Napa’s Calistoga Ranch: A Small Village

When we travel to the northern California Wine Country, we almost always stay at Manka’s, located outside Sonoma in the small town of Inverness. It’s private, nature driven, and the food is local and delicious.

This time, we decided to focus more on the Napa side to visit a couple of our favorite vineyards including Pride. I booked us to stay at the Calistoga Ranch because of the inside-out design, the high-end décor, and the possibility of staying put for a while.

We’d been ridiculously busy and desperately needed a quiet break.

Once we arrived, I was surprised by the small town concept. Mini winding streets traversed up the canyon and were just wide enough to fit two golf carts. Plenty of luxury amenities are available such an indoor/outdoor gym, a gorgeous pool, a full spa, and restaurant. Basically, you never have to leave if you don’t want to.

Each one of the mini houses along the streets had a front porch or deck. They were built wide and ours had an outdoor eating area, a lounge area in front of our double-sided fireplace, and a hot tub area. For the most part, the hot tub area was concealed below the deck. Our bedroom and master bathroom was built into a separate dwelling while the living room, guest bath, and small kitchen area shared the fireplace with the outdoor deck.

Outdoor deck area

Our outdoor deck area with a see-through fireplace to the living room. Stargazing is phenomenal from here.

The furnishings were somewhat dated luxury hotel designs in golden tones mixed with some woods. The rolled arms and granite are already out of date, but perfectly in sync with the slightly Tuscan theme. It was for the most part comfortable, but a little noisy in the early afternoon and evening. Everyone walked by to go to dinner or on his or her excursions, so the privacy of the hot tub became nonexistent at times.

We stayed here over Thanksgiving weekend, so the entire ranch was booked and it took about 45 minutes just to get checked in. The bonus was a glass of the Calistoga Ranch Chardonnay handed to each guest as they checked in. It was a bit oaky, but balanced. We were given a bottle in our room as well.

The highlights of the stay were the outdoor showers, the cleanliness, and the master bathroom. There are outdoor showers that are fully enclosed on the back of the master bathroom. The very open deck could have a couple of chaise lounges because the privacy and sun would make for great sunbathing. Additionally, the housekeepers did such a great job while we were there. Our spaces were kept spotless.

The spacious master bathroom had a soaking tub and two separate sink areas. It was one open space with a separate, enclosed water closet for the toilet. There was so much room it dwarfed the master bedroom. The two spaces were not to equal scale and unfortunately, the master bedroom was the closest to the street of any space. It would be noisy for those who go to bed early or sleep in late. These are small issues because the concept of living both inside and out functions beautifully at the Ranch. If you are a nature lover, add this place to your bucket list.

One of the areas that Calistoga Ranch needs to work on is finding more ways to create privacy for those houses on the main thoroughfares. Secondly, one of our overhead sunshades was missing at our unit. Calistoga staff also acknowledged the need to increase the capacity of their Wifi because it was intermittent throughout our stay. Some the bikes we rented were in disrepair—the seats didn’t stay locked in position. The check in was a disaster, but they apologized for the experience a couple of times and explained that this happens on busy holiday weekends. Most of these issues are easy fixes.

A note about the food—we ordered breakfast every day in the room. The fresh pressed juices were phenomenal and unusual—carrot and pear mixed with herbs, for example. The main dishes, however, were unremarkable considering the inspirational ingredients available in the valley. To be fair, breakfast is not necessarily the best meal to test a menu, however, the restaurant was fully booked the entire weekend so we were not able to experience any evening meals.

The overall experience of the Calistoga Ranch was very positive. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and we hiked up the canyon one morning to see the entire valley and numerous types of flora and fauna—many of which are marked with common names for identification.


Calistoga Ranch is beautifully landscaped with markers for the many of the plantings. 

The service was impeccable and the ranch is a perfect place for family gatherings and events. We walked past the wine cave built into a hill near the restaurant at the top of the canyon. Peeking inside, we saw it was dressed for a big celebration with candles and huge red tropical flowers all set on a long table. Hopefully we’ll be invited back some day.

Barbara Schmidt, is principal and lead designer of bstyle inc, a nationally recognized design firm creating and building spaces for homeowners, retailers and manufacturers for over twenty years.