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Holiday Sleepovers

When Home for the Holidays Means a Wine Country Retreat

Because during the holidays too much family can sometimes be too much to bare, Wine Country offers a relaxing alternative. I’ve long advocated that the holiday season is one of the best times of year to visit wine country. The short cool days, misty mornings and chilly nights mean thinner crowds. Meanwhile, wineries have slowed down from the insanity of harvest and restaurants are decidedly much easier to get into. And, above all, there’s nothing like waking up to the sound of a far-off rooster instead of a to a haranguing visiting relative asking you where you keep your non-dairy creamer.

When you’re in need of an escape—whether from the in-laws or from the crush of too much holiday spirit—there are a few places in Wine Country that offer all of the comforts of home without all the distractions.
In Sonoma, not far from the historic Square, MacArthur Place (29 East MacArthur St., Sonoma; 707-938-2929; is a charming, 64-room inn with historic ambience and modern amenities, including a top-notch spa. Rooms feel like cozy miniature homes, especially the cottages (recommended), which feature fireplaces, walk-in showers, down comforters, sumptuous robes, and DVD players. Select a movie from the surprisingly large library off the lobby and you’ll be on your way to a like-home experience, although one in which you don’t have to make the bed in the morning.
On the road between Sonoma and Napa is one of Wine Country’s most welcome recent additions, Carneros Inn (4048 Sonoma Hwy, Napa, 707-299-4900; If you had a rich, hip aunt, this is what visiting her place would feel like. At once rustic and sophisticated Carneros Inn is comprised of 86 cottages that each live like individual homes. Each room is secluded and stylish, offering all the comforting and hedonistic comforts of home, from fireplaces to flat-panel televisions. Bathrooms feature big soaking tubs and showers indoors and out. The two great restaurants on property will cover day-round dining needs.

Also among the new additions to Napa, The Poetry Inn (6380 Silverado Trail, Napa; 707-944-0646;, a five-room only-in-wine-country twist on the B&B. Perched on a hill overlooking the Stags Leap District, the sophisticated inn presents guests with a becalming atmosphere of luxury without pretense. Each room is spacious beyond need and offers fireplaces, king beds with decadent linens, huge bathrooms with jetted tubs and large balconies from which to soak in the panoramic valley vineyard views. Each morning, guest are treated to a gourmet, three-course breakfast while an attentive staff makes sure you every whim is looked after.
Northward up the Napa Valley is a place you could genuinely call home if you were so inclined and sufficiently endowed financially. The elegant Calistoga Ranch (580 Lommel Road, Calistoga; 707-254-2800; is quintessentially Wine Country, situated in the verdant hills among ancient oak trees and carved through by a rocky stream. The 46-room resort, with a spa and private restaurant, offers units for sale via fractional ownership, and features home-like units with indoor and outdoor living spaces ingeniously designed to mix the two while providing nothing short of be-all-end-all luxury. Whether the Deluxe variety or one-bedroom, you can’t go wrong with the accommodations here—rooms are large and appointed with modern amenities that will make you rethink your personal lifestyle. The outdoor showers are, surprisingly, more refreshing in winter than summer and recommended especially with the knowledge that soon afterward you can warm up in relaxation in front of your indoor-outdoor fireplace. This place will no doubt lend new meaning to the phrase “home for the holidays.”