Get ready to plan the ultimate getaway. 

By Brian Freedman
March 05, 2019
Courtesy of Calistoga Ranch, Auberge Resorts Collection

For as long as I can remember, Napa Valley has been synonymous with a thoroughly American style of casual luxury. And it’s not limited to one particular part of the region: The best area to stay in Napa Valley is, frankly, anywhere. Downtown Napa hotels have helped to revitalize the city, as have a new generation of restaurants and bars. (For a taste of the energy infusing Napa these days, make sure to check out Compline, the wine bar, restaurant, and retail shop helmed by Master Sommelier Matt Stamp and former Charlie Trotter wine director Ryan Stetins. The extensive list of wines by the glass and bottle ranges from unusual grape varieties like Gual, from the Canary Islands, to unexpected gems like a 2004 Rosso di Valtellina; and the menu, by Chef Yancy Windsperger, is designed with the single-minded goal of pairing with wine. To that end, the bacon marmalade burger sings alongside pretty much whatever red you choose to sip, and dishes like the tofu and rice bring out the umami in your glass with gusto.)

But Napa Valley luxury hotels and dining aren’t limited just to downtown: From the small-town charm of Yountville to the more rustic appeal of Calistoga, 5-star hotels in Napa Valley are both plentiful and often charmingly idiosyncratic in design and philosophy. And they keep on coming! In the middle of this year, for example, The Four Seasons Resort & Residences will be opening for business in Calistoga. Just don’t let the actual star rating of a property dictate your decision-making: Some of the most beloved Napa Valley resorts achieve a supremely high level of luxury, despite their lack of formal recognition. The trick is to keep an open mind, do your due diligence, and find the property that’s best for you. There are more than enough to choose from.

Archer Hotel Napa


Archer Hotel Napa (1230 1st St., Napa, CA 94559; (707) 690-9800): Few hotels are as emblematic of downtown Napa’s resurgence than the Archer, which opened last March on 1st Street. It’s a five-story hotel with an energetic scene in the lobby, 183 rooms throughout, and the Sky + Vine Rooftop Bar overlooking the twinkling lights below. 

Courtesy of Auberge du Soleil, Auberge Resorts Collection

Auberge du Soleil (180 Rutherford Hill Rd., Rutherford, CA 94573; (800) 348-5406): The French name here isn’t pretense: Auberge du Soleil was always intended to channel Provence, and in the more than three decades since it’s opened, it's been doing just that. With 33 acres of oak and olive-tree-dotted grounds, and an on-site Michelin-starred restaurant that the guide called “one of the first restaurants to elevate the Napa Valley to greatness,” Auberge has become synonymous with the kind of Napa idyll that visitors dream of. 

Bardessono (6526 Yount St., Yountville, CA 94599; (707) 204-6000): Bardessono is celebrating its first decade this year, and while it may not have the same historical roots as some other Napa luxury resorts and spas, it makes up for it with a deep commitment to the kind of mindful relaxation that visitors to the Valley crave. Organic linens are used throughout the LEED-certified property, close to a thousand solar panels provide much of the electricity, the spa is considered to be one of the best in the region, and the rooms include a selection of “spa suites” that allow guests to revel in relaxation without having to leave. 

Courtesy of Calistoga Ranch, Auberge Resorts Collection

Calistoga Ranch (580 Lommel Rd., Calistoga, CA 94515; (866) 484-8829): The focus here is trained on the natural surroundings of Calistoga, though luxury is never short-changed. In fact, Calistoga Ranch manages to bring them both together with elegance: Take an outdoor fitness class, ride a horse through an old frontier town…and then come back to the property for a soak in the hot tub (if you’re staying in the Bay Forest Spa Lodge accommodation) or dinner with your optional private chef (if you’ve booked either of the two-bedroom, 2,400-square-foot Estate or Meadow Spa Lodge options). 

Hotel Yountville (6462 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599; (707) 967-7900): The first morning I woke up in my cozy room here, I faced a serious conundrum: To stay in my magnificent four-poster bed for an extra hour, generally reveling in the fact that I was, well, in a magnificent four-poster bed, or head on out and walk to the nearby Bouchon Bakery. In the end, the promise of multiple bacon, white cheddar, and chive scones won out, but just barely. Regardless, Hotel Yountville is perfectly situated to be a center of gravity for your Napa adventures, and offers all the high-end details you’d require. Think humongous bathrooms, common areas that you’ll actually want to spend time in, and the vaunted Heritage Oak restaurant on-site.