A European Journey is not quite on my radar yet – I’m plotting, and autumn travel is a very realistic goal. In the meantime, to satisfy my travel yearnings and discover new hotel properties, I’ve relished exploring classically styled boutique properties in the wine country. Although I’ve been cavorting through the wine country for decades, I’ve not always had time to explore smaller hotels, it’s been surprising to see what I’ve missed!
Last summer I bed-hopped around Yountville, hopscotching one by one to each hotel, a few blocks of lovely small properties and truly delectable dining. In truth, St. Helena has always been on the top of my wine country list due to the range of sophisticated galleries, quality boutiques and the iconic downtown theatre with snug sofas! Following Ty Accornero, former GM of Yountville’s North Block Hotel, who was recently recruited to revitalize the former Las Alcobas as Alila, a premier Hyatt property. The hallmark of Alila Hotels is the combination of innovative design and luxury in unique locations, set apart by an unprecedented level of private space, crafted artisanship, personalized hospitality. Located on St. Helena’s main street, just a few blocks from the eclectic shops and noted restaurants. I was aware of the majestic 1907 era white Georgian style mansion farmhouse surrounded by gorgeous flower gardens, and it fronts acres of Berringer vineyards, but I had never stayed.
If waking up to a serene vineyard view amid ancient oak treetops is appealing, Alila transports. Enjoy a lounger snooze or a lap or two at the pool, a stone’s throw from the grapevines. A leisurely stroll to downtown St. Helena is the most efficient way to explore fine art galleries, sweet boutiques, and local java shops.
The 68-room adults only hotel has splendid outdoor terraces and vineyard views, indoor and outdoor meeting space, a heated swimming pool and a full-service spa and fitness center. My corner suite with wrap around decks overlooked rows of grapes and the thick branches of the massive oak treetops nuzzled the edge of the deck, a sumptuous nest! The neutral hued elegant interiors are a soothing blend of luxurious natural fabrics, both the living room and the bedroom had floor-to-ceiling windows, and a very comfy pillow-top bed. My suite had two generous bathrooms, with separate deep soaker tub and shower and an outside deck with another deep soaker tub for star gazing bubble baths! Oh, additionally the mechanized Toto in the main loo, warm and welcoming whenever you wander in! The hotel also has bicycles that guests can use to get around town. The decks encourage an al fresco lifestyle with a fire-pit, sofas, curl up into chairs and an ample dining table for your own intimate wine tasting over the vineyards!
Spa Alila, provides revitalizing and rejuvenating treatments reflective of the wine country. Featuring five treatment rooms, including a couple’s massage suite, a steam room, and a tearoom for quiet relaxation.
World-class dining is offered at Acacia House by Chris Cosentino, famed TV chef with numerous successful restaurants pinned to his CV. Can I just mention how tranquil it is to spend the day out and about, return to your deck to collapse, maybe enjoy a snooze, and then wander down to the charming wrap around porch of the mansion for cocktails and dinner? Linger in this elegant dining space, my cozy corner included a view of the indoor bar where the crystal sparkled in the subdued light, the bartender seemed to relish tossing the glimmering silver cocktail shaker and elegantly streaming a liquid concoction into a coupe … an art form affair! The House Margarita was highly recommended, but dear Ty had Champers delivered to the table the moment I arrived. Now this is Service! The restaurant interior is comfy with private corners to gather and gossip and drool over the scrumptious duck. Breakfast and lunch are also served inside or on the terrace. Meander down the driveway to discover the vegetable and herb garden enhancing the seasonal menu with fresh ingredients. If you dine inside, do mosey to the table directly fronting the kitchen, where the chef ballet is in perpetual motion.
Inspired dinner selections include offerings such as sweet English pea soup, tuna crudo with a sliver of toast, and a salad of endive apple and goat milk gouda. Duck with stone fruit, sweet peaches was an evening special and it was flawless! Oh, the Parker House rolls, I’m not usually a fan, but served piping hot out of the oven with flavored butter, truly tempting and embarrassing how quickly they disappeared!
A common Covid hotel complaint is lack of staffing, but I must say the guys who greeted me at arrival were enthusiastic, helpful and on the spot – no looking around for help at all! The trolly was there and they waited patiently as i sipped complimentary wine at check in! Same at check out, bellman was at the suite before the suitcases, hat boxes and retail therapy bags were piled at the door. Very impressive service all around.
Alila means “Surprise” in Sanskrit! If you are looking for a lovely local St. Helena escape, Alila is the place to be.
Call me if you too want Champers delivered the moment you arrive!