Living in Northern California has its perks. Just 1 hour north of San Francisco is beautiful Napa Valley, home to some of the best wines in the world…as well as incredible luxury hotels. We had the opportunity to work with Carneros Resort & Spa recently and we had a fantastic time. So read on to find out what we loved!
Location & How to get there: 4.5/5
Napa Valley in general has stunning views in every direction, and Carneros Resort is no different. Carneros is one of the first luxury resorts right off the main road as you enter Napa, if you’re driving from San Francisco. It’s laid out much like a small neighborhood or town, dotted with adorable cottages throughout. It’s conveniently located next to the main road that takes you to the main downtown of Napa and beyond. There is light road noise for this reason, but most of the cottages are tucked away and therefore you cannot hear much beyond the lobby.
From the property, it’s a quick 10 minute drive to downtown Napa’s restaurants and shops. Vineyards are within minutes of the hotel, depending on the type of wine or the brand that you’re looking for. It’s also located approximately 1.5 hours from San Francisco International Airport and 1 hour from Sacramento International Airport and Oakland International.
Lobby & Check in experience: 4.5/5
The lobby at Carneros is an adorable, modern country style building. The lobby is filled with books and cute decor and makes you feel like you stepped into an upscale country home on the East Coast. We were seated at the reception desk, offered Pinot Noir or Chardonnay and checked into our room 30-minutes before the check-in time of 4pm. The staff were friendly, helpful and told us how to get to the hilltop pool and wander around the property. They did fail to mention, however, the live music at FARM (that we only found out about on our last night as the guitarist finished playing his set) and also that there was a car service within a range of the property that we could have taken advantage of. Now that you know those things, make sure not to miss the live music, it was fabulous.
Within a few minutes of checking in, we got back in our car and drove to our “neighborhood”! The bellmen drive ahead of you to show you to your parking area so that you can conveniently park near your cottage. The property is made up of a number of little neighborhoods of 4-8 free-standing cottages. The property is small, so it only take about 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other, making the car unnecessary unless you are driving to vineyards or restaurants.
The great news for you is that we were accidentally put in the wrong room type when we arrived, so we were able to see two different room types to show you! This is great because we can accurately tell you what we think you should book of the two and are able to provide a nice comparison of consistency, amenities and differences in the Premier Garden Cottage and the Harvest Cottage.
In terms of size, the cottages are exactly the same. There is a king bed, fireplace, minibar, large bathroom with free-standing tub and shower. The real difference between the cottages comes with the exterior living area.
The Premier Garden Cottage has a smaller enclosed backyard, with a small free-standing fire pit, two chairs, two chaise loungers and a table for four on the cobblestone. There is also an outdoor shower. The Garden Cottage looks like this:
The Harvest Cottage has a larger backyard with a larger wood deck, two chaise lounges, table and a larger fire pit with two chairs. There is also the outdoor shower and an outdoor tub. The Harvest Cottage looked like this:
Personally, we loved the harvest cottage for the expanded outdoor space, larger fire pit and outdoor tub. There is typically a $50-100 price difference, which we find to be a good value if you upgrade. On our last night, I saw a shooting star from the outdoor bathtub…life really doesn’t get much more magical than that in my opinion.
Both rooms came with deliciously luxurious robes and slippers, wonderful Spa products in eco-friendly containers, a Nespresso with ample coffees and an extremely comfortable bed. The bathroom floors are heated, which makes it so wonderful to step on the stone floors on the chilly mornings. It’s also worth noting that there are heat lamps directly over the outdoor chaise loungers in both room types, so it’s comfortable to relax outside when it’s chilly. The cottages are also very quiet and we heard no noise from the outside when sleeping with the doors and windows closed.
Overall, we loved the cottages at Carneros. The only thing we did notice was around consistency in the rooms. One room had a bowl of apples, while the other did not. One room had bath salts, while the other did not, and so on. Even in the bathrooms of both rooms we noticed a lack of attention to detail around the products. We are huge fans of the eco-friendly bottles, but it is never a good experience to come to a hotel and have half-empty bottles of soaps and shampoos. Done correctly, the large bottles are luxurious and feel like they’ve been placed there for you and you alone. The lack of attention to detail can make those reusable bottles feel more like used bottles. These minor details do not make a big impact on their own, however, for a 5 star property, it’s critical to get those details right. While this is more of a service issue than a room issue, it’s worth noting.
