Fodor's Expert Review Brannan Cottage Inn
109 Wappo Ave., Calistoga, California 94515, USA See on Map
A 2014 renovation injected glamour and vintage-yet-modern style into this small inn whose centerpiece is an 1860's cottage from Calistoga's original spa era. Contemporary comfort is the ultimate goal, though, and the innkeepers pride themselves on providing service attuned to individual guests' needs. Green touches abound, most visibly in the LED lighting throughout the property. A tall palm, even taller twin cypresses, and a Siberian elm tree thought to be 300 years old shade the inn.
With two-weeks' notice (sometimes less) groups of four or more can book an old-style afternoon tea (additional fee), complete with fine china, superb teas, and finger sandwiches, deviled eggs, and other teatime classics presented on three-tiered serving trays.
The historic main cottage, pert and Victorian with a gabled roof and gingerbread scrollwork, contains four rooms entered off a wraparound wood-floored porch. Stained oak floors and wainscoting in the cottage rooms recall the 19th century, period electrical switch plates and ornate wallpaper the flapper era. Two spacious contemporary rooms, both with king-size beds, gas fireplaces, and private decks, occupy a separate newer building. All rooms have Simmons pillow-top mattresses and high-thread-count sheets, with guests ranking high among the additional perks the electronics charging stations, Illy espresso machines, refrigerator-freezers, and large flat-screen TVs. A photo depicting old Calistoga hangs in each room.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The two newer rooms can only be accessed by stairs; there's an ADA room on the first floor of the historic section.
Gleaming retro fixtures maintain the period feel in the bathrooms, with the heated tile floors a nice touch in winter. Luxury bath products, rain showers, and other amenities keep 21st-century guests satisfied.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Some bathrooms have showers but no tubs.
The cottage is the only one of 14 built by Calistoga's entrepreneur-founder Samuel Brannan still on its original site. The former parlor, noteworthy for its 11-foot-high ceilings and 7-foot-tall windows (ripples and imperfections add character to their original glass) serves as a lobby and reception area. A canvas enlargement of an 1871 map of Calistoga shows Brannan's original hot-springs resort, including what's now the Brannan Cottage Inn.
The inn has no pool, but guests have complimentary access to the geothermal-heated swimming pool and hot tub (plus dry sauna and steam room) ¼-mile away at the UpValley Inn & Hot Springs, a sister property.
Theres's no spa here but several facilities are within walking distance (Indian Springs is right across the street), and guests receive a discount at the nearby Baths at Roman Spa.
The innkeepers serve a Continental breakfast—pastries and smoothies are the highlights—just off the lobby. Two antiques of note in the dining area are the antique breakfront where food and drink are set up and the 1880 Guild Church & Co. square grand piano. In good weather you can enjoy your meal outside on the porch or in the garden. Breakfast is the only meal offered at the inn.
There's no bar, but several are nearby.
Only a few blocks long and a few blocks wide, downtown Calistoga is easily walkable. Shops, spas, tasting rooms, and several good restaurants are all within a few minutes of each other. The town spreads out quite a bit, but many of its several dozen wineries are a short drive away off Highway 29, Highway 128, or the Silverado Trail. VINE Bus 10 and Bus 29 serve Calistoga from other Napa Valley towns. With short notice, the free on-demand Calistoga Shuttle (schedule varies depending on the day and time of year) will take you anywhere in town, and a few spots beyond.
Head to casual Sushi Mambo (30-second walk) for traditional and unconventional country-Japanese dishes; Sam's Social Club (2-minute walk) at the Indian Springs resort for breakfast, lunch, bar snacks, or dinner; Evangeline (5-minute walk) for California cuisine with a New Orleans twist, and the Solage resort's Solbar (2-minute drive) for sophisticated modern American.
Sam's Social Club (2-minute walk), the nearest full bar, makes its own beers, pours superb Napa Valley and other wines, and features signature cocktails like cask-aged Manhattans and The Girl’s Getaway (vodka, St. Germain, grapefruit, lime, and agave) along with Sazeracs and other classics. Susie's Bar (4-minute walk), the town's sweet dive bar, has good beers on tap and by the bottle, plus top-shelf spirits at reasonable prices.
WHY WE LIKE IT
A short walk from downtown on a residential street, the Brannan Cottage Inn keeps guests near yet slightly removed from the downtown Calistoga action. Plush mattresses, nostalgic yet zippy decor, and a caring and capable staff ready to help with winery and restaurant suggestions add to the appeal, as does the historical cachet of staying in one of Calistoga's landmark properties. You could spend well more at a nearby resort and not feel as pampered as you will here.
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