There’s much to consider when planning a trip to Northern California’s beautiful wine country. Should you go to Napa or Sonoma? Which vineyards will you visit? Where should you make dinner reservations?
The answers wildly vary on these inquiries. Luckily, there is one question that we can all quickly answer: Should you book a hotel with a pool? Yes! Incorporating downtime into your day is a must, and there is no better way to do that than relaxing poolside after a morning winery visit and a leisurely lunch. Below, we share our favorite wine country pools.
You’ll find Sonoma County’s best pool at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Montage Healdsburg. The stunning resort, which opened in 2021, is perched on a hill surrounded by cabernet sauvignon vineyards. Hudson Springs Bar and Grill separates the rectangular adults-only pool and the circular kid-friendly one. The former is a 73-foot-long, zero-edge beauty that’s six feet deep. Lounge chairs and seven cabanas line the pool, and it’s kept at a welcoming 82 degrees. The four-foot-deep family pool is held at the same temperature and offers five guest cabanas. Both pools have separate hot tubs and are closed to the public.
Although the pools are open year-round, the grill and bar close during the winter. When summer comes around, hotel guests can indulge in frozen piña coladas, fish and chips, grilled corn salad and popsicles – the perfect treats for a sizzling July or August day.
Alila Napa Valley
The pool is the heart of the Four-Star Alila Napa Valley. The stately, rectangular pool overlooks vineyards and Spring Mountain behind an expansive lawn. Alila is adults-only, so swimmers and sunbathers need not worry about children splashing about. It’s kept around 80 degrees and stays open year-round so, even in the winter, you can take a dip. Acacia House, the hotel’s delicious restaurant, provides snacks and drinks.
It’s one of the only pools in Napa Valley open to non-hotel guests, so if you’re visiting for the day and want to lounge by the pool, this is the place to do it. Alternatively, visitors can access the pool after a treatment at Alila’s spa.
Meadowood Napa Valley
Five-Star Meadowood Napa Valley underwent extensive changes after wildfires ravaged the property in late 2020. Thankfully, the pools, remodeled earlier that same year, remained unscathed. The luxury resort’s three watering holes, laid out one after the other, feature lounges, changing rooms, bathrooms and a seasonal alfresco café. The adults-only cabana pool has four deluxe cabanas available for rental. The larger family pool welcomes all guests under the age of 15.
Meadowood’s director of property services, Paul Asmuth, an award-winning open-water swimmer and former Olympic coach, designed the fitness pool. Asmuth’s unique design features an infinity edge that decreases wave turbulence, making it ideal for swimming laps. All three pools hover between 80 and 83 degrees all year, but only the lap and cabana pools remain open in the winter.
Carneros Resort and Spa
If you want the pool with the best view in Napa Valley, go to the adults-only hilltop option at Four-Star Carneros Resort and Spa. The majestic pool sits at the top of the property and boasts 360-degree vistas of the region’s famed Carneros American Viticulture Area, where many of California’s top pinot noirs and chardonnays are grown. The space invites relaxation, flanked by Adirondack chairs, a fire pit, orange and white chaise lounges, and umbrellas. The pool’s all-day dining menu lists heartier fare like fish tacos, build-your-own burgers and satiating snacks such as charcuterie and spiced almonds.
Unlike some hotels where the adult and children’s pools are adjacent, the kid’s pool at Carneros resides on the opposite side of the resort. Otto’s pool is smaller but includes a shallow end for young children. During the summer, a Snack Shack opens here; in the winter, you can order from room service. Both pools remain open year-round at a balmy 82 degrees and are reserved for hotel guests.
Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection
Four-Star Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection boasts Napa’s largest pool (130 feet). The pristine blue oasis in the Calistoga countryside stays open year-round exclusively for guests and offers cabana rentals. Swimmers and sunbathers can enjoy Picobar’s poolside menu. While the restaurant delivers Mexican classics with a California twist (street corn with lime, fresh fruit with Tajín and queso made with Cowgirl Creamery’s beloved triple cream), it also features traditional tacos and churros.
Only guests over 18 can enjoy Four-Star Spa Solage bathhouse’s three geothermal dipping pools. The pools range in temperature from icy cold to 103 degrees. Non-hotel guests can plunge into these waters by booking a spa treatment and purchasing a day pass to the bathhouse.
Kenwood Inn & Spa
Kenwood Inn & Spa is a charmer in Sonoma’s Valley of the Moon. The property’s fountains, lush greenery, blossoming roses and vintage water wheel make it feel more like an old Tuscan villa or French chateau than a traditional resort. Most of the guest rooms surround the small but luxurious pool, which is accessible all times of year and is heated to 84 degrees.
The 102-degree warming pool is open to adults 24 hours a day. And if you want to nibble on something between laps, poolside service can whip up charcuterie plates, artisanal pizza, panini and more. The pools are for those staying at the hotel, but non-guests can rent two-person cabanas Monday through Thursday.