My husband really wanted to do something special for my 60th. I dithered, but did not resist. Most of all I wanted to go away with him somewhere new. So we spent the weekend of my birthday at Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley.
You check in at the top of a hill. The building houses the dining room, the bar, the reception and, hey, sculpture!
But you are well-advised to let yourself go downhill from there.
The rooms are housed in many small buildings. Clusters of rooms, I suppose one might say, or bunches, like grapes, since we’re in Napa. All of them open directly to the out of doors.
The landscaping is gorgeous.
The entire resort, a sculpture garden.
Full of old native trees, Mediterranean plantings, and winding paths.
To be fair, depending on your location and what you like to do, you may also spend some time walking the resort road. Surrounded by olive trees. And, if you are decidedly non-glam me, you will be quite happy in high-waist jeans, tee, Birkenstocks, backpack and hat. Bring a big warm scarf for chilly mornings.
Not to worry, the day warms up and you can spend a few hours by the pool. Or on it. It’s back up the hill near the restaurant/check-in/hub.
I’ll wave to you if I see you. It’s a little noisy at the pool, celebrants at the restaurant do tend to laugh a lot. Hermits like us might prefer to spend time at the spa. Not necessary to spa-ify per se, although I did get a really good massage. The little courtyard is very pretty.
And you can camp in the hot tub, or the warm one, or the cold one for that matter, and gaze at the sky at the temperature of your choice. Sigh.
You can even order room service and eat there, sitting on a bench or probably the tile if you so choose. The sky doesn’t mind.
Probably best to go back up to the hub for food. There are two places, right next to each other, the Restaurant and the Bar & Bistro. The terrace is kind of a scene. International visitors, rehearsal dinner guests, people lining up for the one-Michelin-star food. You may like glamorous hubbub, as I said, we tend toward hermithood. The first night we ate at the bar, inside, where it’s quieter.
The prime beef was amazing. I now eat red meat only once a week. This, my friends, was worth it.
But you can see why people like Auberge’s terrace. We ate breakfast there both mornings. The view is not dramatic, but it’s rich, detailed, and changes with the light and moisture of the day. Serene but not still.
Kudos for the little complimentary pastries. Yum. You can see on the menu, they also offer different breakfasts for different cultures. Nice touch. We humans vary greatly by breakfast.
Way more people like ketchup than you might think.
One night we had dinner in the Restaurant, on the terrace. Food is modern French, I recommend the corn soup. I wore the dress from my own wedding rehearsal dinner, by Christopher Kane, with these Stuart Weitzman shoes. And yes, that is lace and tape, and that is transparent, and no, I regret nothing. Transparent over a slip, to be clear about the actual level of bravado.
My favorite meal, however, might have been the teeny birthday bundt cake that greeted us in our room on arrival.
About that room.
We booked last minute. As a result, the only room available was really fancy with a lot of descriptors. Private Deluxe Garden. Looks regular above, but below you can see the outdoor bathtub and shower. Not regular.
Good place to hang a bathing suit, outdoor showers. And the bathtub a good place to spend a late evening.
But wait that’s not all. Behind the shower wall, a little breakfast nook. I confess, we never used it. But I love the color of the walls, and the woven chairs.
And, I don’t quite know how to say this, there was a full bathroom inside too. Separate shower.
And, just in case, another bathtub. I’m waving at you in the mirror. Hi guys.
Auberge du Soleil is spectacular, and despite the French cuisine, deeply rooted in Napa. It’s a good deal shinier than our usual spot, the Carneros Inn. As I’ve said, Auberge sports a bit of a scene at the bar but you can very easily find peace and quiet if you prefer. Do note that your check-in may be delayed if the person in the room before you is an American Express Platinum member, but do note also that the hotel may do something really nice like pay for your dinner one night in recompense. Such a thoughtful gesture.
And honey, thank you so much. I had a wonderful birthday.
Note: Auberge also owns the Calistoga Ranch, which looks to be more rustic and private, and Solage, which looks to be less stratospheric in price. I wouldn’t be surprised if we were to visit one of these, if we can, in future.
Links may generate commissions