I have a new secret weapon for my travel planning. I have started using a travel agent. I know your mind is totally blown. After all, I’m a child of Expedia and Jetsetter, which make booking your own travel cheap and easy. But as we all know, online travel has become no longer cheap OR easy, and in most cases overwhelming. I’d much rather have a bespoke experience, so when my friend Justyna and her husband Scott decided to launch Two Nights In, a luxury travel agency aimed at a younger, travel-savvy clientele, I was all ears.
The first thing I learned is that it doesn’t cost anything to book my hotel through them, a common misconception. The next thing I learned is that the perks are way beyond what I could get on my own, even with my AMEX or other hotel memberships. In fact, they are two for two in getting me a better price on a better room at the hotel of my choosing. Two Nights In makes it easy to collaborate if, like me, you already have ideas of what you want, or if you would rather not worry about a single detail. I am a total convert. Now, read on for the highlights of our two nights in Yountville, a fab little town in the Napa Valley.
We made our home away from home at the North Block, a great luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Yountville, and the perfect location if you’re looking for a hotel near the French Laundry. Our room had a huge tub, French doors that opened onto a darling little balcony, and the most comfortable bed EVER. I especially loved the rosé champagne at check-in. They also have a spa, which we did not visit, but we did spend our afternoons by their pool, where we noshed on a cheese plate and sipped wine from the fabulous hotel restaurant Redd Wood. I also highly recommend it for dinner—the pizza is EVERYTHING.
Yountville is home to some of the best restaurants in the region. In fact, it is home to The French Laundry, arguably the best restaurant in the country, touting three Michelin stars. It was literally a two-minute walk from our hotel—which was pretty much a cruel joke, since we couldn’t get in.
Even after all these years, they still book up three months in advance. I called the month before and was wait-listed. DON’T THEY KNOW WHO I AM?! No, they do not.
We did walk through their incredible garden, though.
These are just for show, right, Chef Keller?!
Though we couldn’t get in the French Laundry, just down the street is one of Thomas Keller’s other restaurants, Ad Hoc. The menu is a four-course set menu that changes every single night. My only complaint: I wish I had arrived hungrier because, it was insanely good. The chicken, we both agreed, was the best we had ever had. Buy the Ad Hoc cookbook here and experience it at home!
Every dinner should have a cheese course.
But it was the dessert that blew our minds. A simple homemade ice cream sundae with chocolate, strawberry and butterscotch sauce with toasted pecans. I don’t think it gets any better.
For breakfast, skip Pacific Blues (as recommended by our hotel) and head over to Lucy, inside the Bardessono Hotel. I’m pretty sure “chilaquiles” is Spanish for reallyeffinggood.
But let’s get serious. We were really here for the wine, and Yountville is right smack-dab in the middle of some of the best wineries in the country. These are our faves:
Frog’s Leap: Our favorite winery! An elegant tasting room with a beautiful porch and gardens. Their Zinfindel was one of the best I’ve tasted, and their rosé was perfection on a 100-degree day. Reservation needed.
Duckhorn: Though they mostly served red wine, and I have to stick to whites due to my headaches, we thought this was a beautiful spot, where you can sit at a table and order a cheese plate to go with your tasting. Reservation needed.
Domaine Carneros: Alas, we didn’t make it here on this trip. But it’s only a few miles from Yountville—they serve my favorite California sparkling wine! (Consider this a recommendation.) Reservations unnecessary, except for large groups.
2 thoughts on “Two Nights in Yountville”
Although my brief sojourn in Napa was one I’d rather forget, for myriad reasons, I will always have nothing but the happiest memories of my first meal at French Laundry. One of the well-kept secrets of that place is that Thomas Keller is a huge fan of vegetarian cooking, and his vegetarian tasting menu is, hands down, the best meal I’ve had in the US. The only positive aspect of working for the horrible Staglin family (don’t ever buy their wines!) was their connection with Thomas Keller, and the fact that they got me and some friends in on the 4th of July all those years ago, so we enjoyed the most mind-blowing meal while gazing out at fireworks. Years later, I was fortunate enough to walk in at the exact moment they had a cancellation for that evening, so my ex and I nabbed the spot and had another phenomenal meal. Sadly, these days not only is it impossible to get a reservation, but I think it’s something like $500 per person, which is so out of reach of most mere mortals such as myself! But thank you for the reminder of Yountville and the only good moment of my disastrous Napa experience, when I thought I was going to live the life of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, but instead turned more into Girl, Interrupted.
That’s so awesome that you got to go! It’s on my bucketlist, but yes $500 pp is INSANE.