Anna S. Neely

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“Laid-back luxury” describes the Beazley House in Napa, California, perfectly. If you’re looking for a quaint and cozy bed and breakfast in the heart of wine country but also want to enjoy the indulgence of five-star accommodations, look no further.
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The inn, housed in a sprawling 1902 mansion, has a distinctly historic feel. The wood floors, huge staircase and stained glass windows seem transported from another era and everything is immaculately kept – but never at the expense of comfort. Homey details are everywhere, from the book-lined shelves in the expansive den to the black-and-white family photos on display. Innkeepers Jim and Carol Beazley, who founded their B&B 31 years ago, extend that welcoming warmth to every aspect of their operation. They’re both regular presences during breakfast, which is served from 9 until 10:30 a.m. in the sun-splashed dining room (or delivered to your room on request), and treat guests like visiting friends.
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Speaking of breakfast, you don’t want to miss it if you’re staying at Beazley House. Offerings include hearty but healthy options like the mini Mexican-style breakfast quiches and cornbread muffins my husband and I enjoyed during our recent stay there, as well as house-made granola, fresh fruit and orange juice. The Beazleys are also happy to accommodate special dietary needs. They made a special vegetable-based breakfast dish for my vegan husband and made sure there was soy milk on hand for him too. But even if you are not a breakfast eater, do not miss the fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies that are always kept in the house’s den. Aside from feeding their guests well, the Beazleys are full of helpful recommendations for nearby wineries, spas, tours or restaurants.
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Some of the rooms at Beazley House are upstairs in the main house, and a few are in a stand-alone carriage house separated from the mansion by a gorgeous garden and patio. We stayed in the carriage house’s Blossom View room, and could’ve happily taken up permanent residence there! It featured all the basic amenities one could want – big, comfy bed with great sheets; spacious bathroom and tub; cable TV – plus some luxurious extras, like the Jacuzzi-style spa tub in the room. In a signature friendly touch, we also found two wine glasses and chocolates waiting for us inside upon check in. We didn’t bring our boxer-lab mix pet with us on this trip, but the Beazley House is dog friendly and we definitely plan to take her along on a future visit.

Beazley House stands on First Street in the middle of historic old town Napa, within walking distance to a plethora of restaurants, shops and galleries. If you visit the inn, I suggest not over-planning your trip. Give yourself time to walk around, explore all that’s nearby, and to solicit some suggestions from Jim and Carol Beazley. Be warned, you might also be tempted to ask them if you can join the family business.
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When you are in Napa and wish to tour the wineries, contact Calistoga Bike Shop. They offer several different tours you can make on bicycles and they deliver your purchases to your hotel. A fun way to see this beautiful valley.
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If you’re seeking an affordable but well-appointed hotel a little ways down the coast in San Francisco and you happen to be a literary buff, Hotel Mark Twain is the place for you. OK, the literary part is not required, but it might bring an extra appreciation for the Mark Twain quotes painted onto the walls of the hotel’s stairwell. Even if you’ve never cracked a copy of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” however, there’s plenty to recommend Hotel Mark Twain.

The boutique hotel sits just a few blocks from San Francisco’s Union Square and the Convention Center, so whether you’re on a business trip or vacation, the locale is central.
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The building’s décor includes charming historic touches like plantation shutters and a brass railed staircase, but the rooms are decidedly modern and a nice continental breakfast is included . My husband and I were happy to find ours spotlessly clean, with a large closet, flat screen TV and complimentary WiFi. And in addition to the eco-friendly bath products, there’s one other bathroom feature worth noting: that holy grail of hotel living, excellent water pressure!
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Other hotel amenities include a no-frills exercise room with some basic cardio equipment and weights, a 24-hour front desk and valet parking. This hotel is not the place to stay if you plan to spend a large portion of your trip at your hotel and expect a spa-like experience, but if your plan is to explore the city while staying somewhere convenient, well-priced and well-tended, Hotel Mark Twain fits the bill. And if you are vegetarian, there is no better restaurant anywhere than The Millennium Restaurant at 580 Geary Street San Francisco, CA 94102, (415) 345-3900.