As you might have guessed, the Hotel Yountville is located in…Yountville, otherwise known as the cradle of the Thomas Keller’s restaurant empire (including The French Laundry), as well as some newer entrants into the high-end dining field like Michael Chiarello’s Bottega. You also might recognize the property because it used to be the Yountville Inn, though, truth be told, during our recent stay the whole place was unrecognizable. For the better. For the way, way better.
· Extreme Makeover: Napa Edition
Napa architect Robert Keenan was commissioned to oversee the transformation while keeping the hotel’s footprint the same on a plot of land with ancient oaks, old olive trees, and a creekside setting. Therefore Keenan's design utilizes Napa river rock, timber beams, and copper accents to enhance the once-dowdy exteriors.
Inside, meanwhile, designer Lisa Holt aimed to blend “Savile Row elegance with casual sophistication.” While that conjures up the image of a well-to-do haberdasher, we found our room to be completely comfortable, light and chic. Gone is the motel-like furniture. Banished are the dark corners of the rooms. The room fireplaces have been highlighted, and the vaulted wood-beamed ceilings have finally seen the light of day.
· The room:
The formerly 40-room property right off the Yountville exit from Highway 29 is in the process of being converted into an 80-room luxury property, though 41 rooms are currently available. We were housed in one of the Premium Suites.
That scored us nearly 900 square feet of space including a four-poster king bed with custom-designed white Italian linens by Bellora, and taupe and teal accent pillows. The spacious living room area with a sofa and armchair was positioned for easy access to the minibar and the wall-mounted 42-inch flat-screen LCD HDTV. First thing we did was turn on the automatic gas fireplace on our way out the French doors to check out the private patio, complete with two deck chairs and a small table.
Then it was back in to open the mirrored peekaboo shutters into the bathroom. There was a large open-style wardrobe area with areas for hanging clothes and propping open your luggage, as well as really cool glass-faced drawers so we could see exactly where we’d unpacked which garments. Beside that, at a small separate vanity area for a little last-minute primping, there was a single sink and a whole array of Gilchrist & Soames toiletries. Next to this was the WC with the toilet, then the walk-in shower with wall-mounted and rainfall shower heads (eco-friendly low-flow fixtures), and a separate soaking jacuzzi tub (made with recycled glass tile) with room for two.
If there hadn’t been a complimentary wine tasting in the lobby from 5-6pm (on Thursdays-Saturdays) followed by our dinner reservations in town, we would have stayed there all evening. Oh yeah, we did have time to check our email thanks to the free WiFi signal.
· Pre-Drinking Petit Dejeuner
Instead, we indulged the following day with breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant, the Hopper Creek Kitchen. We tasted a few of Chef Adam Clark’s signature dishes (his background includes time in the kitchens at The French Laundry, Calistoga Ranch and Barn Diva) like the black currant hotcakes made with farina, yogurt, maple nectar, zinfandel grape jam, candied Meyer lemon, crème fraiche and Iranian pistachios.
We also scored an appointment at the intimate Spa AcQua, which has small changing areas for men and women with one-person steam showers, and a common relaxation room where guests wait for their treatments, as well as direct access to the hotel’s pool area. We got the signature massage that worked out all our stress knots from…a hard day of wine-tasting. What? It can be stressful!
Rates for a standard Deluxe Room start at $265 in March, while the Premium Suite we stayed in starts at $365. Come high season this summer, though, and that standard room shoots up to for $495 a night, and the suite hits a sky-high $795.
Full disclosure: Eric Rosen was a guest of the Hotel Yountville while on assignment for another publication, but all opinions expressed are entirely his own.