Winter might just be Napa Valley's best kept secret: Free of crowds and traffic, the off-season also promises steals at Wine Country's hottest luxury hotels.
Take advantage of the cooler months by booking a room at one of Napa's coziest boutique stays—there's no shortage of stylish newcomers.
The lovingly restored Francis House in Calistoga.
(Photography by Michael Hospelt)
Drive through Calistoga and there's one building that seems really out of place, but the stone-walled, French Empire-style Francis House has been a town landmark for decades, despite being uninhabited since 1965. Built in 1886 and once home to the Calistoga Hospital, the building was saved from impending demolition and transformed into Napa Valley's newest luxury inn, finally opening in 2018 following over three years of construction.
Set within walking distance of downtown Calistoga's hot springs, quirky shops, restaurants, and wine outposts, the intimate Francis House has just five rooms, each accessed via an app and a high-tech Bluetooth key system. Inside are stone walls, plenty of natural light, gorgeous marble bathrooms with fancy Japanese toilets, and one-of-a-kind antique furnishings. Guests receive complimentary breakfast and have access to a private heated pool, sauna, and garden. // Rates start at $495/night; Francis House, 1403 Myrtle St. (Calistoga), thefrancishouse.com.
(Courtesy of Hotel Villagio)
The rebel sibling to the new Vintage House, Hotel Villagio (formerly the Villagio Inn & Spa) opened in 2018 following major renovations as part of The Estate Yountville, a luxury lifestyle concept complete with restaurants and shops. While Vintage House is bright, clean, and luxurious, Hotel Villagio is decidedly more rock n' roll, yet still sophisticated, with darker features and industrial elements of wood, brick, and metal. There is one exception to this: the stunning, San Francisco studio-sized marble bathrooms, furnished with oversized mirrors and soaking tubs set up with Champagne buckets.
Rooms are made for staying in with wood-burning fireplaces, outdoor balconies and decks, mahogany headboards, and faux fur throws from Restoration Hardware. Some suites have open closets and chic dressing nooks that would make Carrie Bradshaw swoon. Those traveling in a group (and with a significant spending budget) can book The Villa at The Estate, a five-bedroom bachelor pad equipped with its own private pool and jacuzzi, chef's kitchen, pool table, and a pair of $40,000 Hästens Swedish mattresses. The lobby, complete with a fireplace, full bar serving original craft cocktails, billiards, and other games, is a lively place to make new friends with both locals and tourists in the evenings. By morning, the billiards table is transformed into an epic, European-style breakfast buffet, served until 11am in case you had too much wine the night before. Hotel Villagio also has a new pool and one of the largest spas in all of Napa Valley. // Rates start at $449/night; Hotel Villagio, 6481 Washington St. (Yountville), villagio.com
(Courtesy of Vista Collina Resort)
The contemporary, Tuscan-inspired rooms with vineyard views and the pool (with jacuzzi, private cabanas, nap-inducing day beds, and poolside service), are enough reason to book here. But it's a slew of unusual amenities that make the new Vista Collina Resort a destination, not just another place to rest your head. Right next door to Vista Collina is The Village, featuring eight boutique wine tasting rooms and the Napa Smith Brewery, which all stay open later (7pm, 10pm for the brewery) than the rest of the region's wineries and tasting rooms. The best part? You don't have to book transportation. The Village also has a grocery, events lawn that hosts markets, concerts, and your own personal picnic (which you can curate through their lawn butler service), and Food & Wine Center, where you can sign up for cooking classes.
Head across the street to Vista Collina's sister property, the Meritage Resort. There guests can dine at Siena Restaurant, bowl at Crush Ultra Lounge, and make an appointment at Spa Terra, located inside a wine cave. // Rates start at $179/night; Vista Collina Resort, 850 Bordeaux Way (Napa), meritagecollection.com/vista-collina
Archer Hotel Napa
(Courtesy of Archer Hotel)
Opened in November 2017, the five-story Archer Hotel in downtown Napa lives up to the hype. It's all about the details here—in the bathroom, find his-and-her slippers and custom rubber ducks in the soaking tub; in the closet, an umbrella with a sunnier day depicted on the inside. Each night, return to a locally crafted turndown treat, like a fortune cookie or madeleine. Each of the 183 luxe rooms come with a wine fridge for stashing souvenirs from your trip, and some rooms have balconies with fireplaces and special menus for ordering up food and drink, blankets, games, and a "mood setter" with wine, chocolates, candles, and vinyls.
