Fodor's Expert Review Meadowood Napa Valley

900 Meadowood La., St. Helena, California 94574, USA See on Map Fodor's Choice

Founded in 1964 as a country club, Meadowood evolved into an elite resort, a gathering place for Napa's wine-making community, and a celebrated dining destination. The lodges and clapboard bungalow-style structures scattered across this 250-acre property lend it an exclusive feel. Everything runs seamlessly, starting with the gatehouse staffers, who alert the front desk about arrivals.


Accommodations here range from 300- or 400-square-foot rooms (not counting their large patios or outdoor decks) to capacious suites with more than 2,000 square feet indoors and out. Redesigned by Howard Backen, considered by many the Napa Valley's premier architect, the scrupulously maintained rooms have vaulted, white, open-beam ceilings, designer furniture in shades of brown, and gas or wood fireplaces. The supremely comfortable king beds, all with down bedding, are situated to take advantage of the close-up views most rooms have of the property's oaks, firs, redwoods, and other trees. Amenities in all rooms, some of which have views of the croquet lawn or the resort's golf course, include large flat-screen TVs, updated electronics, and coffee or espresso machines; some rooms have kitchenettes.

When selecting a room at this far-flung resort, think about how you plan to spend your time. If you're here for tennis, swimming, and other sports activities, a room near their facilities might be the best choice; if romance and seclusion are the priority, consider staying on the resort's northern or eastern edge.

Hillside Terrace Room
Photo: Hillside Terrace Room
Estate Room
Photo: Estate Room
Oakview Room
Photo: Oakview Room


Bathrooms vary depending on the room category, but all have heated ceramic-tile floors, vanities with marble countertops, and products by London-based Molton Brown. Some bathrooms have indoor-outdoor showers. Most bathrooms have double vanities, but some have singles, and some have showers but no tubs.


Sofas, large high-back chairs, and a sprawling coffee table, all positioned around a stone fireplace, contribute to the country-lodge ambiance of Meadowood's reception area lobby. Front desk staffers offer arriving guests ice tea and lemonade in summer and hot cider in winter, quickly dispatching the necessary business. Guests sometimes hang out in the inviting lobby's polygonal alcove or work at the sizable writing desk, and many turn up for the complimentary wine reception that takes place here daily.


A major renovation of the fitness and pool area is scheduled for completion by Summer 2018. Among the project's highlights are the replacement of the lap pool and the addition of an adults-only pool with cabanas and a hot tub. The family/children's pool, which also has a hot tub, is being resurfaced.

Spa Suite
Photo: Spa Suite


For the spa, whose new building debuted in 2015, Backen chose board-and-batten construction, with the lichen-green exterior reflecting the colors outside and the warm browns and soft lighting inside creating a soothing, cocoonlike atmosphere in the reception area. The sensibility continues in the self-contained treatment suites, all with bathrooms and showers so guests don't need to leave once a session begins. In keeping with the spa's holistic approach, treatments begin with therapists and guests engaging in a "wellness dialogue," with the session's regimen resulting from this conversation. Traditional massage in numerous modalities is central to many sessions, with detoxification, hydration, oxygen, and other treatments added to the mix as needed.

One of the two couples' suites, which has a rectangular hammered-copper tub that comfortably fits two, is partly open-air, with views of sky and trees.

Spa Suite
Photo: Spa Suite


A makeover scheduled for completion by Summer 2018 will see the already large fitness center expand even more. Until then, a temporary, fully equipped facility will operate. In addition to the new center's areas for machines, free weights, medicine balls, and other equipment, there will be more space for the classes in yoga, Pilates, spinning, and TRX. Opportunities to stay in shape aren't restricted to the center, however. In addition to the pools, there are also more than 4 miles of hiking trails on the property, two professional croquet courts, a nine-hole walking golf course, and seven tennis courts.

The Grill Terrace
Photo: The Grill Terrace


Under chef Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood has won high praise from critics and foodies—and three Michelin stars. Most diners choose the tasting menu option, enjoying their meals in the softly lit dining room, but up to four guests can sit in the kitchen while Kostow's team prepares the food. Dining is more casual at The Grill at Meadowood, where the Wagyu burger stands tall among the crowd-pleasing comfort food offerings. "Wellness" items include quinoa spaghetti and the king salmon Buddha bowl, with wild rice, rainbow chard, avocado, tamari almonds, and additional seasonal ingredients.

It's wise to make dinner reservations at The Restaurant at Meadowood as far advance as possible (this is done through the Tock system that The French Laundry and other high-end Wine Country restaurants also use), but staffers say it's also a good idea to make reservations for The Grill and even for drinks and snacks at the main restaurant's bar.

The Grill Terrace
Photo: The Grill Terrace


The large-paned windows of the bar at The Restaurant at Meadowood reveal views of the forest outside, the pastoral setting reinforced by the room's fieldstone walls, plush furniture, and 20-foot-high beamed vaulted ceiling. The Restaurant Bar, as it's called, is a suave yet comfortable spot to enjoy well-conceived artisanal cocktails, more than a few made from locally distilled spirits. The wine selection ranks among the Napa Valley's best, with craft beers on draft and by the bottle another focus. There's also a bar at The Grill at Meadowood.


Getting Around

Meadowood is east of the Silverado Trail, 2 miles northeast of downtown St. Helena. Staffers report that most guests arrive by car. No buses stop nearby and few wineries are within walking distance. Many wineries, however, are within a short drive. Complimentary car service to St. Helena and Yountville is available on a first come, first served basis for dinner.


Downtown St. Helena restaurants—each a seven- or eight-minute drive away—include Kostow's Charter Oak for farm-to-table Modern American cuisine served family style, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen for comfort food with international influences, Cook St. Helena for sophisticated northern Italian, and Goose & Gander for American dishes that pair well with the bar's signature cocktails. Head to Terra for old-school romance and prix-fixe Italian and French cuisine with a Japanese inflection. Press, a hair south of downtown, is known for its high-quality steaks and superior wine list.


The bar at Las Alcobas Napa Valley's Acacia House (7-minute drive) tops its signature margaritas with sea-salt foam and lime zest; also popular here is the Acacia Cocktail, made with gin, honey, crème de violet, and a dash of sparkling wine. For a dose of atmosphere with your cocktail, head to the speakeasy-like downstairs bar at Goose & Gander (7-minute drive) or over to Bar Terra (7-minute drive), inside a historic fieldstone building. The Saint (7-minute drive), a wine bar inside the former Bank of St. Helena building, pours local wines you can compare with their counterparts from Europe and elsewhere. Craft beers are also served.


If splendid restaurants and some of the world's best wineries weren't a short drive away, there really wouldn't be much reason to leave marvelous Meadowood. There's the highly regarded main restaurant, of course, but also activities that range from croquet and golf to wine and other classes. Many guests cite the elegant rooms and the feeling of privacy and seclusion as the high points of their stay, along with the discreetly solicitous service everyone on the staff routinely provides.


Romantic, Service
85 rooms
Breakfast Yes
Lunch Yes
Dinner Yes
Bar Yes
Cafe Yes
Room Service Yes
Gym, Pool
Free Parking,Parking Lot


Phones: 800-458–8080; 707-963–3646

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