A covered bridge over a creek running alongside Petrified Forest Road delivers guests to this laid-back but sophisticated inn run by two charming European gents named Richard and Kurt. On 20 wooded acres just north of downtown Calistoga, the inn is stylish and immaculately maintained, but it's the place's spirit—the hosts' joie de vivre and the welcoming vibe that attracts diverse, congenial guests—that lingers in memory after a stay here.
YOU SHOULD KNOW In keeping with the owners' cosmopolitan worldview, the inn is, in their words, "hetero, bi, gay, and naturist friendly." Pets are welcome, too.
The accommodations consist of six rooms and three suites plus a guest cottage. Decorated in an eclectic style in pastel shades with a wisp of Asian influence, the rooms, some of which have four-poster beds, fireplaces, or both, simultaneously feel "just like home and special. Some rooms have outdoor decks or patios where you can enjoy the breezes, and all have whirlpool tubs large enough for two.
The maximum occupancy in eight of the accommodations is two, but for one suite and the guest cottage, which both sleep four, even with the additional cost for extra people the price beats that of two comparable rooms in Calistoga, especially in high season.
All but two of the rooms have marble-tiled bathrooms, and all except one, which has only a shower, have whirlpool tubs large enough for two. The bathrooms have vessel sinks, and whimsical art hangs on the walls in some.
The main guest house's foyer and living room serve as the inn's lobby and, along with the wraparound veranda and the pool are Meadowlark's social centers.
The entire property feels like a haven, but the area surrounding the large mineral-water pool seems all the more so. Here on the property's sunniest patch, guests bask on umbrella-shaded lounge chairs laid out on the flagstone patio. Steps from the pool, the hot tub, also filled with mineral water, sits out of the sun, and there's a sauna. If the day heats up, you can repair to shaded pool garden or covered "quiet area." The hosts often drop by to chat with guests and make sure they're comfortable.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The outdoor pool, hot tub, and sauna are clothing optional.
There's no spa, but guests can book massages from local therapists to have in-room or in a dedicated massage room near the pool.
Guests have been raving for two decades running about Richard's sit-down gourmet breakfasts (excellent coffee), some of whose ingredients are grown in the on-site organic garden. In good weather breakfast is served on the main guest house's wide wraparound veranda, the better for guests to take in pastoral view. At other times it's taken in the house's living room and dining room. You can have it in your room, but most guests prefer to experience the conversation and conviviality Kurt and Richard foster each morning.
There's no bar here, though guests have access to port and other sippables.
About 1½ miles northwest of Calistoga off Highway 128, the inn is just far enough out from Calistoga's main drag, Lincoln Avenue, to make a car come in handy (it takes about a half-hour to walk into town).
Nearby restaurants worth investigating include Evangeline (5-minute drive) for 21st-century takes on bistro classics like coq au vin and Lovina (7-minute drive), until early 2018 known as Calistoga Kitchen, for homey farm-to-table dishes like spicy beef Bolognese and chicken and dumplings. As befits a spa resort's restaurant, the Modern American menu at Solbar (7-minute drive) is divided into "healthy, lighter dishes" and "hearty cuisine."
The bartenders at the Solage resort's Solbar (7-minute drive) restaurant are known for signature cocktails like Sex in the Valley, starring Charbay Green Tea Vodka, thyme, mint, and house-made lemonade. If you're in a more downscale mood, Susie's Bar (4-minute drive) Calistoga's darlin' dive has top-shelf spirits at a reasonable price (good way to meet the locals, too). Up Lincoln Avenue at the Indian Springs Calistoga resort, Sam's Social Club (5-minute drive) serves its own beers, pours superb Napa Valley and other wines, and features signature cocktails like cask-aged Manhattans.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Although it shares elements with other Wine Country inns—rustic setting, debonair hosts, bountiful breakfasts—there's no place in the region quite like Meadowlark. It's best to park yourself here for three or four days, but even if you stay only one night you'll likely find yourself the experience exhilarating.