A smart boutique hotel near downtown shopping and dining, the Wydown delivers upscale comfort with a heavy dose of style. The storefront lobby's high ceiling and earth tones, punctuated by rich-hued splashes of color, hint at the relaxed grandeur owner-hotelier Mark Hoffmeister and his design team achieved in the dozen rooms upstairs. Cool, convenient to many tasting rooms, and with a congenial staff, this mellow hotel feels urban and country at the same time.
Book well ahead, especially on weekends, for which two-day minimum stays are required.
In an older building retrofitted to suit 21st-century tastes, the hotel has rooms furnished with plush king beds and contemporary art. Other perks include Geneva sound systems, Nespresso coffee makers, flat-screen TVs, and complimentary sodas and Wi-Fi.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The three largest rooms occupy corners and have downtown views; these and other rooms facing Main Street pick up some street noise, so if that's an issue ask for an atrium room—they're smaller, but quieter and almost cocoonlike.
The bathrooms, stocked with high-quality bath products, have tile floors and marble counters. The Restoration Hardware look suits hotel's haute-modern ambiance.
Hip art and well-padded leather chairs and sofas lend the Wydown's lobby a contemporary living room feel, all the more so because check-in takes place discreetly toward the back. Major papers are provided, along with complimentary tea, water, and sodas, making this a great place to socialize with other guests or commune with your tablet or smartphone.
The Wydown has no pool, but guests 16 and older receive day passes to the Health Spa Napa Valley, three blocks south, which has one.
Although there's no gym on-site, guests 16 and older receive a day pass to the Health Spa Napa Valley three blocks away. Top-notch equipment and a perky staff make the passes a definite bonus.
Breakfast pastries, including English muffins from St. Helena's Model Bakery that were legendary even before Oprah gave them a plug, are served each morning, but that's it for dining. Luckily, numerous options are steps away.
There's no bar here.
Highway 29, one of the main north-south routes through the Napa Valley, is called Main Street in downtown St. Helena. Several wineries and tasting rooms are within a walkable mile of downtown, but for places farther beyond you'll need a car, though VINE Bus 10 passes by many of the wineries north and south of town on Highway 29. Renting a bike from St. Helena Cyclery, in the 1100 block of Main Street, is another option.
Five of St. Helena's best restaurants are within walking distance: Acacia House (10 minutes) for celebrity chef Chris Cosentino's wildly inventive Modern American cuisine; Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen (3 minutes) for comfort food with international influences; Cook St. Helena (2 minutes) for northern Italian cuisine with understated sophistication; Goose & Gander (5 minutes) for American dishes that pair well with the bar's cool cocktails (wine list is good, too); and Terra (3 minutes) for old-school romance and prix-fixe Italian and French cuisine with Japanese influences (full gluten-free menu, too).
Top picks requiring a drive are Two Birds One Stone (4 minutes) for Japanese-inspired cuisine (excellent whiskeys from the Land of the Rising Sun) and The Restaurant at Meadowood (8 minutes), for a unique dining experience that perennially earns three Michelin stars.
Las Alcobas Napa Valley (10-minute walk), which opened in 2017, has the swankest bar within walking distance, but the speakeasy-like downstairs bar at Goose & Gander (5 minutes), in a 1920s bungalow, takes the prize for atmosphere. Bar Terra (3-minute walk), next to Terra restaurant, is a cool spot inside an old field stone building. Ana's Cantina (2-minute walk) is your dive-bar option. Depending on the whims of the staff and regulars, you'll either find it a swell antidote to Napa Valley chic or pick up on a distinctly anti-tourist vibe.
WHY WE LIKE IT
The Wydown strikes just the right balance between causal and chic. No one's putting on any airs, but a stay here seems special, and everything from the decor to the breakfast has been thought through. You'll sacrifice some amenities like room service and a spa, but the rooms are plush and cozy and there's free covered parking out back. The Wydown isn't a place to see and be seen, but it may have you feelin' all warm and fuzzy after just a few hours.