One of my favorite lodging trends in recent years: The appearance of the luxury bed and breakfast, one that has the sensibilities of a boutique hotel with the personal touches that you’d find in a small establishment.
I have very definite ideas on what a good bed and breakfast looks like, which come from too many nights spent at bad ones. As I outlined in that previous post, I want warmth and personal recommendations, combined with privacy and space to spread out. Unless I’m specifically looking for a historic atmosphere, I want the decor to be classic, not chinzy, and an owner who doesn’t hover. And it goes without saying that I want an awesome hot breakfast.
It’s a tall order. But when I find a place that has most of those things, plus the modern conveniences or design flourishes that you’d find in a boutique hotel, then I’m a happy camper.
On my recent trip to Napa Valley, I stayed in not just one, but two bed and breakfasts that fit the bill. The first, 1801 First, had some of the hallmarks of a traditional B & B. It’s in a historic Victorian home within walking distance of downtown Napa, it has a dining room where guests eat at set times and the rooms are just a stone’s throw from each other. As you’d expect in Napa, there’s a Happy Hour full of wine and cheese.
But, here’s where the B & B concept changes to something more akin to a boutique hotel. Each room has a flat-screen TV, a fireplace and an en-suite bathroom. You can set up spa treatments in your room, which also has luxe bathrobes and linens. Guests are given a choice of breakfast, which they order on a form the night before. Plus there’s free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel (and separate cottage suites for those who want more privacy). All good things – without any chinz in sight.
“Our client is the savvy modern traveler,” said inn owner Darcy Tunt, explaining her more modern decor. “We’re geared toward romantic travelers.”
The Miliken Inn & Spa, a few miles outside downtown Napa, attracts a similar clientele. Most of the rooms are away from the main house, giving the guests slightly more privacy (I was able to slip in and out of the main house almost undetected), but the rooms have the same modern look and amenities.
My luxury suite, which came with its own kitchenette and complimentary soda in the minibar, seemed like a solo oasis, with a huge flat screen, DVD, and a fireplace. Breakfasts are ordered from a menu and delivered to your room. It felt like a true sanctuary.
As you can see from this picture, the Miliken Inn pulled out all the stops to show me what Valentine’s Day would look like at their property. Sadly, I was alone (although I did eat all the chocolate strawberries).
While both 1801 First and Miliken Inn have romance packages, most hotels will drop prices these during the week. If you can get away and take advantage of them, you get a double benefit: Not only do you save money, but taking time off during the week seems more illicit (and therefore sexier). Call your preferred hotel directly to see if they’ll negotiate with published prices. At the very least, you might get some value added features, such as spa credits or extras, thrown in.
My visit to Napa was sponsored by the Napa Valley Destination Council, but my opinions remain my own.
Want travel updates in real time? Like Chris Around The World on Facebook.