FELL IN LOVE WITH HOTELS & SPAS

Auberge du Soleil: The Best View in the Napa Valley and more…

December 7, 2014
Valley view in the morning fog

A stay at the luxury Auberge du Soleil makes for a perfect Wine Country retreat

“You have to have lunch on the terrace at Auberge du Soleil,” said a friend who had just returned from Napa Valley Wine Country. “The food and the views are incredible.”

So when visiting Napa a couple of years ago, we stopped in for lunch after making reservations on Open Table. My friend hadn’t exaggerated. As we soaked in the expansive views of the vineyards and valley from the top of Rutherford Hill, the setting was as memorable as the wonderful meal.

More recently, we were invited to stay at Auberge du Soleil overnight while attending Flavor! Napa Valley, the annual wine and food festival held to benefit students at the Greystone campus of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). We only regret not having made plans to stay longer.

The setting

A maison at Auberge du Soleil

A maison at Auberge du Soleil

Auberge du Soleil is located just off the Silverado Trail within the tiny hamlet of Rutherford (with a population of fewer than 200 people). The 33-acre resort is about six miles southwest of the charming town of St. Helena (that houses the CIA) located in the Rutherford AVA (American Viticultural Area) known for its Cabernet Sauvignon.

The resort is comprised of individual cottages (called maisons) nestled amidst trees and olive groves. Separate buildings house the reception area with two restaurants (formal and casual) and the 7000-square-foot spa. An 8000-square-foot lounge and pool area with terraced sundecks also graces the property. There are 29 maison rooms, 19 maison suites with separate dining and living areas, and two large 2-bedroom maisons with private fitness studios. Being on the grounds of this Relais & Chateaux property is reminiscent of a stay in the south of France.

Pool area

Pool area with hot tub

In partnership with Ma(i)sonry (in Yountville) and I. Wolk Gallery (in St. Helena), some 85 sculptures are on display outdoors, many available for purchase. Guests can take a self-guided tour through the Sculpture Gardens (using a map provided at the reception desk) or take an art walk by appointment with a curator. (See our Slideshow below with some of the sculptures on display.)

Checking in 

After a welcome glass of wine at the reception area, a bellman escorted us to Maison Calais 4, a quadriplex situated on a hillside not far from the pool area. Until a guest settles in at Auberge and understands the layout of the sprawling resort, it’s unlikely they would find their unit or any other on their own.

Another maison

Another maison

The feel of the room: Think understated country elegance laced with a heavy dose of romance and sophistication. Our room had a private balcony overlooking the valley; and was filled with original art, custom furniture crafted in warm golden oak toned woods, and an inviting bed topped with Italian linens with a down blanket and duvet. Turning on the cozy gas fireplace in the corner removed the rainy day chill from the room within minutes.

A certain “Je nais se quoi” about the very tastefully and thoughtfully appointed room made it feel much more homelike and welcoming than other hotels or resorts. Perhaps, it was the bespoke collection of food and art books on the mantle—or the writing desk topped with a fresh orchid, analog clock, stationary, and cup filled with sharpened thick wooden pencils.

Interior of Calais 4

Interior of Calais 4

The cozy fireplace

The pantry and cozy fireplace

The meant-to-be-lived-in bathroom had a separate water closet and flat-screen TV. Wineglasses and candles were within arm’s reach of the freestanding soaking tub. The huge stall shower had both artificial lighting and natural lighting from above during the day.

If you left anything at home, you could depend upon finding it in one of the bathroom vanity drawers—a hairbrush, dental floss, nail polish remover, first aid or “intimacy” kits, or whatever else.

The Tub

The Tub

One of the just-in-case drawers

One of the just-in-case drawers

Fit for Foodies

Because we arrived late in the day, we couldn’t bear to leave our maison so soon after. We opted for room service, which we ordered using the iPad menu in our room. It came promptly and the menu offered many of the same dishes we could have ordered from the casual Bistro & Bar in the main building that offers small plates, casual fare and more than 45 different wines by the glass.

Ahi Tuna Tartare, Wakame, Dashi Gelée

Ahi Tuna Tartare, Wakame, Dashi Gelée

Grilled Auberge Burger, Traditional Garnish, Pommes Frites

Grilled Auberge Burger, Traditional Garnish, Pommes Frites

With uncharacteristically rainy weather the next morning, we were seated inside the one-star Michelin-rated, more formal Restaurant for breakfast as opposed to eating outdoors on the porch. Room tariffs are fully inclusive of gourmet made-to-order breakfasts for two that can be ordered off the menu or delivered to your room.

My husband opted for brioche French toast with orange butter and passion fruit syrup. I had one of the resort’s signature specialties: a generous portion of thin-crust breakfast pizza with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. Both dishes were delectable. Executive Chef Robert Curry’s menus at Auberge blend French and Napa traditions, emphasizing house-made and local ingredients.

Interior of The Restaurant

Interior of The Restaurant

French toast with orange butter and passion fruit syrup

French toast with orange butter and passion fruit syrup

Unforgettable breakfast pizza with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon

Unforgettable breakfast pizza with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon

Bottom Line 

A choice of newspapers is delivered to each maison in the morning. In-room fruit bowls are replenished daily and an exceptional complimentary minibar is stocked with artisanal local products as well as a variety of soft drinks, beers, waters and juices. More like a kitchen pantry, the minibar literally has everything from soup to nuts—including two microwavable Annie Chun’s soup bowls complete with chopsticks. There’s also a choice of gourmet chocolates if you get the munchies before turndown. Golf carts and drivers are available to ferry guests from place to place on the grounds if they don’t feel like walking.

