Although this inn owned and operated by the New York City–based Charlie Palmer Group sits just off Highway 29, its patrons remain mostly above the fray, strolling 8 acres of landscaped gardens, enjoying views of the vineyards adjoining the property, partaking in spa services, and drifting to sleep in beds adorned with fancy linens and down pillows.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Weekend rates here can be high from spring well into fall.
Guest rooms, inside several two-story Tudor-style shake-shingled structures, fall into two categories distinguished by whether the views are of garden courtyards or neighboring vineyards. Most rooms have a clubby feel, with dark-wood furniture and leather chairs set off by white bedding and walls. Many rooms have brick wood-burning fireplaces, and all have coffee makers, flat-screen TVs, DVD players, and small refrigerators stocked with complimentary sodas and waters.
Worth the extra cost are the vineyard's-edge rooms in the back of the property that have outdoor hot tubs nearly within reach of vines farmed by nearby Whitehall Lane Winery.
Bathrooms vary depending on the room category, but typical ones have slate floors, separate tubs and walk-in showers, and well-lit double vanities with large mirrors and countertop make-up mirrors with built-in lighting.
From the main building's Tudoresque facade, you'll half expect The Hobbit's Bilbo Baggins to escort you to the lobby inside, but once there the touches are both modern (the furniture and sleek bar to the left) and old-school (the grand staircase to the right). Check-in usually takes place quickly, then you're off to your room, sometimes with an offer of help, sometimes not.
The main pool area, in the back of the complex near Whitehall Lane's vineyards, has a large rectangular pool and adjacent hot tub. Deck chairs and lounges are arranged poolside, and there's bar service. Elsewhere on the property is a kidney-shaped pool with its own hot tub.
Treatments at the on-site spa take place indoors or, in good weather, in an outdoor cabana shaded by redwoods. If you've got three hours to spare (not counting recovery time), consider the Works, which starts with a body polish, followed by a full massage and hair, scalp and foot treatments. A grape-seed facial caps off the proceedings. You can order other massages and the facial à la carte, too.
The inn's perfunctory fitness room has two treadmills, an elliptical, and a recumbent bike, plus free weights and a bench. Workout fiends may be disappointed, but if you're just looking to get in your cardio or keep yourself toned, you'll be fine—and be treated to redwood views through several windows. Towels and filtered water are usually at the ready.
Several culinary gardens supply herbs and produce for Harvest Table, the inn's restaurant. The executive chef incorporates them into haute-rustic dishes that include the restaurant's signature entrée, truffle chicken for two. In summer and early fall, you can dine outside. Each morning chefs lay out an elaborate complimentary breakfast buffet that includes fresh juices, pastries, yogurt, granola, seasonal fruit, lox, and hot entrées to choose from. For a fee, you can have breakfast delivered to your room.
The Harvest Table's nearby culinary gardens supply some of the ingredients for the specialty cocktails prepared at the inn's lobby bar. The wine list favors high-profile Napa Valley producers, and the wines by the glass (including a high-end Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet kept fresh by Coravin) are all well selected. Two beers brewed on-site are among the craft beers on offer.
A mile south of downtown St. Helena, the Harvest Inn is where (coming from the south) addresses along Highway 29 change from "St. Helena Highway" to "Main Street." Many of Napa Valley's choicest wineries, restaurants, and shops are within walking distance or a short drive away, and VINE Bus 10 stops nearby. Evening car service is provided for guests dining at St. Helena restaurants and others in nearby towns.
St. Helena's many good restaurants include Farmstead at Longmeadow Ranch (1-minute drive) and Acacia House (4-minute drive) for Modern American cuisine, Press (2-minute drive) for steaks with superb wines, and storefront Cook St. Helena (3-minute drive) for rustic Italian. To the south, the Rutherford Grill (4-minute drive) serves steaks, burgers, fish, succulent rotisserie chicken, and barbecued pork ribs from an oak-fired grill.
A good stop just off Main Street downtown is the atmospheric downstairs bar at Goose & Gander (3-minute drive), where the featured cocktails include the Coastal Pimm's Cup (No.1, St. George Terroir Gin, lemon, bitters, ginger beer, and bay laurel) and Walter's Manhattan, made with Templeton Rye and Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon. Also good is Acacia House (4-minute drive) for its margaritas with nitro salt foam and the frothy Acacia Cocktail, made with Bulldog Gin, lemon juice, crème de violet, honey syrup, sparkling wine, and violet flowers.
WHY WE LIKE IT
A secluded, tranquil world unto itself, the Harvest Inn is steps or a short drive from some of the Napa Valley's choicest wineries, dining spots, and shops. Should you find yourself not in the mood to head off-property, you can dine well at the Harvest Table restaurant, enjoy a spa treatment, sit amid redwoods, and hang out at the pool or bar. Occasional hospitality lapses and butt-ugly architectural choices that predate current ownership undercut an experience that's overall satisfactory. If you're coming in winter or early spring, when it often rains, the vineyard-view rooms with fireplaces feel especially romantic and cozy.