A summer escape to Napa Valley is incredibly decadent. But it might be a necessary decadence for the Year of Our Lord 2022, in which it’s too hot out, the news cycle is relentless, and the days of summer are already dwindling. Besides, expensive trips aren’t an inexcusable indulgence anymore, not if you can file them under “self care.”
If you’re thinking of hiding away in Napa Valley and necking some vino, there’s really only one place to stay for the full Napa experience — Hotel Yountville in Yountville, California.
Hotel Yountville is pure luxury escapism. And that doesn’t come cheap. King rooms are going to set you back around $1,400 per night, with suites hitting well above that. But what you’re getting for that price tag is seclusion and luxury with spot-on food, great wine, and rooms that truly are top-tier. It’s the sort of place where you can spend the morning lounging by the pool while waiting for a spectacular massage and spa experience before walking into town for a wine tasting or two and then a world-class dinner before hitting the hotel for a nightcap under those drooping and twisted Coast Live Oak trees and a blanket of stars.
Let’s dive in and break down why Hotel Yountville is truly one of the great hotels in California.
WHY IT’S AWESOME:
I mentioned the seclusion and that’s a huge selling point. Chillness envelopes you from the moment you check in to the poolside lounges to the breakfast dining room with an open-format kitchen. It’s a whole mellow vibe.
The details here are so on point. The towels and sheets on the poolside lounges are ultra-soft. The pool is just the right temperature. The hot tub is hot but not too hot. The trees around the pool and outdoor seating areas provide the right shade at the right time of day. The service staff is impeccably attentive but never obviously present.
I don’t know if I’ve encountered a more relaxed staff at such a high-end property. The whole feeling was “take your time, we’ll do the rest.”
Each suite has a small balcony or veranda for outdoor wine sipping. There’s a gas fireplace with over-stuffed furniture for indoor wine sipping. Then there’s the bed, but I’ll get into that a little further down. There’s great privacy between the rooms even though they’re side-by-side and, in some cases, built into the same two-story structures. It kind of never feels like you’re in a resort. Sure, you’ll see some folks walking to and from rooms or around the pool or at breakfast, but seeing other guests never feels like a big deal.
That said, you can easily make friends poolside in the late afternoon when people return from a day of tasting around Napa.
Then there’s Napa itself. The town of Yountville — which is probably one of the most iconic towns for food in the U.S., thanks to Thomas Keller taking the whole place over — is a few steps away. Ad Hoc, Bouchon Bistro and Bakery, and The French Laundry are all just up the road. In between, there are tons of options for wine tastings (Hill Family Estate and Jessup Cellars are good spots for drop-ins). Most places had a walk-in policy in late spring, but you might need a reservation in the summer.
If you get tired of all the wine and Thomas Keller fussiness, you can always hit up places like Ranch Market Too for a slice of pizza and a really well-made Italian sub or La Calenda for some tacos and margaritas.
IN-HOUSE FOOD + DRINK:
It should come as no surprise that the food is stellar at this place. I mostly had breakfasts while there. I never eat breakfast at home, so when I’m in a place like this, I tend to go all-in.
The first morning, I ordered the eggs benny (the true test of a resort’s kitchen). It was the most audacious and delicious benny I’ve had in a while, it was served with in-house smoked pork belly, fresh avocado, bacon hollandaise, crispy bacon lardons, a big pile of frisee and basil with a light vinaigrette dressing, and asparagus all over some excellent whole-grain bread. I decided to add some local chicken apple sausage on the side because, why not?
Yeah, it was astoundingly good. The pork belly was perfectly unctuous. The hollandaise had the best tang to it. The bread took me back to the health food store bread my mom would buy us in the 1980s in our little seaside hippy town up in Washington state.
Then there were the pancakes (sampled the next morning, I’m not that much of a sicko). They were these airy yet slightly tangy, long-fermented pillows of delightfulness, served with a medley of local strawberries, pistachios, and basil with a perfectly sour creme fraiche and bespoke strawberry syrup that I could have drank on its own. And I don’t even really dig on sweet food that much. If there’s a better pancake in the U.S., I have not had it.
Lastly, there was the poolside dining service. Attendants were more than happy to bring you a lunch menu of beer, wine, cocktails, and even some alcohol-laced popsicles alongside excellently built cheese and meat boards, legit crispy chicken wings served with house-made aioli in a peanut/lime dressing, and some seriously good truffle fries.
Based on a Premium King (which is the halfway point between the room types available):
- 575 Sq. Ft.
- Four-Poster King Bed
- Bellora Italian Linens and Down Duvet Comforter
- Large, Two-Person Spa-Tub
- Free-Standing Rainfall Shower
- Private Balcony or Private Garden Patio (Depending on Location)
- Second Floor Rooms have Ceiling Fans and Vaulted Ceilings
- Field Stone Fireplace
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- 55-Inch Television
- Minibar stocked with complimentary organic fruit and nut mix, granola squares, caramel macchiato almonds, and water
- Coffee and Tea Maker
There are seven room types at Hotel Yountville, but they basically break into two categories: King bed rooms and suites.
The king rooms will come with, you guessed it, a king bed, a great bathroom, a large spa tub and rain shower (except in the standard king), and then patios and fireplaces in the deluxe and premium versions. There’s a two queen bed option at this level as well.
