World's Best Wine Country Hotels
That kind of immersive experience has earned Allison Inn the No. 4 ranking among wine country hotels, based on Travel + Leisure readers’ votes in the annual World’s Best Awards survey. The winners come in lots of varietals, from opulent hotels to cozy inns, and turn up in established wine regions (South Africa’s Franschhoek, Argentina’s Mendoza) and less-expected destinations like Arizona’s Verde Valley and the Mount Etna area of Sicily, where that volcanic soil can work wonders.
Napa Valley, CA, certainly has experience catering to the wine-focused traveler. “Our customers come here to experience wine country from head to toe,” says George Goeggel, managing partner of Auberge du Soleil in the Napa Valley, one of the area’s first boutique resorts. “We try to embody the wine country lifestyle in all aspects, from a glass of wine at reception to the local bottles on the menu to the crushed grapes in our spa treatments.”
That sentiment rings true in Santa Barbara, CA, as well. “We estimate that 94 percent of our guests are wine lovers,” says Seamus McManus, managing director of San Ysidro Ranch, whose 1,600-bottle collection features an abundance of local labels. To satisfy their expectations, the hotel offers winery tours, hosts dinners with nearby vintners, and stocks local wines in each of its cottages.
Not to be left out, the East Coast has its own properties among this year’s winners. Virginia’s rolling hills nurture The Inn at Little Washington as well as Keswick Hall, decked out with hunt-club prints and Chippendale chairs and host of regular themed wine dinners.
Even select urban hotels have caught on to the interest in wine tourism and offer guided day trips to wineries within a short drive. The renovated Four Seasons, Firenze, occupies a glorious frescoed palazzo with a pool and an 11-acre park. It makes a refined base for guided excursions into Chianti, 40 minutes away, or for tastings at the hotel's Winery restaurant (nearly 400 bottles at last count).
No matter which wine-country hotel you choose, one thing’s for sure: you won’t go home thirsty.
No. 2 Domaine des Hauts de Loire, Onzain, France
This handsome 19th-century hunting lodge is covered in ivy vines, furnished with antiques, and occupies 178 forested acres along the wine route in Loir-et-Cher. The restaurant, overseen by chef Rémy Giraud, serves the Loire Valley’s famed Vouvrays, Montlouises, and Touraines, though guests seeking a bird’s-eye view of the region’s châteaux can arrange for a private helicopter or hot-air balloon tour of neighboring vineyards, castles, and ancient cities.
No. 3 Les Crayères, Reims, France
In the heart of the Champagne region, this 20-room Belle Époque château (a former family home) maintains an impeccable sense of classic style. The wine cellar at the Michelin-starred restaurant counts 400 champagne labels, and the hotel can arrange visits to bold-faced sites like nearby Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin or the Moët et Chandon cellars, as well as the Notre Dame Cathedral.
No. 4 Allison Inn & Spa, Newberg, OR
Sitting pretty in the Willamette wine country, Allison Inn blends neatly into its setting, with subtle earth tones that match the nearby vineyards, gardens, and lawns. Each of the 85 guest rooms comes with valley views from private terraces or balconies, and 200 wineries, renowned for their Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, are within easy access. The on-site restaurant JORY (named after the volcanic clay soil indigenous to the region) stocks hundreds of local bottles, and the award-winning spa offers “pinotherapy” treatments.
No. 5 L’Oustau de Baumanière, Les Baux-de-Provence, France
The three former residences that make up this secluded hotel have a Provençal feel and dramatic countryside views from their perch atop a craggy hill. The region, between Avignon and the Rhône delta, is known for its Grenaches and Syrahs, many of them organic and biodynamic. The cellar at L’Oustau’s Michelin-starred restaurant overflows with an astonishing 60,000 bottles, including L’Affectif, the local Grenache blend created and produced by the hotel’s proprietor, Jean-Andre Charial.
No. 6 The Four Seasons Hotel, Firenze, Italy
Built into the 15th-century Palazzo Scala della Gherardesca and a 16th-century former convent, the Four Seasons feels like an opulent resort, with glorious frescoes inside and a pool and adjacent 11-acre private park outside. The on-site Winery restaurant counts nearly 400 bottles, and the concierge can arrange for tastings further afleld in the Chianti region—celebrated for its Super Tuscan and Chianti Classico wines—about 40 minutes away.
No. 7 San Ysidro Ranch, A Rosewood Resort, Santa Barbara, CA
This sprawling 500-acre property at the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains was given a $150 million reinvestment in 2011, so each of the 41 vine-covered cottages and suites winding along San Ysidro’s hilly, creek-lined paths looks better than ever. It’s an hour south of the Santa Ynez Valley, one of Santa Barbara’s most picturesque viniculture areas, known for its Chardonnay and Rhône varietals.
No. 8 L’Auberge de Sedona, AZ
Arizona’s growing Verde Valley wine trail isn’t far from this English countryside–style inn with a cozy atmosphere and pretty creek-side views. Use it as a jumping-off point for exploring wineries in Sedona, Page Springs, Cottonwood, and Jerome (several independent wine tour operators can also pick you up from the hotel for daylong excursions). Or stay happily put at the property’s newly refurbished indoor/outdoor wine bar and dining patio.
