A two-story boutique hotel near downtown Yountville's northern edge, the North Block attracts sophisticated travelers who appreciate its clever but unpretentious style and offhand luxury. Although it has only 20 rooms, this place with an upscale-casual restaurant and a cocoonlike downstairs spa operates more like a full-service hotel than an inn except in one important respect, the personalized service guests always receive.
The rooms, all with patios and balconies, cluster around a courtyard verdant with palms, maples, ferns, and other foliage. A 2017 upgrade saw the installation of virgin wool carpeting, some new furniture, and accents like small plants and Chilean throws. All rooms have safes, dimmable lights, flat-screen TVs, Trivoli music systems, Nespresso coffee machines, and refrigerators replenished daily with filtered water. Some rooms have fireplaces.
A bathrooms refresh planned for early 2018 will bring deep soaking tubs (rooms have separate showers as well), improved lighting, and double vanities. As before, radiant heating will warm the floors. The bath products are made from locally grown organic ingredients, among them Meyer lemon and lavender, inspired by the Napa Valley.
The North Block shows its eclectic style best in the compact lobby, fashioned so cleverly by St. Helena–based designer Erin Martin that something new will catch your eye every few minutes. It's hard to miss the apothecary-style front desk and wall of skeleton keys, but subtler touches like the stenciled ceiling that seems made of reclaimed wood (it's not), the seashell chandelier, and the cowhide-covered stools crafted from recycled oil drums take longer to notice. Out the door a few steps to the west, the open-air courtyard's large fireplace area, furnished with wicker sofas and chairs, serves as an extension of the lobby. It's a comfortable perch to hang out and people-watch while enjoying late-night s'mores or a cocktail from Redd Wood.
Olive and other trees shade the fenced-off pool area at the back of the property, which plays against type with chocolate-brown walls and patio furniture and bronze-potted plants, coming off more Venice (CA) than Vegas. On many weekdays you might have the rectangular pool, basically for wading but big enough for short laps, all to yourself (the hot tub is just steps away), but even when it's busier there are plenty of cushioned lounge chairs. Towels and filtered water are provided, and should you need a cocktail or some food, you need only pick up the "emergency" phone to place your order.
Well-trained massage therapists soothe patrons in the softly lit basement spa and in some cases in-room. Popular treatments include the Un-Corked, a foot and back exfoliation followed by a massage. For the full-body Signature Scrub, a blend of walnut-shell powder, sweet almond, and blood orange is applied prior to a massage that incorporates pink grapefruit. Facials, skin regimens, and "Stiletto Blues" therapy for ladies betrayed by tall pointy heels are among the other treatments.
A session for hotel guests only called "Playful Passion" involves couples exfoliating each other, receiving dual massages, and playing a sensual game after relaxation sets in.
The small fitness room here contains two treadmills, a recumbent bike, a climbing machine, and some free weights. Towels and waters are provided.
Pastries from chef Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery, chief among them his golden, buttery croissants, star at the light complimentary breakfast at Redd Wood, served only to hotel guests. Granola, yogurt, fresh fruit, and juice, coffee, and tea are also laid out. Redd Wood, the Italian comfort-food cousin to chef Richard Reddington's more formal Redd, on the other side of town, is open to the public for lunch and dinner. Thin-crust wood-fired pizzas like the one with white anchovy, herb sauce, and mozzarella are the specialty; rustic entrées that change with the seasons might in the fall include a pork-chop enlivened by persimmon.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Redd Wood ranks among Yountville's best restaurants for a casual meal.
From the early afternoon into the evening, guests are welcome to help themselves to the complimentary wine and a few spirits placed on a cart in the lobby. Over at Redd Wood, the specialty cocktails include the Mad Mule, a variation on a Moscow Mule made with jalapeño-cilantro vodka, ginger, lime, and ginger beer.
Yountville lies just east of Highway 29 about 9 miles north of the town of Napa. Most patrons drive to the hotel, which is on the northern end of downtown; it takes less than a half an hour to walk to the southern end. If this is too long of a stroll, hop on one of the hotel's complimentary bikes or ask at the front desk about how to catch the motorized Yountville Trolley, which circles through town and up to Domaine Chandon winery. You'll find a car handy to visit tasting rooms and wineries beyond downtown.
Some of the Napa Valley's best cuisine awaits along Washington Street. Staffers report that in addition to Redd Wood guests enjoy nearby Ciccio (30-second walk) for Italian and Southside Yountville (20-second walk) for casual breakfast and lunch comfort food prepared with flair. To the south, chef Thomas Keller's famous The French Laundry (7-minute walk) entices diners with intricate French-inspired preparations and exquisite wine pairings. Keller's Bouchon Bistro (10-minute walk) serves California-accented French.
R+D Kitchen (2-minute walk), a good spot for craft cocktails (the American food's good too, and there's sushi), has a fun outdoor bar. Ciccio (30-second walk) has a good Negroni bar. The bartenders at the classy lounge of Lucy Restaurant & Bar (10-minute walk), inside the Bardessono hotel, whip up "I Love Lucy" signature cocktails like the Lucy Does the Tango, made with Tito's Vodka, St. Germain, lime, and chili bitters. There's a smart selection of wines by the glass here.
WHY WE LIKE IT
California casual meets Euro cool at this intimate property that hits all the right "boutique hotel" notes. Without being intrusive, the attentive, genuinely caring staffers get to know the clientele well enough to meet expectations, but the hospitality never seems forced. The zeal to deliver a quality experience is in evidence throughout, from the cheery front desk greeting to the simple cleanliness of the rooms.