Luxury Retreats in California Wine Country
Hundreds of wineries dot the rolling hills in Napa and Sonoma counties, the heart of California wine country. Visitors come from all over the globe for the region’s beautiful vineyards, quaint towns, hot air balloon rides, world-class cuisine, and, of course, wine. Travelers looking to get pampered should consider these top luxury hotels.
Calistoga Ranch, an Auberge Resort, Napa Valley
It's no wonder royalty, A-list celebrities, and athletes keep returning to the luxury Calistoga Ranch: It's in a class all by itself. Guests rent exquisite private lodges, set on a private 157-acre park-like property complete with hiking trails and a top-of-the-line restaurant and spa. Attention to detail carries over from room design to landscape planning -- all modules for the lodges were flown in by helicopter to minimize impact on surrounding trees and to maximize privacy. The property boasts plenty of activities, including outdoor yoga, a beautiful heated outdoor pool, a bocce court, a fabulous fitness center, and wine tasting seminars. If guests decide to venture out for some reason, they can easily access downtown Calistoga and other towns with not only loaner bikes, but loaner Mercedes-Benzes!
Kenwood Inn and Spa, Sonoma Valley
Kenwood Inn and Spa is located in Sonoma County, but the hotel and grounds evoke beautiful Tuscany. The European-style property impresses with its lush gardens and courtyards as well as its exquisite fountains and pools. The 29 private and spacious rooms are individually decorated with romantic Mediterranean-inspired decor, and are furnished with cozy fireplaces, quality Italian linens, oversize showers, and personal balconies (some with stunning vineyard views). The ultra-luxurious spa helps ensure that guests feel pampered.
Auberge du Soleil, Napa Valley
This 50-room luxury inn is one of the most exclusive (and expensive) destinations in California wine country. Despite its intimate size, it has all the amenities of a larger resort: a 7,000-square-foot luxury spa, a lovely pool, and a Michelin-star restaurant. Views of the surrounding countryside are phenomenal, the grounds are lush and peaceful, and the homey rooms all come with huge terraces (and, in most, fireplaces and soaking tubs). It's a truly special, romantic retreat, and it's location in Rutherford is convenient for exploring Napa Valley.
It's hard to find fault with this 55-room boutique in charming Healdsburg, which delivers luxurious rooms (most with big soaking tubs), a convenient location within walking distance of tasting rooms (no designated driver required), and ample free perks that help guests feel pampered (free valet parking, free breakfast, free loaner bikes). The modern design juxtaposes warm rugs and wood against exposed concrete.
Milliken Creek Inn and Spa, Napa
Located right on the banks of the Napa River, the Milliken Creek Inn is one of the swankier hotel options in Napa. All 12 rooms are supreme, with stunning views; some have working fireplaces and four-poster canopy beds. Free wine and cheese is served at sunset in the main house, and guests can opt to have free breakfast served every morning in bed, on the patio, or anywhere on the grounds. There is an amazing full-service spa on-site that makes this tranquil, secluded retreat even more relaxing.
Hotel Les Mars, Healdsburg
This upscale property feels like a European mansion, and exudes elegance on every level, from the rooms' high ceilings with exposed wooden beams, to the dark cherry wood furniture. With 16 rooms, the hotel is small enough that guests receive the special attention (such as a fresh breakfast delivered to your door each morning) without being overwhelmed by staff. The rooms are equipped with fireplaces and free Wi-Fi, and feature European-style design that includes draped four-poster beds, Italian linens, and antique-style furniture; some bathrooms have big soaking tubs.
Solage Calistoga, Napa Valley
Located in the picturesque area of Northern Napa Valley, Solage Calistoga is an ultra-chic, modern property featuring 89 separate bungalow homes with semi-private patios. The upscale, contemporary atmosphere exists throughout the hotel: Studios and suites all have high-vaulted ceilings, polished cement floors, and walk-in showers; some have gas fireplaces and large soaking tubs. The on-site restaurant, Solbar, is Michelin-starred, and features outdoor lounge seating shaded by trees and centered around a long water feature with a fire pit. There are two pools, a hot tub, and bocce ball courts.
North Block Hotel, Napa Valley
Housed in a tiny Mediterranean-style complex, North Block Hotel is well suited for a romantic getaway, with 20 cozy, elegant rooms with wonderful beds, espresso machines, and luxurious bathrooms with a separate bathtubs and walk-in showers; an intimate and upscale spa with personalized treatments; and a pleasant swimming pool with lounge chairs and a whirlpool. Redd Wood, the hotel's restaurant (with Michelin-starred Chef Richard Reddington at the helm) offers Italian-inspired cuisine. The location -- within walking distance of acclaimed restaurants in Yountville such as The French Laundry, and a short drive to wineries, golfing, and boutique -- is excellent.
H2 Hotel, Healdsburg
This 36-room boutique hotel in the heart of Healdsburg is a good pick for eco-conscious folks looking for something convenient to wineries with a modern, hip, relaxed vibe. The rooms are all done in a minimalist style, using sustainable materials, and are equipped with all the high-tech amenities you could want: flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, DVD players, and free Wi-Fi. Plus, they come with private balconies or patios. The H2 offers some pretty great perks -- from water stations on each floor offering flat or sparkling water, to free loaner bikes, to free weekend yoga classes. Spoonbar serves modern Mediterranean fare made with fresh, local ingredients, and the solar-heated outdoor pool is surrounded by greenery.