Courtesy of Charlie Palmer Steak/Archer Hotel Napa
Courtesy of Auberge du Soleil
At the lauded Auberge du Soleil, enjoy a breakfast spread on the private balcony of your own “maison” accommodations.
Come for the wine, stay for the incredible food to pair it all with.
Napa Valley is one of the best places in the world for food and wine. I’m not just saying that because it’s only an hour away from AFAR’s San Francisco office, either. As it turns out, readers agree—this year the destination was voted the world’s best in our Travelers’ Choice Awards. Hotels reflect the region’s storied viticultural and culinary legacy (some hotels even have their own vineyards and make their own wine). So where should you stay if you want to indulge your taste buds and achieve peak comfort? Here are five top hotels to book if you’re looking for some trip-worthy meals.
This wine country gem has been open since 1981 when French restaurateur Claude Rouas and his business partner Bob Harmon brought a slice of Provence to Napa Valley—and the adults-only escape has never lost its energy. In 2019 they unveiled the redesign of two 1,800-square-foot freestanding private maisons, each featuring two bedrooms and two bathrooms, as well as the sweeping vineyard and mountain vistas Auberge du Soleil is known for. Beyond the swanky digs, though, the food is key here (it was founded by a food lover, after all).
In the restaurant, recognized as Napa Valley’s first fine-dining establishment, executive chef Robert Curry highlights seasonal California fare and plenty of local purveyors on his six-course tasting menu; three- and four-course dinner options are also available. The wine list is extensive—with a cellar of 15,000 bottles, oenophiles are sure to find a glass or three that they’ll enjoy.
At the Bistro & Bar, diners get a more casual atmosphere. Along with a raw bar, solid charcuterie options, and goodies like chocolate tortes, master sommelier Andrea Robinson recommends the burger. And if you’re interested in venturing to other lauded eateries in the valley, be sure to talk to the concierge, who may be able to help you snag those hard-to-get French Laundry rezzies.
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Archer got a lot of buzz when it opened in downtown Napa in 2017. Its 83 rooms are kitted out with Malin + Goetz toiletries, cozy Frette bathrobes, and funky slippers that give the place a young, urban vibe—in sum, the hotel was a welcome addition to a burgeoning district. But perhaps the most interesting part about it was the opening of Sky & Vine, the only rooftop bar in Napa. There, tipplers can enjoy a 360-degree view of the city, plus a robust craft cocktail program. (Our local contributor Matt Villano called it “the most happening cocktail scene in downtown Napa.”) Chef Charlie Palmer brings his New American sensibilities to the property’s menus. Bar bites on the roof include lobster corn dogs and house-made ice cream sandwiches; downstairs at lobby-level restaurant, Charlie Palmer Steak, executive chef Francisco Lopez, Jr. prepares wagyu steaks, New York strips, and more for carnivores to satisfy their cravings. By the way, the doughnut tower at Sunday brunch—replete with three dipping sauces!—is a great hangover remedy.
Archer also makes this list for its proximity to other downtown Napa dining hot spots. Within walking distance from the hotel, guests find a smorgasbord of casual local eats at Oxbow Public Market, meals cooked by aspiring culinary stars at the restaurant at CIA Copia, and plenty of shareable plates and Japanese whiskey at Miminashi, where chef Chris Cosentino recommends the okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes).
Up the street from the boutiques of St. Helena’s main drag, travelers seeking tranquility (it’s an adults-only property), vineyard views, or a really great massage will find all of the above at Las Alcobas. It’s not just the homey front porch that welcomes diners and guests to chef Chris Cosentino’s on-site restaurant, the Acacia House. The flavors on his menu—inspired by fellow wine regions in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Portugal—beckon, too. Breakfast isn’t just a continental afterthought for the Top Chef Master: Baked eggs with grilled bread or 10-grain porridge with spinach and parmesan start a day of winetasting right. Dinners are at once elevated and fun; my first time there, I was delighted by the house-made chips served with a creamy labneh and roe dip.
International design firm Yabu Pushelberg worked its magic on the property, and the rooms are at once sleek, stylish, and serviceable, ideal for whiling away morning hours reading a good book on your balcony next to the fire pit, fresh coffee in hand (yes, the rooms have a French press). If you wanted to nosh on a cheese plate or olive-oil cake from the room service menu while luxuriating in the room’s soaking tub, I wouldn’t judge, either—there’s a tray for the bath that would be perfect to hold your plate.
Here’s the tea: Rooms aren’t necessarily as elegant or updated as the other hotels on this list. But for travelers who want a resort with a good location, a more accessible price point, and a lot of room options for groups or families (all but one room type comes with a kitchenette or fully equipped kitchen), the Westin Verasa Napa is just the ticket. Like the Archer, it’s located downtown; unlike the Archer, the Westin lays claim to some nice riverside views.
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It also lays claim to La Toque, a Napa Valley culinary mainstay. Chef Ken Frank has been crafting award-winning cuisine in the area since 1998, and moved La Toque to the Westin in 2008. Wine Spectator granted the Grand Award to the restaurant for its exhaustive catalog of wines, as well as for the exceptional care taken to pair wines and food. The French-inspired menu has also consistently earned a star from the Michelin Guide. A nine-course chef’s tasting menu is the main event at La Toque, but diners can also mix and match with selections from the “core menu” to create their own four- or five-course tasting menus. Plus, vegetarians don’t get the short end of the stick here—an entire vegetable tasting menu is an option, too. Personally, I’ve been dreaming about a dinner there ever since I found out about the annual truffle menu; chef Frank is well regarded in the restaurant world for his commitment to the fickle fungus. Whenever you go to La Toque, chef Frank recommends requesting seats at Table 5 for the best view of the dining room. Beyond La Toque, BANK Cafe and Bar offers diners and drinkers comfort food and, what’s more, access to La Toque’s wine list, ideal for happy hour cheers by the water.
A stay at this 250-acre estate in St. Helena may be the ultimate in a hotel-culinary combo experience. The lodgings are varied and luxurious: family lodges, private villas, and suites overlooking woodlands, all with fireplaces and most with soaking tubs, porches, or terraces. Complimentary amenities include car service to downtown Yountville or St. Helena, and guests can play croquet, tennis, or golf all right on the grounds.
But the real reason to go is a dinner at the Restaurant. Under chef Christopher Kostow’s guidance, the team earned three Michelin stars in 2011 and has stayed at the top of the game, focusing on uplifting California’s seasonal bounty. The 3.5-acre organic and sustainable culinary garden (shared with Kostow’s other venture, the Charter Oak) means seasonal veggies are as fresh as can be. A three-hour tasting menu is served in the dining room for $350/person. Die-hard diners can go behind the scenes in the kitchen and book the Chef’s Counter for $600 (sans wine pairings) to get a glimpse of the hubbub. Those who don’t want to spend (as much) dough for a full tasting menu can opt for a three-course menu at the bar.
Don’t want to schlep from your room to any of the eateries? In-room dining is available 24/7—including stuff for the kiddos—and chef Victoria Acosta makes sure Meadowood spa guests are taken care of with healthful organic dishes, too. Another food-related perk: From Memorial Day to Labor Day, guests can also reserve a catered picnic service.
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