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I lived in San Francisco for a large portion of my life, which is a hop and a skip from wine country, so I’ve taken many a day trip for wine tastings (with a couple of staycations thrown in for good measure.) But now that I live in Los Angeles, getting out to Napa Valley requires more planning, including finding the right accommodations. Luckily I was fortunate enough to be invited to stay at the revamped Poetry Inn, a Howard Backen-designed property owned by Cliff Lede, whose eponymous winery sits just across the road.
Full disclosure, this property is not for the budget-minded —with rooms starting at $1,250 a night and frequently climbing higher, it’s more suited for celebrating an engagement, honeymoon, or anniversary, or for taking solace in the utmost privacy (since you can even reserve the entire house.) It embodies the spirit of Napa’s casual elegance, with many of the amenities you’d find at any five-star hotel, including an on-site spa, a pool, and personalized concierge services.
A House Upon the Height
The Poetry Inn is nestled within the Poetry Vineyard, just off of the Silverado Trail and Yountville Cross Road in Napa's renowned Stag’s Leap District. Up a very steep driveway and behind a gated entryway, this hidden gem feels more like a private residence than your typical bed and breakfast. The reception desk doubles as a bar, and a luxurious living room-like lounge space leads to an open patio with an unparalleled view of the valley. We enjoyed the magnificent overlook while sipping glasses of wine, and when I was ready, I made my way to the Walt Whitman suite, my home away from home for the next two evenings.
My 980-foot suite was outfitted with a King bed, a wood-burning fireplace, a sitting area, a desk (and free Wi-Fi), indoor and outdoor shower options, heated bathroom floors, and an enormous soaking tub. Aside from a table and chairs, the patio also had a hanging daybed to enjoy while reading on my Kindle. Other notable amenities are the stocked minibar (included with your stay), some in-room fitness equipment, and a water refill station for filling the electric kettle or topping off your bedside water glass. You can easily settle in and spread out—there’s ample space for you to hang clothes, tuck away shoes, and spread out your toiletries—so you feel right at home.
The inn’s five suites are named after famous poets — e.e. cummings, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Whitman —and each is decorated in a different way that pays homage to the writer. Because of the inn’s secluded location, it felt extremely private and serene (ie. no prying eyes when you decide to take advantage of the outdoor shower.)
Like Home, But Better
Perhaps it was the fresh air and quiet surroundings, but I woke up very early each morning, feeling pretty energized. The chilly morning air made me think twice about taking another outdoor shower, so I opted for the indoor instead. Draped in a plush bathrobe, I enjoyed a pot of French-press coffee on my balcony and watched the hot air balloon rides drift through the mist across the valley. Around 8 am, I headed out to the main lounge to have breakfast (which is also included with your booking). Starting with pastries from Napa’s Model Bakery, I also had my choice of an omelet, pancakes, toast, or a number of other selections made with local ingredients, plus drink options like a ginger-turmeric shot or fresh juice.
Between afternoon and evening plans, I needed to do some work, and I had an iced latte delivered to my room as fuel for conference calls and some writing. When we returned to our suites after our off-property dinner, the room had been turned down—robe and slippers laid out, curtains closed, soft music playing, and dimmed lighting ready to welcome me to bed. My personal touch is a spritz of Osea Vagus Nerve Pillow Mist for a bit of aromatherapy, and a dose of Moon Juice Magnesi-Om for a blissful sleep session.
On our last evening, my tripmates and I decided to hang out in the lounge area in our pajamas. This was probably my favorite part of the experience because it felt like we were hanging out at a (very well-to-do) friend’s house, sprawled on the giant sofa, chatting and enjoying martinis made by a host who graciously stuck around to make our drinks. If there’s such a thing as casual yet exceptional service, this is it — anything we needed, the Poetry Inn was happy to oblige, offering a five-star experience without being fussy.
Out and About in Napa
Just a few minutes from the Poetry Inn are some of the valley’s most well-known restaurants, including The French Laundry and Ad Hoc, both by Thomas Keller. For a more casual experience, head over to Oxbow Public Market in Downtown Napa, a marketplace that houses an array of eateries and other hyper-local vendors. Craving a little more Zen? Drive a little further north to St. Helena and enjoy the award-winning Spa at Meadowood — you can melt any tension away with a curated aromatherapy massage.
I couldn’t talk about my stay at the Poetry Inn without also mentioning our tasting at Cliff Lede Vineyards, the winery just across the road. This estate combines an impressive portfolio of wines (made from vineyards named after Cliff’s favorite songs and albums), with a love of art and music—you can stop in for a tasting and tour the well-curated art gallery behind the main building. (Pro tip for when you’re spending all day outside: pack some Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen and Kinfield Golden Hour to keep mosquitos at bay.)
As all good things must come to an end, my wine country trip was over and I had to head back to Los Angeles. My trusty Piccolo 5-Bottle VinGarde Valise came in handy to take home a few prized bottles, and my wine and I landed safely at LAX a few hours later. With our 10-year anniversary coming up next year, I’m definitely considering booking another stay at The Poetry Inn—definitely a worthy splurge for a momentous occasion.