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When we went to Napa last week, we did what anyone visiting Napa would do. We ate. We ate our way through the valley, we ate food with food, food on top of food and quite possibly would have had sex with the food if the opportunity was there. Did we make our point clear? The food here is otherworldly.
But there's just so much steak and pastas and steaks our hearts could take. So imagine our sigh of relief when we parked our extra weight at Solage Calistoga's SolBar.
Don't let the name fool you. "SolBar" might sound like a cafe lounge where hippies congregate for hemp kale crisps but it's actually a Michelin-star rated masterpiece. Like, people drive in from San Francisco to dine here, thanks to easy-on-the-eyes executive chef Brandon Sharp's magic wand (or, uh, spatula).
The sustainably farmed ingredients with a twist on soul food recipes (the fried chicken is TDF) is truly exceptional. But that's not what we're all about right now. The kitchen just introduced a new Asian-inspired lounge menu last month. The culinary team of white people prove they can make some crazy-awesome, fancy Asian cuisine.
Read on to hear a few of our favorites!
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Craving “Swans a Swimming” this holiday season? Well you’re in luck, as we’ve found eight Embassy Suites Hotels that feature mated pairs of Royal Swans swimming year-round in their atrium lobbies.
Real live swans? Yes! At first glance, their serenity is surprising—after all, they’re being kept in captivity. Yet these swans are happily coupled up and swimming to-and-fro in their lobby ponds without a care in the world. In fact, most of the day, they’re sleeping. With all that peace, elegance, and togetherness (they mate for life)--perhaps married couples should take notes!
We take a sweet look at the animal love stories:
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It's the most
annoying wonderful time of the year when irresistible little Girl Scouts set up shop everywhere you go selling their delicious Girl Scout cookies. (We confess, we gave into a box of Samoas outside a Bed & Bath last week).)
But now thanks to Kris Margerum, the wine director at Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley, you can make chowing down those cookies a little more "adult"-like thanks to his inventive wine pairings. Yes, Girl Scout cookies and wine. Delightful!
Combing the hotel's extensive 17,000-bottle wine cellar, Margerum came up with the following pairings for these Girl Scout cookies:
· Trefoils-Old Fashioned Shortbread: Margerum recommends pairing the cookies with the 2007 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine. Tasting Note: "The creamy richness of the shortbread is balanced by the fresh lively notes of the Sparkling Wine."
We don’t usually mix wine-country getaways with fancy cars—after all, we’d never advocate drinking and driving—but a recent experience at the tony Carneros Inn in Napa has us thinking that cars and carafes (with a driver!) might just be our new favorite mash-up. That’s because this luxury resort is one of only four in the country that has partnered with Audi to have a couple of primo vehicles that will shuttle guests around the property.
The New York Times recently reviewed Hotel Luca in Yountville, California, and while it did give the Napa Valley hotel props for its prime location and great staff, the paper didn't exactly give the Tuscan-like spot a ringing endorsement.
On the plus side, the 20-room hotel is off of a road filled with vineyards, offers quick access to the wineries along the Silverado Trail and is a short stroll from restaurants and shops. But even more important, the staff came to the rescue of the reviewer who was hitting some dud wineries. The reporter called the hotel concierge from the road to ask for recommendations, and within a half hour she had made him an appointment at a private winery.
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It’s been a while since we hit the Valley. Napa Valley, that is. But we had a hankering for great wine and fine food last month, so we headed up to NorCal for a little bit of epicurean living, and while there, happened to stay at the newest hotel in the Valley: the Hotel Yountville.
Of course you're invited in to take a look at our exclusive photo gallery and walk-through video of our Premium Suite, but hands off the wine...
As summer came to an end last week, we headed up for one last wine country weekend in Napa, and stayed at Solage Calistoga. The newest of Napa’s Auberge Resorts, Solage is aimed at a hipper, younger and more eco-conscious crowd than its sibs, Calistoga Ranch, and Auberge du Soleil.
