Iconic in sprawl, serenity, and self-contained splendour, The Carneros Inn is what happens when charm and civility get a little wine country kick. In a region renowned by its exquisite ability to celebrate the lusciousness of life by the glass, The Carneros Inn has consolidated this revel into one roving, recalibrating Napa Valley retreat.
By wine region regimen it’s uncommonly casual here – pebbled pathways, open fire pits – the kind of place that makes you want to sink beneath a bevy of market umbrellas, maybe deep into a plush cabana or in that endless outdoor living room, vintage of choice, and while the day inhaling all that rambling rosemary and fragrant fig. Pick up some artisanal fare from Market, or some fruit (quince? Japanese apple?) straight from the flowering trees, and settle in. Do yourself this favor. Ask nothing more from your vacation than this. Not when you’re here.
Perhaps the only negative thing I have to say about this resort is that you will likely leave seeing none of Napa Valley. Destinational hazard. The want to go anywhere else flees immediately once you’ve arrived.
And the apparent allergy to affectation extends to the wee ones – Carneros Inn, while definitively tranquil in setting and scene, is in fact, family-friendly. With a dedicated family pool beside a splashy place for the not yet swim savvy (trademark tangerine petite seats surround), its multiple ear shots away from the adult pool overlooking the valley – the one that was born to adorn any Come to California cover. Bucking the philosophy that a resort is either family focussed or predominantly adult driven, they’re vast enough and spatially innovative enough to make both work. Crayons at the café, s’mores over your private fire pit, sauna after your steam, Saturday or Sunday yoga. They not only thought of everything, they thought of everyone.
Countryside farmhouse style is ubiquitous; it permeates the premises like an optical escort marginalizing anything shy of superbly well appointed. Beyond the integrating aesthetics, the essence of Carneros reveals herself to you slowly. Quietly. Like a gift you get to unwrap one infinite lavender laced vista, one Red Flower handmade soap, one alfresco shower and bathtub beneath the barn wood, one Cypress stroll at a time. Slip out of your signature flip flops (provided) and feel that heated stone bathroom floor. Carneros Inn may be 27 acres big, but her beauty runs deep within her details.
Long before conservation was convention, here they have been water wise from the get go. With an on-property water filtration system, those al fresco baths or triple headed showers come with a conscience pass, as they recover close to 100% of water used. Wildflowers waft between the culinary gardens, growing what you’ll dine on throughout.
And you will eat so well.
On property dining is as agriculturally dedicatory as it is architecturally tickling. From the family-friendly firehouse red Boon Fly Café (legendary donuts), to the Market, anchored in artisanal forages, (the general store I always dream these grab and go’s to be), and FARM, which merits the reputable draw it holds on anyone visiting the region. Elevating still the culinary scene at Carneros, FARM is a triumph in fine dining fare with an effortless ease to its elegance. Sit outside, they’ll drape with a blanket if you’re chilly, and request the lobster risotto. The seared scallops and the Branzino, equally exceptional.
With its warm, whimsical spin on undoing the everyday, if The Carneros Inn hasn’t cornered the rejuvenation destination niche, at the very least it has markedly established it. With its recycled milk carton rocking chairs and galvanized gooseneck illuminations, aqua walls, olive accents and wonderfully weathered stonework, farmhouse chic has epically evolved vineyard vacating into new haute, homespun heights. Tasteful, timeless, and a toast to the town that already did it best, The Carneros Inn is understated upscale at the top of its game. Resist the pomp, create the circumstance, and do whatever you need to do, to get there.
Carneros Resort and Spa, 4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa, CA 94559, USA
Tel: +1(707) 299-4900 / Toll Free: 888-400-9000
The resort is set in 27 acres of beautiful scenic countryside in the Napa Valley and just an hour north of San Francisco via Hwy 12/121. There is plenty of onsite parking available for guests.
Type of Hotel: Boutique Napa Valley Resort
Number Rooms: 86 cottages and 10 suites and complimentary Wi-Fi
Insider Tip: Carneros Inn guests can wine taste at Cade, Odette, and Plumpjack for free – take advantage of all three. The lobster risotto isn’t always listed on the FARM menu – absolutely worth requesting. Great 4+ mile walk around property, bikes available too.
Price Band: Expensive
Reviewer’s Rating: 10/10
Jolie Loeb is a Luxury Lifestyle columnist based in Los Angeles
Photographs by Jolie Loeb