A Taste Of Thailand In Napa Valley Wine Country

Food & Drink

Napa Valley, California: home to world famous Cabernet, Michelin-starred dining, and now, a Thai-themed luxury resort. Quietly opening amidst the lockdowns of 2020, BANN at Oak Knoll Napa is fully open for business this fall. It might just be the most unique overnight in all of wine country.

The property is the brainchild of chef Lalita Souksamlane, the same restaurateur responsible for San Francisco’s award-winning Osha Thai restaurants. With BANN, the Thailand-native enters the hotel space for the first time, and the results are wondrous. It is conceived as an immersive bed and breakfast experience, where each of four massive guestrooms represents a specific region of her home country.

The stylization of these outsized spaces is warm and inviting, revealing itself under cavernous, vaulted ceilings. Southeastern Asian inspiration runs through everything from the lighting fixtures to the bathroom amenities. Just outside the front door, a terrace connects guests to an outdoor saltwater swimming pool, with hot tub and fire pit. There are also multiple flower gardens on site, imbuing the homestead with a soft spring-like aroma.

While strolling the grounds—gazing up at Oak Knoll in the foreground—it’s not hard to imagine yourself in the Khao Yai region of Thailand. This area, in the bucolic hills north of Bangkok is known for its own winemaking traditions. At a time when it’s more challenging to explore this far-flung destination, BANN provides a welcoming alternative.

And it’s positioning, just off the Napa’s legendary Silverado Trail, affords easy access to dozens of top-tier producers within a half-mile radius. Several of them can be biked to in minutes using cycle rentals available on-site. They’ve partnered with the neighboring Materra-Cunat Family Vineyards to offer a discounted tasting experience. The brand’s sturdy Diamond Mountain Reserve forms the basis of an enviable afternoon of autumn sipping.

But if you’re booking a stay at a Thai bed and breakfast, you likely are longing for more than just sensational liquid. You’re seeking standout flavors that can be held on a plate. And for that, chef Lalita is going to deliver in spades. At breakfast, an intricate three-course breakfast includes fresh-baked pastries, seasonal fruit, and a Thai-style rice soup. A private dinner constructed around the distinct regions of Thailand can currently be arranged by advanced appointment (if you’re in “the know”). It will likely become more formalized as a mainstay menu in the months ahead.

All of this thoughtful elegance comes at a price: suites start at around $650 per night. The rate includes the three-course breakfast. San Francisco “staycationers” are certainly seeing the value; the property has consistently been booked solid with them throughout weekends of 2021. In the year ahead, BANN hopes to appeal to a broader range of travelers from points far beyond the Bay Area—a Napa Valley gem that’s hidden, no longer.

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