Journey out the lobby doors and find a day's worth of activities on one block, from modern wine tasting rooms to shopping and restaurants; however you'll want to save at least one meal for the Archer's Charlie Palmer Steakhouse. Settle into the luxe dining room, or order a juicy filet mignon right to your room. Come early spring, the Archer will open its rooftop, outfitted with a shallow ledge pool and cabanas, a fitness center and spa, a second Charlie Palmer restaurant, and a bar. Introductory rates are currently as low as $199—a total steal and basically unheard of in Napa Valley—so the time to book is now. // Rates start at $199/night, 1230 First St. (Napa), archerhotel.com/napa
River Terrace Inn
(Courtesy of River Terrace Inn)
A large-scale renovation at the River Terrace Inn has resulted in a hot new restaurant, luxury suites with views of the Napa River, and a secret walking path that leads to downtown Napa. Each of the eight new suites comes equipped with a fireplace, balcony, and romantic French windows that separate the soaking tub from the bedroom. Choose a junior or king suite and awake to a cotton-candy sunrise over the river.
Alba serves up original craft cocktails—we love the Valley Heat (tequila, jalapeño, cucumber, and pineapple)—on their outdoor patio, kept warm in the winter months by fire pits and heaters, and the center of live music on the weekends. For dinner, share small plates like lobster mac and cheese and pork belly crepes. Save room for the uber-gooey beignets.
The River Terrace Inn's new, private walking path will take you right to the bustling Oxbow District, home to the Oxbow Public Market, plus a handful of wine tasting rooms, breweries, and restaurants. You can even hop aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train. Once you're done exploring downtown Napa on foot, grab a complimentary cruiser and set off down the Napa Valley Vine Trail. It reaches all the way to Yountville, home to more wine tasting rooms, world class restaurants, and shopping. // Rates start at $199/night, 1600 Soscol Ave. (Napa), riverterraceinn.com
(Courtesy of Senza Hotel)
Brought to you by the owners behind Hall Wines (with the giant Bunny Foo Foo statue), Senza has completed a multi-year renovation, most recently adding two premier suites. Ideal for groups, they can join together into one killer pad (1,500 square feet) with two king bedrooms, three bathrooms, a professional kitchen, washer/dryer, and private patios. But all 43 rooms here are worth the stay: classic and simple yet tech-driven, featuring bluetooth connectivity and smart TVs so you can Netflix and chill away from home. Suites come upgraded with heated floors, and virtual and gas fireplaces. Need something? Just ask Roxy, your in-room concierge who bares a striking resemblance to Alexa. Book a room with vineyard views and awake to the iconic hot air balloons floating out your window.
The property doubles as an open-air contemporary art exhibit, featuring numerous pieces from the proprietors' personal collection. Amenities include a heated pool with cabanas, whirlpool, spa and fitness center, a complimentary breakfast with Bouchon Bakery pastries, and a wine and cheese hour where you can taste Hall wines. From the hotel, it's a short walk to one of Napa Valley's newest wineries, the funky Ashes & Diamonds. Enjoy one last tasting in its midcentury modern digs, before feasting on a hearty Italian meal at Napa institution Bistro Don Giovanni. We love the pumpkin and almond cookie crumb-filled ravioli di zucca, tossed in a sage-brown butter sauce. // Rates start at $249/night, 4066 Howard Lane (Napa), senzahotel.com
Hotel Yountville Resort & Spa
(Courtesy of Hotel Yountville)
The French countryside meets Napa Valley Wine Country at Hotel Yountville. With meandering secret pathways, fountains, sculptures and stone buildings, you'll almost forget you're right in America. The hotel's new ownership group has been focusing on enhancing the property's luxury services and amenities: Guests are greeted with a complimentary glass of wine, receive truffles from local chocolatier Kollar Chocolates at turndown, and can grab fresh pastries from chef Michael Chiarello's Bottega on their way out each morning. Want room service? It's adorably delivered in a picnic basket via bicycle.