The facilities at Carneros Resort are exemplary. From the perfectly landscaped gardens, to the adults-only hilltop pool, to the complimentary fitness classes, you cannot go wrong if you’re looking for a relaxing stay in Napa. We saw no need to leave the property and never did throughout the weekend, even to go taste wine! We spent our days lazying by the pool or in our cottage backyard and our nights eating delicious food and watching the stars.
The fitness center is wonderful and offers complimentary yoga every day (schedule in your cottage). The fitness center is located next to the family pool, which provides a gated area for kids and their parents to enjoy the sun. The adults-only pool was our favorite and is located on top of the hill overlooking the vineyards. It’s the perfect place to watch sunrise. We’d recommend grabbing breakfast at the Hilltop Dining Room, a guest-only dining experience with the best bacon we’ve ever had.
We did not try the spa, although, I heard it’s wonderful and I can attest to their deliciously scented products, located in the cottage bathroom.
Lastly, they offer complimentary bicycles for use at the hotel. You can rent them for free and explore the area – we’d highly recommend this option as there are numerous wineries within biking distance and it’s safer than driving.
We only indulged in a breakfast and a dinner while at Carneros and both were fantastic. We had breakfast at the Hilltop Dining Room and were surprised to find it extremely reasonable and the food was excellent. We had dinner at FARM on the last night and the food was excellent as well. Their cocktails were delicious, and very seasonally inspired.
We did not try the Boon Fly Cafe, but heard it has very tasty comfort food, so hopefully we will check it out next time.
The property also offers room service, which seems like a great idea, given how incredible the cottages are to spend time in.
Overall, the service was excellent at the resort. Staff were friendly, helpful and always addressed you by name. We had multiple experiences where we either heard or experienced ourselves, true luxury service. For example, while chatting with a waiter at breakfast, a wasp flew into Max’s breakfast. The waiter immediately asked if he would like a new egg, even though Max quickly removed the bee. Similarly, a table next to us told the waiter the mini jam jar was open and the waiter apologized profusely, explaining this was unacceptable and comped their coffee. We found this type of service across the resort. Later that day, at the pool, a guest wanted a blood orange margarita and the staff ran all the way to the other side of the property to get some because the pool bar did not have any blood oranges left.
On the flip side of that, was some inconsistency in service, particularly around the room. For us, we usually realize it’s based around housekeeping and maintaining a consistent experience in that department at most hotels. Turn down service arrived late, after 9pm both nights and didn’t provide anything of note, at least worth us getting out of bed and sitting outside for. We saw they removed the old towels and closed the blinds, but they did not leave an amenity, extra water, a refreshed ice bucket or new towels. Perhaps I’m spoiled by all the incredible turn down experiences we’ve had at similar priced properties, but we were expecting a little bit more, even if it was just to put the slippers by the bed or an extra water bottle, for example. We took advantage of the “fireside butler” service and scheduled a time to come, but were disappointed when they didn’t show up. We inquired later for a different time and they came after we returned from our dinner reservation. We realized after they left that we weren’t sure what the purpose of the “fireside butler” was. There were no candles, bath salts, soap bubbles or otherwise and we could have just filled the tub ourselves.
Regardless of the small details, the service is incredibly high-quality from the staff we encountered and we loved how friendly and professional the staff at the hotel were, overall.
When we review style, we review it for consistency across the facilities as well as the quality. Carneros Resort, in our humble opinion, nailed it. The modern, country chic look permeated every area of the resort, from the stunning lobby to the adorable rooms, we loved every corner. As a travel blogger, you know that if you can’t stop taking photos of everything, it’s got to be great. The “theme” of the resort was perfectly executed across every surface and you truly feel like you’re a million miles away from home at a country cottage decorated by someone with exquisite taste.
We particularly loved that every “neighborhood” of cottages had their own name, like “Yarrow” or “Lavender” and the gardens were full of the corresponding plants. In the backyard, you can find those plants as well, amongst many others like pomegranates and fruit trees.
Overall, we loved every minute of our experience at Carneros Resort and can’t recommend it highly enough. The Harvest Cottage was a true home away from home that we strongly considered never leaving. We absolutely loved the adults-only pool, dining and facilities and saw great value in their offerings for the price. While some of the small details were missing for us, they did not take away from the experience. Book yourself a Harvest Cottage and get ready for romance!
Disclaimer: we were hosted by the Carneros Resort & Spa and the opinions expressed in this post are all our own and may not reflect the opinions of the resort.