Part of a complex of restaurants, shops, and a nightclub in a 19th-century former granary mill, this well-appointed if not showy waterfront inn is within easy walking distance of downtown hot spots. Many rooms have river views, and the fine day spa occupies a late–art deco building with an interesting history of its own. Expect solicitous staffers and amenities aplenty.
Especially helpful to first-time visitors, the inn's crack concierge team handles challenging requests for restaurant, winery, and other arrangements with aplomb.
Guest rooms are in three structures. Rooms in the 1884 Hatt Building, done up in Victorian style, are arguably the most romantic, with deep-red walls, old-fashioned slipper tubs, and original architectural details like maple floors. Brighter colors dominate in the rooms of the newer Plaza and Embarcadero buildings, many of whose rooms have river views from small balconies. Some rooms have fireplaces, and all have flat-screen HDTVs, Keurig coffee makers, Bluetooth-enabled clock radios with USB charging ports, and MP3 players with iPod docking stations.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Rooms in the two newer buildings are comfortable and in the case of ones in the Plaza Deluxe category quite spacious, but style-conscious guests may find the decor in the Embarcadero Building a decade or so past its prime.
Some of the historic-wing rooms have snappy-looking period bathrooms with lots of marble. The bathrooms in the newer buildings have tile floors and marble or granite vanities, and brass fixtures. The inn's spa director developed the high-quality NV Organics products—soap bars, a Cabernet body wash, and Champagne shampoo and conditioner—in each bathroom.
A brass chandelier, a brocaded circular sofa, and fireplace with an ornate brass grate set a genteel Victorian tone in the high-ceilinged salmon-colored lobby. The front desk is toward the back, though someone will likely have greeted you before you reach it. The concierge holds court nearby, and there's a gift shop. Evening wine receptions hosted by area wineries take place here.
All stress will be under arrest after a massage, facial, or other treatment at the spa inside Napa's vaguely late-deco former police station. You can opt for therapeutic massages that might incorporate Swedish or other familiar techniques, or go more exotic with Adjust Your Ki, which involves Reiki, an ancient Japanese relaxation technique. The four-hour Royal Treatment pulls out all the stops with a full-body massage, foot rehab, exfoliation, a body wrap, and an antioxidant facial. If you're traveling with a dog in need of TLC, the spa will pamper your pet with a walk, a treat, and a mini massage while you're indulging yourself.
The small fitness area is in the after-thought category, with a few machines and some weights.
Guests place an order the night before for complimentary baked and other goods from the neighboring Sweetie Pies Bakery that are delivered to guests' doors the next morning. Breakfast is the only meal served at the inn, but there are three restaurants—Angèle for French, Celadon for comfort food with Asian influences, and Napa General Store for American—within its complex and much more within a few blocks.
Every evening the inn hosts a reception at which a Napa Valley winery pours its wines. Silo's, a separately run music club that presents jazz and other entertainers, is part of the complex. The club has a full bar.
The inn is at 5th and Main streets in downtown Napa. The hotel has a parking lot and more street and garage parking are nearby. There's plenty to do within walking distance, and the hotel makes bikes available for a small fee. Several VINE public-transit buses serve the area, and ride-sharing options abound.
Nearby dining possibilities include Morimoto Napa (2-minute walk) and Miminashi (5-minute walk) for Japanese, ZuZu for tapas-oriented Spanish, and La Toque (5-minute drive) for prix-fixe French-influenced meals. For more casual meals head to Oxbow Public Market (12-minute walk) for Live Fire Pizza (Italian sandwiches and wood-fired pizzas) and C Casa for gourmet tacos. Chefs at the nearby Restaurant at CIA Copia (14-minute walk) prepare shareable mostly small plates.
Carpe Diem Wine Bar (5-minute walk) serves many wines by the glass. Vinyl sides and high-quality wines and beers make Cadet Wine + Beer (6-minute walk) popular with a youngish crowd. Head over to the Blue Note Napa (6-minute walk) for cocktails and live jazz.
WHY WE LIKE IT
A consistent crowd-pleaser for its riverfront location, slew of amenities, we-aim-to-please staff, and zero parking or resort fees, the Napa River Inn delivers a classy experience for less than its peers. The off-season rates can be reasonable indeed.