No. 9 The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, VA
It’s not often that an 18-room inn in a tiny town becomes a destination in its own right, but that’s the case with the Inn at Little Washington, which also happens to be in the heart of Virginia wine country, celebrated for its Chardonnays and Cabernet Francs. Star chef /owner Patrick O’Connell hand-picks local bottles for the acclaimed restaurant, and wine director Jennifer Knowles can suggest and help arrange several self-guided itineraries from the property, with the option for a local car service to chauffeur your group.
No. 10 Lodge at Pebble Beach, CA
While golfers know this elegant 161-room resort for its legendary links, the Lodge’s location near Monterey Wine Country makes it appealing to oenophiles as well. The local Monterey Wine Trolley in downtown Monterey runs groups through popular wineries in the foggy, mountain-ringed Carmel Valley, 15 minutes away; for a more personalized experience, book a custom daylong wine tour with a dedicated driver.
No. 11 Auberge du Soleil, Napa, CA
This boutique resort—one of the first in the Napa Valley (opened in 1985)—has 52 Mediterranean-style villas with wood-burning fireplaces and private verandas overlooking 33 acres of lush olive groves. Wine director Kris Margerum leads restaurant staffers on advanced-level winery tours and tastings to ensure they create the perfect pairings for the restaurant’s prix fixe menus. And guests have 400 wineries waiting outside the hotel doors.
No. 12 Calistoga Ranch, CA
Nature reaches a new height of luxury at this northern California retreat, with 48 individual cedar-and-glass guest lodges among 157 acres of forest and hot springs. The property has its own chandelier-adorned wine cave carved into the bedrock along Lake Lommel in Napa Valley, plus a private Cabernet vineyard in Napa, whose grapes are used in its private-label bottles. Guests can also sign up for grape harvesting and blending parties to customize their own bottle as a souvenir to take home.
No. 13 Solage Calistoga, CA
A young, hip alternative to more traditional Napa resorts, this laid-back hotel (run by the same team behind Calistoga Ranch) has 83 urbane studio rooms, plus a yoga studio, a bocce court, and cruiser bikes that guests can borrow to tool around downtown Calistoga. The hotel’s just north of Napa, where you can indulge in vineyard walks, tastings, and meals at local wineries like Fisher Vineyards.
No. 14 Keswick Hall, Charlottesville, VA
This stately 48-room lodge in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains goes for a handsome, old-guard aesthetic (hunt-club prints, Chippendale chairs aplenty). Private Virginia wine country vineyard tours with the sommelier of its lauded restaurant, Fossett’s, can be arranged, along with self-guided or chauffeured tours down nearby Route 151, a scenic highway passing through many of Charlottesville’s top wineries. Fossett’s also serves local bottles and hosts themed wine dinners several times a month.
No. 15 Bardessono, Yountville, CA
This 62-room LEED-certified Platinum hotel (one of only three in the country) in the Napa Valley is as chic as it is green; eco-friendly accents include organic cotton linens, salvaged wood furnishings, and a farm-to-table restaurant. And carbon footprints stay small thanks to the hotel’s walking-distance location to several top tasting rooms in downtown Yountville. Swing by the hotel bar on Friday evenings for complimentary tastings featuring many local wines.
No. 16 Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, CA
This idyllic, Spanish-accented seaside hotel is surrounded by both pines and the famed golf course, but wine options are plentiful, too. Hop on the nearby Monterey Wine Trolley, the concierge recommends, or book a day trip with AgVenture Tours, whose knowledgeable guides can pick up hotel guests for personalized wine tours through Monterey Wine Country’s 85-plus vineyards.
No. 17 Le Quartier Français, Franschhoek, South Africa
With blooming rose and jasmine gardens and gorgeous Winelands scenery, this 22-room Relais & Châteaux is a romantic base for exploring dozens of South African wineries, many known for Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The hotel can arrange for several nontraditional wine-related activities, including a “grapes and art” tour, “history, grapes, and charcuterie” class, and a custom wine-blending class at Môreson, its family vineyard.
No. 18 Park Hyatt, Mendoza, Argentina
Although located in downtown Mendoza’s Plaza Independencia, Park Hyatt knows how to please wine lovers: the vinoteca lounge features more than 100 boutique Argentinian wines; the spa offers Malbec-based treatments; and guests can book bodega packages ranging from tasting tours to private lunches. The 186 sleek rooms and suites face either the Andes foothills or the hotel’s expansive gardens and showcase local bounty of another sort: photographs and sculptures by area artists.
No. 19 Villagio Inn and Spa, Yountville, CA
A complimentary bottle of Sauvignon Blanc at check-in sets the mood for a wine-soaked vacation here in prime Napa territory. The Tuscan-style villa tucked into 23 landscaped acres near downtown is connected to V Marketplace, site of the 4,000-bottle-strong V Wine Cellar; more than a dozen other tasting rooms are within walking distance. The concierge can help create custom vineyard itineraries, or plan your own with an iTouch borrowed from the hotel and preprogrammed with winery maps and tasting routes.
No. 20 Grand Hotel Timeo, Taormina, Sicily
Grand feels like the right adjective to describe this 72-room retreat, given its baroque interiors and dramatic views of the sea, an ancient Greek theater, and seismically active Mount Etna, whose volcanic soil and unpredictable climate help create some of the world’s most intriguing wines. The hotel offers chauffeured day trips to Etna vineyards (half an hour away) that include a stop at a local enoteca for lunch. But it can be tempting instead to linger on the hotel’s terrace bar with a glass of local rosado—and that volcano at a distance.