Choosing a hotel in Napa Valley was easily the most difficult task of planning our California adventure. I'm accustomed to traveling to cities, where once the most important decision is made - location - the choices are narrowed to a small selection within that quadrant. The problem with Napa Valley, was first deciding which of the small towns to use as our home base, in an area spread over hundreds of square miles. We debated between Calistoga, St. Helena, and Healdsburg, before eventually landing on the tiny town of Yountville and the Napa Valley Lodge.
Even though the selection process felt like a game of "pin the tail on the donkey," the Napa Valley Lodge proved to be a brilliant choice in terms of location. It was within a short walk of two restaurants I had picked out for dinner, not to mention the delicious Bouchon Bakery. I was surprised to see that the lodge was also directly across the street from the bike rental company we were set to use for a winery tour. I'd like to say all of this was just as I'd planned it, but it was luck more than anything else.
|The walk to the lobby|
As we pulled into the lodge, I started to wonder if that luck had run out. The first strike was the exterior hallways, something I've long despised in hotels because it usually means I'm staying somewhere I would rather not. The second strike was the work crew jack-hammering away on the concrete wall out front of the hotel. It wasn't the construction that bothered me, but the thought of what else was being worked on during our stay. Did I commit a cardinal sin and book a hotel undergoing a renovation? There was only one way to find out...
|The vine covered walls leading to the courtyard.|
There were no signs of construction as we stepped into the small and, more importantly, quiet lobby. I wasn't going to bring up the hard hat area out front, but when the desk agent apologized for the noise I seized the opportunity to find out about the rest of the hotel. She assured us the front drive was the only area being worked on in the hotel, and it would wrap up in a day or two. Just like that, my worries faded away, and after an efficient check-in we were off to our room.
|While on one of my early morning strolls...|
I was prepared to be underwhelmed, considering we were coming from the Lodge at Pebble Beach, where "standard" is something bigger than our house. Plus, how often do you find an awesome room at an exterior hallway kind of joint? Apparently pretty often, because for the second time in as many hotels, I was thoroughly impressed by a room I entered from the sidewalk.
|So we prefer two queen beds...big whoop!|
Although the room didn't approach "bigger than our house" territory, it wasn't far from it. This was mostly due to the vaulted ceilings, and the room's abundance of open space. Too often, hotels cram a bed, armoire, desk, sofa, table, and nightstands into a space designed for a bar stool. While our room had all of the above, it didn't feel cramped in any way, and made our standard room feel more like a junior suite.
|MJ later hid all of the mini-bar snacks|
The bath was equally spacious and featured one amenity I've grown to appreciate in hotels: a separate sink and powder area. These keep me out of MJ's way while she's getting ready, and in turn, out of trouble early in the morning.
|MJ's area...stay away.|
One of the main things we wanted from our hotel in Napa was something that felt, well, Napa. I'm not entirely sure what I thought that was, but I knew the last thing we wanted was a cookie cutter Westin that we could find just about anywhere. While I may have scoffed at the hotel's appearance from the road, I had a quick change of heart as I explored the interior courtyard.
|A fire in the pit and a glass of wine will do...|
There was a fire pit surrounded by numerous comfortable chairs, lush green grass with a fountain providing the soothing sound of falling water, and a pool that practically begged for a dip after a long hot day at the wineries. Yes, this felt like Napa, and was exactly what I had in mind.
|For some reason this random bench made me think of Forrest Gump|
Another reason we booked the Napa Valley Lodge was their breakfast offering. Anytime I see the words complimentary, Champagne, and breakfast, all squeezed together in the same sentence, I'm bound to get excited. The irony, however, is that I chose to walk to Bouchon Bakery every morning, and never once took advantage of the spread. On the other hand, MJ enjoyed breakfast in bed each day thanks to the hotel's complimentary breakfast delivery service....me.
|The breakfast spread|
Finally, one of the things I appreciated most about the lodge was their assistance in getting home all of our souvenirs - read: wine. Over our 5 day visit, we had accumulated about ten bottles, and hadn't given a whole lot of thought to how we would get them home. I asked the front desk for some ideas, and they suggested using a local shipping company that specialized in delivering wine. They would pick up and package the bottles, and have them delivered to our home in about a week. I was a bit hesitant just leaving 10 bottles of wine with the front desk, but sure enough about a week after we returned home, our wine arrived as promised. For a few dollars extra per bottle, not having the stress of lugging a package through the airport was well worth the cost of shipping.
Although I wasn't too sure what to expect when we booked it, the Napa Valley Lodge turned out to be one of the best surprises of our California adventure. If you're like me and have an aversion to exterior hallways, get over it. The location, rooms, and value can't be beat, and most importantly, it has that Napa Valley feel. If we are lucky to return to Napa, I'm confident we would choose the lodge once again, but next time, I just might try the breakfast.
Enjoy Your Stay