Bay Area sweeps Michelin's new key awards, with 19 local hotels and resorts on the list.
Rutherford's Auberge du Soleil is one of only four Bay Area hotels to receive top honors from Michelin's new key awards for hotels. (Courtesy of @aubergedusoleil)

Bay Area sweeps Michelin's new key awards, with 19 local hotels and resorts on the list.


Michelin, those French arbiters of excellence, announced last week the first 124 U.S. recipients of its new key award for hotels.

The guide has applied its new system to just seven primary markets for now (California, New York City, Chicago, Florida, Colorado, Atlanta, and Washington D.C.), and it should come as no surprise that California bested the competition in all three of the ratings categories. The state has 31 “special” one-key properties, 17 “exceptional” two-key properties, and seven hotels and resorts crowned as “extraordinary” three-key stays.

The elaborate breakfast at SingleThread Inn.(Courtesy of @singlethreadfarms)

“Steadfast in our field-based approach, the Michelin Guide inspectors drew up this unprecedented list to share their best hotel experiences in the U.S.,” says Gwendal Poullennec, Michelin Guide’s international director.

With 19 properties across all three categories, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the greater Bay Area swept the awards.

Three of the four hotels and resorts at the very top of the pack are the standard bearers of Wine Country. Napa’s honorees—Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford and Meadowood Napa Valley in St. Helena—are both iconic estates with top restaurants and spas set amidst sprawling vineyards and olive groves. Healdsburg’s SingleThread Inn, sibling of the three-starred SingleThread restaurant and organic farm by Kyle and Katina Connaughton, represents for Sonoma. The tiny five-room stay, which has bright, modern style with soaring redwood-beamed ceilings, soaking tubs, high-tech Japanese toilets, and a full-service breakfast prepared by SingleThread’s chef is, in the parlance of Michelin, “all about astonishment and indulgence.”

The two-key Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco at Embarcadero has ridiculous views.(Courtesy of Four Seasons Embarcadero)

Canyon Ranch Woodside was the only property to make the three-key cut on the Bay Area’s southern side. The immersive wellness resort in the redwoods is optimized for relaxation and rejuvenation, with everything from spa services to optional activities like yoga, forest meditation, kayaking, and hiking organized throughout the day—plus intimate, treehouse-like accommodations.

Two SF hotels join the ranks of Michelin’s “exceptional” two-key properties: the recently updated Four Seasons Hotel at the Embarcadero which, in addition to luxe city-inspired decor has some truly spectacular views, and The Battery, the members-only club with an open-to-the-public 14-suite boutique hotel with interiors designed by Ken Fulk.

Just across the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito’s Cavallo Point Lodge also earned Michelin’s praise. Set in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the hotel has both contemporary and historic lodgings, excellent restaurants and culinary experiences (including an acclaimed cooking school), and a “healing arts center” and spa.

Healdsburg's beautiful Victorian stay, The Madrona.(Matthew Millman)

Other properties in the two-key category include Healdsburg’s enchanting Madrona and refined Montage Healdsburg, Guerneville’s boutique gem The Stavrand, Carmel Valley’s elegant hideaway Bernardus Lodge & Spa, and Napa’s tranquil Milliken Creek Inn & Spa. Yountville rounds out the list with the sophisticated and modern North Block, and stylish Bardessono resort.

Of the 30-plus California stays in Michelin’s one-key category, six hail from the Bay Area. Once again, Sonoma and Napa are well-represented with Napa’s Stanly Ranch, Rutherford’s Rancho Caymus Inn, Calistoga’s Four Seasons Napa Valley, and Sea Ranch’s The Sea Ranch Lodge all included. San Francisco claims the final two spots, with Hotel Drisco, Pac Heights’ elegant historic hotel with legendary free wine receptions and breakfasts, and 1 Hotel, the nature-inspired, sustainable stay on the Embarcadero.

For Michelin, the hotels that have debuted on the U.S. list is just a start. The next group of national key-worthy destinations will be released later in the year. In the meantime, the guide’s Italian and Japanese destinations (to be announced May 7th and July 4th, respectively) will join the ranks of those already selected from France and Spain in April.

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The sustainably-minded Embarcadero property 1 Hotel earned one key.(Courtesy of 1 Hotel San Francisco)

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