Take the Waters
Usually, the phrase “taking the waters” is reserved for European spa-goers, but, if Californians have adopted the phrase, it’s thanks to Indian Springs and its founder, Samuel Brannan. Brannan opened the resort in 1862 as a relatively no-frills spot that took advantage of sleepy Calistoga’s natural geothermal hot springs, attracting vacationing Bay Area residents to mud baths, mineral pools, and wellness treatments. Bungalows were added in the glamorous 1940s—it’s not hard to imagine characters out of Hitchcock films spending time here—but the resort continued to attract devotees primarily for its natural treatments and renowned, Olympic-size mineral pool until 2014, when it transformed into a contemporary luxury resort. The additions have been carefully done to maintain the vintage glamour, Mission architecture, and laid-back artsy atmosphere of the original spa retreat, so that both longtime fans and luxury-loving newcomers will feel right at home. The new cocktail bar and restaurant—terrace dining is, naturally, de rigueur, complete with string lights and a fire pit—make it a full-service resort (where even the minibar is included), so you don’t have to leave the picturesque grounds after a day spent between treatments and the pool. Although, with the best of Napa’s food and wine all around you, the choice is a tough one.
By Kate Thorman, AFAR Contributor
1712 Lincoln Ave, Calistoga, CA 94515, USA