A hybrid of New York City and Las Vegas glamour infused downtown Napa in late 2017 with the long-awaited opening of the five-story Archer Hotel Napa. Ideal for travelers seeking design pizzazz, a see-and-be-seen atmosphere, and a slate of first-class amenities, the Archer anchors the First Street Napa complex of shops, restaurants, and galleries that will open throughout 2018.
YOU SHOULD KNOW As 2018 dawned the Archer was still a work in progress, with the top floors still under construction and the rooftop pool, spa, and bar area scheduled for a spring opening. The lower floors, including Charlie Palmer Steak off the lobby, opened in late 2017.
Ultracontemporary rooms with superlative amenities like Nespresso coffee makers, wine refrigerators, and appropriate (and appropriately located) electronics docking stations come in several categories, from 285-square-foot Classic Kings to 785-square-foot Archer's Den suites with balconies and fireplaces. All rooms have beds with Euro Top mattresses (no pillow tops here) draped in 100%-cotton linens and topped with down duvets and down pillows. There are also work desks, safes, and 65-inch flat-screen TVs with premium channels. Small refrigerators are stocked with refreshments; there's a fee for them, but it's reasonable. The look overall is clean and sophisticated, with local art adorning the rooms and the hallways.
Some of the best views are from upper-floor rooms facing south and west, though the southern ones pick up a little street noise on the balconies.
A sliding barn door separates the bathroom from the rest of a room. All bathrooms have super-bright lighting with back-lit vanity mirrors and makeup mirrors (no excuse for raccoon eyes or missed whiskers) and good-size walk-in showers with pebblestone floors and rain shower heads. In the smaller rooms, large white dimpled-ceramic tiles cover the shower walls, with marble replacing it in the larger rooms. Bath products are by the New York City–based Malin+Goetz.
Especially as viewed from the mezzanine above it, the Archer's lobby, a frisky mix of stone, wood, glass, and metal, fulfills its potential as the hotel's social hub. Guests enter the space through an archway that evokes a grape arbor, already picking up the this-is-a-happening-place vibe before reaching the compact front desk. The bar at Charlie Palmer spills into the lobby, guests and nonguests hang out on plush furniture near the fireplace, and someone's almost always pointing at the huge three-dimensional topographical map of the Napa Valley, planning a trip or retracing a past one. Even at slow times of the day, the sense that something fun could unfold at any moment infuses the space.
From its design, rooftop romance and fabulous views seem as much the point as taking a dip in the shallow ledge pool, still under construction as 2018 dawned. Sturdy stone fireplaces will separate the cabanas, with curtains to ensure occupants' privacy.
The hotel tapped Francis & Alexander, designers of many luxury spas in the Wine Country and beyond, to develop the program here. The spa, which will open in 2018 on the rooftop terrace, will have massage and facials as part of the treatment mix. There'll be two single rooms and one for couples.
The rooftop terrace's fitness studio, scheduled for a Spring 2018 opening, will have Matrix cardio machines, free weights, and other equipment. There will also be an outdoor deck for yoga and other activities with a view.
Charlie Palmer handles the hotel's food and beverage service with the steakhouse on the ground floor and a rooftop restaurant slated to open in Spring 2018. The downstairs menu varies throughout the day—breakfast or brunch, plus lunch, dinner, and lounge and happy-hour offerings. With dishes like beet and horseradish cured salmon gravlax and spice-battered brioche French toast, the chefs put a twist on breakfast standards. Ditto at lunch and dinner, for which steak sauce choices include chimichurri and apple-horseradish in addition to red wine au jus and béarnaise. Prices are hotel-restaurant and steakhouse high.
Until the rooftop bar opens, Charlie Palmer Steak is the place for a drink, which you can have at the bar, at tables or high tops, or on sofas and chairs out in the lobby—perhaps a glass of bubbly near the large fireplace. The beers on draft or in bottle and wines by the glass are sensible choices, with the half-dozen specialty cocktails focusing on the classics, an Old Forester Manhattan, for instance, and a Corpse Reviver No. 2 starring Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germain, Merlot, triple sec, lavender cordial, and sparkling wine. Happy hour's a deal, with selected beers, wines, and cocktails (half-price or better), which you can pair with bratwurst sliders and other good nibbles.
Downtown Napa is easily walkable, with many shops, restaurants, bars, and tasting rooms within minutes of the Archer. A car won't be necessary until you venture out to wineries, which you can do in your own vehicle or by taxi or ride-share. Several VINE public transit buses stop near the hotel.
A few steps from the hotel, Compline Wine Bar, Restaurant and Merchant (20-second walk) serves small and large plates—everything from a chicken-thigh starter and a Gruyère burger to whole fish for two—paired with French, California, and other wines chosen by the sommelier co-owners. Farther afield, though not by much, try Miminashi (3-minute walk) for izakaya Japanese bar-style cuisine (plus soft ice cream locals have taken to), Angèle (8-minute walk) for classic French, and Morimoto Napa (7-minute walk) for the famed Iron Chef participant's wildly inventive Japanese. At Torc (3-minute walk) chef Sean O'Toole serves well-conceived Modern American in a 19th-century stone structure.
To see what gives at neighboring fancy hotels, stroll up First Street to Mercantile Social (2-minute walk), the Andaz Napa's lobby bar, where craft spirits from local distillers are the focus. Mercantile Terrace, on the second floor and open seasonally, has cozy cabanas and fire pits. The bartenders at Bank Café and Bar (13-minute walk) at the Westin Verasa Napa pour shrewdly selected wines by the glass and signature libations that include Negronis made from locally made gin. The Blue Note Napa (4-minute walk) and Silo's (9-minute walk) both have cocktails and live music.
WHY WE LIKE IT
The Archer is still a work in progress, but so far, so very good. The hotel has livened up a formerly moribund stretch of First Street, and the public spaces are marvelous gathering spots, especially the lobby (though someone please rethink its dippy nighttime mix of warm and cool lighting). It may take much of 2018 for the Archer to hit its stride, except for the rooms, which are already gems, especially those Archer's Den suites with fireplaces inside and on the balcony.