Palm Springs meets Napa Valley at the new Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa, which ditches the area's customary buttoned-up opulence in favor of old-fashioned fun, best had while soaking in their detoxifying geothermal pools.
Formerly the Sunburst Calistoga, a classic 1940s roadside hotel in serious need of an update, the Calistoga Motor Lodge got just that, along with a rebrand, and officially opened in September on Lincoln Avenue.
"The town of Calistoga, with its quirky tendencies, was the perfect fit for our motor lodge," says Ingrid Summerfield, president and partner of Filament Hospitality, which owns the new motor lodge. "We transformed it into a joy-filled ode to the great American road trip of the 1950's and 60's; the sense of nostalgia is meant to counterbalance the gadget-happiness of today."
The lodge's 50 retro rooms purposefully maintain the minimalist motel vibe, but manage to do so without feeling dark, dingy, or dated. Keeping with the road trip theme, each is outfitted with a camper banquette, a great spot to eat your sandwich from Palisades Deli Cafe (try the Geyser with pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on rye), or to play an analog game, available for checkout in the lobby.
The camper seating converts into a large double bed in 24 of the suites. And in a subtle nudge to put down your phone, a needlepoint sign reads "No selfies in the bathroom." Indeed.
Start each morning with a cup of coffee outside your room, lounging in an adirondack chair and snuggled in the uber-soft sweatshirt robe that's hanging in your closet. Once caffeinated, embark on either a complimentary guided hike along the Oat Hill Mine Trail or a bike ride around town (cruiser rentals are also free for the first two hours). Then, spend the better part of the day swimming in one of three geothermal pools, fed by Calistoga's notorious underground hot springs, and beating your friends at bocce or Giant Jenga.
It's not a true visit to Calistoga without a mud bath, and the Motor Lodge's MoonAcre Spa and Baths offers a fresh twist on the classic treatment, with a lot less fuss. Instead of climbing into a hot trough of stinky, sulfuric mud, Perfectly Muddled ($70) let's you mix your own mud and paint it on your body with a brush. You'll then retreat to a quiet lounge chair in the garden to bake in the sun while your skin reaps the benefits.
Other available treatments at the spa, modeled after classic European bath houses with tiled walls and floors, include massages, facials, mineral baths in clawfoot tubs (with your own rubber ducky), and the apropos Wine Country Scrub ($130 for 50 minutes), made from crushed grape seeds.Reminiscent of summer camp, the lodge has a weekly schedule of activities like Adult Swim, featuring a guest winery; Sunday pool parties; and impromptu sack race competitions. Next year, the dog-friendly lodge plans to add 12 more rooms, a restaurant, and beer garden. // Rates start at $209/night; The Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa, 1880 Lincoln Ave. (Calistoga), calistogamotorlodgeandspa.com