To be swathed in comfort, luxury and personal service like this, overnight stays at Auberge begin at $675 per night (double-occupancy), off-season. While expensive, it’s an excellent value and one that won’t make you feel nickel and dimed.


IF YOU GO 

Auberge du Soleil

180 Rutherford Hill Rd. Rutherford, CA 94573


Some tips for Over-50 Travelers

  • Although the property is only 65 miles away from San Francisco, roads in the Napa Valley area can be highly trafficked.
  • Some of the upper level units, including the one we stayed in, are accessed by steps. Let the management know if you have mobility problems. The property is handicapped accessible and an elevator is available for guests to go between their rooms and the reception/restaurants areas.
  • Children under 16 are not allowed at the pool, spa or tennis courts.

 

Disclosure: Our stay was hosted by Auberge du Soleil but any opinions expressed in this post are our own.


Also on More Time To Travel:

  • Reply
    Sand In My Suitcase
    December 8, 2014 at 10:51 am

    This looks like the place to stay in Napa! Love the idea of separate little cottages. And it’s nice to find a razor and other amenities, since sometimes (despite lists!), we forget the odd thing when traveling…

  • Reply
    Michele Peterson ( A Taste for Travel)
    December 8, 2014 at 11:56 am

    What a beautiful property! Those olive trees remind me of Spain and I just love the fresh decor in your Maison. Looks like a perfect one-night stand. 🙂

  • Reply
    Suzanne Stavert
    December 8, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Sign me up! What a gorgeous property in one of my favorite places! Lucky you! Between the bathtub and the tuna tartare I would be in Heaven! Lovely!

  • Reply
    Karen Warren
    December 8, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Looks like a lovely area and a great hotel. I like the idea of a supply of freshly sharpened pencils!

  • Reply
    noel
    December 8, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    I’ve always wanted to visit this amazing place, what a wonderful tour. Thanks for taking us there today Irene.

  • Reply
    Nancie
    December 8, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    I could get used to this very quickly. I love the bath tub. Korean bathrooms generally don’t have bath tubs, so it is something I have come to lust after. 🙂

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      December 8, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      I happen to be a “shower person” but this one was irresistible. 🙂

  • Reply
    Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru
    December 8, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Oooh, lucky you! Long on my list. I don’t know what impressed me more: the sharpened pencils (and I’m betting the paper to go with them was creamy smooth, the better to write with), the bathtub, the just-in-case drawer so perfectly in alignment, or that wonderful burger! Fun in every way!

  • Reply
    Elaine J. Masters
    December 8, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    I’m with Betsy, it’s hard to say what’s more impressive about the service and amenities at the Auberge. What a lovely retreat from the bustling wine tasting crowds in Napa. New one for the bucket list.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      December 8, 2014 at 8:05 pm

      Yes, it’s nice to get away from the hustle bustle~

  • Reply
    carol
    December 8, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    What a great place! Would be such a wonderful writer’s wretreat!!! But must be expensive!

  • Reply
    Sheryl
    December 9, 2014 at 10:20 am

    As always, you have made me drool…not just over the food but over this special hotel! I’m ready to go. NOW.

  • Reply
    Shelley
    December 9, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Your post makes me envious – what an idyllic place to stay! Reminds me of Europe, and I love the idea of private cottages. The breakfast pizza looks delicious!

  • Reply
    The GypsyNesters
    December 9, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Very nice! Absolutely love the tub, nothing like a good soak sometimes.

  • Reply
    Sue Reddel
    December 9, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    Looks heavenly! I’d like to try that breakfast pizza. Looks yummy.

  • Reply
    Mike
    December 10, 2014 at 1:26 am

    That is MY kind of place though it may not be on my kind of budget. Lordy, I would want to try one of each of the Auberge Burger, French toast and breakfast pizza. Lordy, now I’m hungry and shouldn’t be eating at 10:30 p.m. at night! Good post, Irene! 🙂

  • Reply
    santafetraveler
    December 10, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    The Auberge looks fab! I love soaking tubs and that one is calling my name. The food looks mouthwatering. What a great place to stay.

  • Reply
    A Cook Not Mad (Nat)
    December 10, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    What’s not to love? I would have been in that tub the whole time.

  • Reply
    Donna Janke
    December 10, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    Wow! This place looks fantastic. Beautiful and luxurious. Lucky you.

  • Reply
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go
    December 11, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    The Auberge du Soleil resort is charming and I can see why you’d want to extend your visit. The soaking tub looks like heaven and just the thing to finish off a rainy day!

  • Reply
    Johanna
    December 13, 2014 at 2:22 am

    Between the bathtub and that bed I would think I’d died and gone to heaven. What a charming resort.

  • Reply
    Carole Terwilliger Meyers
    December 13, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    It’s been a long time since I luxuriated in lunch on the terrace at Auberge du Soleil. I’m so glad to hear it is still living up to my memories. Though the price of a room is dear, I do hope to make my next lunch visit an overnighter.

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