This Secret Cliffside Manor Is the Most Exclusive Hotel in Wine Country

Poetry Inn is a hidden gem among Napa Valley's thriving hospitality scene

February 21, 2023 7:29 am
Poetry Inn in Napa Valley, seen here with a pool looking over vineyards. We recently visited and reviewed the manor.
Now this is how you do Napa.
Bob McClenahan

Cliff Lede isn’t a man who does anything by halves, so when he set out to make his mark on Napa Valley, simply making wine wasn’t enough. He’s backed multiple vineyards, labels and a world-class tasting experience, including his rock-and-roll-infused Backstage tasting room. It’s little surprise, then, that he also wanted to create the perfect Napa getaway.

Enter: Poetry Inn. Nestled into the cliffside overlooking the Stags Leap District in the heart of the Napa Valley, Lede’s five-suite hotel is, by design, a sanctuary, with killer views and oversized balconies (which feature outdoor showers). 

Given Lede’s passion for the arts, and his connections to the music world, it’s safe to imagine the hotel as an escape for bands at the end of a long tour. The boutique hotel honors five poets with namesake suites — Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, E.E. Cummings, Robert Frost and Robert Louis Stevenson — and it’s available for buyouts. The small size allows the staff to serve with a personal concierge style; they’ll book itineraries, organize wine tastings and dinner reservations, and of course, coordinate private dining or spa treatments on site. Staff will also note which amenities guests gravitate toward during their stay and have them at the ready: After I grabbed a sparkling water or two the first night, several were always on hand when I returned to the property. 

The Dickinson Suite at Poetry Inn
The Dickinson Suite at Poetry Inn
Poetry Inn

The hotel originally opened in 2005, but an interiors overhaul in 2021 brought some contemporary updates to the inn’s classic elegance. Led by Erin Martin Design, a design firm in nearby St. Helena, the refresh also included some new amenities, like the creation of a private hiking trail for guests, and adding the Hemingway Bar just inside the front door. 

If you’ve never lived in Napa, staying at the Poetry Inn is as close as you’ll get to feeling like you own a private estate. Ranging from 950 to 1,450 square feet, these suites are closer to spacious apartments than hotel rooms. Generous soaking tubs and double vanities are elevated by limestone and marble finishes, while the floor-to-ceiling glass lets in the light and an unforgettable view of the valley from sunrise to sunset. The sound system was tuned to a playlist that seemed taken from my own Spotify Wrapped upon arrival, and a wood-burning fireplace only adds to the charm, especially as Napa nights can run a bit chilly. 

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In the closet, I found a yoga mat, light set of weights and other workout gear, and the spacious balcony easily doubled as a makeshift gym before a packed day of wine tasting — it’s easier to get motivated for some quick cardio and weights when an outdoor shower is the reward. And though I wish I didn’t need to use it during my stay, a large desk was also perfectly equipped for a few work hours, tucked just around the corner from the view to help me stay focused. Given the hotel’s European sensibilities, it’s probably unsurprising that they take pride in breakfast being included — or more specifically, a three-course breakfast with seasonal ingredients from the inn’s own garden and local farmers, prepared daily by in-house executive chef Lynn Vita. 

It was Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote that “wine is poetry in a bottle,” and certainly, Mr. Stevenson’s words had an impact on Lede’s choice in naming his estate. But when it comes to the real poetry of a place like Napa, it’s only half what’s in the glass at any given moment, and the rest comes from the open-hearted hospitality of the person pouring. This is certainly one of the most exclusive hotels in Wine Country, and after all the amenities listed, readers won’t be shocked to learn a night or two doesn’t come cheap (hovering around the $2,000-per-night mark.) That said, Poetry Inn is a priceless experience for any Napa visitor. And if you’re lucky, a visit to Backstage during your trip might just elicit a few more rock-and-roll stories as the wine begins to flow.


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