Accommodations in Napa Valley run the gamut -- from standard motels and floral-and-lace Victorian-style B&Bs to world-class luxury retreats -- and all are easily accessible from the main highway that stretches across the valley and leads to its attractions. Most of the romantically pastoral options (think hidden hillside spots with vineyard views or quaint small-town charmers) are found on the outskirts of historic St. Helena, which has the best walking/shopping street, and the equally storied but more laid-back and affordable hot-springs-heavy Calistoga, which also boasts some of the region's most affordable options. The few commercial blocks of pastoral Yountville have become a destination in itself thanks to a number of famous restaurants (including world-renowned The French Laundry ★★★) as well as a handful of high-end hotels and middle-end B&Bs. The most "reasonably priced" (a relative term in this high-priced area) choices are the B&Bs, small hotels, and national chain options in downtown Napa, the closest thing you'll find to a city in these parts, which also happens to be very up-and-coming with restaurants. No matter where you stay, you're just a few minutes—or less—away from world-class wineries.
What You'll Really Pay -- The prices associated with a stay in Wine Country can be jaw-dropping. Here, luxury abodes can set you back close to $1,000 per night. But more startling, even a standard motel room can go for upward of $250 per night over the weekend during high season. Why? Because there tends to be more people who want to visit than there are hotels to accommodate them. In other words, it's a seller's market. So, if budget travel is essential to your itinerary, definitely avoid visiting during high season -- March to November -- when most hotels charge peak rates, sell out completely on weekends, and often have a 2-night minimum. That said, there are still deals to be had, so when you browse the rates listed here, which are "rack rates" or the maximum possible charge per night, keep in mind that you may be able to book a room for substantially cheaper; it's always worth asking. If you need help organizing your Wine Country vacation, contact an agency. Napa Valley Reservations Unlimited (tel. 800/251-6272 or 707/252-1985; www.napavalleyreservations.com) is a source for booking everything from hot-air balloon rides to wine-tasting tours by limousine.
While there are a few rural resorts in Napa, most accommodations are in the walkable downtown area, including Embassy Suites, 1075 California Blvd., Napa, CA 94559 (napavalley.embassysuites.com; tel. 800/362-2779 or 707/253-9540), which offers 205 two-room suites that include a galley kitchen complete with coffeemaker, fridge, microwave, a wet bar, two TVs and access to indoor and outdoor pools and a restaurant. The 272-room Napa Valley Marriott, 3425 Solano Ave., Napa, CA 94558 (napavalleymarriott.com; tel. 800/228-9290 or 707/253-8600), has an exercise room, a heated outdoor pool and spa, and two restaurants.
Best For: Travelers in search of reasonable prices and easy access to the town's numerous restaurants, the wonderful co-op foodie shopping hall Oxbow Market and farmers' market.
Drawbacks: The few "rural" options tucked into surrounding hillsides aside, it doesn't have the romantic pastoral scenery associated with the region.
Far less "developed" in look and feel than neighboring Napa, this tiny town has about 4 long blocks of hotels and restaurants -- with a little shopping thrown in for good measure.
Best For: Travelers who enjoy resorts and their amenities and instant access to destination restaurants.
Drawbacks: A stay here doesn't come cheaply, even if you end up in a relatively plain B&B.
OAKVILLE & RUTHERFORD
Mere blips on the map, these rural towns don't have much in the way of commercial spaces, but they do have very revered wineries.
Best For: Luxury lovers who want to experience the divine digs of Auberge du Soleil, or anyone looking to sleep surrounded by vineyards.
Drawbacks: You won't find much in the way of reasonably priced rooms here.
Perfectly situated between the winery-heavy towns of Yountville, Oakville, and Rutherford to the south and Calistoga to the north and rife with famed wine brands of its own, this charming historic town provides easy access to a wide variety of the region's offerings.
Best For: Deep-pocketed travelers who appreciate small-town charm and boutique shopping, or those looking for exceptional resort living, which can be found at Meadowood.
Drawbacks: It's a half-hour drive -- or more, during traffic -- to downtown Napa.
Four blocks of shops and restaurants, about a dozen low-key spas -- most of which offer access to natural hot springs -- and a profusion of reasonably priced hotels make Calistoga a popular choice.
Best For: Visitors interested in mud baths, hot springs, relaxed surroundings, and budget-friendly rooms.
Drawbacks: At the opposite end of the valley, a trip to Napa is a 40-minute drive. This area is also the hottest during summer, with temperatures regularly cresting 100°F (38°C).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.