With its understated luxury and emphasis on fine dining the Auberge du Soleil is Napa Valley at its most indulgent
Once upon a time, before Napa Valley was the much-visited wine country it is today, it was a mere dot on the map. As such, it was without a luxury hotel for visitors who wanted a sumptuous wine country experience because there simply wasn’t enough traffic to the region to warrant one. Then in 1981, an ambitious restaurateur called Claude Rouas saw this gap for 5-star hospitality in Napa and imbued his French-Tunisian provenance into a lush hillside in the valley and opened The Auberge du Soleil. The rest, as they say, is history.
What started as a restaurant that later evolved into a hotel, The Auberge du Soleil now occupies a coveted place on Condé Nast Traveller’s prestigious annual Reader’s Choice awards list with a lofty spot amongst the top twenty resorts in the world at number 15.
With a total of 50 rooms, 27 of them being suites or residences, the hotel’s sweeping vistas, perfectly trimmed topiaries, decorative terracotta urns, generous use of wood, elegant fountains and graceful courtyards give the property the feeling of a French country estate rather than a hotel in California.
The rooms are immaculate and awash in a neutral, but sublime, palette of tan hues. To add a sensory feel to the calm colors, rooms are accented with texture and a delicate helping of understated patterns. From the basket-weave of the rugs, to the rattan chaise lounges, to the tan and white zebra print throws, the Auberge du Soleil’s room design finds ways to engage guests while staying true to its restrained elegance. The highlights of each room are the fireplaces and the oversize soaking tubs, the latter of which are gorgeously situated outside on the room’s veranda (should it have one) with unparalleled views of the valley.
Rouas, a poor orphan who survived his youth through street hustling, worked his way up through the hospitality world at legendary places like Maxim’s and Le Meurice before opening his own famed San Francisco eatery, L’Étoile. He turned his legacy for the gourmand into the backbone of the Auberge du Soleil which houses two restaurants, The Restaurant and the Bistro and Bar. Both helmed by Chef Robert Curry, who trained under the likes of Alaine Ducasse and Wolfgang Puck, Chef Curry combines his talent with The Restaurant’s breathtaking views and 15,000 bottle wine cellar to create an experience that has helped earn them 13 consecutive Michelin stars.
The entire equation adds up to a Napa Valley experience like no other, because the Auberge du Soleil is more than a hotel, it’s a transporting experience that takes guests out of the ordinary Napa and ensconces them in a world of sensory delight.