Napa Valley is a Great Getaway: The Cottage Grove Inn in Calistoga is the Place to Stay

Calistoga is best known for its convivial small town atmosphere, hot springs, cool wines, mud baths, and mineral waters. There are many places to stay in and near Calistoga, but in our estimation the ideal base of operation for a Calistoga wine country getaway is the Cottage Grove Inn of resort cottages.

The Cottage Grove Inn is a collection of 16 storybook white cottages nestled in a stand of century-old Siberian Elm trees full of singing finches and the solitude one would expect from a far more remote wine country estate. What a pleasant surprise to find that the Inn is located just one short block from downtown Calistoga.

Each resort cottage is less than 20 years old, but vintage wine country tradition dominates and permeates throughout the architecture and comfortable furnishings.

From the classic front porch with wicker rockers to the hardwood floors reclaimed from an old whiskey distillery, each luxurious bungalow blends with the environment and seems to ask, “Why not stay awhile and enjoy life in the California Wine Country.”

Listen to the rustling of the falling leaves beneath your feet as you pass under the shady grove on your short trek to the registration office with its small but enticing gift shop and adjacent community room – complete with crackling fireplace. This is the place to meet new friends at the afternoon wine-and-cheese tasting and enjoy a complimentary morning breakfast elegantly presented.

Plan to arrive early enough to check-in and enjoy the wine tasting and reception. It will help smooth you into the Inn’s comfortable informality, and provide a first opportunity to absorb the romantic aura of the Inn’s surroundings.

At the end of your travel day, and when the Inn’s relaxed setting starts to seep into your innermost self, how about a slow sink in a  soothing two-person tub? It will help float away those most persistent cares – and ready you for tomorrow, and a delightful day of exploring Calistoga and the nearby towns and wineries.

If your knots are naughtier than a soak can cure, ask about the Inn’s in-room massage services. They also have facial and foot treatments on the menu.

Taking care of business

If you must, (but you really shouldn’t), each cottage has complimentary wireless access and an Ethernet port. There is also a computer for guest’s use in the Gift Shop.

A place the “Greenie” in you can appreciate

Something we especially like about the Cottage Grove Inn is that amid all the comforts, the management is extremely conscious of the environment. They recycle everything possible and follow a “green” regimen in their day-to-day operations.

There are natural skylights to augment compact fluorescent lighting, and each cabin has an on-demand water heater. There are many things to paint at the Inn and only environmentally friendly paints are used throughout. They even recycle their irrigation water. They also take pride that foods and wines come from local growers and providers.

Time for lunch

We ate a delicious lunch at a pleasing pub-style restaurant called the Hydro Grill. Located in the heart of Calistoga at 1403 Lincoln Avenue, this inviting, tall, and open-room eatery has a huge exposed brick wall that adds the character of an earlier time to an extensive contemporary menu.

The Hydro’s bill-of-fare includes a fine selection of small plates, salads, hearty sandwiches, and delicious desserts. Being a bar and grill – the selection of beers and beverages is extensive.

We settled on their award-winning hamburger with fries – (pictured here and in the photo gallery). For dessert, we chose the Warm Streusel Topped Seasonal Fruit Crisp with house-made vanilla bean ice cream. If you are thinking, “Not your typical small town pub grub,” you are correct.

After a day of touring around Calistoga (and walking off our lunch), we returned to the Inn to clean up before heading out for dinner.

Time for dinner

We walked a few short blocks to the All Seasons Bistro where we met proprietress Gayle Keller. Gayle proved to be an advocate of gastronomical perfection and selection. This is a house favoring distinctive gourmet cuisine, and featuring fresh, seasonal local ingredients whenever possible.

Gayle likes to try new dishes on her delighted customers, and changes her menu often. “I just want to be the best – not trendy for the sake of trendy and because everybody’s doing it, but because I want to do it better than anybody else.” After sampling Gayle’s creations, we agreed that she handily exceeds her goals.

These are pictures of Lobster Bisque with a drizzle of truffle oil, and Hawaiian-style Ahi Tuna Tartare with avocado, mango, ginger, and sesame-soy aioli.

How about a tasteful small-mountain of Braised Beef Short Ribs “Stroganoff,” in a savory red wine sauce with mushrooms, pearl onions, crème fraiche, and house-made noodles. OMG!

Our entrees were paired with exactly chosen local wines from the Bistro’s extensive cellar.

The evening was an unforgettable culinary experience.

Stay tuned

Our next article will be about touring the resort town of Calistoga and our experiences with its famous mud and mineral baths, and local wineries. The fun is just beginning.

Click here to see our complete photo gallery of the Cottage Grove Inn, Hydro Grill, All Seasons Bistro – and an assortment of delicious foods.

Happy travels!

If you go 

In the best of times, Napa Valley can be a short one-hour drive from San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge and up Highway 101 to the Napa 37 East turnoff. Follow the Napa signs until you reach Highway 29 and the heart of Napa Valley. The first town you encounter on Highway 29 is Napa, and the last in the valley chain is Calistoga. Whatever you do, do not stop short of Calistoga, or you will miss some of the premier attractions, wines, and restaurants in the Valley.

To contact the Cottage Grove Inn call toll free 1-800-799-2284 or check out their website at You will find the All Seasons Bistro at The phone number for the Hydro Grill is 1-707-942-9777.

For more information about Calistoga and a calendar of upcoming events, be sure to visit the Calistoga Visitors Center at

© Travels with Wayne and Judy Bayliff

Photos © Wayne and Judy Bayliff

You can see the world with Google Maps.


  1. luxury and lobster bisque — what a package! we’ll stay at cottage grove inn next time we’re in napa. thanks for the great recommendation.


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