In a region known for over-the-top architecture and amenities and prices to match, this inn delivers style and even a touch of grace at affordable prices. Surrounded by a landscaped garden, the Elm House sits amid a residential neighborhood a few blocks off Highway 29. During the off-season, you can often book a room at a good discount, especially on weekdays; in high season the inn can seem pricey until you discover what some of the neighboring properties are charging.
The rooms, a few of which have fireplaces, are spacious and modern, with rust and olive-green accents. This isn't high style, but there's a design sensibility at work here. The rooms have coffee makers and refrigerators, but no microwaves.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Some road noise can be heard in the streetside accommodations; ask for a quieter room facing the garden and hot tub.
The bathrooms are the tip-off that you're in a Best Western and not a swank country inn, but they're functional and, like the rest of the place, very clean. Some bathrooms have whirlpool tubs.
The lobby's chandelier, fireplace, and soft chairs hint at the attention to your comfort that you'll notice during the rest of your stay. If you arrive during the afternoon, you'll likely smell just-baked complimentary cookies available daily in the lobby.
The inn has no pool, but out back in the garden you can relax in the 10-person hot tub.
Unlike at many Best Western Plus lodgings, the Elm House has no exercise room.
The inn has no bar.
The inn sits just off Highway 29 about a mile from the intersection of First and Main streets in the heart of downtown Napa. VINE Bus 1 serves the inn. Walk east on 1st Street or 2nd Street to reach downtown.
Grace's Table (4-minute drive) serves eclectic vegan-friendly American cuisine in a casual setting; for a gourmet burger with all the trimmings head to Gott's Roadside (6-minute drive), part of the Oxbow Public Market, where other options include Kitchen Door for global comfort cuisine. Also at Oxbow and a real deal if there's room at the small counter, you can order a steak from the butchers at the Five Dot Ranch kiosk. For $8 above the cost of the meat (more if you order sides), Five Dot will grill it for you on the spot.
The crowds skew younger at Cadet Wine + Beer Bar (3-minute drive) and JaM Cellars (4-minute drive), the latter known for its Toast (sparkling wine), Butter (Chardonnay), and Jam (Cabernet Sauvignon lineup (tip: choose the Napa Valley rather than the California versions). If you buy a bottle of wine at Cadet, you can choose the next vinyl side to play. JaM often hosts live music. Blue Note Napa (6-minute drive) and Silo's (6-minute drive) both present jazz and other musicians and have full bars.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Locals often recommend the well-run Elm House Inn to out-of-towners visiting on a budget. The rooms and public areas are well maintained, the staff members are helpful and polite, and the inn is convenient to Highway 29 but less than a mile from downtown action. Elm House represents a marvelous value, and not just for the breakfasts, which are a cut above what you might expect from a Best Western.