The suites include four-poster king beds and separate “living areas” where you can sit around on big couches and chairs around a gas fire or slip out onto a balcony or veranda from the room.
It should be noted that all the suites have a two-person spa tub in the bathroom.
THE BEST THING TO DO WITHIN A 5-MINUTE WALK:
Wine. I could leave it at that. I already mentioned a couple of spots up above. And look, you can spend the day hitting one side of the street and the next day hitting the tasting rooms on the other side of the street.
Maybe a three minute walk up Washington Street (the main drag through town) is Regiis Ova Caviar & Champagne Lounge. It’s a nice break from the reds and whites of all the tasting bars. Make sure to get the deviled eggs with Royal Caviar. It costs $38 for two but it’s phenomenal. I know, I know… Thomas Keller does it again. Wash it down a little bubbly and then follow it up with raw oysters, and you’re more than set.
THE BEST THING TO DO WITHIN A $10 CAB RIDE:
The French Laundry. Well, you can take a cab/Uber/Lyft there and walk back under a sky full of Napa Valley stars. This is basically the whole point of staying in Yountville. It’s also a culinary adventure through truly amazing foods (and wines) from the local area or grown across the street in a huge garden. While I could spend the next 5,000 words going over the beauty that is The French Laundry in 2022 (still!), I’ll save that for another day.
Instead, I’ll leave you with this. Even if you’re only remotely interested in food (in any way), you need to eat at The French Laundry at least once in your life. Or as Anthony Bourdain once said after dining there, “the best restaurant in the world, period.”
Okay, this is where Hotel Yountville really shines. The bed game is quite possibly one of the best I’ve ever experienced. Maybe the Hotel Eden in Rome beats it out, but it’s a photo finish.
The beds are Simmons Beautyrest World Class Felicity II Super Pillow Top (I asked), and they’re out of control in comfort. Then the pillows are Down Etc. pillows that had the perfect density and stayed cool throughout the night like some magical pillow from a fairy tale land. It was the best nights of sleep I think I’ve ever had in a hotel room, or anywhere for that matter. I bought these pillows as soon as I got home.
The sheets matched the quality of the bed and pillows thanks to Fili D’Oro linens from Northern Italy. Soft Egyptian cotton and Flanders flax made for a sleeping experience that felt like you were being cradled in the womb. By the second night, I was looking forward to just getting back to the room to get into bed. I didn’t even care about the wine around me anymore.
This is pretty high. This is where you take your secret lover for a luxurious romp, hidden away from the wide, mean world. The bed game alone is worth it. Then there’s the spa tub for two, the killer actual spa for deep tissue treatments, and the overall chilled-out vibes of the whole place. It’s the sort of resort and spa experience where you can let the outside world just disappear for a spell and be 100 percent focused on the person you’re there with.
Look at it this way: no one’s taking their kids to a $1,500-a-night resort spa in Yountville. In fact, you rarely see any kids around town (especially compared to St. Helena and Calistoga further north). It’s almost exclusively couples and adult groups getting their wine on or eating through Thomas Keller’s oeuvre of restaurants.
That said, it’s not like the property goes out of its way to be sexy the way some other high end properties do — whether with in room saunas or private plunge pools, etc.
I mean, it’s wine country. I feel like that’s self-explanatory. But then there’s the Yountville/Thomas Keller food scene. People line up for a long time to get a pastry from Bouchon Bakery and then the moment they step out of the bakery, they take out their phone and post that shit.
Unique and amazing food that’s Insta-ready, Northern California sun, rolling hills, and endless vineyards … yeah, this is IG heaven. That said, I’m talking about the area and not the hotel. Overall, it’s very photogenic but not quite the South of France on a summer day either. It’s all an American’s idea of that, but not quite that.
As for the thirst trapping… this isn’t quite that. It’s a little more refined. Think of that whatever you will.
BEST SEASON TO VISIT:
I was there at the end of March. As I’m wont to do, I struck up a convo with the bartender over some Sierra Nevadas (I can’t drink wine all day) about this. At that time, there were plenty of people around Yountville and the hotel but there was plenty of space. He told me two weeks later (around Easter), they’d be smashed basically until October. Not just on the weekends either, once late spring starts leading into summer, it’s going to be hard to get in anywhere (hotels, wineries, and restaurants) on weekdays and weekends.
Based on that, I’d say March and October are probably your best bets with a month on either side working too. Winter tends to be quiet with a lot of the tasting rooms restricting hours and so forth.
IF I HAD TO COMPLAIN ABOUT ONE THING:
Yountville is the set for the Truman Show except instead of a maniacal Ed Harris in charge it’s Thomas Keller.
There’s a character to the town, in theory. But it’s all so … plastic. It’s like a set with amazing food hiding behind the facades. The only place that felt real — or real-world even — was the Ranch Market Too grocery store with a deli and pizza joint on the side. The rest is all this sort of regulated, ultra-clean, eerily quiet “town.”
St. Helena and Calistoga have character, and grit even. Yountville felt like a rich person’s idea of what a “small town” is without any purchase on the real world outside.
That has nothing to do with the hotel, as it’s completely isolated from all of that. Plus, you’re likely going to spend most of your time at one of the gazillion wineries within a five to 20-minute drive, meaning you’re less likely to notice this anyway.
Expect to pay between $1,400 and $2,200 depending on the room.
More Photos of the Hotel:
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