Take a dip in the outdoor heated pool at Wine Country Inn & Cottages. // © 2017 Valerie Chen
Feature image (above): The St. Helena property offers views of nearby vineyards and the distant Cascade Mountains. // © 2017 Wine Country Inn & Cottages
The town of St. Helena, Calif., looks like it was lifted from the dog-eared pages of a beloved storybook. And late spring — when my visit took place — arguably brings out the best in the Napa Valley destination; it’s as if the season clears the sky of storm clouds and gently coaxes flowers into bloom.
With its cobblestone pathways and gardens brimming with flora, Wine Country Inn & Cottages fits right into this bucolic northern California scene. What’s more, 80 percent of the inn’s 29 guestrooms look out into nearby vineyards that grow cabernet sauvignon grapes — largely the award-winning, boutique Duckhorn Vineyards as well as Freemark Abbey and Hourglass Winery.
In town for a wine-tasting getaway, my friend Linda and I booked a Deluxe Vineyard View King guestroom in the luxury boutique hotel’s Winery House building, which recently underwent a renovation spanning 14 rooms and a guest reception area.
Our airy room felt more like a well-appointed unit in a residential complex than a temporary abode for respite. Here, a contemporary design includes fashion-forward furniture such as an oversize headboard, a slate-grey-and-white color palette and plenty of natural light. Additionally, a white sliding barn-style door connects the sleeping/living area with a brightly lit bathroom, which features Oliva Farmacia bath products, wood accents and an extra-large rain shower.
The remaining accommodations — situated within other buildings including Cascade House, Vineyard House and Wine Country Cottages — are slated for renovations to take place this winter. Each building has its own thematic decor, but overall these guestrooms are inspired by a more traditional country-inspired ambiance when compared to the Winery House’s modern look. For example, the Cascade House’s rooms feature a medley of contrasting patterns, colorful furniture and quirky artwork.
Both Wine Country Inn’s main living area and breakfast room are inside the Winery House. The latter is where guests can enjoy a daily, complimentary “Napa-style” breakfast: a beautifully arranged, buffet-style spread that includes a hot meat dish (changes every other day), a hot egg dish (changes daily), breakfast breads, a variety of cheeses, fresh fruit, Belgium waffles, cereals and pastries from local favorite Model Bakery, as well as an all-day coffee and tea station.
Also available to guests near the Winery House’s guest reception is a cabinet with help-yourself-style supplies — such as additional wine glasses and plastic ones to bring to the pool — and a large refrigerator for communal use. If clients run out of their own wine stash before settling in by the outdoor heated pool, the guest reception sells bottles from neighboring Duckhorn, Freemark Abbey and Hourglass, in addition to other partner wineries.
Other than breakfast, however, there is no official meal service at Wine Country Inn. Luckily, California-inspired yakitori restaurant Two Birds/One Stone is just a six-minute walk from Wine Country Inn — and its delicious cuisine is worth every step.
But when yearning for a spa treatment, there’s no need to exert any physical effort. Without a spa facility on property, nirvana is achieved in-room. Options range from a Classic Swedish massage to an extensive Wine Country Bliss package, which features an aromatherapy massage (using locally made, natural aromatherapy blends with a French grapeseed oil base), a cleansing facial, a hair treatment and a foot scrub.
Debbie Greene, general manager for Wine Country Inn, says factors such as vineyard views and being away from traffic yet close to town help make the property an authentic Napa Valley getaway.
And after taking to our room’s private terrace to open a complimentary split of Duckhorn wine and bask in the surrounding beauty, I wouldn’t dare argue otherwise.