On a quiet side street around the corner from The French Laundry restaurant, the Lavender Inn feels at once secluded and centrally located. The inn, whose main house dates to the 1850s and was moved to this site in the 1860s, is part of the Four Sisters Inns group. Lavender bills itself as a French country inn, and though you may not feel transported to Provence or Bordeaux, the palette of soft, rich yellows and the rustic furnishings provide sufficiently Gallic echoes.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Deals and rooms not offered on third-party travel sites (e.g., Expedia) are sometimes available through the inn's website or by calling; if you frequent places where Four Sisters operates—eight lodgings in the Wine Country, plus Monterey Bay, Southern California, Hawaii's Big Island, and Puerto Vallarta—you can pick up loyalty points by booking directly.
Two rooms are in the historic main house. The upstairs room is spacious, and the downstairs one, though smaller, has a private, shielded outdoor hot tub. Six courtyard rooms in newer buildings each have private patio entrances; two of these rooms also have private jetted outdoor tubs. In 2014 an old barn on the property was converted into a loft suite. All rooms come with a gas fireplace, a flat-screen TV, a small refrigerator, a Keurig coffee maker, and a private outdoor sitting area.
The loft suite, which has a private outdoor jetted tub, sleeps four people comfortably and can be a good deal for small groups, two couples traveling together, or a family with older children.
The bathrooms, most with ceramic tiles and deep soaking tubs, are spacious, well lighted, and stocked with organic BeeKind products from Gilchrist & Soames. The innkeeper says most guests want a bathroom more fabulous than the one back home, and for most folks these fill the bill.
The main house's pine-floored sitting room, with well-padded chairs and a sofa surrounding a homey brick fireplace, serves as the inn's lobby. Newspapers, books, and games are laid out for guests to use, and the front desk is nearby.
There's no pool, but guests are welcome to use the pool and hot tub at sister property Maison Fleurie two blocks away.
Breakfast is served buffet style in a cheery sunroom near the front desk There's always a hot entrée (most often an egg dish), along with baked goods, fresh fruit, cereal, and good coffee and tea. Freshly baked cookies are available in the afternoon and evening, and water, coffee, and tea are laid out all day.
Guests can order Domaine Chandon sparkling wine to enjoy on premises, but there's no bar. The innkeepers serve complimentary wine, tea, and hors d'oeuvres in the lobby in the late afternoon. From Thursday through Sunday, winery representatives, sometimes from places with Yountville tasting rooms, pour their wines.
Downtown Yountville lies just east of Highway 29 about 9 miles north of the town of Napa. VINE Bus 10, which travels between Napa and Calistoga, stops along Washington Street. Although most tourists don't use the bus, many do hop aboard the motorized Yountville Trolley, which circles through town providing door-to-door service. Ask at the front desk about how to catch a ride. Most of downtown's shops, restaurants, and tasting rooms are along several easily walkable blocks of Washington Street, so you may not need any vehicular transportation unless heading out to wineries beyond downtown.
Staffers report that guests consistently praise Ciccio (8-minute walk) for Italian, chef Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bistro (3-minute walk) for California-style French, and chef Richard Reddington's Redd (8-minute walk) for sophisticated Modern American and Redd Wood (6-minutes) for pizza and other Italian comfort food. Keller's Ad Hoc (9-minute walk) serves prix-fixe American comfort-food dinners (don't miss buttermilk fried-chicken night) and Sunday brunch. Until 3 p.m. at Southside Yountville (8-minute walk) you can have either breakfast (including biscuits and chorizo-sausage gravy) or lunch (whose signature protein bowl will fill you up).
The bars at Redd (8-minute walk), Bouchon Bistro (3-minute walk), and Redd Wood (7-minute walk) are lively places for a drink. For a dive-bar experience complete with insults if you don't pass muster with the owner, staffers, or regular patrons, take a chance on the willfully unkempt Pancha's (7-minute walk), diagonally across from Redd Wood.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Travelers looking for personalized service from innkeepers who take the trouble to learn guests' names and preferences will enjoy this intimate inn just off Yountville's main drag. Every room has its own private sitting area, and during summer the outdoor lavender courtyard that gives the inn its name provides a tranquil escape.