Break away from the buzz of the Bay Area and delve into Napa. It promises to be the perfect cure for city living – think rolling hills blanketed with emerald vineyards, some of the country's very best wines, rings of craggy mountains topped with hiking paths, and – of course – alluring Napa bed and breakfasts that'll crank the cozy factor off the scale.
What types of Napa bed and breakfasts can I choose?
There's a huge variety of accommodations offered up in the Napa Valley – this is a major getaway for folk after good food and good times out of San Francisco, after all. When it comes to B&Bs, there's a cross-section of spa-style lodges, country ranches, winery suites – the list goes on.
A B&B that's actually on a winery
You'll hear the pop of corks in the nearby tasting room, sample farm-to-table foods in the organic bistro, and have jaw-dropping vistas of regimented grape rows rolling away from your balcony. Yep, there's really no better way to expereince the wine culture of Napa than with a B&B that's located on the grounds of a cellar door.
A spa escape to the Napa Valley
The further north you head into the Napa Valley, the more likely it is that you'll come across a wellness stay. That's because towns like Calistoga have long been known for their steaming spa waters. It's a theme that's pounced upon by the accommodations, which might have whirlpool baths of their own, or offer trips to local healing facilities.
Your country lodge or Spanish hacienda
Don't be surprised to find real luxury as you cruise into the Napa Valley. Because so many of the stays here are attached to the age-old vineyards of the region, they speckle the hillsides like venerable country estates. Look one way and there's a whitewashed mansion with Baroque arcades and Andalusian villa design. Look another and it's a timber-built lodge warmed by wood fires.
An area guide to booking Napa B&Bs
The Napa Valley stretches from the edge of the San Francisco Bay Area to the wild forest reserves of the Robert Louis Stevenson State Park in the north. Along the way, it's got panoramas of postcard-perfect farmlands and wine fields, dotted with spa towns and gastronomic centers.
Calistoga – the end of the wine trail
Real wine lovers will often set their compass for the town of Calistoga. It sits at the far northern end of the Napa Valley, where the vineyards eventually break into crumpled scrub hills where geysers – like the one named Old Faithful – spurt from the ground. Talking of spurting geysers, don't be surprised to find that the B&Bs here are part spa. Wellness retreats have been Calistoga's thing since the middle of the 19th century.
A Napa B&B in Yountville
Small-town Yountville keeps things simple. Good wine, good food, chilled evenings – that's the recipe for life up here. It's right in the middle of the maze of cycling and hiking paths that webs the Napa Valley. And there are locally owned bed and breakfasts that have packages for honeymooners.
Consider Sonoma County as an alternative
To the west of Napa is the Sonoma County wine country, which spreads out from the Pacific Ocean with its mist-gathering ridges of ochre-tinted vineyards. The terroir is uniquely different in these parts, so the wines taste earthy and rich. And the towns are a little offbeat, swapping chic bistros for hearty Americana diners and cowboy saloons.
The taste of Oakville
The award-winning appellation of Oakville has garnered it a reputation for excellence in winemaking. If you're dead set on tasting your way through those dry Cabernet Sauvignons and Bordeaux-style grape blends, this could be the spot to head for. There are some elegant B&Bs in the vicinity, with just a handful of rooms, real-wood fireplaces, and grand interiors with a taste of the Victorian ranch about them.
Score yourself bargain Napa bed and breakfasts
Napa isn't usually considered to be a major budget destination. Wines slosh, epicurean tasting menus are served in the evenings, and most Napa Valley bed and breakfasts have a flurry of luxury about them. Still, there are ways to save. Just follow the pointers below…
Booking early is always important
Because there are millions of people in San Francisco and the Bay Area pining after a clink of cold Cabernet Sauvignon while looking over the tops of Mount Saint Helena, there's always high demand for Napa B&Bs. You'll want to book yours early to have any chance of securing the great deals before they sell out.
Harvest is wonderful, but bustling, and pricy
The Napa Valley is usually at its busiest in August, September, and October. Wine festivals see corks popping in the local towns, the fields glow in hues of auburn and yellow, and the weather is simply perfect. It's not the only time to think about coming, though. Spring, for example, can be beautiful, with green fields and wildflowers. And months like March and May tend to be cheaper, too.