Hotel Yountville's most swoon-worthy rooms, bright bungalows with tall, vaulted ceilings, feature stack stone fireplaces, four-poster beds, oversized tubs (fit for two; we tested it) and private outdoor space. But our favorite feature has to be the spacious shower that doubles as a personal steam room, perfect for curing hangovers if you've had too many cocktails at Redd Wood the night before. If you're craving extra R&R, book a relaxing treatment at the spa, or order the in-room Couples Retreat massage ($480). The pool has a fire pit, outdoor bar, and cozy loungers for afternoon naps, and the brand new fitness center was completed at the end of 2017.
Napa Valley's top breakfast spots (Bouchon and Model Bakery) are just a short stroll away, but you should spend at least one morning at Hotel Yountville's restaurant Heritage Oak. The brioche French toast (with vanilla mascarpone, caramelized Asian pears, and almond crumble) is in best-ever territory. // Rates start at $350/night, 6462 Washington St. (Yountville), hotelyountville.com
Formerly the Vintage Inn, the new and utterly glamorous Vintage House is the result of a massive rebranding and remodel. Starting with the lobby and its swanky glass elevator, the entire place looks like a page ripped from the mighty catalogue of Restoration Hardware. Plush, contemporary-Victorian furnishings and vintage art adds a vibrant personality to all 80 elegant rooms. Each has a wood-burning fireplace and outdoor space with a love seat or hanging cocoon chair, but the site's four cozy bungalows are the most premium and private. In warmer months, the pool deck, complete with a lavish jacuzzi, cabanas and daybeds, is the only place you'll want to be.
Located right on Yountville's busy Washington Street and next door to the town's main hub, V Marketplace—home to chef Michael Chiarello's Bottega and Ottimo (a mini Eataly), plus many boutique shops and art galleries—you could spend several days wining, dining, relaxing, and shopping, all within stumbling distance of your bed. // Rates start at $295/night; 6541 Washington St. (Yountville), vintagehouse.com
Rancho Caymus Inn
(Courtesy of Rancho Caymus Inn)
The Rancho Caymus Inn, which recently reopened under new ownership after a huge, two-year renovation, is unlike any other hotel in Napa Valley. Originally built in the 1980s by Mary Tilden Morton (of Berkeley's Tilden Park) with a classic California vibe, the inn's new owners decided to forego the cookie-cutter, luxury-modern aesthetic found all throughout Wine Country and stick to the place's roots. This meant preserving many of Rancho Caymus' original details and framework—like custom doors, 19th century barn-wood beams, stained-glass windows, and blankets from South America, which have been repurposed into wall art throughout the property.
The 26 Spanish hacienda-style abodes are warm and cozy with exposed beams and rich wood and leather furnishings. Each comes with a gas fireplace and outdoor terrace; in the courtyard, a heated pool, jacuzzi and outdoor fire pits have taken the place of a garden. Breakfast is offered every morning with free Equator coffee; in the evening (Thursdays through Saturdays), Rancho Caymus partners with local wineries to host a wine reception. Located in the true heart of Napa Valley, the inn is also conveniently across the street from the area's most popular Mexican market, La Luna, and just a block from the cult dinner favorite Rutherford Grill, where the French dip is a must-order. (Rutherford Grill also offers free corkage, so bring a bottle of the day's tasting treasure with you to dinner.) // Rates start at $195/night, 1140 Rutherford Rd. (Rutherford), ranchocaymusinn.com
The Ink House
(Courtesy of the Ink House)
Built in 1895 as the personal home of Napa Valley pioneer Theron. H. Ink, this spot later became a bed-and-breakfast where Elvis stayed while filming Wild in the Country. Today, the Ink House has been given new life as a luxury boutique hotel. Fully restored with elegant and contemporary touches while still paying homage to its history, the two-story inn has just four rooms, each meticulously curated with a fully individual design, color theme, and personality. Dedicated to faces from the building's past, there's even an Elvis Room, aptly furnished with a blue suede bed. Head up to the building's observatory for 360-degree views of Napa Valley, nosh in the chef's kitchen, and play a game of bocce ball on the grounds.
