Our Favorite Inns in California’s Wine Country

080904_napa_valley.jpgJust in time for “crush” season—a shortlist of recommended inns and B&Bs in Napa, Sonoma, and the Russian River Valleys. We’ve also included a list of where to check in if you’re on a slim budget.

Help other travelers in the Forums: What towns do you recommend in the Napa/Sonoma/Russian River area?

Beltane Ranch

Glen Ellen, Sonoma Valley

Fodor’s review: On a slope of the Mayacamas range a few miles from Glen Ellen, this 1892 ranch house stands in the shade of magnificent oak trees. The charmingly old-fashioned rooms, each individually decorated with antiques, have separate entrances, and some open onto a wraparound balcony ideal for whiling away lazy afternoons. The detached cottage, once the gardener’s quarters, has a small sitting room. Formerly a turkey farm, the expansive property is traversed by an 8-mi hiking trail that’s popular with guests.

From the Forums: “You might also want to visit the Armstrong Woods State Park in Guerneville. Beautiful Redwood trees, with few tourists.” — kleroux

For more recommendations, see our Glen Ellen guide.

Have you stayed here? Post your review of the Beltane Ranch

Meadowood Resort

St. Helena, Napa Valley

Fodor’s review: Everything at Meadowood seems to run seamlessly, starting with the gatehouse staff who alert the front desk to arrivals, so that a receptionist is ready for each guest. A rambling lodge and several bungalows are scattered across the sprawling property. Guest rooms have views over these wooded grounds from expansive windows. The supremely comfortable beds defy you to get up and pursue the golf, tennis, hiking, or other activities on offer. The elegant but unstuffy dining room, overhauled in 2006, is becoming a destination restaurant for its splurge dishes (think lobster and squab salad with zinfandel-onion marmalade) and expert service.

From the Forums: “In the Napa Valley, I’d rather stay in St. Helena than anywhere, most charming downtown, most central and tons of restaurants in walking distance plus a gourmet grocery for picnics in the vineyards, Dean and DeLucca.” — humanone

For more recommendations, see our St. Helena guide

Have you stayed here? Post your review of the Meadowood Resort

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Inn at Sonoma

Sonoma, Sonoma Valley

Fodor’s review: They don’t skimp on the little luxuries here: wine and cheese is served every evening in the lobby and the cheerfully painted rooms are equipped with Wi-Fi and warmed by gas fireplaces. In the closets you can find fluffy terry robes, which come in handy for trips to the hot tub on the inn’s upper level. A teddy bear perched on each feather comforter-topped bed holds a remote control to a small TV. Though the inn is just off heavily trafficked Broadway, good soundproofing makes it quieter than many of the hotels on Sonoma Plaza. (The town square is a five-minute walk away.) Though rooms are not particularly large, you’d be hard-pressed to find this much charm for the price elsewhere in town.

From the Forums: “As for Sonoma County, I most recommend Sonoma because it has history: the home of General Vallejo, the old Spanish mission and barracks, plus many many good restaurants (again, within walking distance of the Plaza) and hotels in every price range.” — humanone

For more recommendations, see our Sonoma guide.

Have you stayed here? Post your review of the Inn at Sonoma

Carneros Inn

Napa, Napa Valley

Fodor’s review: Although the exteriors of the freestanding cottages at this luxury resort look simple, even spartan, inside is another story. Ethereal beds are piled high with fluffy pillows and covered with Frette linens and pristine white down comforters. Up-to-date amenities include flat-screen TVs, heated slate bathroom floors, and large indoor-outdoor showers. Each cottage also has a wood-burning fireplace and French doors opening onto a private courtyard with a gas-fired heater. The view from the infinity pool is positively bucolic, and the hilltop dining room serves breakfast and lunch (guests only) overlooking the vineyards.

From the Forums: “The town of Napa is just that, and except for some interesting restaurants and some newer tourist development along the river, and the Copia Center…the wine activity is further up the valley, with wineries spread out among the communities of Yountville, Oakwood, Rutherford, St. Helena, and, finally, Calistoga.” — jtrandolph

For more recommendations, see our Napa guide.

Have you stayed here? Post your review of the Carneros Inn

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Gaige House Inn

Glen Ellen, Sonoma Valley

Fodor’s review: Gorgeous orchids and Asian objets d’art are just a few of the little luxuries in this understated B&B. Rooms in the main house, an 1890 Queen Anne, are mostly done in pale colors and each has its advantages. An upstairs room has wraparound windows to let in floods of light, for instance, while a smaller downstairs room opens onto the pool area. The most lavish rooms are in the eight cottages. These have a pronounced Japanese influence, with massive granite soaking tubs overlooking a private atrium. In addition to the main pool and hot tub, surrounded by magnolia trees, a second, private hot tub is available to those who sign up. Though the staffers are helpful, service never seems fussy, and there’s a bottomless jar of cookies offered in the kitchen.

From the Forums: “Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen is interesting in that it uses “biodynamic” growing techniques. They are located on the road to Jack London State Park; beautiful picnic grounds, great tram tour of their property with view of their little valley. Overall, one of the friendliest wineries–nice gift shop, too.” — TrvlMaven

For more recommendations, see our Glen Ellen guide.

