St. Helena, California
Cozy Napa Valley charm, $$ (average $199)
Napa Valley is not one to hide its riches. And why should it? The area is so blessed with natural beauty and resources that it's easy to understand why the German settlers who failed to find gold here in the 1800s stayed anyway. But it can also be a valley of exaggeration, especially when it comes to the price tags at the better-known hotels, restaurants, vineyards, and shops. The town of St. Helena strikes a perfect balance between charm and expense, delivering an excellent ratio of value to experience, as evidenced at Harvest Inn, a welcoming 81-room hotel on eight acres of redwoods, vineyards, landscaped gardens and fountains, and sculpture installations from Aerena Gallery. The compound feels like its own little village, with rooms and suites scattered throughout the property in brick and Tudor buildings that lend a cozy cottage feel. That said, getting out and about is easy, as the hotel is within three miles of the best of Napa Valley: more wineries than you could ever visit, state parks for hiking and exploring, and the great shopping in St. Helena.
At a Glance
The Vibe: Cottage charm in Napa Valley.
Standout Detail: Two million bricks! In the fireplaces, in the buildings, inside and out. Why? The original owner was a mason, and he made all those bricks. (Request a room with a fireplace.)
This Place Is Perfect For: Guests who want a central base for exploring Napa Valley, even if "exploring" means sticking to a three-mile radius.
Rooms: The 81 rooms in varying categories (doubles, kings, suites) are organized into five different areas across eight verdant acres overlooking either Whitehall Lane Leonardini Family Vineyards (Vineyard Rooms) or the gardens and fountains (Harvest Inn Rooms). Rooms may have vaulted ceilings, patios, fireplaces, or hot tubs — let them know your preference when you book. The decor is warm and comfy, and amenities include a bottle of wine in the room and a Keurig coffee maker. (So you can caffeinate to gear up for more wine tastings, naturally.)
On Site: The fitness center has treadmills, an elliptical, a bike, and free weights, as well as two pool/hot tub areas (one is adults-only). The hotel's spa partner, Health Spa Napa Valley, is a mile away and offers spa packages and a full menu of treatments, including mud baths, a Napa Valley speciality. Another partner is Silverado Golf Course, a stop on the PGA Tour, if you want to hit the links. Go ahead and rent a Tesla to toodle around: The hotel has electric car charging stations. And do bring the poodle, as the hotel has pet-friendly rooms. Eight acres make Harvest Inn a great place to host work or social events — in the various indoor and outdoor spaces, in the large ballroom, or overlooking the vineyard. The website has a whole section devoted to weddings. If it hasn't already been made abundantly clear, this would be a great place for a buyout.
In addition to the bottle in your room, wine-related perks include tastings on Mondays and Fridays and free car service to nearby wineries. There are 150 wineries within three miles of the hotel, by the way, five of which offer complimentary tastings for hotel guests.
Food + Drink: The on-site restaurant, Harvest Table, bills itself as a "wine country kitchen," and serves breakfast and family-style dinner daily and brunch on weekends. Of course seasonal and local produce is a star, much of it from the restaurant's five culinary garden, which yield everything from Japanese kumquats and satsuma tangerines to watermelon radishes and Thai chilies. Grab one of a dozen seats at the bar if you're feeling convivial, or a table outside for dinner al fresco.
What to Do Nearby
You could easily limit your wanderings to St. Helena and the three-mile radius of the hotel. The partner wineries that offer comp tastings include Whitehall Lane, Merryvale, Clif Family, and Hall. If you're into art, Hall has an incredible (and incredibly fun) collection that itself is worth a visit. Main Street in St. Helena is great for a lazy stroll through boutiques devoted to home decor (Carter and Co), knives (New West KnifeWorks), English muffins (Model Bakery) and used books (Main Street Bookmine). Station, the eatery in a former gas station, is the spot for a casual picnic table lunch; Michelin-beloved chef Christopher Kostow's family-style restaurant The Charter Oak is the spot for a wood-fired dinner.