Luxury resort Auberge du Soleil is a little piece of Provence overlooking the sun-drenched vineyards of California’s foremost wine region, Napa Valley. An understated French influence shines through in everything from the Mediterranean-inspired, Michelin-starred restaurant to the light-flooded rooms, where creamy shades of limestone and terracotta combine in classically elegant interiors. Cocktails clink in canopied cabanas by the pool, and there’s a hillside spa within the sculpture-laden grounds. There are 450 wineries a cork’s throw from your door… but with 15,000 bottles in the cellar, you have every reason to keep the tastings in-house.
Double rooms from £754.35 ($979), including tax at 15.195 per cent.
Rates include à la carte breakfast – pick from options including pancakes, farm-fresh eggs and smoked salmon pizza alongside oodles of pastries and cereals.
Take home your own little piece of Auberge – the hand-crafted spa products and artisan culinary ingredients are available to buy in the boutique shop.
At the hotel
Gym, tennis court, yoga pavilion, free Wi-Fi. In rooms: TV and DVD player, iPod dock, air-conditioning, minibar, Nespresso machine, tea-making kit, working fireplace, Auberge Spa bath products.
Our favourite rooms
The Deluxe Valley View rooms do exactly as they promise, with wall-to-wall panoramas over the Napa vineyards. For a superpowered soak go for a Private Garden Suite, which has a secluded bath tub among fragrant shrubs in the courtyard.
Beach-inspired La Plage is the kind of pool area that makes you hurry back after a day of activities (or never leave in the first place). Cocktails, wines and poolside snacks are on hand all day long, and the fleet of double cabanas forms its very own Napper Valley.
The guests-only Auberge Spa has temperate pools overlooking the valley and a Japanese-style yoga pavilion set in a secluded garden. It’s best enjoyed as a pair, with signature couples’ treatments including Meritage (full-body exfoliation and an aromatherapy bath for two) and Joie d’Amour (head-to-toe massage, followed by fireside sparkling wine and a soak in the hot tub).
A wine-tasting notes journal – with all that sampling, you’ll need a reminder of your favourite tipples when it comes to ordering them back home.
One Deluxe Garden Room and a Deluxe Valley View Suite are wheelchair accessible, as are the common areas, including the pool and spa.
Over-16s only – it’s a grown-up kind of getaway.
The restaurant kitchen uses bounty from local farms in dishes, and all the bath products are eco friendly. The hotel supports environmental causes by donating $4 from your booking, matched by another $4 from their own coffers. Currently, this money goes to the Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition, which maintains a 47-mile hiking and biking network.
Sit out on the terrace to pair your wine with views of the valley from whence it came.
It’s California, but leave your board-shorts at the beach – stick to sophisticated French chic instead.
Fine food has been a delectable cornerstone of Auberge du Soleil since restaurateur Claude Rouas founded first the restaurant and then the hotel in the 1980s. The valley-view restaurant is a veteran Michelin-star winner (12 years on the trot, and counting) crafting Mediterranean masterpieces from hand-picked local produce. For dinner, look forward to the likes of roasted local lamb with tahini-glazed eggplant and goat’s cheese-stuffed squash blossoms, while the summery lunch menu includes buffala-ricotta ravioli with Bloomsdale spinach and tomato confit. Seasoned sommeliers are on hand to help you pick the perfect pairing from the 15,000 bottles in the wine cellar.
Cocktails and light bites compete with over 40 local wines for your attention at the Bistro & Bar. Chow down on duck confit with chayote salad by the fireplace, or savour a soft-shell crab sandwich on the wraparound terrace. Keep yourself going with oysters from the raw bar, artisan cheese and charcuterie, alongside speciality cocktails such as the Spring Waltz – a fragrant mix of blackberries, lavender honey and Polish vodka.
Breakfast is served from 7am to 11am, lunch from 11.30am to 2.15pm and dinner from 5.30pm to 9.30pm.
