shady decks, and kitchenettes, and barbecues are available for alfresco cooking. You can also swim in the pool, soak in the Jacuzzi, or work out in the fitness center. Movie nights and other weekly activities and events add to all the fun.

Where to Stay for Families

Hot air ballooning over the Napa Valley

If you're traveling with kids and looking for a family hotel, you'll have plenty of space to spread out at the Carneros Resort and Spa, set on 48 acres in Napa and surrounded by bucolic views. With so many things to do here, you may never want to leave the resort. Amenities include two pools and hot tubs, including a family pool and an adults-only version; three restaurants; a fitness center with a full schedule of free classes; loaner bikes; and complimentary use of a luxury Cadillac. Parents can de-stress at the spa, and even your pooch will be happy here, with a full range of dog amenities, including closed-in porches and patios, dog bowls, and beds.

Perfect for families of any size, accommodation ranges from cute cottages to one- or two-bedroom suites and two- and three-bedroom homes with 2,400 square feet of indoor space and sprawling outdoor entertaining areas. Select suites come with fireside butlers.

For those who are traveling with the family on a budget, Best Western Plus Elm House Inn in Napa is a charming country-style inn with the feel of a bed-and-breakfast. Special family rooms come with two queen beds, and parents and kids can soak in the hot tub. Kids love the free breakfasts, especially the delicious sweet potato waffles and homemade coffee cakes, and the complimentary afternoon tea with warm cookies is a welcome perk.

Where to Stay for Romance

Bistro in Yountville | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

A taste of Provence near the town of Rutherford, the adults-only Auberge du Soleil is the ultimate Napa Valley romantic hideaway. Whether it's a honeymoon, anniversary, or just a much-needed stress detox, this is a favorite escape for couples. Spectacular valley views of sun-splashed hillsides dotted with olive trees and oaks greet couples from every direction. Enjoy Mediterranean cuisine at the Michelin-starred restaurant, sign up for a signature spa experience, take a yoga or pilates class, or sunbathe by the sparkling "La Plage" pool.

Relaxed luxury sets the tone in the 50 contemporary guest rooms, suites, and private "maisons," named after towns in the South of France. Standalone tubs for two grace private terraces in some rooms, and gas fireplaces add a cozy feel on cold nights. Don't miss the complimentary breakfast on the dining terrace, where the stunning valley views stretch for miles.

A blend between a B&B and a boutique hotel, in downtown Napa, Inn on Randolph is a great-value couples' escape. Gracing a 19th-century estate in a Napa historic district, this elegant hotel sits amid lush English gardens. Historic rooms or contemporary-style cottages come with features like plush beds with a choice of pillows, cuddly robes, fireplaces, two-person spa tubs and dual shower heads, and heated bathroom floors. Gluten-free gourmet breakfasts are included in the rates, and private romantic dinners (as well as in-room couples massages) can be arranged on request.

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