If you're anxiously awaiting the return of international travel, Napa Valley's newest hotel can keep your FOMO at bay for a little while longer.
Bann at Oak Knoll Napa is the first hotel project for San Francisco's Osha Thai restaurateur and chef Lalita Souksamlane. Her colorful bed and breakfast is rich with culture and feels half a world away in Thailand—it's only missing the beach.
Twenty-five years since Souksamlane opened her first brick and mortar Osha restaurant, Bann celebrates the milestone on the site of what was formerly the Oak Knoll Inn.
Like most Napa Valley lodging, Bann is beautiful and luxurious, but it also boldly stands out from the pack. Inspired by Souksamalane's native Thailand, you won't find farmhouse chic with sliding barn doors or ultra-modern glass walls here. Bann is a true, cultural delight in Napa's minimalist sea of neutral browns and grays.
Bann Hotel: The Digs
The reception pagoda at Bann.
(Courtesy of Bann at Oak Knoll Napa)
Bann has just five vineyard-facing rooms and each is a meticulously crafted tribute to a region of Thailand. The rooms are connected by a long, L-shaped deck that has three communal pergolas for outdoor dining or lounging, an everyday part of Thai culture.
Even if you haven't been to Thailand, it's easy to draw a connection between it and Napa Valley. Both are known for opulence and grandeur and that's made clear via details like floor-to-ceiling drapes and hand-painted, 18-karat-gold sinks. Souksamlane's extensive antiques collection is sprinkled throughout the property and rooms, including a series of wooden elephants.
There's no such thing as a small or standard room here. Bann translates to "home" and each room feels like a small, yet affluent house designed with the color palette, materials, and handcrafted furnishings that are traditional to and sourced from its assigned region. For example, the ornate wallpaper in each room mimics the traditional clothes the women wear. My room, a junior suite called Singha Nakorn, is representative of Southern Thailand, which I'm told is close to the sea and a bit like living in a jungle. As a result, the room possessed a more rustic elegance, incorporating unfinished wood and tropical green and gold tones. The artwork was created by local villagers.
The bathrooms are large and lavish with beautiful mosaic tiling, a soaking tub, and thoughtful touches like Chanel perfume and the softest robe I've ever had the pleasure of wearing—more nods to the haut living of both Thailand and Napa.
Perhaps most importantly, Bann also has a vineyard-view pool and hot tub, which we enjoyed following a sunset stroll through the on-site gardens and vines, wine glass in hand.
The Food at Bann Napa
A traditional Thai breakfast is served every morning.
(Courtesy of Bann at Oak Knoll Napa)
We were greeted at check-in with a traditional tea service upon arrival inside one of the pagodas. Snacking on fruit, cheese, and mini desserts, we switched back and forth between the warming tea and a bottle of bubbles that the Bann hospitality team also brought out for us. Bann has a 24-hour honor bar, stocked inside an antique food cart that was a fruit stand in its former life. A bevy of childhood favorite snacks like chips and candy bars are complementary.
But as a bed and breakfast, it's the morning meal that's worth writing home about and, outside of the soaking tub, breakfast was my favorite part of our stay—a refreshing departure from American morning staples (not that I would ever turn down bacon). My expectations were high, considering Souksamlane's chef background, and I was not disappointed. The spread included coffee, fruit, pastries, and the choice between two traditional Thai breakfast dishes, all served on stunning wares. Naturally, we each ordered one so that we could try both. My favorite was the Thai-style rice soup with shrimp and a boiled egg, but the Thai-style chicken noodle soup with a boiled egg was delicious too—and you're given chopsticks to use if you're up for it.
Breakfast was also the first time we interacted with other guests, seated a Covid-approved distance away in another pagoda. Bann is so small and intimate that it actually felt like we had the place to ourselves the evening prior.
Things to Do Nearby
Bann is situated roughly halfway between Napa town and Yountville, providing easy access to dozens of dining options. For dinner, we got takeout from nearby R+D Kitchen in Yountville. And given that Bann is the perfect spot for a quiet, unplugged getaway, so tranquil, that you may only want to depart for meals. But just a minute away from the Silverado Trail, it's also a great jumping-off point for a day of wine tasting, especially in Napa's famed Stags Leap District. Reserve a tasting at Pine Ridge Vineyards, Regusci Winery, Odette Estate, and the off-the-beaten-path Stag's Leap Wine Cellars.
// Rates at Bann at Oak Knoll Napa start at $575 a night; 2188 Oak Knoll Ave (Napa), bannnapa.com.