Order breakfast to your bedroom between 7.30am and 11am. The full Bistro menu is available from 11am to 11pm.
Auberge du Soleil is in a 33-acre olive grove on the undulating slopes of Napa Valley in California’s prestigious wine country.
Fly into San Francisco International or Oakland International (just across the bay) – major airlines including Norwegian and British Airways fly from the UK. From San Francisco, it’s a two-hour drive north to the resort in Napa Valley (transfers are included).
You’ll need a car (and a designated driver) to winery-hop across the region, or at least a large taxi budget. You could hire from the airport, but there’s a better option (and it’s free): at the hotel, collect the keys to your own convertible Mercedes-Benz and cruise through Wine Country in style.
Worth getting out of bed for
The estate-wide sculpture garden means you can hardly avoid a culture hit, even if your idea of activity is a once-daily stroll between bed and breakfast. The gauze-covered cabanas at La Plage are the perfect alternative to yet more duvet time, and you can dip in and out of the pool between cocktails. The Auberge Spa has you covered for a steamy hammam or stress-swatting massage, while the Japanese-inspired La Pagode hosts yoga and meditation. For a higher tempo, hit the fitness studio with a personal trainer, or book some time on the tennis court.
Exploring the countryside is a must, but your toughest decision is choosing a mode of transport. Cruise around in a convertible Mercedes-Benz provided by the hotel, hike or bike along the Napa Valley Vine Trail, or soar high above the fields with a hot-air balloon flight. Head to St Helena for boutique shopping and contemporary art galleries (including a branch of the hotel’s sculpture-supplier, Aerena), or sign up to cooking classes at the Culinary Institute of America.
It’d be rude to come to Napa Valley without rigorously examining its reputation as one of the world’s leading wine regions. Consult the hotel concierge to craft a wine tasting tour of some of the 450 local vineyards – and be sure to include a stop at the Frank Family winery, for its snooze-ready verandah and sleepy farmhouse charm.
Cooking is an art-form at three-Michelin-starred The Restaurant at Meadowood (900 Meadowood Lane), where chef Christopher Kostow’s tasting menu takes diners on a mouthwatering journey through the seasons. For a solid steak dinner head to Rutherford Grill (1180 Rutherford Road), or pull into shack-style Gott’s Roadside in St Helena (933 Main Street) for queue-worthy burgers and Three Twins ice-cream milkshakes. Keep it casual with tacos and carnitas burritos at low-key La Luna Market(1153 Rutherford Road) and one afternoon head toLong Meadow Ranch (738 Main Street) for house wines and farm-to-table fare on the terrace.
Streetside café The Model Bakery (1357 Main Street) sets the standard for pastries, pies, and locally legendary breakfast muffins.
In Napa, wine is the order of the day (and night), but to mix things up with a cocktail, stop by St Helena gastro-tavern Goose and Gander (1245 Spring Street) and refresh with a huckleberry-infused cucumber collins on the patio.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this luxury hotel in the Napa Valley and unpacked their cabernet sauvignons and arthouse sculptures, a full account of their California Wine Country break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley…
There are no bad bits of sun-soaked Napa Valley, where the vines hang heavy with succulent grapes and nature’s bounty fills the fertile fields, but Auberge du Soleil is the cream of the crop. Here, all the most enviable elements of California are condensed into one hillside resort, with a dash of French sophistication thrown in. The standard bearer of the upscale Auberge hotel group leaves no stone unturned in its quest for unparalleled luxury hospitality – except perhaps the ones so neatly arranged in the sculpture garden. The service is always attentive but never in your face, quietly efficient and meeting every need, whether it be the keys to a convertible Mercedes, a spa treatment adapted to personal taste or concierge help crafting today’s wine-tasting itinerary. Here, top quality is standard and elite is expected – never more so than in chef Robert Curry’s restaurant, which has earned a Michelin star for 12 years in a row.