Refreshed for the modern era by Yabu Pushelberg, a wine country retreat is beautifully reborn
Written by Amy Adams
Photos courtesy of Las Alcobas
Well-known for masterfully creating extraordinary spaces around the globe—from luxury retailers like Barneys New York, to opulent hotels like The London Edition and Waldorf Astoria in Beijing—international design firm Yabu Pushelberg makes a mark closer to home with its re-creation of historic Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection hotel, in lovely St. Helena, Napa Valley.
From Orange County, there are a number of routes that lead to California’s coveted wine country. Sometimes I fly to San Francisco then drive the 60-plus miles to Napa, but on this particular trip, I drive the whole distance, glimpsing all the quaint towns and beautiful topography from the ground, and spending one night in Carmel Valley. I head out early the following morning; once I reach Yountville, I know am close to the hotel, but before arriving there I make a leisurely stop at Bouchon Bakery for an Americano and at least one of their delicious French desserts. After somewhat of a long drive, I feel I’ve earned this tiny, but sweet, indulgence.
An hour later, I arrive at Las Alcobas and am pleasantly surprised. Since the hotel was newly restored earlier this year, I’ve forgotten what used to be here, and what it looked like. Steering toward the valet, I’m completely struck by the splendid Georgian-like dwelling before me. It’s white, grand and discreetly luxe with sophisticated craftsmanship and a wide porch that wraps invitingly around the entire façade.
From the entrance, I’m welcomed by a team of attentive staff, one of who leads me from my car through the property and to my quarters. (There’s no “check-in” process as with many other hotels.) As we meander the grounds, I notice three additional buildings. More modern in aesthetic, each structure has its own unique character; all, meanwhile, are artfully adjoined by an expansive verdant lawn. The building on my left, the Acacia Barn, is also white, exuding natural appeal, while modernized with stacked black steel framed glazing set inside wooden posts supporting the gable end. In contrast, the spa building on my right is an earthy tone, and the three-story accommodations toward the back of the property are an unimposing juxtaposition of farmhouse modern meets chic ski lodge. As I enter my room, I survey the cozy space—it’s minimal, but finely appointed with muted decor like creamy floor-to-ceiling linen drapes, a lone ash wood and leather side chair that resembles a contemporary take on a Windsor chair, a farmhouse glass-topped trestle table, and earthy gray wood planks that stretch to the focal point of the room: a spacious deck with a fire pit overlooking mesmerizing views of lush Beringer vineyards.
With a vision such as this and accommodations so enchanting, it’s easy and quite enjoyable whiling away the next couple of days marveling at the vineyards just a few feet beyond, reading on the deck and sipping wine by the fire after the sun has set. I also make a visit to the spa, atrio, where I choose a blend of essentials oils used during my massage. The treatments are designed to strengthen one’s overall wellbeing, which mine certainly achieves. Both the delightful scents I select (a melange of orange and lemon) and the massage I receive leave me feeling completely relaxed and at ease. But I can’t help but feel that it’s not only the massage… because everything about this place feels like a much-loved retreat.
For the final night of my stay, I save the best for last: a fascinating dining experience at Acacia House, helmed by celebrity chef, Chris Cosentino. I’d been eyeing the menu all week, uncertain how to narrow down my choices with so many enticing options available. But alas, I decide on some novelty selections I might not find closer to home. To start: “Chips & Dip.” Not just any ordinary chips and dip, mind you, but beautifully whipped lebneh topped with caviar and served with homemade, perfectly salted gaufrettes. Superbly savory. Followed by: “Surf & Turf,” delicate and crispy sweetbreads with a light lobster ravigote. And for the final course: “Iberico Pork Schnitzel.” Quite possibly one of the most divine things I’ve ever tasted, with an exquisite crisp and crunchy exterior with a moist interior, a mount of arugula and topped with a sprinkling of caviar. (My mouth still waters just thinking about it.)
Beautiful any time of year, this boutique hotel is a destination location in and of itself, for its remarkable design, attentive staff, and prime location to lauded restaurants and award-winning vineyards. A true vision, one that manifests rarely—and only from the mind of a master visionary.