FOOD & WINE - For as long as I can remember, Napa Valley has been synonymous with a thoroughly American style of casual luxury. And it’s not limited to one particular part of the region: The best area to stay in Napa Valley is, frankly, anywhere. Downtown Napa hotels have helped to revitalize the city, as have a new generation of restaurants and bars. (For a taste of the energy infusing Napa these days, make sure to check out Compline, the wine bar, restaurant, and retail shop helmed by Master Sommelier Matt Stamp and former Charlie Trotter wine director Ryan Stetins. The extensive list of wines by the glass and bottle ranges from unusual grape varieties like Gual, from the Canary Islands, to unexpected gems like a 2004 Rosso di Valtellina; and the menu, by Chef Yancy Windsperger, is designed with the single-minded goal of pairing with wine. To that end, the bacon marmalade burger sings alongside pretty much whatever red you choose to sip, and dishes like the tofu and rice bring out the umami in your glass with gusto.)
But Napa Valley luxury hotels and dining aren’t limited just to downtown: From the small-town charm of Yountville to the more rustic appeal of Calistoga, 5-star hotels in Napa Valley are both plentiful and often charmingly idiosyncratic in design and philosophy. And they keep on coming! In the middle of this year, for example, The Four Seasons Resort & Residences will be opening for business in Calistoga. Just don’t let the actual star rating of a property dictate your decision-making: Some of the most beloved Napa Valley resorts achieve a supremely high level of luxury, despite their lack of formal recognition. The trick is to keep an open mind, do your due diligence, and find the property that’s best for you. There are more than enough to choose from.
The Meritage Resort and Spa (875 Bordeaux Way, Napa, CA 94558; (855) 318-1768): With an address on Bordeaux Way, this 322-room property is a longtime favorite of visitors. No wonder: There’s a spa set into an underground cave, a private vineyard, bowling on-site, and a huge range of rooms and suites appropriate for any taste and budget. And in true resort fashion, there are lots of dining and drinking options on the grounds, which means you can taste as much as you want and not have to worry about the drive home.