Guests gush over this inn whose hosts-with-the-most owners make a stay here one to remember. The main, painstakingly restored 1905 mansion contains five rooms, and five suites are located in a building behind a secluded patio and garden. The decor in the rooms and public areas successfully evokes both period and contemporary style. Chef Jim Gunther, the inn's proprietor along with Jamie Cherry, prides himself on never serving repeat guests, of which there are many, the same breakfast twice.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Rooms here don't have TVs, and the innkeepers "respectfully request" that younger guests be at least age 12.
Rooms are individually decorated with period-style furnishings that may include four-poster or sleigh beds, oval mirrors, and armoires. A welcome and romantic modern touch are the whirlpool tubs, two of them heart-shaped, with space for two (with one exception, in the mansion, the tubs are in the main room, not the bathroom). The rooms all have gas fireplaces as well.
The suite-size rooms in the newer building have private balconies or patios.
Period touches in the bathrooms include pedestal sinks, hexagonal white tiles, large faucets, and old-style goose-neck lighting fixtures. In some cases, the sinks and vanities are in the main part of the room.
Just off the mansion's foyer, chairs and a sofa surround the sandstone fireplace in the living room, whose other focal point is a black baby grand piano. Guests often relax here with a book or magazine, and some take breakfast in this room.
The 150 breakfast recipes of the inn's chef and co-owner, Jim Gunther, include ones for granola, puff-pastry pop tarts with chipotle-tofu filling, and crowd-pleasing corn-dog omelets. Guests enjoy breakfast in the main dining room at a communal cherrywood table, in the living room, or (in good weather) out on the patio.
Port from St. Helena's Prager Port Works is available in a decanter in the living room, but there is no bar.
The inn is about equidistant from Highway 29 and downtown Napa. Most guests drive cars (there's free parking in back), but local VINE buses stop nearby. Downtown shopping, restaurants, tasting rooms, and nightlife are a 10- to 15-minute walk away.
Jim and Jamie know the Napa Valley restaurant scene well and are happy to make dining suggestions. Among the Napa establishments they regularly recommend are Oenotri (3-minute drive, 7-minute walk) for rustic southern Italian cuisine, Carpe Diem Wine Bar (5-minute drive, 13-minute walk) for Modern American small and large plates, and Angèle (6-minute drive, 16-minute walk) for French in an 1890s riverfront boathouse.
Mercantile Social (2-minute drive, 7-minute walk), the Andaz Napa hotel's lobby bar, specializes in craft spirits from local distillers and has a good beer and wine selection. The all-vinyl soundtrack at Cadet Wine + Beer (2-minute drive, 8-minute walk) adds to the appeal of this hideaway down a short alley off 1st Street. Blue Note Napa (4-minute drive, 15-minute walk) presents live music, mostly jazz, and has a full bar (love the Manhattans).
WHY WE LIKE IT
Engaging (and engaged) hosts, a full gourmet breakfast, and varied room choices make the Inn on First an excellent choice for travelers who appreciate attention to detail in setting and service. Another bonus: the location away from downtown but not too far from wine tasting, dining, nightlife, and shopping. All guests receive a half-bottle of Mumm's Napa sparkling wine upon arrival, the first of many thoughtful touches that make staying here such a pleasure.