Have you stayed here? Post your review of the Gaige House Inn

Applewood Inn

Guerneville, Russian River Valley

Fodor’s review: On a knoll in the shelter of towering redwoods, this romantic inn has two distinct types of accommodations. Those in the original Belden House, where cozy chairs around a river-rock fireplace encourage loitering in the lounge area, are comfortable but modest in scale. Most of the 10 rooms in the newer buildings are larger and airier, decorated in sage green and terra-cotta tones. Readers rave about the accommodating service, soothing atmosphere, and the earthy Cal-Italian cuisine served in the restaurant built to recall a French barn. In winter, up the romance factor by asking for a table near the fireplace.

From the Forums: “You might also want to visit the Armstrong Woods State Park in Guerneville. Beautiful Redwood trees, with few tourists.” — kleroux

For more recommendations, see Things to Do in the Russian River Valley.

Have you stayed here? Post your review of the Applewood Inn

Farmhouse Inn

Forestville, Russian River Valley

Fodor’s review: This pale yellow 1873 farmhouse and adjacent cottages offer individually decorated rooms with comfortable touches such as down comforters, whirlpool tubs, and CD players. Most rooms have wood-burning fireplaces and even their own private little sauna, which makes this place especially inviting during the rainy winter months. It’s worth leaving your supremely comfortable bed for the sumptuous breakfasts here. The inn’s restaurant is one of the most highly regarded in the Wine Country.

From the Forums: “You might want to take a canoe trip from Forestville to Guerneville. Burke’s Canoes rents and will take you back to your car by bus. It’s a really fun way to spend a day.” — Grassshopper

For more recommendations, see Things to Do in the Russian River Valley.

Have you stayed here? Post your review of the Farmhouse Inn

Meadowlark Inn and Meadow Guest House

Calistoga, Napa Valley

Fodor’s review: Twenty hillside acres just north of downtown Calistoga surround this decidedly laid-back and sophisticated inn that’s particularly popular with gay and lesbian travelers but welcoming to all. Rooms in the main house and guest wing each have their own charms: one has a four-poster bed and opens onto a private garden, and others have a deck with a view of the mountains. Many rooms have fireplaces, and most have whirlpool tubs large enough for two. A spacious two-story guesthouse opens directly onto the clothing-optional pool and sauna area (open to all guests). Guests agree that innkeepers Kurt and Richard are perfectly charming hosts.

From the Forums: “Calistoga is a great walkable town, very quaint and quirky. You may even want to pay to see the geyser outside of town. They have a funky souvenir shop there. And I also like the Petrified Forest, and the Old Bale Mill.” — Kailani

For more recommendations, see our Calistoga guide.

Have you stayed here? Post your review of the Meadowlark Inn and Meadow Guest House

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The Honor Mansion

Healdsburg, Sonoma County

Have you stayed here? Post your review of the Honor Mansion

Fodor’s review: Each room is unique at this photogenic 1883 Italianate Victorian. Rooms in the main house preserve a sense of the building’s heritage, while the larger suites out back are comparatively understated. Luxurious touches such as lovely antiques and featherbeds are found in every room, and suites have the added advantage of a deck; some even have private outdoor hot tubs. Readers rave about the attentive staff, who coddle you with cookies, cappuccino, and other treats.

From the Forums: “We spent part of our honeymoon in Sebastopol (near Healdsburg) and loved every minute of it. We stayed in a guest house on a vineyard, and enjoyed driving from there to different areas—Healdsburg being our favorite.” — lakeside77

For more recommendations, see our Healdsburg guide.

Villagio Inn & Spa

Yountville, Napa Valley

Fodor’s review:Luxury here is about calm, not bling. Stroll past the fountains and clusters of low buildings to reach the pool, where automated misters cool the sunbathers. Streamlined furnishings, subdued color schemes, and high ceilings enhance a sense of spaciousness in the guest rooms. Each room also has a fireplace and, beyond louvered doors, a balcony or patio. The full-service spa has its own pool and whirlpool. Rates include afternoon tea, a bottle of wine, and a generous buffet breakfast — and as the hotel’s near the town center, you’ll be right near all those outstanding restaurants.

From the Forums: “One great place to try wines for free is a little north of Yountville on the Silverado Trail (a nice alternative to crowded Hwy 29): Frank Family Vineyards. They start you with sparkling and then eventually get to a really good cabernet sauvignon. A fun experience for free.” — beach_dweller

For more recommendations, see our Yountville guide.

Have you stayed here? Post your review of the Villagio Inn & Spa

Wine Country’s Best Values

In general, all accommodations in the area often have lower rates on weeknights, and prices are about 20% lower in winter. If you’re unable to make a reservation at one of these budget-friendly inns, consider looking into hotels and B&B’s in Santa Rosa, the largest population center in the area.

Maison Fleurie
Yountville, Napa Valley

Beltane Ranch
Glen Ellen, Napa Valley

Camellia Inn
Headelsburg, Russian River Valley

El Bonita Motel
St. Helena, Napa Valley

Calistoga Spa Hot Springs
Calistoga, Napa Valley