There may be a debate about which is better, Napa or Sonoma valley, but our writer couldn’t take a side after visiting because there were excellent hideaways in both. She discovered a ryokan in Glen Ellen, a restored mansion in Calistoga and a lavish resort in Napa. Here are the hotel highlights of her stay in Northern California.
Glen Ellen, Sonoma County
Discreetly located in the little-known Sonoma Valley hamlet of Glen Ellen, this property is nestled within Zen-like gardens comprising towering bamboos, manicured rock gardens and miniature pagodas. The 23 guest rooms have been decorated in a traditional Japanese style with a minimalist design, streamlined furnishings and a neutral color palette. Stunning in their simplicity, Ryokan Zen Suites are augmented by oversize tubs carved from granite that look out to private rock gardens. The property also has a secluded pool, a hot tub and a meditation barn.
From the editor: “Overall, this romantic property is ideal for those wanting to disconnect. At times during our stay, we had to remind ourselves that we were in Sonoma Valley, rather than in a haven somewhere outside Kyoto.”
Read more about Gaige House + Ryokan.
Calistoga, Napa County
Located in a stately landmark building just a few short blocks from the main street of Calistoga, this gated property features a modern French décor. Rebuilt and renovated from the ground up, the hotel (a onetime family home, and then hospital) mixes contemporary and classic elements. Its original accents have been maintained, including a mansard roof, locally quarried stone walls, arched windows and doors, and oak plank flooring. The five guest accommodations are uniquely appointed and include polished brass features, period writing desks and all expected modern conveniences. The hotel’s main amenity is a long swimming pool set amid a manicured garden.
From the editor: “Exceptionally hospitable people, the owners go above and beyond to make guests feel at home and to give them the benefits of their extensive local knowledge.”
Read more about The Francis House.
Located on the border of Napa and Sonoma counties, this beautiful, bucolic resort is set amid a landscape of yellow and purple wildflowers, towering palm trees and green pastures. The 86 quaint, stand-alone cottages are clustered into micro-neighborhoods that are all connected via a series of lush garden paths. The unpretentious cottage interiors feature a rustic-chic farmhouse décor with cherry wood floors, concrete fireplaces and vaulted ceilings. Vineyard View Cottages also come with private decks furnished with fire pits, outdoor showers and loungers positioned under gas fireplaces. Three on-site restaurants include roadhouse-style Boon Fly Café for casual fare, FARM restaurant for elevated multicourse meals and a guests-only hilltop restaurant set beside the sophisticated, full-service spa.
From the editor: “The property feels homey and offers a strong sense of place. It is also one of the relatively few resorts in the Napa and Sonoma valleys that is family-friendly and features facilities and programs specifically intended for children.”
Read more about Carneros Resort and Spa.