Wydown Hotel, St. Helena
Wydown Hotel is on its way up
By Kathy Chin Leong
At first glance, you think the place is called the Wind Down Hotel because once you see the crisp white napkined sheets on that king bed, you instantly want to fall into it and wind down. But then, you realize it's named the WYDOWN Hotel in Napa Valley's St. Helena. The all new Wydown Hotel is the newest boutique hotel in town, and at just 12 rooms, the two-story gem, although small, has more amenities than you think to fill a weekend with activities and things you may have never thought of doing.
The Wydown, named after bucolic Wydown Boulevard in St. Louise, Miss. where the owner grew up, has an exceptional front desk staff, and those angels are the ones who steer you into the Promised Land. The hotel entry space is small and modest, but it goes in deep and cavernous as the hotel used to be retail space and once a real estate brokerage house in its former life.
After the check-in desk, you walk into a longish couch sitting area with a large flat screen TV. It is a great place to meet someone or to sip a cup of hot tea which is available in the back. You can also come and use the table to look up your email on your iPhone since there wifi is free. Throughout the hotel, the furnishings are warm with browns, bold black, grays, and golds. The side tables, chairs, and other furnishings sport a modern, but not a cold twist to the decor. Instead of thinking you are in Napa, you feel you're in Manhattan or Chicago. It is that relaxed hip vibe I believe many will enjoy, but thank goodness, there's no loud disco club beat reverberating throughout.
While you don't get breakfast here at the hotel, you do get coupons for free coffee and treats at the local roastery each day. And while there is no gym on the premises, you do get passes to the Health Spa Napa Valley which is the pool and gym down the street. Luxurious and free to all Wydown guests, it is a great place to spend an afternoon lollygagging by the beautiful water. You also get passes to enjoy a free glass of wine at the wine bar next door called Materra. Those three experiences don't cost you a dime, so take that in consideration when you book your room.
Rooms in this former apartment complex are nicely sized with the now-obligatory flat screen TVs, mirrored modern armoires, and ebony writing table and chair set. Very classy are the gray fabric Roman shades which I am noticing since I am revamping my window treatments. Also super is the chunky leather man chair in the corner of the room, great for reading in. Another nice touch is the single-serving coffee maker in each room.
Bathrooms come with marble countertop vanities, brushed chrome faucets, and white subway tile walls. The rooms have either bath tubs or showers, so do ask before booking if you are particular.
Since the hotel is on St. Helena Highway, I do want to tell you it is located on the town's main drag. The management has done everything it could possibly do to soundproof the rooms facing Main Street, but you can request a room in the back ahead of time. Managers also tell guests about the 7 a.m. fire alarm that goes off at the local fire house each morning. It did not bother us at all.
While other customers have balked about the hotel being so close to the center of town, being on the main street of St. Helena definitely has its perks. I have gone to Napa almost annually for the last 20 years, but never stayed in downtown St. Helena. After residing here for a weekend, I found a new favorite place to shop and dine. It has so many excellent restaurants, (Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen and Farmstead), creative shops, well-stocked delis, grocery stores such as Sunshine Groceries, and retail boutiques that it was impossible to visit each place for very long and do it justice.
I liked the fact that you can park for free behind the hotel and truly invest your time walking all around to investigate movies, art galleries, coffee joints, wineries, and more. Otherwise, parking is really difficult in St. Helena, and folks like me wind up staying for one hour before moving on to other parts of Napa Valley.
In short, if you never stayed in St. Helena, booking a night at the Wydown is well worth it. You will enjoy many free amenities around the quaint town, courtesy of Wydown, and enjoy the staff's hospitality while you are here. Word has it that this summer the hotel will expand in the back to offer a fire pit and patio area. Stay tuned!
1424 Main St., St. Helena, CA 94574
Price per night: $270 and up.