To see what the average $495 room rate gets you, check the video of our room.
There are no shortages of good places to eat in Sonoma and Napa so we're pretty sure that if you find yourself heading there one weekend, you will be well-fed. But since we're always asking what you did over the weekend, we thought we'd fill you in on what we did this weekend.
We headed up to Santa Rosa in Sonoma County for a family wedding and shacked up at the so-so Flamingo Resort which is essentially an old 60s motel that has been renovated for the 21st century. Room rates were $109 a night and the sheets were extraordinarily crisp and clean. Other than that, we have really nothing to rave or rant about.
But on Sunday morning, we found ourselves at the Vintners Inn, a hotel on a proper vineyard.
Can’t afford even the low-season $300 a night rate at Yountville’s new eco-resort, Bardessono Hotel? Fear not. The exclusive resort opens up its guests-only rooftop pool to non-guests on Wednesday evenings from 6:00-9:00pm for its punny Dive Bar, so even Napa townies can enjoy the stunning mountain and vineyard views while enjoying a dip and a drink while DJ's spin tunes near the bar.
The secluded pool is usually open only to resort guests, who come to lie in piece and quiet in one of the screened off day-bed cabanas. Come Wednesday evening, though, anyone can stop by the rooftop cement pond, and they're encouraged to come in their bathing suits to take a dip between bar rounds, with drinks going for just $8 each. The resort even throws in complimentary valet parking. That way, everyone can enjoy the privileges of being a hotel guest without having to spend a night.
Last week, we had the good fortune to spend a glorious fall day amongst the sun-warmed vines and valleys of Napa. Between wine-tasting rendezvous, we managed to invoke the tiniest bit of professionalism and took a tour of MTM Luxury Lodging’s new Bardessono Hotel in Yountville, which aims to be the greenest hotel in America. By the looks of it, they’re well on their way, but judge for yourself based on our video tour of one of their rooms.
Besides conventional eco-resort initiatives like LEED certification, controls that turn off the electrical systems when guests leave a room, and an organic garden that provides produce for the restaurant, the resort has also forged ahead with several distinct environmental practices that set it apart from other hotels.
We apologize in advance for any hurt feelings. Living on the Monterey Peninsula (aptly dubbed the land of the newlywed and nearly dead) seemed like a grand idea, but was ultimately a mind-numbingly boring exercise nwhich we ended up enduring for nearly five years in the name of love. (Visiting is a whole different scenario.) We despise golf, dig live music and culture, appreciate diversity and don’t have a trust fund.
We also like to eat out past 9 p.m., which was a difficult feat until restaurateur/hotelier David Fink opened instant restaurant hit, Cantinetta Luca. That single smart business decision played a major part in making our social life on the Monterey Peninsula more tolerable.
Every so often we feature a hotel review from one of our readers that we feel should be shared with the rest of you dear hotel guests. These reviews are highlighted because they are timely, about cool hotels in cool places and are relatively level-headed. Think you can submit one just like this? Send it in.
The other day, a couple very near and dear to us took our recommendation and spent the night at the new-ish, LEED-certified Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa in American Canyon, Calif. While a romantic inn in Yountville was a more desired lodging option, the price was right for our friends at this hotel--$92 a night on Expedia.
So how did this green hotel turn out? Eh. Our friend writes:
It was "green" and won the coveted LEED award, but it really was not too special--somewhere between a Motel Six and a Holiday Inn. We had a good night's sleep but we wouldn't recommend it.
While they also sent us room photos, the snapshots were too blurry to post so we just have some exterior shots to show you. We can tell you that the beds do look comfortable but the rest of the room lacks warmth.
On the plus side, there was a pretty little pond out front and some swans to look at. And our friend assured us the place was clean, unlike most Motel 6s and Holiday Inns. Sigh, at least the price was right.
Some more photos of Gaia Napa Valley Hotel after the jump.