Guests at the Ink House can also enjoy daily European breakfast, a tasting of Castellucci wines, and first-class amenities such as a ride in the Bentley house car and your own personal, around-the-clock maître d'étage. Located just south of downtown St. Helena, the Ink House is conveniently surrounded by top wineries, restaurants, and boutique shopping on St. Helena's Main Street. // Rates start at $1,200/night, 1575 St. Helena Hwy (St. Helena), inkhousenapavalley.com
Las Alcobas Napa Valley
(Courtesy of Las Alcobas)
Beringer Vineyards' new next-door neighbor, Las Alcobas has 68 sophisticated rooms done up in neutral palettes with outdoor terraces and vineyard views, a heated pool designed for year-round use, an on-site restaurant from a top chef, and a spa where you can DIY your own aroma blend to be used during your treatment.
A historical contrast to the ultra-modern and high-tech rooms—think Japanese-style toilets, rain showers, and gas fire pits on every porch—is the St. Helena property's centerpiece: a grand, Georgian-style mansion called the Acacia House. Built in 1907, it was the very first inn in Napa Valley, and today houses a handful of suites and a fine dining restaurant from chef Chris Cosentino (co-owner of San Francsico's Cockscomb). For dinner, get Cosentino's specialty, the crispy fried pork schnitzel; for breakfast, the chilaquiles; and whatever you do, don't leave without trying the margarita. Topped with a salty seafoam, it's a tribute to the original Las Alcobas Hotel in Mexico City and is known as the best marg in Wine Country. // Rates start at $695/night, 1915 Main St. (St. Helena), lasalcobasnapavalley.com
Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa
(Courtesy of Calistoga Motor Lodge)
Palm Springs meets Napa Valley at the Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa. This 1940s roadside motel got a major facelift and now beckons you to unplug and simply chill. Simplistic in design and free of pretension, each of the 50 rooms is outfitted with camper-style banquette seating as a tribute to the great American road trip. It's the perfect spot for spending a cozy night in, snuggled in a super-soft sweatshirt robe (found in your closet), and immersed in a competitive game of Life or Sorry, available for checkout in the lobby.
Calistoga is an easygoing town, so take the day at your own pace. Borrow a cruiser bike to explore the tasting rooms, quirky shops, and restaurants along Lincoln Avenue; hop on the Oat Hill Mine Trail for a half-day hike; or stay put and bliss out by the lodge's three spring-fed pools. Whichever you choose, you won't need your car. The whimsical MoonAcre Spa and Baths, modeled after the classic and heavily tiled European bath houses, offers mineral baths in claw foot tubs, a grape seed body scrub, and DIY mud baths—a fun play on the traditional mud treatments that are a big draw of this small town. // Rates start at $129/night; The Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa, 1880 Lincoln Ave. (Calistoga), calistogamotorlodgeandspa.com
UpValley Inn & Hot Springs
(Courtesy of the Upvalley Inn & Hot Springs)
Downtown Calistoga's Comfort Inn underwent a total refresh and got a new name to match its hipped-up vibe. All 55 rooms at the Upvalley Inn & Hot Springs have been transformed with a combo of modern and rustic elements. In step with Calistoga—Napa Valley's most funky town—pops of color and graphic wallpaper add some zest to the rooms' clean, neutral base. The same theme carries over into the property's brand new sauna and steam room, set next to their mineral pool and jacuzzi.
You won't find as many luxury amenities here as other hotels on this list, but if you're looking to stay and play in Wine Country on a reasonable budget, this is a solid option that will still feel like a getaway—and may leave you with a little extra spending money for what's most important: wine. // Rates start at $129/night; UpValley Inn & Hot Springs, 1865 Lincoln Ave. (Calistoga), upvalleyinn.com
This article has been updated since it was originally published in January 2018.