On a recent trip to Chicago, Rob and I snapped…
Napa is an amazing place to visit. You can enjoy beautiful scenery, taste some of the best wines in the world, meet some wonderful people and eat some truly fantastic food. But Napa is no secret traveler’s getaway, and unless you know someone who lives there full time with a guest room you can crash in, you’re going to need a hotel room and you’re probably going to pay a premium for it. This happens in just about all major tourist destinations all over the world (though tourists are usually just described as visitors in Napa), but there are a few ways to ensure that you get a great deal.
Go in the off season. Fortunately for visitors to Napa, it is a great place to be all year round. The high season lasts from late March through early November. The weather is usually at its best in the spring and summer. It gets hot during the late summer, but that is when the grape vines are looking flush and green. Harvest season typically starts in September and can run all the way into November. The off-season doesn’t have a huge window, but it’s still gorgeous out there even if it is brisk. You’ll miss all the crowds at the tasting rooms, score easier restaurant reservations and you can save up to half off the high season room rates – and packing an extra jacket is definitely worth it at that price.
Look for hotel specials. Hotels often offer packages on their websites that you won’t see on sites like Kayak or Expedia. They’ll package rooms at stay-two-nights-get-one-free deals, or throw in bonuses like breakfast in bed or a free dinner at a local restaurant. Two-for-one hotel stays and $100 restaurant gift cards have been our favorite deals to date, but there are all kinds of spa and wine tour packages up for grabs, too, so double check those “specials” pages – and the deals are even better during the off season.
Be willing to change hotels. It can be a pain to move from one hotel to another, but this is often the best way to take advantage of their specials. If one hotel has a great spa package with a one night stay, you might want to stay there for only one night to get it – then move on to another hotel with other benefits. This also allows you to sample different types of hotels, which is nice if you want to explore different areas of the valley just a bit more easily.
Look for hotels that offer benefits that you will actually use. If you’re not going to use that fancy spa package, it is not worth it no matter how good a deal it seems to be. If you know you’re not going to be able to join in any of the free wine tastings at the B&B you’re considering, you might be just as well off staying at a chain with less charm and cheaper rooms – if you’re not going to be around to enjoy that charm.