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by Erika Lenkert



B&B Best Bets


If you think that the main reason to choose a bed and breakfast over a hotel is a less expensive room rate, perhaps you aren't aware of the options awaiting you in Northern California Wine Country. Contrary to the humble flowers and lace stereotype, today's best B&Bs share only one thing in common: their tariff indeed includes a clean bed and a full breakfast. With options ranging from ornate Victorian abodes with two-person tubs and fireplaces to Zen-luxury cottages with "Architectural Digest"-worthy details, choices are endless. See for yourself with a visit to any of the following favorites.

Napa Valley
At downtown Napa's Cedar Gables luxury living has a Shakespearean twist. Built in 1892 by famous British architect Ernest Coxhead, this handsome escape is an ode to 16th century English refinement complete with dormers, Corinthian columns, and a turret. Perks include seasonal cooking classes and winemaker dinners and nightly tippling. To linger in front of the fireplace or in the four-poster bed, book the Churchill Chamber.
(486 Coombs St., Napa, 800-309-7969, www.cedargablesinn.com)

One of the greatest things about the very luxurious Oak Knoll Inn is that few people know about it. Located on a residential cross road on Napa town's northern border, it boasts three rooms and enough privacy to make you feel local. Those in the know come for huge rooms overlooking 600 acres of vineyards, a outdoor heated pool and hot tub, nightly happy hour wine and food feasts, and utter exclusivity. If romance is on your itinerary, this inn should be, too. (2200 E. Oak Knoll Ave., Napa, 707-255-2200, www.oakknollinn.com)

Poetry Inn, the most over-the-top new B&B, is perched high on the hillside of Napa's Stags Leap District. Its handful of rooms are shockingly large and absurdly well appointed (and expensive) with panoramic valley views, outdoor showers, hammocks, and a true sense of what it's like to live the exclusive and elusive Napa Valley high life. (6380 Silverado Trail, Napa, 707-944-0646, www.poetryinn.com)

Calistoga abounds with country charm, and showcasing its best attributes is Foothill House. Lush manicured grounds lead to a shaded gazebo, terraces, and the sunroom where breakfast is nothing short of glorious. Rooms, which are classic country cute, and take color cues from the centerpiece bed's quilt. (3037 Foothill Blvd, Calistoga, 707-942-6933, www.foothillhouse.com)

Sonoma County
One of the region's first destinations to break the B&B mold, Gaige House Inn, located in tiny rural Glen Ellen, is still one of the best. Designer rooms scattered within the main house and multiple freestanding annexes around the heated pool beg to be relished (especially those with the Japanese tubs), although the award-winning breakfasts, evening wine hour snacks, and insanely delicious cookies (13540 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 800-935-0237, www.gaigehouseinn.com)

Another Sonoma property hailed for its highfalutin ways, Healdsburg's Honor Mansion charms its guests with gorgeously sophisticated rooms and sumptuous white-tablecloth breakfasts alongside everything an active romantic vacationer could want, including a championship putting green, outdoor massage cabana, and bocce ball, basketball, and tennis courts. (14891 Grove St., Healdsburg, 800-554-4667, www.honormansion.com)