01 of 04
Where to Stay in Napa Valley
Napa Valley isn't very big, despite its magnum-sized reputation. It's just 27 miles from the town of Napa on the south end to Calistoga on the north and barely 3 miles between CA Hwy 29 and Silverado Trail, the only two north-south roads. You could stay anywhere and get everywhere without too much trouble, but you'll have more fun if you match where you stay with your plans and preferences.
To help you do that, we've summarized the most important characteristics of each Napa Valley town, from a standpoint of deciding where to stay in Napa Valley. They're listed from south to north:
Continue to 2 of 4 below.
- Town of Napa: Overlooked for many years as visitors sped northward, downtown Napa is on the upturn these days. The town has more B&Bs than other Napa Valley towns, it's easy to walk from downtown hotels to local restaurants and wine-tasting bars - and the old Opera House hosts some great modern-style musical groups. The Andaz Napa Hotel or the Napa River Inn are good choices.
- Yountville: Home to the French Laundry and a cadre of other fine restaurants, Yountville is small but cute and some of the nicest hotels are there, too, including Bardessono, one of our personal favorites.
- St. Helena: Located halfway up the Napa Valley, St. Helena only has a few places to stay, but it's a good base for exploring everything in the area - and it has a nice little downtown with some good places to eat.
- Calistoga: Overall, the most affordable place to stay in Napa Valley (and the farthest north), Calistoga has a walkable downtown with some fun shops and restaurants. It's also chock-full of mud baths and spas.
- Other Locations: Some of the nicer Napa Valley resorts are strung along Silverado Trail on the east side of the valley. On the extreme south end of the valley, the Carneros Inn is a great place to stay, with cute little cottages and lovely views.
02 of 04
How to Find the Perfect Napa Valley Accommodation
Once you've narrowed down the areas and towns you'd like to stay in - or at least you know more about them, it's time to get down to finding the best Napa Valley accommodation for you. Rather than give you a long list of recommended hotels that might or might not meet your personal needs, we've compiled some resources to help you find the best Napa Valley accommodation for your trip.
No matter where you plan to stay, Napa County charges a 2% hotel tax. Most towns charge 12% but in St. Helena it's 14%. In addition, some properties may have other fees.
Finding Napa Valley Hotels
We like to use Tripadvisor for our hotel research, but it took us a long time to figure out how to best use the information they have to offer.
This link will take you straight to Tripadvisor's Napa Valley page, where you can quickly narrow your search to romantic hotels, best places for families and best values. They also offer a nice price comparison feature that searches several sources for you all at once.
If you like the Best Western chain, they guarantee the lowest rates if you book directly through their website. Their Stevenson Manor, Elm House Inn, Inn at the Vines and Ivy Hotel Napa are all well-rated.
Finding Napa Valley B&Bs
Napa Valley accommodations include a number of very highly rated bed and breakfast inns, just the kind of thing you might imagine in Wine Country. A few small hotels often sneak into the listings, so be sure you find out how big the place is if that's important to you.
Tripadvisor lists some bed and breakfasts and they've collected more reviews on them than other sites, but their listings aren't complete and they offer price comparisons for only a few.
Another great resource for Napa B&Bs is BedandBreakfast.com, a specialty website whose name says it all. You can check their listings here.Continue to 3 of 4 below.
03 of 04
Napa Valley Resorts
When we started to make this list of Napa Valley resorts, we had to ask "What makes a place a resort?" The name isn't regulated by the hotel-naming police and anyone can call their property a resort. After some research, we reached this definition for our list of Napa Valley resorts: A resort has enough on-site options that you don’t have to leave the property to be entertained or fed. Tennis, water recreation, and other activities are a big part of the equation.
As it turns out, Napa Valley has a number of really great resorts to choose from, each with a distinct personality. Use the lists below to get an idea of which ones might be best for you.
As is becoming common all over the place, most Napa Valley resorts charge an extra daily resort fee which may not be quoted in the rates you find through reservation services.
Napa Valley Resorts
All of these Napa Valley resorts meet the criteria we just described. They're all outside of the major towns, with lots of beautiful surroundings - and any of them could keep you happy for an entire weekend if you never leave their boundaries.
All of them have a spa on the premises and water recreation.
Auberge du Soleil: One of the most luxurious Napa Valley resorts, located on a wooded hillside above Silverado Trail east of St. Helena. They have 2 restaurants, tennis courts, a sun deck and sculpture garden.
Calistoga Ranch: This luxurious resort just south of Calistoga off Silverado Trail has its own private restaurant and sits on 140 acres of grounds.
Carneros Inn: Located on a hilltop in the vineyards at the south end of Napa Valley, Carneros Inn offers individual cottages, 3 restaurants, fitness classes and complimentary bicycles.
Meadowood Napa Valley Resort: Located just east of St. Helena in a 250-acre valley, Meadowood features a hotel spa, pool, golf course, croquet lawns, hiking trails and dining room that's consistently rated among the area's best.
Silverado Resort: An elegant, colonial-style building anchors this classic Napa Valley resort, located just outside the town of Napa. They offer golf, tennis, swimming, a classic steakhouse, bocce ball courts and bicycle rentals.
Solage Calistoga: Solage Calistoga is one of the few Napa Valley resorts that seems to have something for everyone. During our visit, we saw families with small children, starry-eyed lovers of all ages and a birthday girl who must have had more than 80 candles on her cake - all having a wonderful time. It feels like it's in the country, but you can slip out the back gate and walk to downtown Calistoga in no time.
Other Places to Consider
These two are a bit south of Napa Valley proper, but worth considering depending on what you're looking for.
Meritage Resort: Meritage has a winery tasting room on the property, a bocce ball court, restaurant and a spa in a cave.
Vino Bello Resort: This Napa Valley resort is part of the Shell Hospitality timeshare group, but they also take reservations from non-owners. They lack a restaurant or spa, but they're less expensive and one of the few family-friendly places in the area, with a water spray playground for the kids - and they partner with nearby Meritage Resort to offer their guests those extra things to do.Continue to 4 of 4 below.
04 of 04
Napa Valley Vacation Rentals
On our trips, we're starting to use vacation rentals more often. They're often less expensive than a hotel, give you room to spread out and a kitchen is a handy thing even if you only stash your bottle of wine in the fridge and make coffee in the morning.
It can be a little harder to find a Napa Valley vacation rental than it might be to reserve a nice hotel room, though. The market is still fragmented and many people don't know what services are available or where to look. The upside of that is that you can often find a nice vacation rental when everything else in the area is booked solid.
Since we've been doing this for a while, we're sharing our favorite resources to find a vacation rental in Napa Valley. Besides the rate you see listed, you may also pay a one-time cleaning fee and you may have to make a deposit to secure your reservation. Cancellations are stricter, too, so be sure your plans are firm before choosing this option.
Some Good Napa Valley Vacation Rental Resources
Tripadvisor: The biggest source of hotel reviews from real people also lists some Napa Valley vacation rentals. They don't offer online reservations, but they do show an availability calendar and you can email the owners to reserve.
AirBnB: There's been a lot of buzz about this website lately, and besides all the spare rooms, backyard tents and other ad-hoc places to sleep, some vacation rental owners are hopping on board, too. To try it, go to their website, type in Napa, CA", click the Map button and use it to navigate to the area you'd like to stay in. Select "Entire home/apt" if you're looking for a house rather than just a room or a bed.