THE BEST PLACES TO STAY IN NAPA, RANKED
- •Poetry Inn --- It doesn't get better. With the exception of its lame name, the Poetry Inn is perfect in every way. The epitome of casual refinement. Whether it's a romantic weekend or a small group of friends looking to visit wineries and exceptional restaurants, it's unrivaled. [continued below]With only a small handful of perfectly appointed rooms, the "inn keepers" (a proud designation of the owners) have created unquestionably my favorite place to stay in California, if not the entire country. Less is more here. Staff is surgically employed so they never get in your way. Breakfast is cooked to order by their executive chef and served at a table in this meticulously relaxed environment overlooking as beautiful a view of the valley that exists. Perfection, plain and simple.
- •Calistoga Ranch --- Situated along the beautiful wooded hills north of Rutherford, Calistoga Ranch is built on a large parcel of land that was (remarkably) zoned as a trailer park. These cottages are therefore the most beautiful "mobile homes" ever contemplated. [continued below]It all feels wonderfully secluded -- all the better for the outdoor showers. An attentive staff is virtually everywhere you turn. An exceptionally good restaurant is only for resort guests. Drawbacks: To allow for the secluded feel, everything is spread out -- necessitating golf cart rides to get anywhere on the property. When it's cold or raining, the golf cart thing is dreadful. The location is north of everything in the valley -- which makes anything off the property feel a little far away.
- •Meadowood --- Meadowood used to be the absolute best place to stay in Napa. It was then sold to a hedge fund. Running this property for double digit returns has reduced its considerable appeal. It's still great, but not the nearly flawless experience it used to routinely provide. [continued below]The lone improvement brought on by the new owners was the investment in a "destination-quality" restaurant. It's certainly the second-best restaurant in the valley, boasting three Michelin stars*. The location is perfect -- central to everything. And it's probably the best Napa resort if you have a group of people. --- (*Despite an equal Michelin rating, let's be clear: it's great, but it's nowhere near as good as The French Laundry.)
- •Auberge du SoleilAuberge has a view that rivals the one at the Poetry Inn. Being just down the road from Meadowood, the location is ideal. In most places, this would be hands down the best resort. Here, it's fourth on the list. It's really nice. Just not as good as the top three.
- •The Carneros InnFar and away, the best value in Napa. The rooms are weirdly a little "narrow," as the resort includes the private outdoor space as part of the room's square footage. This is another property that's great for a group. The real drawback here is the location. Carneros is south of everything. And like Calistoga Ranch, any time you go off the property, wherever you're going feels like a long drive.
- •BardessonoIf everything else is booked, Bardessono works. It's just really expensive for what it is.