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7 Affordable Hotels in California Wine Country


Tasting California’s most popular wines on a beer budget may be easier than you imagine—first step is to be a little bit flexible, and avoid that four-letter word: Napa. You can taste there all you want, but in that stretch of California real estate is expensive —and the room prices reflect it. If you go somewhere else, like Calistoga, there are many selections in reasonable price ranges. Also, don’t be afraid look at unexplored territory. Have you heard of Los Alamos? And what about Philo? Let us get you acquainted with our list of 15 affordable properties.

Skyview Motel


Where: Los Alamos (Santa Ynez Valley)

Atop a hill looking down on Los Alamos is the appropriately named Skyview Motel (from $75 a night). The bird’s-eye view makes the name apropos, as is its “motel” moniker. In other words, don’t expect chicness here … at least not until next year. The motel is undergoing a major renovation that will completely renovate the 30 rooms that once were part of an authentic 1950s motor court. The swimming pool is perfect for the hot valley summers.

  • Insider Tip:Tantara Winery’s tasting room is in the motel; guests get a free bottle of wine when they check in.
  • Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Santa Ynez Guide

1888 Union Hotel


Where: Los Alamos (Santa Ynez Valley)

 Once a stop for Wells Fargo stagecoaches, the wood-façade 1880 Union Hotel (from $145 a night) is now a stop for wine enthusiasts touring sideways country, aka the Santa Ynez Valley. Founded in 1876, the lobby of Los Alamos is a perfect time capsule of the era, complete with period memorbilia. Up a wooden staircase are 14 guest rooms that are best described as boho-quirky-chic? What they lack in mod cons, they make up for in personality. Downstairs, you can drink at the Art Deco lobby bar or at the wine saloon (through swinging doors).

  • Insider Tip: Chances are high for celeb spotting in the town dubbed “little L.A.” Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn are partners in the adjoining saloon and Emilio Estevez is an owner of Babi’s Beer Emporium down the street. The “Say Say Say” Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson video was filmed in one of the rooms.
  • Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Santa Ynez Guide

The Hamlet Inn


Where: Solvang (Santa Ynez County)

The Danish look of Solvang, a Santa Ynez wine town, is enough to make most tourists ooh and ah, but it’ll depend on which side of the fence you fall when it comes to half-timbered framing and windmills. Its heritage is embraced with a modern flair at the, yes, Hamlet Inn (from $79 a night). Danish flag blankets cover the bed and Edison bulbs hang bare from Dane-red chords. While the minimalism might be a bit much for some people (the hotel opts for two luggage racks rather than a dresser), there’s plenty of frill outside your door, including the former motor court which offers free cruiser bikes with carriers.

  • Insider Tip: When you check in, you’ll get a card that lists the town’s tasting rooms that also entitles you to 2-for-1 tastings.
  • Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Solvang Guide

Hotel Indigo, Santa Barbara


Where: Santa Barbara

 The 41-room Hotel Indigo (from $175 a night) gives “art hotel” new meaning. The recently renovated, 41-room hotel on State Street is actually a satellite of the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara. Parts of museum exhibits are featured in the reception area, guest hallways and second-floor Art Library, where a curator’s cabinet shows an interesting mix of ephemera relevant to the exhibit. Plus, the ocean is a couple blocks away.

  • Insider Tip: The hotel is near the Funk Zone with five tasting rooms and will save you the 50-minute trip up to Santa Ynez Valley. Also, the hotel gives discounts to those who arrive in Santa Barbara car-free (the Amtrak station neighbors the hotel).
  • Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Santa Barbara Guide

Philo Apple Farm


Where: Philo (Mendocino County)

 You’ll see a real farm in operation if you stay at one of the three cottages at the Philo Apple Farm (rooms from $200), outfitted with heirloom rugs and corrugated roofs. We recommend kicking back on the porch with the farm’s hard cider after a long day of tasting at the Anderson Valley grapes.

  • Insider Tip: The hotel hosts “Stay & Cook” weekends. A lot of harvesting and eating is undertaken, with guests participating in as much or as little as they want. Alternatively, come in late July through October to watch the apple harvest.
  • Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Mendocino Guide

The Madrones


Where: Philo

Once a private office space and home, this Mediterranean compound is now a wine traveler’s fantasy. The Madrones (from $160 a night) estate has been reconfigured to house four tasting rooms and a restaurant with a pizza oven, as well as a five-room B&B. Bedrooms are outfitted in neutrals with dollops of color. The rooms also feature Nespresso machines, the world’s most comfortable sheets, and fridges stocked with your breakfast fixings. What more could you ask for? Did you say French doors overlooking a vineyard from your room? They have that, too.

  • Inside Tip: Before you hit the tasting rooms on the property, go to your room. Free tasting tickets are there.
  • Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Mendocino Guide

The Booneville Hotel


Where: Boonville (Mendocino County)

 Earthy tones, natural materials, and linens have turned this once rural roadhouse into the chic 15-room The Boonville Hotel (from $185 a night). Its restaurant, Table 128, has a reputation with foodies near and far. After dinner, head upstairs to your cozy room, or to one of the stand-alone cottages. The hotel likes to claim that its biggest luxuries are the light, space, and landscape. We agree, but the fireplace and hammocks aren’t half bad either.

  • Insider Tip: This is Pinot town. In fact, look no farther than the local beef barn, Buckhorn Boonville, and dip into their Pinot by the glass list.
  • Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor’s Mendocino Guide



By Christine Ciarmello, Fodor’s, Business Insider